Capitol Reef
Administrative History
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Format and Organization

This administrative history is intended to weave together the desert setting, human history, and National Park Service concerns of Capitol Reef into a clear account that enables park managers to better understand the complex resource issues affecting Capitol Reef National Park. Its further purpose is to make those managers aware of the wider economic and environmental implications their decisions may have for surrounding communities and for other land management agencies.

To make such an ambitious, detailed history serviceable, the customary narrative format will not always be followed. For instance, Chapters 1-4 of Volume I provide background information on three primary resources at Capitol Reef: geology, archeology, and the history of exploration and settlement by Euro-Americans. Chapters 5-7 outline the history of Capitol Reef National Monument from its 1937 establishment through its Mission 66 developments of the mid-1960s. The last four chapters of Volume I focus on the legislative history of Capitol Reef: Chapter 8 details how Capitol Reef was established as a national monument, Chapter 9 handles the various expansion efforts during the 1940s and '50s, and Chapters 10-11 tell the story of the controversial 1969 monument expansion and subsequent re-designation as a national park in 1971.

Volume II consists of those resource topics that have been of greatest concern to park managers throughout Capitol Reef's history. Each of these chapters provides a detailed, footnoted history of that issue. The author hopes that these more topical chapters will be updated regularly in the years to come.

This format allows the reader to refer directly to concise accounts of those issues of interest, rather than requiring him to follow the integrated, historical strands of those issues. For reference, a simple chronology of important events is provided on pages 6-7.

Following each of the two volumes are comprehensive bibliographies, as well as appendices providing copies of key legislation that has been instrumental in Capitol Reef's history. For further reference, Chapter 18 in Volume II includes an annotated list of monument and park planning documents available in the Capitol Reef archives or at the National Park Service, Denver Service Center, Technical Information Center.


Research for this administrative history relied heavily on primary federal government documents in the National Archives Record Group 79 series, and documents and correspondence relating to the National Park Service. These documents are in the National Archives, Washington, D.C., the National Archives - Rocky Mountain Regional Branch, Denver, or the archives and superintendent's files of Capitol Reef National Park. Other record groups searched at the National Archives included Department of the Interior Record Group 48, Bureau of Reclamation Record Group 49, and U.S. Senate Record Group 46. Other important repositories included Zion and Arches National Park archives, the University of Utah Special Collections, the Brigham Young University Special Collections, the Western History Collection at the Denver Public Library, the Utah Historical Society Library, and the Utah State Archives. Melody Webb, former superintendent of Lyndon B. Johnson National Historic Site, was kind enough to provide copies of her research on the 1968-69 National Park Service expansion proposals from the Lyndon B. Johnson Library, Austin, Texas. Also consulted were various pieces of correspondence, diaries, theses, unpublished and published local histories, oral histories, research papers, and secondary sources found in a number of repositories.

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Last Updated: 10-Dec-2002