Capitol Reef
Administrative History
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The establishment of Capitol Reef National Monument (Fig. 6) came after two decades of work by local boosters and National Park Service officials. The local boosters believed in 1937 that the hard work was all but over, not realizing the difficulty of providing visitor access to remote, rugged Capitol Reef. Park service officials knew, however, that the next two decades would see another hard struggle to organize and develop the new monument. So long as access limited visitation and the United States' entry into World War II restricted funding, development would be delayed at Capitol Reef.

Figure 6. Capitol Reef National Monument boundary, 1937. (click on image for an enlargement in a new window)

What follows is a brief story of the National Park Service's efforts to bring Capitol Reef National Monument into the system as a fully functioning unit. The goal of the chapter is to recount how Capitol Reef progressed over the years, and to discuss the planning documents that helped shape its future. Succeeding chapters discuss the growth of the monument through the 1950s and 1960s.

The First Year

At the end of the September 1937 dedication ceremony, optimism ran high among local residents and elected officials. Ephraim Pectol, the "Father of Capitol Reef," believed that the celebration would "mark the beginning of a new era for Wayne County." [1]

A week later, Pectol found out just how much work was still needed to make the monument operational. Regional Director Frank A. Kittredge, writing Pectol to commend him on his achievement, informed him of the task ahead:

As I told you during our visit, we are going to have to do some thorough studying before we undertake any development. We cannot afford to make mistakes by jumping into work, perhaps scarring some of the country and then wishing we had not....The Service and the State are fortunate in this case in starting from a new foundation without having any previous developments which must be undone. It is quite possible that progress may seem slow to you and others of our friends in the vicinity of the Monument, but we necessarily must be sure before we start developments if we are to avoid mistakes. [2]

Kittredge also warned Pectol that there was still no money for either development or surveys for the coming year. While Pectol and the other boosters must have been exasperated by the continually slow pace of action at Capitol Reef, National Park Service officials were excited, yet cautious, about the chance to work in an untouched area.

For the first years of its existence, Capitol Reef National Monument was not allocated a budget. In fact, it was not officially activated as a member of the national park system until 1950. Meanwhile, it was placed under the administration of Preston Patraw, coordinating superintendent of Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks.

While Patraw knew the area well from his extensive effort to get the monument proclaimed, he was a very busy man. In 1937, not only did Patraw have responsibility for Zion, Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef, but also Cedar Breaks, Pipe Springs, Timpanogos, and Lehman Caves National Monuments. [3] These diverse responsibilities left Capitol Reef without any on-site custodian until 1944. Further administrative neglect was due to the instability of the Zion superintendency. After Patraw left Zion National Park at the end of 1938, there were four different superintendents from January 1939 to July 1943. The most influential of these, Paul Franke, was in charge of Zion and, thus Capitol Reef, three separate times through the 1940s and 1950s. [4]

Before Patraw left, he tried hard to get Capitol Reef on its way to becoming an active part of the park system. One week after Roosevelt's presidential proclamation, Patraw was preparing a list of projects needed by the new monument. His first priority was establishing a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp which, he thought, would be kept busy for several years improving roads, building trails, and erecting structures. Proposed projects included archeological and boundary surveys, a boundary fence, and a water and sewage system. Other priorities identified by Patraw were limiting stock driveways to one canyon and installing a radio that could contact Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks. [5]

While the superintendent emphasized immediate needs, Regional Director Kittredge's priority was long range goals. Wrote the regional director:

In this Monument we have an excellent opportunity to do first things first. This is quite a contrast to our usual necessary procedure of being pushed into developments and activities because of work already accomplished in Parks and Monuments and the necessity of taking care of activities or visitors who are already upon us. [6]

In other words, the National Park Service should take advantage of the virgin character and isolation of Capitol Reef National Monument, planning and slowly implementing development there. Local businessmen probably would have disagreed with this approach, had they been aware of the director's intentions; but slow development nevertheless became the guiding principle during the monument's first two decades. Low funding and continued isolation would make immediate, large -scale development a moot point insofar as the National Park Service was concerned.

