Big Bend
Administrative History
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"Doing Pioneer Work": The Civilian Conservation Corps and Facility Planning, 1936-1941 (continued)

While the state highway department justified its construction program in the Chisos basin with the grandeur and beauty of the future national park, the CCC program had more practical concerns. By May of 1937, Milton McColm of Maier's staff would report to J.C. Roak that the second camp authorized for Big Bend (SP-34), "was approved but deferred and cancelled in the third period." Several CCC camps in the Southwest, from the Grand Canyon to Corpus Christi, faced threats of closure; a circumstance made more imminent when Vernon Randau, an inspector in the Oklahoma City NPS office, went to Texas to prepare for the transfer of the Big Bend crew to the Balmorhea State Park north of the Davis Mountains (CCC Camp SP-47). Randau suggested to E.A. Pesonen, an NPS official assigned to the "Texas Procurement Office" in Beaumont, that funds from the Big Bend operation be transferred to Balmorhea to provide for "main camp and rations, supervision and medical attention." Pesonen marked in the margin of Randau's letter a cryptic note: "There never were any funds in the Big Bend." He contended that "Dr. [Walter Prescott] Webb got it all." Additional money "must come from somewhere else," and Randau should "approve everything and tell Wash. [NPS headquarters in Washington] their recommendation could not be followed." Then Pesonen claimed that "the boys at Big Bend are doing nothing," and that "a mere letter should not be cause for their continuing to loaf." [25]

The deterioration of conditions at the Chisos camp had repercussions for the entire CCC program in Texas, leading Conrad Wirth to discuss the matter with William J. Lawson, executive secretary of the Texas State Parks Board, while the two drove by car from Philadelphia to Washington. Both individuals agreed that the crisis had arisen with the veto by Governor James Allred of the $750,000 appropriation for land purchases. "Unless something of a miracle takes place," Lawson informed Maier, "it will be two years before the subject can be presented again." For the NPS and the state parks board, said the executive secretary, "we have a CCC Camp in Big Bend which is marking time." Lawson and Wirth talked about "trying to work out a trade, whereby the N.P.S. would abandon SP33 at Big Bend on July 1st in exchange for P-74 [a forestry camp] staying on at Huntsville." In return, P-74 would remain in operation until October 1, and "at that time it would be turned over to the NPS for SP [state park] work." In so doing, said Lawson, "the CCC would lose one camp from the NPS instead of from the Forestry." Then the latter agency on October 1 "would have to lose a camp, as originally scheduled, and this time it would be by transfer to the NPS in exchange for the previous disbandment of SP33." By this arrangement, the state park board could gain some more work for Huntsville, yet Texas still would lose two programs that fall. It was clear to Lawson, however, that the Allred veto spelled doom for the Chisos operation, as he told Maier: "I see no justification for leaving Big Bend in place now." The parks board secretary bitterly informed Maier: "Certainly, the [state] legislature does not care whether or not there is a camp in the park, and there is not anymore work which can be done on the present land." [26]

A measure of the degree to which Big Bend's future had faded in the estimation of NPS and state officials came in early July, when Lawson notified Maier: "I made a rather detailed study of the other SP Camps operating in Texas, and do not find one which I would feel justified in stopping from its present construction program and substituting for the Big Bend camp." The parks board secretary conceded that "conditions arising between now and October 1st might change this decision," yet he believed that "we would be safe in reaffirming our recommendation that the Big Bend camp be exchanged for the Huntsville camp, as I have rather definite assurance that the Big Bend appropriation will not be re-introduced in the September Called Session of the Legislature." Given the reality of Texas politics, Lawson concluded that "we would do much better by having a camp located in Huntsville where it could be doing a very constructive piece of work, rather than holding the Big Bend camp in place in anticipation of legislative developments later on." Conrad Wirth concurred in Lawson's opinion, telling the parks board secretary on July 27 that "after considerable negotiation with the Forest Service, it has been decided that no action should be taken to effect this exchange of companies prior to the beginning of the tenth period." This Wirth attributed to the fact that "there is a possibility that both companies may be lost, due to present regulations which will not permit the establishment of new camps or the undertaking of new work programs." The Lone Star state, then, had forfeited an excellent opportunity to maximize the potential of the $323,680 already spent by the NPS in the Chisos basin, which a news story in the Houston Chronicle claimed had been directed "to making the mountain wilderness accessible to pleasure-seekers." [27]

