Big Bend
Administrative History
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A story as vast as the landscape of Big Bend National Park is a function of numerous individuals, and not the author's alone. Art Gomez and Neil Mangum of the Program of History at the National Park Service's Southwest Support Office in Santa Fe drafted the scope of work for this project, and Art Gomez saw it through the many twists and turns of research, writing, and revision. To his love of the landscape, this manuscript is a testament. To the NPS officials in Santa Fe, Denver, and at Big Bend itself, the author wishes to express deep appreciation. Superintendents Stan Joseph, Gil Lusk, Jim Carrico, Rob Arnberger, Jose Cisnersos, and Frank Deckert gave of their time and wisdom to place the issues of six decades at Big Bend in managerial perspective. Documents alone cannot convey the scale and scope of the Big Bend story, but the archivists at the National Archives and Records Administration deserve much credit. Joel Barker, Eileen Bolger, Joan Howard, and Eric Bittner at the NARA's Rocky Mountain branch in Denver, and Barbara Rust at the NARA facility in Fort Worth, showed this author just how much material a big park can generate. The archivists at the Archives of the Big Bend, housed in the Wildenthal Library of Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas, are to be thanked as well, with Meletta Bell and her staff enthusiastic about the story on their shelves and in their photographic collection. At the park, such staff members as Vidal Davila, Tom and Betty Alex, Mike Fleming, and others were most helpful. Likewise, the officials of the park concession, National Park Concessions, Inc., were very gracious with their advice and materials, among them the late Garner Hanson, Jim Milburn, and Ron Sanders. The author also would be remiss if he did not acknowledge his debt of gratitude to officials of the Mexican government, and in particular its natural resources agencies (SEMARNAP). Julio Carrera, Pablo Dominguez, Miguel Mendoza, and Rodolfo Garza, all explained with great patience the differences and similarities between Mexican and American park policies. Dominguez and Mendoza in particular were excellent hosts on research trips to Ciudad Chihuahua, where the author learned how much the people of Mexico care about the lands far to their north, and how they dream of a joint park along the Rio Grande as did their predecessors of the 1930s.

Finally, the author owes more than he can say to his family, including his wife Cindy, daughter Jacquie, and son Eddie. Cindy's knowledge of west Texas emanates from her family's roots in Midland and Fort Davis, and her appreciation for the subtlety of race relations helped enlighten the narrative in many places. To Cindy and my family, I thank them for their patience, and hope that this story conveys a sense of what made the story of Big Bend National Park worth the effort.

Michael Welsh
University of Northern Colorado
January 2002

CCC Quarters
Figure 4: CCC Quarters, Chisos Mountains

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Last Updated: 03-Mar-2003