The inability to get funding appropriations for Capitol Reef National Monument did not stop Patraw from coordinating the first development outline. Submitted in March 1938, the recommendations stressed that all future development should emphasize protection of the resources while improving park access. Any tourist accommodations should wait until the private lands at Fruita could be acquired, since there was potential for "unrestricted, unsightly, uncoordinated private development." Even if that were accomplished, Patraw recommended, all tourist lodging and shops should be located in Torrey, well outside the monument's boundaries. [7]

The existing developments listed in 1938 included about 20 miles of unimproved dirt road from Chimney Rock, through Fruita, and into Capitol Gorge, with a side road to Pleasant Creek. There was one "barely passable saddle trail to Hickman Bridge," and a single-wire telephone line from Torrey, through Fruita, and on through Capitol Gorge, characterized as "privately owned by users, poorly constructed, and usually out of service." Electricity, aside from that produced by privately-owned generators, would not be available until after the war.

Project plans called for major improvements to the primary road, eventually creating a paved road through the Fremont River or Pleasant Creek canyons. It was also proposed that minor improvements, such as grading and oiling, could be made to scenic dead end roads in Grand Wash and Capitol Gorge. Saddle and foot trails were recommended from Grand Wash to Hickman Bridge and also above and through the Fremont River canyon. At the chosen administrative site, a ranger station and residence was needed, as well as a museum and a water and sewage disposal system. Additional surveys and fencing were also encouraged. [8]

The first year at Capitol Reef National Monument saw planning for the slow, steady development of roads, trails, and buildings, as well as the initial consideration of private landholdings in Fruita. Negotiations for the purchase of any land would not begin until 1941. Meanwhile, the CCC would start the first federal construction in Capitol Reef.

CCC Work At The Monument

Proposals for a CCC camp at Capitol Reef were first submitted by Utah State Planning Engineer Paul Arentz and Superintendent Patraw in 1935. Patraw requested $21,000 to establish a winter camp from which to conduct the surveys and road and utility upgrades. This proposal was rejected by Hillory Tolson, the National Park Service assistant director for operations, due to an ordered freeze on new camp construction. [9]

In early 1938, six months or so after the monument's proclamation, $3,425 of Emergency Relief Administration (ERA) money was appropriated for initial road improvements. The focus of work, begun the first week of May, was installation of erosion-controlling basket dams and rip-rap along the stretch of road above Sulphur Creek. [10]

The CCC side, or stub, camp was established in July by Foreman Marion Willis and his crew of 17 laborers. The camp, "one thousand feet to the west of Chimney Rock and on the north side of the entrance road," initially consisted of tents and one small frame building that housed the radio. The water came from "some springs located about one quarter mile north west of the camp" and was stored in a 2300-gallon corrugated iron tank. Electricity came from a portable generator near by. Work continued on the road above Sulphur Creek, and sandstone quarrying began for a headquarters building. Whether this building was to be a residence, museum, or checking station was still uncertain. [11]

Work on the "ranger station," as it was being called, continued through the summer of 1938. The road improvements were set back in August due to a flash flood that wiped out some of the initial work plus the bridge over the Fremont River. One worker, assigned to tally visitors during the month of August, recorded a total of 144 cars and 362 people passing through Fruita. All but 12 of the cars were from Utah, indicating that most of the traffic was local. The camp was closed for the season in early October, with workers returning to Bryce Canyon, and ultimately Zion National Park, for the winter. [12]

CCC work continued on a seasonal basis through April 1942, when all camps were closed due to the war. Although records after 1938 are sketchy, a summary of accomplishments can be made. When field naturalist Joseph Dixon surveyed Capitol Reef for his report on the geology, flora and fauna of the monument, he noted that work had begun on the rock retaining walls at the head of the Hickman Bridge trail. [13] By 1940, with an ERA allotment of $32,804, Foreman Owen Hibbert and a crew of 40 men had completed the ranger residence, as it was now called, and the road work around Fruita. Construction was also underway on a new bridge across Sulphur Creek just north of the headquarters area, as well as the Hickman Bridge trail, and on the "obliteration of an old Monument road." [14] In 1942, a section of the monument road over the first hill south of Fruita, called Danish Hill, was begun. By April, however, with the project only 60 percent completed, the camp was closed permanently due to lack of workers. The pressing need for manpower in the war effort left any remaining construction at Capitol Reef to be completed by the National Park Service. [15]

From 1938 to 1942 the work completed by the CCC, under funds allotted from the ERA and PA, included the stone "ranger residence" that is now the superintendent's office (Fig. 7), the small explosives and equipment shack near the modern park's storage yard, the erosion control basket dams and rip-rap along Sulphur Creek, a bridge over Sulphur Creek near headquarters, and the partial improvements to the Hickman Bridge trail and the road south of Fruita.