Predictably, the local sponsors of the Big Bend park initiative did not appreciate word of the impending closure of the Chisos camp. Horace W. Morelock wrote directly to NPS headquarters, providing top park officials with word of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's campaign to raise one million dollars for private land acquisition. "The fact that the Star-Telegram has undertaken this campaign," said acting NPS director A.E. Demaray, "is gratifying to those most interested in the proposed park." Nonetheless, Demaray was "unable to make a definite statement regarding the rumor that the CCC camp now located on the Big Bend State Park in the Chisos Mountains will be abandoned." Demaray faced the unpleasant choice to "reduce the number of camps now in operation on October 1 and then make a still greater reduction on January 1 of next year [1938]." Declining to share with the Sul Ross president the internal debate over Big Bend's future, Demaray claimed that "it has not been determined at this time just which camps will be abandoned on the dates mentioned." He promised that "we certainly do not want to do anything that will dampen the enthusiasm of those who are working for the Big Bend National Park." Then Demaray deflected yet another request from Morelock to send additional CCC workers to Brewster County, informing him that "it will not be possible to assign the company for work on Kokernot Park [a baseball field in Alpine near the Sul Ross campus], as suggested in the last paragraph of your letter." [28]

In the pursuit of federal funding for economic development, Brewster County officials shifted their focus from saving Big Bend's CCC camp to support of neighboring Jeff Davis County's state park in the Davis Mountains. Dom Adams, president of the Brewster County chamber of commerce, solicited the assistance of Ewing Thomason, who represented both counties in Congress. When Adams and his colleagues in Alpine had learned of the movement of the CCC crew to the Indian Lodge site, he reported to Thomason that "we are withdrawing our opposition to the transfer of this camp, and wish to heartily endorse the application of Fort Davis citizens that this camp be transferred to the Fort Davis State Park." The chamber, said Adams, "believe, and think that you will agree with us, that the Fort Davis State Park is one of the most potential areas that the State Parks Board has." Adams argued that "there is a good deal of work to be done there and we believe that it should be accomplished with the least possible delay." Herbert Maier's office, however, could not recommend the transfer, with E.A. Pesonen remarking that "the grazing privileges on Davis Mountains State Park are such that further development does not appear justifiable." Pesonen further advised NPS inspector William F. Ayres that "the Director of CCC [Wirth] has taken the position that qualifying factors, such as the grazing privileges, must be removed before any recommendations for development are made to him." In late August, the CCC had been told to eliminate some 350 camps nationwide by the end of the year. "It is reasonable to assume," said Pesonen to Ayres, "that Texas will be called upon to accept its share of camp reductions." In the NPS's opinion, "a logical camp to go out is clearly SP-33, Big Bend, since neither the State Park Board nor this Service is in a position to sponsor a work program." All that Pesonen could offer Ayres was the hope that "if, and when, the present anomalous situation regarding Big Bend is resolved, there will be time again to initiate development on the basis of a positive program." [29]

