Chickamauga and Chattanooga
Administrative History
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A. General Administration and Personnel

The transfer of Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park from War Department control to that of the Department of the Interior's National Park Service occurred on August 10, 1933. Part of a larger Government reorganization under the New Deal administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the move was consistent with an increase in the number of historical parks and national monuments developed under the National Park Service during the early 1930s. The transfer also meant more burdensome work for Superintendent Richard B. Randolph, who remained in charge of the park, for he assumed direction of not only Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, but of the following: Chattanooga National Cemetery, New Echota Marker (Georgia), Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Site (Georgia), King's Mountain National Military Park (South Carolina), Cowpens Battlefield Site (South Carolina), Castle Pinckney National Monument (South Carolina), Fort Pulaski National Monument (Georgia), Fort Marion National Monument (Florida), Fort Matanzas National Monument (Florida), and Stones River National Park and Cemetery (Tennessee.) [1]

Under the new management several changes at these sites were anticipated. National Park Service Chief Historian Verne Chatelain planned to inaugurate a large-scale interpretive program utilizing guides and free literature to promote the intelligent enjoyment of the historical parks. At Chickamauga and Chattanooga knowledgeable guides would be posted at selected greeting stations and pamphlets distributed instructing visitors about the park and how best to see it. If tourists desired, guides would also accompany them over the ground at no charge. The Park Service also planned to build several new roads leading "to neglected spots of deep historic interest," to install road signs to direct visitors, and to beautify the landscape through planting of wild flowers at places like Snodgrass Hill and Wilder Tower. Work by the Emergency Conservation Work Camps (later the Civilian Conservation Corps) continued on Lookout Mountain building the long-sought comfort station and caretaker's lodge as well as new retaining walls, terraces, and gutters. [2]

As indicated, the Park Service also assumed administration of Chattanooga National Cemetery, a previous responsibility of the War Department. The cemetery had been established by Major General George H. Thomas in December, 1863, following the battles around Chattanooga. It was situated on a hill southeast of the center of the city and most of the tract had been acquired by the Government in 1867, 1870, and 1884. After 1890 the city received permission to improve part of the reservation outside the cemetery and shortly established a park beyond the east wall. In 1905 another piece of the peripheral tract was turned over to the Tennessee Militia for raising an armory, stables, and a riding hall. Part of this land was a slough and later was filled in by CCC workers, while a portion to the west in 1927 was authorized by the War Department for use as a city pound. The National Guard moved from the site in 1939. [3] Between 1933 and 1945 the National Park Service maintained the cemetery--repairing roads, painting, repointing walls, etc.--although the Quartermaster Corps of the Army continued to provide headstones, arrange burials, and handle disbursements. In 1935 Park Service officials aided German authorities in the erection of a monument to German prisoners-of-war buried there during World War I. During World War II, however, the condition of the cemetery deteriorated and, said one critic, became "a disgrace to the veterans buried there." The Chattanooga American Legion mounted an effort to have the cemetery returned to War Department supervision, [4] and in 1945 the tract was duly transferred back to the War Department. [5] The action was considered "typical of the endeavor of the [National Park] Service to concentrate its activities in the fields primarily covered by the basic act establishing it." [6]

Through the middle 1930s Superintendent Randolph made occasional trips to his other areas of responsibility, notably Stones River, near Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Funds had to be expended to maintain the new areas as well as continue upkeep on buildings and equipment at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. Many employees lived in buildings scattered throughout the park and its component reservations and paid rent for the structures with deductions from their salaries. [7] A major change took place on June 23, 1936, when park administrative facilities were moved into a new Administration Building at the north entrance along Lafayette Road from their previous location in the Chattanooga post office building. The new structure provided offices for the Superintendent, his administrative staff, and museum and historical personnel, besides space for a library and museum exhibits. [8] Randolph occupied the building for little more than a year. By that time the rigors of the past had taken their toll and he suffered a nervous breakdown from the weight of work and responsibility. Randolph had been park superintendent since 1911. On August 31, 1937, he retired, but remained in his home at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park until his death a few weeks later. [9]

Randolph's successor, likewise to enjoy a lengthy tenure at the park, was Charles S. Dunn, who joined the staff shortly after Randolph retired. Dunn had served with the U.S. Forest Service in North Carolina and Virginia since 1915. Joining the National Park Service in 1930, he worked with the CCC camps before becoming superintendent of Shiloh National Military Park in Tennessee. He would remain as superintendent of Chickamauga and Chattanooga until 1961. [10] Dunn's long administration of the park, while productive, was marked by controversy and clouded by stormy relationships with his superiors. [11] Early in his stewardship Dunn presided over development of a site identification project on the Civil War Atlanta Campaign designed to provide interpretive features outside the park, and final construction of a stone memorial to Adolph Ochs on Lookout Mountain. [12]

In 1940 a ten-cent admission charge was approved at Point Park for persons sixteen or older. The fee was not assessed until 1941 after turnstiles had been installed, but its implementation caused a minor uproar in Chattanooga, where the charge was viewed as discriminatory. Chattanoogans, having footed the bill for much of the development of Lookout Mountain, believed they were now being forced to pay again, and the issue touched off a debate over Dunn's administration. [13] The superintendent hoped that the fee, for one thing, would discourage citizen guides from entering Point Park for the purpose of soliciting business. Many of these commercial guides dressed to approximate Park Service personnel and unwary tourists were often approached by them. The National Park Service offered free guide service and the presence of the commercial guides proved confusing and somewhat misrepresenting. Moreover, the civilian guides often knew little about the history they endeavored to explain to visitors. Eventually the guides were excluded by National Park Service regulations forbidding the conduct of business in a park area. The commercial guides were required to bring their parties to the Point Park entrance then turn them over to uniformed park guides for the tour of the Point. [14]