Ranger Residence
Figure 7. "Ranger Residence," ca. 1950. (NPS file photo)

The Chimney Rock camp was dismantled after the crews left, leaving only the frame structures. These were later burned down by vandals in April 1947. One of the old CCC buildings was reportedly moved into the upper Cathedral Valley, where it was used as a line shack until it, too, burned down. [16]

The Civilian Conservation Corps provided the first visible effort by the federal government at Capitol Reef National Monument. Not only was the CCC responsible for the improved roads and the construction of the first building and trail, but it also assisted the National Park Service in gathering visitation statistics. In fact, the on-site foreman actually served as the first, unofficial, custodian for the monument. Throughout the National Park Service, the CCC and other New Deal programs proved instrumental in upgrading access as well as assisting in preserving park resources. For new areas such as Capitol Reef, with no other source of funding, these federal assistance programs were crucial in initiating developments. [17]

Once the CCC was gone from Capitol Reef National Monument, National Park Service development stopped for two decades. With meager resources and the continued lack of significant visitation, the only actions taken by the National Park Service during the remainder of the 1940s were purchasing a little land and some water rights, and hiring a full-time custodian.

Chesnut Land Acquisition

In the spring of 1941, with CCC work in the monument well underway, the National Park Service began considering purchase of a piece of private land in Fruita. The initial objective was to secure water rights for future development and a trail right-of-way down the Fremont River canyon. Willing sellers were found in Mr. and Mrs. Alma Chesnut, who had already moved from Fruita to Napa Valley, California for health reasons.

The Chesnuts' three tracts were east of the Fremont River/Sulphur Creek confluence. One seven-acre tract consisted of a small knoll, with a three-room house, shed, stable, corral, and cistern overlooking the river (Fig. 8). There were also approximately 250 fruit trees, mostly peaches. The second tract comprised eight acres of river bottom land that had been orchard but was now regarded only as pasture land, due to recent floods. The third tract was 46 acres of "practically worthless land above the cliffs." Water rights to all these parcels were .66 second feet. Appraised at $3 an acre, and considering a small mortgage and water rights, the total price sought by the Chesnuts was a little over $1,800. [18] An agreement was worked out with the Chesnuts, but the sale was held up for two years because of inaccurate property descriptions. The fact that Tine Oyler was selling his adjoining land to another purchaser, Max Krueger, at the same time added to the confusion over exact descriptions and titles. Repeated surveys were made by General Land Office personnel and Assistant Regional Engineer Sam Hendricks.

Alma Chesnut house
Figure 8. Alma Chesnut house. (NPS file photo)

Hendricks reported in October 1941 that complete, definitive locations for all private lands in Fruita would have to be made before the Chesnut sale could proceed. "The absence of definite section and property corners...and the lack of evidence on the ground as furnished by the neighbors" were particularly annoying. Hendricks described some of the corner markings as washed out by the river and others as

[a] pole tied into a fence line; a piece of cord tied onto the top strand of a barbed wire fence; an 'x' chiseled on a sandstone ledge....[T]he best of all was an 'x' cut on a swinging gate (emphasis in original). [19]

The final judgment of condemnation needed to purchase the 66.926-acre Alma Chesnut property was finally filed on July 15, 1943. [20] The National Park Service now had the water rights necessary for fire protection and campground purposes, and a little orchard property that included a house, fencing, and outbuildings. [21] Since the ranger residence built by the CCC had no plumbing, the Chesnut house could also provide lodgings for a monument custodian. This house and property would be the only permanent National Park Service residence within the monument until the 1960s.