Absent any indication from local sponsors of an effective plan to acquire land for the future national park site, state and federal officials anticipated closure of the Chisos basin unit as the fall of 1937 approached. Even the Davis Mountain site stood in danger because of the lack of structures available to house the work crews, the failure of local interests to acquire land for park construction, and because ranchers maintained control of all but fifteen acres of the Davis Mountain State Park for grazing. William Lawson informed Maier on August 27 that "at the present time we are content to carry on work at the Indian Village with the side camp which is operating at the present time from SP-33." Should the state park board seek a transfer of the Big Bend crews to Fort Davis, "it would be only after the land restrictions have been removed." As for Big Bend itself, the CCC received criticism when "the camp Superintendent secured lights from a plant operated by the Service and lived in a house constructed of two army tent floors and some material purchased personally." Herbert Maier had to respond to the NPS director about this and other "irregularities" in the management of Texas's CCC sites. "Camp SP-33," said the Southwest region's acting director, "is an isolated section of the country where private quarters are not available within any reasonable distance." He noted that "no utilities are available either and the only water supply is that controlled by the CCC dump." Maier contended that "since the duties of a camp superintendent require his presence in the vicinity of the camp," the regional office believed that "the most economical solution as far as protection of the Government's interest is concerned has been arrived at." [30]

For promoters of Texas's first national park, announcement of the closure of the Chisos CCC unit came just weeks before the state legislature in special session granted authority to the state parks board to acquire private lands for Big Bend. Dom Adams wired Representative Thomason seeking his intercession with the NPS. Conrad Wirth had to remind the El Paso congressman: "Looking at this camp from a practical standpoint, it will be impossible to retain it even if land is acquired in the short space of a year and it becomes a national park." The assistant NPS director noted that "since at least a year would be required to plan the unit, the camp would not be able to accomplish much in development work, for which it was established." Wirth did indicate some success in his conversations in Texas with "Major Cheeves, District Commander of the Army, regarding problems in Big Bend and the desire of the local people to retain the buildings and a certain amount of equipment to use in connection with promotional work." The NPS official acknowledged to Cheeves that "we are desirous of reoccupying this camp at a later date," and told Thomason: "I believe this will accomplish the end which they [the local sponsors] seek." [31]

In its last days, Chisos camp staff attempted to preserve the best features of the site, even though official word from Washington had the facility closing by December 31. Herbert Maier notified NPS director Cammerer that "we have made good progress in assembling basic data upon which to found an additional museum program for the Big Bend Project." Ross Maxwell, whom Maier identified as "our local geologist," had undertaken "a comprehensive survey of all geographical and geological features." In collaboration with "especially trained CCC boys," said Maier, Maxwell had "collected and preserved an extensive collection of rock and mineral specimens, as well as numerous outstanding examples of fossils of great scientific value." The CCC-funded research "is now housed in a temporary museum at camp headquarters," said the acting Region III director, while "historians and archaeologists have completed a preliminary survey of anthropological features and botanists and zoologists of the Wildlife Division have made a notable start in listing all biological features." Maier made the case that "because this research has progressed so satisfactorily, I am anxious that it be continued, at least to the point of enabling us to present full justifications for a Big Bend Museum later on." The NPS needed to develop "a general museum plan which can be submitted for the concurrence and approval of all concerned." Maier knew that "the Public Works programs [PWA] have supported this type of work in other park areas," leading the acting regional director to "request that an allotment of $5,000 be made when new Public Works money becomes available for the purpose of studying Big Bend museum needs and preparing a final museum plan." He granted that "some small part of the allotment may be diverted to meet current museum needs and utilized in placing the present exhibits and labels in better condition until a fireproof building can be provided for housing the valuable specimens accumulated." [32]

While the NPS contemplated Maier's inquiry, Horace Morelock wasted little time in approaching the acting regional director to offer the services of his college. In a telegram of November 20, the Sul Ross president asked: "Since [the] camp is to be moved will appreciate it if you will lend us camp museum material until such time as National Park Service desires it returned." His rationale was that Sul Ross would be "open all times for visitors," and would provide a "good ad [advertisement] for [the] park campaign." Maier acknowledged that NPS officials "had decided that since the [CCC] company will probably be withdrawn only temporarily and since it would be necessary to engage a caretaker at the camp to protect the buildings and property," the park service believed that "this man could also protect the museum material which would be left in the museum under lock and key." This employee "would then open up the museum when official visitors are present, and then only." Maier reminded Morelock that "we have lately discussed the possibility of Mr. Townsend's operating this camp for the State in connection with official trips and visitors." The NPS believed that "the material is best exhibited right down in the Big Bend than at some point outside of the proposed park area." Maier did concede that "it is a little hard to say just what we will do with the material because we cannot say how long the camp will be operated and if it will be operated during the time the company is temporarily withdrawn." Recognizing the many services that Morelock had provided to the Big Bend campaign, Maier declared that "we should like nothing better than to have the material exhibited at Alpine if it could not be exhibited at the Big Bend." The regional official concluded, however, that "it appears that it will probably be possible to leave it there for the present at least." [33]

