An Administrative History
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Other Special Events

Bicentennial Flag Ceremony--July 28, 1975

As part of the Texas celebration of the bicentennial anniversary of the United States, eight Boy Scouts and two scoutmasters from Troop No. 3 of Abilene, Texas, climbed Guadalupe Peak to fly the flags of the United States, Texas, and the Bicentennial. The Boy Scout group assembled at the Pine Springs campground on July 27, 1975, where they were welcomed by members of the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce. A photographer and staff member from the Abilene television station, a photographer from the Abilene Reporter-News, an administrator from the West Texas Chamber of Commerce, and a Guadalupe Mountains Park Technician, Robert King, volunteered to climb with the Boy Scouts. [13]

Boy Scout troop
Figure 42. Members of Boy Scout Troop No. 3, Chisholm Trail Council, Abilene, Texas, in Bicentennial flag ceremony atop Guadalupe Peak, July 28, 1972. (NPS Photo)

In 1975 the trail to the peak had not been improved. It covered a 3,500-foot rise in elevation in three and one-half miles. (The improved trail, completed in 1980, reduced the steep gradient by increasing the length of the trail to five miles.) The group made it to the top, however, and flew six flags: three flags of the United States from the Capitol in Washington, furnished by Senators John Tower and Lloyd Bentsen and Congressman Richard White; three Texas State flags from the State Capitol in Austin; and the official Bicentennial flag (see Figure 42). The filmed ceremony appeared on KTXS, a television station in Abilene. [14]

Climb of Guadalupe Peak by Members of POINT--July 12-17, 1982

In July 1982 Guadalupe Peak was the site of another noteworthy climb. A group of six paraplegics, members of a Dallas-based organization known as POINT (Paraplegics on Independent Nature Trails), set out to climb Guadalupe Peak in wheelchairs. Jack Grimm, a noted oilman from Abilene, developed the idea of the climb only a week before it happened. He conceived it in connection with a fund drive for the West Texas Rehabilitation Center in Abilene. Park managers, who were aware of the potential dangers of the climb, and the advance scout for the group, who examined the trail, expressed concern for the safety of the climbers. Park personnel foresaw a number of special difficulties for the climbers, including the need to carry enough water for a five-day trip and the fact that there were no suitable places along the trail where they could camp overnight. In addition, the regular occurrence of severe electrical storms in the high country during July, and the 15- to 30-percent grades the climbers would encounter prompted park personnel to suggest an easier route to a different destination. The men refused, however, and remained dedicated to the challenge of climbing the highest mountain in Texas. [15]

Illness reduced the originally planned group of six men to five: Michael Powers, Robert Leyes, Donny Rodgers, Joe Moss, and Dave Kiley. By the third day of the climb Powers and Leyes had to turn back because of physical difficulties. The two "grounded" climbers stayed in radio contact with the three who continued, offering them moral support until the last day of the climb, when the trail took the climbers behind a ridge that blocked radio reception. Although the men asked that they be left on their own, park personnel checked in with them regularly to obtain information for progress reports being carried by the news media. Park Ranger Jon Jarvis also stayed with the climbers the last two nights and accompanied them the last mile to the summit. During the last few hundred yards the men had to leave their wheelchairs and push or drag them as they crawled to the summit. The three men reached the top on the evening of July 16 (see Figure 43). [16]

Public recognition of the accomplishment of the climbers came on July 17. The men spent the night of July 16 on the peak and were lifted off the following morning by three U.S. Army helicopters from Fort Bliss. For safety reasons, the climbers did not try to make the descent in their wheelchairs. Later that day the climbers were the honored guests at a press conference and public reception at the Civic Center in Carlsbad. The nation-wide attention the men had attracted became apparent. During the press conference the men received telephone congratulations from President Ronald Reagan and New Mexico Governor Bruce King. Texas Governor William Clements sent a telegram with his congratulations. [17]

wheelchair climb up Guadalupe Peak
Figure 43. (L-R) Donny Rodgers (behind monument), Joe Moss, and Dave Kiley on Guadalupe Peak after a five-day climb in wheelchairs, July 12-16, 1982. (NPS Photo)

The special events that have taken place at Guadalupe Mountains show some of the ways in which management has worked or cooperated with others to increase public awareness of the park. The Park Service-sponsored events also provide evidence of the good relationships that have existed between the park and the neighboring communities and the park and the media. The Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce was involved in the movement to establish a park in the Guadalupes as early as the 1920s; its continuing support was particularly creditable since the park is in Texas, not New Mexico. In the years since the park was established, the Dell City and Van Horn chambers of commerce also have had strong relationships with the park. Cooperation with these organizations undoubtedly has been enhanced by membership of park personnel in the groups. Similarly, the park has had a particularly good relationship with the Carlsbad Current-Argus. The even-handed treatment by the newspaper of park controversies has permitted its readers to understand both sides of issues and has made clear the legal constraints under which park managers must operate.

The work of Bobby Crisman in the area of public relations also cannot be overlooked. Crisman has been involved with the administration of the park since its establishment and has served as Acting Superintendent during the interim periods when new Superintendents were being selected. His participation in local civic organizations as well as the public activities associated with both Guadalupe Mountains and Carlsbad Caverns, plus his longevity in an agency in which personnel may change as often as the seasons, have made him a valuable liaison between park and community. Crisman's production of hundreds of news releases, coordination of special events, and long-time participation in civic affairs have been invaluable in establishing the positive public image of Guadalupe Mountains.


Last Updated: 23-Apr-2001