Charles Kelly Becomes Custodian

A full-time custodian had been requested by Zion Superintendent Patraw when the monument was first established in 1937. The problem was not only lack of housing, but also lack of money. Bishop Ephraim Pectol had been nominated for the position in the 1930s by the Associated Civic Clubs of Southern Utah, and Patraw had concurred with this suggestion in his 1935 survey of the proposed monument. Pectol's advanced age and failing health, however, may have deterred his appointment. [22] Another factor was the significant need to have the custodian actually living within the monument and using the newly acquired water rights, which otherwise would be forfeited. (Pectol resided with his family in Torrey, where he operated a grocery store.)

Newly-appointed Superintendent Paul Franke determined to solve the problem by finding someone to take care of the monument in return for free use of the Chesnut house plus any income from selling fruit grown in the Chesnut peach, apple, and apricot orchards. It must have been a relief to Franke to find a capable and willing man already living at Fruita: Charles Kelly.

Kelly had already lived a full life by the time he assumed his role as the first caretaker of Capitol Reef National Monument in May 1943. [23] Born to fundamentalist Christian parents at a Michigan logging camp in 1889, young Kelly grew to hate his overbearing, strictly religious father. As an adult, Kelly held a general distaste for all religion. One useful thing he did learn from his father, however, was the printing business. After a brief stint in the army during World War I, Kelly married Harriette Greener and settled into the growing Western Printing Company. The printing jobs financed a new love for historical exploration and writing. Kelly joined several float trips down the Green and Colorado Rivers searching for historical inscriptions and tracking rumors of lost silver mines.

He published numerous historical books and articles, including the first factual account of the Donner Party, and his highly regarded book, The Outlaw Trail (1938), about Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch. His publications in the Utah Historical Quarterly and Desert Magazine earned him an Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History and a lifetime honorary membership in the Utah Historical Society. Always vocal (and not always complimentary) in his opinions about his business and exploration partners, he nevertheless earned the respect of professional historians and other Western history buffs. [24]

Charles Kelly began looking for a new career at age 52, when he sold his printing business. Noting that "there is nothing in business but a headache," he began looking for a home in southern Utah, preferably along a river. His belief that another economic depression would follow World War II led him to consider taking a more secure job with National Park Service. Kelly's first idea was to live at Hite and be custodian of the proposed Escalante National Monument. He also looked into living at Ticaboo or in the Henry Mountains, but Harriette vetoed those plans. With these possibilities ruled out, he decided to buy land in Fruita and settle down to his writing and farming (Fig. 9). [25]

Charles Kelly
Figure 9. Charles Kelly. (NPS file photo)

While renting a cabin belonging to retired dentist, tour company operator and rock hound Arthur "Doc" Inglesby, Kelly learned of Alma Chesnut's desire to sell. Kelly asked the National Park Service about the possibility of buying this land, but was told the government had already decided to purchase it. Nevertheless, Charles and Harriette moved to Fruita in October 1941, renting one of Inglesby's cabins until one became available for purchase. These plans fell through when the war, the new National Park Service presence, and others prospective buyers combined to drive prices too high for Kelly. After two winters of "waiting developments," Kelly's previous contacts with Superintendent Franke finally paid off. Franke saw Kelly as a man extremely well qualified to look after the natural and prehistoric resources of Capitol Reef. Kelly, for his part, was eager to join the National Park Service, and he found Capitol Reef to be a nice place to live and work. The deal was struck when Kelly agreed to take care of the monument for minimum pay and cheap rent. [26]

Franke managed to get permission for the Kellys to become caretakers of the Chesnut house in the spring of 1943. The Kellys irrigated a garden and the Chesnut orchard that summer, thereby protecting the recently acquired water rights. Paperwork was begun to get Kelly officially appointed as a nominal custodian in return for $120 a year and a special-use permit enabling him to continue living in the Chesnut house. On March 18, 1944, at the age of 55, Charles Kelly became the first official custodian of Capitol Reef National Monument.

Charles Kelly had a considerable and colorful impact on the history of Capitol Reef National Monument. His appreciation for the history and archeology of the region, his love of the landscape, and his determination to protect the monument's resources helped build a solid National Park Service foundation when little money or outside assistance was available to do so.