As Morelock sought opportunity for his institution amidst the grim news about the Chisos camp, the local chamber of commerce and the state parks board pressed at the eleventh hour for a reprieve. Dom Adams dashed off a telegram on November 19 to Maier, warning that "the termination of the Chisos camp will prove almost a fatal blow to our subscription campaign." This situation had led "representative men who had recently visited the park" to encourage Adams to "request that you give us every assistance consistent with your official capacity to keep it here." Should this effort fail, claimed the chamber president, "we will have [a] serious loss of prestige in putting over our campaign." Especially critical for Adams was the fact that "the development of trails to [the] South Rim and Lost Mine Mountain will be of inestimable value in furthering our campaign and we have sufficient funds on hand to assure the purchase of needed lands for those purposes." William Lawson pleaded with William Ayres along similar lines. "The State Parks Board," said its executive secretary, "has endeavored to keep the CCC camp in the Chisos Mountains because we felt its presence would aid materially in our approach to the people for contribution to this fund." Lawson told the NPS inspector, however, that "it seems . . . that we are not to get our wishes in this matter." The parks board thus "would like to next request that proper steps be taken to have at least some of the barracks buildings or facilitating buildings retained in place so that they might be used as a base for operations in the future." Because of what Lawson characterized as "the intense publicity campaign in connection with this [fundraising] campaign, it is certain that thousands of people will go into the Chisos area this winter and next summer." Without "accommodations in the area other than at the camp the Texas State Parks Board would like to acquire title or custody of at least two or three buildings, which could be converted into overnight structures and which could be put at the disposition of the public." [34]

Not wishing to leave the decision on Big Bend to NPS personnel alone, park sponsors approached U.S. Senator Tom Connally for his advice on the closure of the Chisos camp. This required Conrad Wirth to explain to the Texas senator that "the Act of Congress extending the activities of the Civilian Conservation Corps for another three years limited the enrollment and camp set up to 300,000 enrollees or 1,500 camps." This would have imperiled the Big Bend site in any event, but "a grave uncertainty as to the possibility of the establishment of Big Bend as a national park has developed since the recent announcement of the discovery of rich deposits of gold and cinnabar in the vicinity of the Chisos Mountains." Regardless of its merits, Wirth felt compelled to inform Connally: "The discovery is sufficient to neutralize any beneficial effect which the continuation of the SP-33 camp might have on the present campaign to raise funds for land purchases." He argued that "since the mandatory cut has to be met and the present projects at camp SP-33 are practically completed, it is our opinion that until further definite determination as to the future of the park is made, this camp could be terminated with the least injury to the program in Texas as a whole." Wirth then told Connally: "You may be assured . . . that this Service is very much interested in the Big Bend area, and that when the necessary land has been acquired, we intend to reestablish a [CCC] camp [in] the area." [35]