Other administrative developments in the mid-1940s included an unsuccessful congressional attempt to change the name of the park to Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Historical Park. This was opposed by Dunn as violating the original conditions under which the park was established, notably "the preservation of the fields more for military value than for history." [15] In 1945 the Chattanooga National Cemetery was returned to War Department management, [16] and a local union of the American Federation of Government Employees was organized at the park. [17] More attention was given to building a guide program, and in 1948 the incorporation of the community of Fort Oglethorpe and the adoption of zoning restrictions were viewed as a positive advantage for park concerns. [18] Another change was the approved transfer to the Georgia Department of Parks of maintenance responsibility for the Atlanta Campaign roadside markers and the New Echota Marker. [19] When in early 1950 the local press presented allegations about the "unsightly condition" of the park, the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce sent a committee to investigate. The committee came away impressed with Superintendent Dunn's positive efforts "in maintaining the natural beauty of the area" and particularly pleased with "the plan of scattering picnicking throughout the area." [20] In 1955 Dunn presided over inception of a cooperative agreement with the Association for the Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities relative to the restoration, furnishing, and exhibition of the Cravens House. [21]

Dunn's retirement occurred October 31, 1961. Early in 1962 John O. Cook was appointed his successor and transferred from Arizona, where he had served as superintendent at several parks. [22] Under Cook's leadership several innovations were made. From February, 1962, forward the Lookout Mountain portion of the park functioned as a district in the charge of a supervisory park ranger. Cook later introduced an in-depth interpretive program utilizing firearms demonstrations, cannon exhibits, and guided walking tours of the battlefield. He refurbished horse trails and established new ones in the park, and with the assistance of local civic organizations laid out new hiking trails. In 1963 the Civil War centennial was observed with special events involving ten states making presentations at the park. [23] Another important event was the designation of Point Park as a Federal recreation area under the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965. Proceeds from admission fees, raised to fifty cents in 1966, were to go to the fund to aid in purchasing other Federal and state recreation sites. The increased fee was not popular and probably accounted for a marked drop in visitation at Point Park in 1966 and 1967. [24] Late in 1968 the park temporarily adopted the policy of closing Point Park and Chickamauga Battlefield on Thursdays and Fridays after cutbacks in Federal permanent positions caused reductions in the park staff. [25]

In June 1969, Donald K. Guiton, a career employee with service in Wyoming, South Dakota, Utah, and Colorado, was designated to replace Superintendent Cook, who was reassigned to the Southwest Regional Office. [26] Guiton favored dropping the entrance fee to Point Park and eventually suspended it during the off-season. He also appointed Roy Evenson unit manager for Lookout Mountain, responsible for all operations there, including interpretation and maintenance. Guiton further directed the erection of mileage signposts on hiking trails on the mountain. [27] In the early 1970s the park employed guides as part of the National Youth Corps program both at Chickamauga Battlefield and Point Park. Work-study programs were also initiated to help in developing and maintaining trails. In 1973 Rolland Swain became unit manager of Point Park and directed his efforts towards making the Lookout Mountain site separate from the rest of the park. During the year visitation increased for the park, with some 14-1/2 million persons in attendance. [28] Also, a new master plan for the park was started under the guidance of National Park Service personnel from the Denver Service Center. Progress on this document became delayed, however, and stretched over several years. [29]

In July 1975, Superintendent Guiton was transferred to Florida. Robert L. Deskins, assistant superintendent at Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky, succeeded Guiton. A West Virginia native, Deskins had worked with the Job Corps at Mammoth Cave and had recently completed the Department of the Interior management development program. [30] His staff at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park consisted of about thirty employees with additional staff added during summer periods. Changes during Deskin's tenure included the start of Federal fee collection at the Cravens House and transfer of on-site interpretive programs there to the Park Service from the Association for Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities. A major reorganization of management took place in 1977 when the Interpretive and Resource Management Divisions were combined under Park Historian Edward E. Tinney. Russell Cave National Monument, Alabama, was placed administratively under control of Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, and Ranger John Mapel was transferred there as unit manager. Another significant development occurred in 1976 when Superintendent Deskins inaugurated the "concert in the parks" series, wherein the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra conducted several performances at Wilder Field. The programs, while entertaining, were in later years subjected to criticism by persons who believed that the park's purpose had been compromised. [31]

In 1979 Deskins was reassigned back to Mammoth Cave National Park. National Park Service Director William J. Whalen selected Merideth Ann Belkov to succeed him. Like Deskins, Belkov was a graduate of the Department of the Interior management training program. She had formerly served as chief of visitor services at Washington's National Visitor Center and before that had worked for the city's recreation department. [32] Thus far, Belkov's administration has had to contend with circumstances stemming from general economic recession and budget cutbacks. In 1980 and 1981 reductions were made in the number of both permanent and seasonal positions, although most park programs went unchanged. [33] The decade of the 1980s clearly promised to be one of challenge, innovation, and frugality for those charged with determining the park's course.

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Last Updated: 01-Jun-2002