Unfortunately, historical accounts of Kelly have not always been kind. Most critical was Jonathan Thow's 1986 Master's thesis on Capitol Reef National Park, in which Kelly was fingered as the instigator of all conflicts between the park and the local communities. He is presented by Thow as a curmudgeon, a "Mormon-baiter," and a bitter man who was hostile toward nearly everyone. Others have reported that Kelly was a bit too fond of his liquor. [27] Yet, despite his flaws, Kelly achieved significant accomplishments during his long tenure at Capitol Reef National Monument.

Kelly was determined to protect "his" monument. He fought off illegal grazing, vandalism, uranium mining, and anything else he considered disrespectful toward the land and his responsibility to protect it. Because travel was so difficult and time-consuming, few superintendents or even maintenance assistants came over to Capitol Reef National Monument from Zion or Bryce Canyon National Parks, making Kelly's battle a lonely one. Kelly was the only National Park Service presence at Capitol Reef throughout the 1940s and most of the 1950s. He was resourceful as well as opinionated. Those opinions, often expressed in his monthly reports, could be interpreted (as by Thow) as mean-spirited; or, they could be read as the writings of a man deeply committed to his job of protecting and developing Capitol Reef National Monument.

Capitol Reef During World War II

Throughout the 1940s, lack of money and continued isolation were the greatest inhibitors to the development Capitol Reef National Monument. During World War II, congressional appropriations to the National Park Service were cut by more than half. This guaranteed that small monuments such as Capitol Reef would continue to see little or no funding. Yet, even without an active National Park Service presence at the monument, development was slowly accruing. Improved roads and a new lodge after the war helped bring in more tourists, while floods, private property disputes, and vandalism continually plagued the new custodian.

A bituminous oil-gravel (chip-sealed) road was completed as far as Torrey in 1941. That left only 12 miles of dirt road (still impassable when wet) to travel before reaching Fruita. The rough road through Capitol Gorge had been slightly improved and was maintained more frequently. Nonetheless, travel to the east or south of the monument was still precarious. The long-awaited and eagerly anticipated paved road from Torrey through Hanksville and on to Blanding was still in initial planning stages during the early 1940s. [28]

The slowly improving roads were bringing a few visitors to Capitol Reef. Unofficial estimates were about 1,000 to 2,000 people annually through the war years. These numbers contrast with the over 100,000 visitors to Zion National Park just before the war began. [29]

Except for the master plans, development outlines, and a few letters and diary entries from Charles Kelly, there are few detailed records for Capitol Reef during the 1940s. A preliminary development outline submitted in 1943 by Zion Superintendent Paul Franke gives an idea of monument conditions during the war. Besides Utah Highway 24, there were only a few dirt roads used to access the tracts of private land around Fruita. No road went further east along the Fremont River than the Oyler/Krueger property. In anticipation of future road development, Franke suggested that the Utah Highway 24 right-of-way, which served as the monument boundary from Meeks Mesa to Fruita, be absorbed by an expansion that would bring an additional 1,000 acres to the monument. This proposal would be seriously considered a decade later. [30]

Tourist facilities at Fruita consisted of three cabins rented out by William and Dicey Chesnut, and another three owned by Doc Inglesby. The cabins were described in the development outline as "very poor shacks without any modern conveniences." There still was no electricity, and the phone lines had been abandoned for some time. Lurton Knee purchased the Floral Ranch on Pleasant Creek in 1941 with the idea of turning the area into a guest ranch. (Franke objected to having a dude ranch operating so close to the monument, especially since there were so many archeological sites and petroglyph panels nearby. He recommended that this area, too, be brought into Capitol Reef's boundaries, in order to protect those resources.) But other than these meager accommodations, the only other tourist service was horse rental for the very few who wanted to see the backcountry. [31]

National Park Service structures were also minimal: the small house and outbuildings associated with the Chesnut property, and the CCC's ranger residence, which lacked water and toilet. There were also the remains of the two frame buildings left over from the CCC camp near Chimney Rock. The National Park Service presence at Capitol Reef was still as minimal as the tourist accommodations. With few tourists and fewer services, Capitol Reef National Monument was a forgotten unit of the national park system. The restrictions on gas, oil, and tires, and the National Park Service downsizing brought on by the escalating war in Europe and the Pacific would keep Fruita and its beautiful surroundings almost untouched.