By mid-December of 1937, nothing could be done to halt the closure of the Chisos CCC program. NPS inspector William Ayres traveled to the Big Bend area just days before the park service planned to abandon the facility, and reported to his superiors that the CCC crews had done laudable work. "All personnel will be separated from active duty COB [close of business] Dec. 15th," wrote Ayres, "and terminated at the end of their accumulated leave." One mechanic would be transferred to the Balmorhea State Park site, and "skilled workman Lloyd Wade will probably be employed as caretaker at Big Bend camp if [a] caretaker is authorized." Ayres noted that "active work on the project ceased Dec. 10th," with superintendent Morgan to "complete all records and reports and forward all of the records of this camp to the [Texas] Procurement Office." While on site, Ayres met with Lloyd Wade to discuss the position of caretaker, and concluded that "he is the best man." The NPS inspector told Maier that Wade "will take care of the museum, and can operate the water pump and electric light plant, and make what minor repairs are needed to them." Upon his departure from Big Bend, Ayres visited in El Paso with Major Cheves. He asked the CCC district commander to leave behind "the water-pump, light plant, all stoves including kitchen range, kitchen utensils and dishes for 30 men, and beds and bedding for 30 men." Ayres also provided Cheves with "a copy of the letter from the [CCC] director authorizing continuation of the side camp at SP 4 [Fort Davis] to be operated by SP 47 [Balmorhea] and requested the transfer of fifty men to SP 47 from SP 33, of whom 42 will be at Ft. Davis." [36]

As the last of the CCC crews rolled down the highway that they had built into the Chisos basin, their departure signaled more than the failure of the fundraising campaign to secure property for Texas's first national park. To local sponsors, the limited volume of traffic into the park area made their efforts at promotion seem in vain. Caretaker Lloyd Wade, a local rancher himself, entertained few visitors in the year 1938, as the focus of the NPS shifted to the north and west of the Big Bend. In August of that year, Wade corresponded with William Lawson about conditions in the Chisos Mountains; a circumstance prompted by his discovery that one prominent park sponsor (Judge Beauchamp) had complained to Lawson of Wade's failure to return his correspondence. "It is possible that it may have been lost," wrote Wade on August 4, "as [I] do not have any sure way of mailing letters here." The Chisos caretaker had "to send them out by who ever can get to take them." Most often Wade received his mail "through the Highway Foreman's courtesy." That individual would "bring it to the nearest ranch and I go there for it." There would be periods of "several days before I get it," as "it does not come regular." Beauchamp in particular had wanted to secure Wade's services as a guide for a group of Boy Scouts coming to the Big Bend. "If they will send me $100.00," said Wade, "I will get the cold drinks and ice and some candies, cookies and hire someone to run the place and keep an account of everything." Once the Scouts had departed, Wade promised to "check up and if there is anything left will return it or if there is a deficit they are to make it up." Wade himself "will not expect any thing for my time." He informed Lawson that "about the use of the kitchen and the barracks [I] will expect something for the use of them because there never was [a] party that did not leave lots of work behind them when they moved out." Wade noted that "the bath house . . . will have to be kept clean and in order and someone will have to look after the pump and keep it running all the time for that many boys." He also was "limited to the [amount] of gasoline that [I] can use per month and run[n]ing the pump and light plant more than usual while they are here will more than likely make [me] run short for the month." [37]

More common for Lloyd Wade was the incidental inquiry of some public agency seeking information about the Big Bend area. Major W.M. Tenney of Fort D.A. Russell in Marfa, wrote to Herbert Maier in October 1938 to inform the NPS that "I recently made a reconnaissance of the Rio Grande River from Boquillas to Santa Helena Canyon, including parts of the Chisos Mountains State Park." Upon contacting Wade, said Tenney, "I learned that the Park Service has recently gotten out a revised map of the [park] . . . and adjacent areas," and hoped that Maier could provide the Army Air Corps with several copies of the map for use in aerial surveillance. More intriguing was Everett Townsend's request of Maier for an NPS-funded position "which would enable [him] to police the proposed park and get the cooperation of the land owners with an end to stopping hunters of animals and artifacts." Unfortunately, said the acting regional director, "I have no idea of how this can be done." "The only jobs we have in the field," Maier told the longtime park sponsor, "aside from Inspectors, are the camp supervisory personnel." In addition, he had to tell Townsend that "foremen can no longer be assigned away from their camps for any particular length of time." Maier hoped that Townsend would remember that "there was considerable pressure on us along about the time the Big Bend camp was finishing up to cause you to go back to the camp, and the [Interior] Secretary is stricter about this than before." In an anguished admission of the status of CCC work in the dark days of 1938, Maier confessed to Townsend: "Frankly, Everett, I just [don't] know how we would go about setting up a job such as this from NPS funds." He admitted that "it seems so impossible I even hesitate writing Mr. Wirth about it." Yet Maier wondered if "Ewing Thomason could approach [Wirth] in person at Washington and talk the thing over." From this, the Region III official hoped, "they might be able to work out some way whereby such a job could be set up." Were that the case, Maier believed that "the appointment will have to come from the Secretary." [38]