By 1943, Zion's superintendent realized the impracticality of buying out all the private landholders in the monument. Franke wrote:

[I] recognize the conflict of private lands but can see no reason why a majority of present owners cannot continue to reside and operate their ranches within the Monument. With encouragement from the Service these owners can be encouraged to develop and maintain their property in conformity with standards to be established. With nearly 1000 acres of high-priced orchard lands its retirement from the tax rolls would be a hardship to the country and its people. Certain small units and water must be purchased to provide adequate space for public enjoyment, providing for public buildings, campgrounds and accommodations. The type of physical developments should conform to the early Mormon type of architecture (stone). Location to be within the area known as Fruita. [32]

This policy shift, which allowed the private holdings in Fruita to remain so for the present, recognized that the National Park Service could not afford to buy out the owners. It was hoped that so long as the residents of Fruita continued to live their mostly subsistence lifestyle, there would be no conflict with National Park Service policies. On the other hand, the residents of Fruita seemed to welcome Kelly and the National Park Service into their community, so long as development did not threaten their property, nor Kelly's rough opinions antagonize them.

With the war's end in 1945, tourism to the national parks increased dramatically. Yet, despite initial optimism of the superintendents at Zion National Park, Capitol Reef National Monument remained a quiet, undisturbed niche in the system. Kelly was promised an appropriation for Capitol Reef that would include a new, $8,000 house and a permanent, paid ranger job at the monument. In the end, all he received was a short-wave radio to keep in touch with the faster-paced life at Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks. [33]

There were a few changes to the monument after the war. Construction of a lodge began in 1946 on two acres of land owned by Doc Inglesby. The lodge, originally designed as a smaller-scale version of the Utah Park's Lodge at Zion National Park, was to be jointly owned by George Mason and Vincent Rosenberger, of California. The first year's $25,000 budget was used to build the main structure housing the dining room, lobby, store, and a few sleeping quarters (Fig. 10). Additional, "deluxe" cabins were to be added around the first building in later years. A 10,000-kilowatt generator and a 20,000-gallon storage tank (water rights obtained from Inglesby at the same time of purchase) were to be built on the slope of Johnson's Mesa. Unfortunately, the lodge ran out of money within two years, resulting in significantly reduced plans. [34]

Capitol Reef Lodge
Figure 10. Capitol Reef Lodge. (NPS file photo)

During the immediate post-war boom, however, this lodge, a new motel in Torrey, and the planned guest ranch on Pleasant Creek brought new hope for the long-awaited tourist rush. Progress seemed imminent when, in 1947, Garkane Power finally ran a power line and poles down to Fruita from Torrey. The National Park Service, however, was not about to publicize nor even publish a book about Capitol Reef until the monument was officially activated, funded, and staffed. (This policy, more than likely, was not discussed with Kelly or the local businessmen.) [35] Tourism remained slow.

Even without much support, Kelly marked time by battling occasional vandalism, usually another name etched into the walls along the road through Capitol Gorge, and fighting for additional trails and the inclusion of Cathedral and Goblin valleys within the monument [36].

Finally, in 1949, the National Park Service could no longer ignore Capitol Reef National Monument. Even without improvements, increasing numbers of summer tourists to Zion and Bryce Canyon were bound to spill over into the more remote parks such as Capitol Reef. A new master plan and allocations for a permanent ranger and desperately needed materials were in order. [37]

During the writing of this master plan, renewed debate arose over the location of a permanent headquarters area for Capitol Reef. At the time, the Utah highway department had not yet decided whether the proposed new road would be routed through the Fremont River canyon or along Pleasant Creek. The National Park Service Regional Office in Santa Fe decided that, whatever the road's route, park headquarters should be at the canyon entrance. Those who favored a move to the old Floral Ranch saw a great deal of potential, but were dismayed to learn that owner Lurton Knee was demanding $50,000 for the property. This amount was considerably more than the $2,500 he had paid for the land just seven years earlier. This debate, ultimately resolved by the state, may have been a key reason why significant development of the Fruita area was postponed throughout the 1950s. The other reason was the uncertain status of Fruita itself. [38]

The development theme of 1949 recognized the "very high class" visitor that predominated at Capitol Reef. Tourists were thought to be primarily adventurers, students, lecturers, and writers of natural history and archeology; thus "this class of use should set the theme for development." Yet it was anticipated that "whether we like it or not, the crowds will come." The first plans for development, therefore, were to include campgrounds, information stations, a museum, and badly needed restrooms. Hemmed in by surrounding private property covered with a "hodgepodge of cabin camps, beer joints, and cheap shops," though, the park service was effectively thwarted. [39]

It was projected that, beyond an urgently needed superintendent with a grade 6 salary, future staff would include another permanent ranger, a maintenance man, and assorted seasonal rangers, naturalists, and laborers. Housing for this staff would require at least two more residences, or three if the CCC-built "ranger residence" was converted to an information station/museum. A likely location for these buildings was the barren land on either side of Sulphur Creek, just west of the ranger residence.

Also proposed were new trails through Spring Canyon, the rocky plateaus above Chimney Rock, Hickman Bridge (called the Broad Arch Bridge in early park documents), and across the ridges between the Fremont River and Grand Wash. Maintenance of these trails, plus minor road repair not handled by the state, could be the duty of the seasonal or day laborers.

A larger ranger staff was needed to protect the monument's unfenced boundary, perform road patrols, and monitor monument resources, including a small flock of mountain sheep whose tracks had been seen in the area. Any interpretation at the monument was to stress four themes: natural history, including geology, biology and paleontology; archeology and prehistory; history of exploration and Mormon settlement; and the National Park Service mission to protect, develop, and administer the area. [40]

This 1949 Master Plan was not the only source urging appropriations for Capitol Reef. Regional Naturalist Natt Dodge was incensed that a bighorn ram was killed within the monument during the winter of 1947-48, and he lent his voice to the cause. In 1950, as National Park Service plans were being finalized, the Associated Civic Clubs of Southern and Eastern Utah also pushed for a full-time agency representative and basic park necessities. [41]

This petition from a respected business organization may have been the final push needed to get money for Capitol Reef added to the 1950 budget. The monument finally was officially activated in 1950, and Charles Kelly was designated its first superintendent a year later. The immediate problems of the 1950s, including a substantial uranium boom within monument boundaries, would test both National Park Service resolve and Kelly's native wit. But whatever its problems, after more than a decade of virtual inactivity, at least Capitol Reef National Monument was now an active unit of the service.


1 Richfield Reaper, 30 September 1937.

2 Kittredge to Pectol, 4 October 1937, File CR-101-1, Accession #79-60A-354, Box 1, Container #63179, Records of the National Park Service, Record Group 79 (RG 79, National Archives - Rocky Mountain Region, Denver, hereafter referred to as NA-Denver).

3 Dena S. Markoff, "An Administrative History: Decision-Making That Shaped Zion National Park, 1909 to 1981" (Zion Natural History Association, July 1982), on file, Zion National Park Archives.

4 Harold P. Danz, ed., Historic Listing of National Park Service Officials, revised ed. (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, May 1991) 73, 194.

5 Patraw to Kittredge, 12 August 1937, File 201, 79-60A-354, Box 1, NA-Denver.

6 Kittredge to Patraw, 28 September 1937, Ibid.

7 "Development Outline for Capitol Reef National Monument," 1 March 1938, File 600-02, 79-60A-354, Box 2, Container #63180, NA-Denver.

8 Ibid.

9 Patraw to Branch of Plans and Designs, San Francisco Office, 15 August 1935; Tolson to Patraw, Telegram, 26 September 1935, File NPS-000, 79-60A-354, Box 1, RG 79, NA-Denver. See also Chapter 8.

10 Harlan Stephenson, Resident Landscape Architect, "Monthly Narrative Report," 25 April - 25 May 1938; Ibid.

11 Monthly Narrative Report, 25 July - 25 August 1938; Ibid.

12 Monthly Narrative Report, 25 August - 25 September 1938, Ibid.; Charles Smith to Mrs. E. P. Pectol, 4 February 1948; Ibid., File CR-101.

13 Joseph S. Dixon, "Special Report on Geology, Flora and Fauna of Capitol Reef National Monument," Box 1, Folder 5, Capitol Reef National Park Archives. This document reported little new and had few recommendations beyond the need for more research on the area's resources.