Just as Texas politics had delayed the dream of Townsend and other promoters of Big Bend National Park, so did the support of Governor W. Lee O'Daniel revive the spirits of NPS officials and breathe new life into the CCC program for south Brewster County. Once the state legislature passed, and the governor signed, a measure to transfer the state's properties in the Big Bend to the federal government, Herbert Maier sought to restore a CCC crew in the Chisos Basin. To that end, he dispatched William Ayres on May 3, 1939, to examine what remained of the original "SP-33" facility. "This is the largest and most important Park area in the [Texas] State Park System from a scenic standpoint," declared the NPS inspector. Yet "little has been done so far in this Park other than the construction of a road and trails and attendant bridges, together with the development of water supply and lineal and topographical surveys." Ayres recommended that "at least two miles of road must be constructed before the [Chisos] area in which uncompleted buildings are placed, will be accessible for the delivery of materials to the site," as the basin was "a rugged and [mountainous] area." "At least another period (6th)," said Ayres, "will be required to provide any facilities for accommodating Park visitors, as no buildings have been erected in this Park to date." Other suggestions by the inspector included "one large vehicle bridge, as well as a number of culverts," a "stone masonry and a concession and administration building . . . for the service and convenience of Park visitors," and "four miles of horse trails . . . to enable Park visitors to reach inaccessible mountains and valleys from the concession building area." Ayres predicted that "six stone masonry cabins should be constructed as quickly as possible to provide overnight accommodations for Park visitors," as the distance from the Chisos Basin to the town of Marathon made it "imperative that a provision be made for Park visitors who must, of necessity, remain overnight." Finally, the park service inspector called for "one pumping plant and house for same . . . for the secondary lift from [the] water supply to [the] concession building and cabin area," along with "four thousand feet of pipe line . . . to convey this water from [the] power plant to [the] storage reservoir." [39]

On the strength of Ayres's recommendations, Milton J. McColm of Region III included the Chisos basin in his "14th Period CCC Camp Applications" to Washington. Conrad Wirth had asked the Santa Fe office of the NPS about the merits of such an application, and McColm suggested that "the CCC Company now at SP-47 in Balmorhea State Park, one of the five camps recommended for abandonment in Texas, be transferred to the Big Bend area." McColm, as the acting regional director, pointed to Ayres's report that "the buildings are in very good condition and that rehabilitation cost should not exceed $2,000." He also suggested that "the application for a CCC camp in the Big Bend area will change the recommendation and memorandum of May 13 regarding the establishment of a camp at Bluewater State Park [in western New Mexico] . . . unless a CCC company can be made available to this Region from some other Region." Some six weeks later, the Santa Fe regional office released to the media more details of the Chisos CCC program. "The work," wrote McColm, "to consist mainly of roads and trails construction, will be confined to the Big Bend State Park." The lands recently transferred from the state of Texas to the NPS "aggregate about 240,000 acres of the 788,000 acres that will comprise the national park," said McColm. The latter noted that "'the Big Bend area has been so widely publicized . . . that there is certain to be a big influx of visitors almost immediately after the national park is established." Given that scenario, said the Region III official, "'we are anxious that some of the preliminary development be completed in time to permit those people to get into major areas of the park.'" McColm and his staff thus approached CCC director Robert Fechner to reopen the Chisos camp, and to restore to the Big Bend country the annual expenditure of more than $100,000 in federal funds that had ceased in December 1937. [40]