14 Superintendent's Annual Report, 1940, File 207, Entry 7, Central Classified Files, 1907-1949, Box 2063, National Archives, Washington, D.C. (hereafter referred to as NA); John Diehl to Regional Director, 21 March 1940, File CR-204-10, 79-60A-354, Box 1, RG 79, NA-Denver.

15 Superintendent's Annual Report, 1 July 1941 - 30 June 1942, File 207, Entry 7, Box 2063, RG 79, NA. A fairly complete collection of working drawings of CCC projects can be found in the Capitol Reef National Park Archives, Drawer 7, Folder 4.

16 Guy Pace, interview by Bradford Frye, tape recording and transcript, 13 February 1991, Capitol Reef National Park Archives, 15.

17 Hal Rothman, Preserving Different Pasts: The American National Monuments (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1989) 162-186, has a fairly complete examination of the effects of the CCC and other New Deal programs on the national monuments.

18 A. van V. Dunn to Franke, 4 April 1941, File CR-601, 79-60A-354, Box 2, #63180, RG 79, NA-Denver.

19 Engineering Field Report, 8 October 1941, File 204-10, 79-60A-354, Box 1, RG 79, NA-Denver.

20 "Declaration of Taking," Civil No. 376, U.S. District Court of Utah, 23 July 1942, File 603; Ibid.

21 Superintendent's Annual Report, 1 July 1941 to 30 June 1942, File 207, Entry 7, Box 2063, NA.

22 Pectol died 8 October 1947.

23 Kelly "renovated" and moved into the Chesnut house in May 1943. The paperwork on Kelly's nominal custodianship began in March 1943, but he was not officially on the rolls until 18 March 1944.

24 Frank Swancara, Jr., "Charles Kelly: A Biographical Sketch," Southwestern Lore 24 (December 1958); Randell Henderson, "Kelly of Capitol Reef," Desert Magazine 18 (November 1955); Jonathan Scott Thow, "Capitol Reef: The Forgotten National Park" (Utah State University Master's Thesis, 1986).

25 Charles Kelly diary, 3 February 1941 and 19 January 1944, Charles Kelly Collection, MS100, Box 1, Folder 1, University of Utah Special Collections, Manuscript Division, Marriott Library (hereafter referred to as Kelly Collection MSS).

26 Ibid.

27 Thow, 52-64; Cora Oyler Smith, interview with Kathy McKoy, tape and transcript, Capitol Reef National Park Unprocessed Archives.

28 Associate Landscape Architect, Field Report, 29 April 1941, File NPS-000, and Superintendent's Annual Report, 1941, File CR-207-01.4, 79-60A-354, Box 1, RG 79, NA-Denver.

29 Annual Report, Capitol Reef National Monument, 1940 and 1942, Ibid.; Annual Report, Zion National Park, 1942, Zion Archives.

30 "Development Outline for Capitol Reef National Park," 6 January 1943, File CR-600-02, 79-60A-354, Box 1, RG 79, NA-Denver.

31 Ibid.

32 Ibid.

33 Kelly diary, 20 January 1946, Kelly Collection MSS.

34 Charles Smith to Regional Director, 29 May 1946, File CR-600, 79-60A-354, Box 2, RG 79, NA-Denver; Salt Lake Tribune, 21 April 1946; Kelly diary, 6 March 1948, Kelly Collection MSS.

35 Franke to Mr. (?) Doer, 10 March 1949, File 504, Entry 7, Box 2063, RG 79, NA.

36 All boundary expansion proposals during the late 1940s through the 1950s are described in Chapter 10.

37 "1949 Master Plan and Development Outline for Capitol Reef National Monument," 13, File CR-600-01, 79-60A-354, Box 2, RG 79, NA-Denver.

38 Ibid., 10; Fred Fagergren to Charles Smith, 4 June 1948, File CR-600, Ibid.

39 "1949 Master Plan," 4.

40 Ibid.

41 Natt N. Dodge to Mr. (?) Gastellum, 27 May 1948, File 200; E. J. Duggan to Rep. Walter Granger, 14 February 1950, File CR-303, 79-60A-354, Box 1, RG 79, NA-Denver.

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Last Updated: 10-Dec-2002