Word of the return of CCC workers to the Big Bend area electrified local park sponsors, who reiterated their calls for new road construction into the southern extremities of Brewster County. Benjamin F. Berkeley, the state senator from Alpine whose 1925 legislation first began the dialogue about national parks for west Texas, had become manager of the Brewster County Chamber of Commerce. With his knowledge of the political process, Berkeley undertook in July 1939 a campaign with the state parks board to prevail upon the NPS for "a cut-off from the Alpine-Terlingua road at a point about fifty miles south of Alpine to the other roads entering Green Gulch." Should the NPS and state parks board "desire to make any suggestions concerning the proposed more direct route from Alpine to the Park," said Berkeley, "we welcome same prior to the time the State Engineer approves the most practical route for the County to open up." The chamber manager advised Lawson that "a portion of the cut-off road above referred to is already being traveled by several ranchmen in that section." Berkeley and his associates were "anxious to make the extension for the purpose of facilitating the trade and business relationships between Alpine and the C.C.C. Camp when they return October next." In addition, the prescribed corridor "will be an improved scenic route which will be very helpful in the unfolding of the Park." Echoing the remarks of the state highway surveyors of 1937, Berkeley reminded Lawson that "we have already taken up the matter of securing a State Engineer to approve the proposed cut-off so that the possibility of future changes will be rendered negligible." [41]

Berkeley's correspondence with the state parks board initiated discussions about the NPS's plans for Big Bend that would persist until the park opened. Hillory Tolson, director of the Santa Fe region of the park service, spoke with Lawson about road matters, and sought further clarification from Berkeley before making any formal statements. Tolson noted that the chamber manager had failed to indicate "at which point the proposed cut-off will enter the present road, leading south from Marathon, in relation to Persimmon Gap which, as you know, is to be the principal control point for those entering the park." Speaking for the park service, Tolson acknowledged that "the proposed cut-off road perhaps is not intended as a portion of the permanent main approach road to the park from Alpine." Should the park service analyze Berkeley's suggested route, Tolson's office "will first require very considerable study of the entire route from Alpine to Persimmon Gap and in this the National Park Service would desire to participate, although we are hardly in a position to undertake such a study at the present time." Berkeley responded immediately to Tolson's concerns, declaring that "the most practical, direct, scenic route would be to branch off from the Terlingua road some 45 to 50 miles south of Alpine and head toward Green Gulch." The chamber's primary objective, said Berkeley, was that "since Alpine is the County Seat and all Park Matters are focused here, that it would be a short sighted policy to indefinitely delay a practical, scenic entrance into the Park from Alpine." Yet another, more pragmatic consideration for Berkeley was competition with its neighbors. "Should Alpine stand by," he admitted, "it is only a question of a very short time until Marfa, the county seat of the adjoining county of Presidio, will complete her road to the Park which will leave the central point, Alpine, without a direct connection." The chamber manager had to concede that "that is their [Marfa's] privilege but the point we raise is that Alpine would make a great mistake in not moving rapidly toward protecting her interests and at the same time facilitate travel to and from the Park." [42]

The chamber's persistence on the approach road to Big Bend, as with all of its interaction with the NPS, prompted Tolson to define more clearly the procedures of the agency. "It is the policy of this service," wrote the regional director on August 8, "to hold road mileage within the areas administered by it to a minimum as they constitute harmful encroachments on scenic areas." The park service also preferred to limit "the number of control points" along park roads for "ease and efficiency in administration." Mindful that the objectives of the Alpine chamber were drive more by economics than aesthetics, Tolson wrote that "the boundaries of the proposed Big Bend National Park purposely stretch northward to include Persimmon Gap because it was generally agreed that that point is the natural entrance to the park area." As the NPS anticipated that "90% of the traffic will come from a northerly direction," Tolson estimated that "a road leading from Alpine would function to the best advantage not only for the Government and the traveling public, but also for the town of Alpine, if the road enters the park area at the principal control point at Persimmon Gap." [43]

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