Saved Our National Parks
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Chapter 9:
The Culmination of an Idea

TWENTY-TWO YEARS ELAPSED between the passage of legislation providing legal machinery in 1894 and the formation of the National Park Service in 1916. Meanwhile the military commanders in the Parks continued the policies established by their predecessors and developed new elements of management that were later adopted by the civilian administrators who succeeded them. Changing conditions in and around the Parks terminated some of the older problems and gave rise to new ones. Game animals, once so ruthlessly hunted by poachers, were so well protected that new policies had to be developed to handle adequately the resulting surplus. A program to interpret Park wonders to the public was originally suggested by the military commanders and scientific data were collected by them. Cooperation of individuals who lived near the Parks was achieved by the impartial and effective policing of the Park areas, and many earlier administrative problems were thus negated. The road and trail systems used by modern tourists were planned and constructed by Army engineers using Army labor. Fort Yellowstone, built of quarried stone, stands today as the central unit of the National Park Headquarters in the Yellowstone. In the California Parks, seedling sequoias planted by Army personnel remain as testimony to the labor and foresight of the earlier military guardianship.

The advisability of eventual transfer of the National Parks to civil authority had been foreseen by several military commanders and their suggestions and plans enabled the transfer of authority to be made with some facility. Many of the military personnel who had served in the Parks accepted discharges from the Army and formed a cadre around which was constructed the first civilian ranger service.

One of the larger legacies resulting from the military administration is the fact that the National Parks are game refuges. In the Yellowstone, the administrators could have easily and naturally provided protection for the thermal features only; in the California Parks, the major administrative problems would have been eliminated had protection been confined only to the big trees and Yosemite Valley. Fortunately, the early policy makers looked beyond the obvious and extended protection to include most life within the parks. [1] One beneficent result of this policy was the preservation and restoration of the American bison an animal that was rapidly nearing extinction in the 1890's.

Estimates place the original number of bison at sixty million; by 1830 the once vast herds had been pushed west of the Mississippi River and their numbers reduced to an estimated fifteen million. The slaughter of these remaining animals was so rapid that by 1886 the chief taxidermist of the National Museum in Washington was able to locate only 541 of the beasts, and most of these were found in the Yellowstone National Park. By 1894 the animals in the Yellowstone were the only bison still living in a wild state in the United States. Poachers, old age, accident, and disease reduced the Yellowstone herd to an estimated fifty animals in 1900. [2]

The continual decline in the Park herd forced the military commanders to re-examine the policy, originally inaugurated by Captain Moses Harris, of not introducing "domesticated animals" into the Park, and as early as 1893 Captain George S. Anderson suggested the infusion, through purchase, of outside blood into the dwindling wild herd. No action was taken on this suggestion at the time, but when the number of bison in the Park dropped to twenty-two and the danger of inbreeding and eventual sterility became apparent, Major John Pitcher, Acting Superintendent of the Yellowstone, again suggested the purchase of outside animals in order to start a new herd and to diffuse new blood into the original wild herd. Through the efforts of Congressman John F. Lacey of Iowa an appropriation of $15,000 was obtained; fourteen cows were purchased from the Pablo-Allard herd in Montana, and three bulls from the Goodnight herd in Texas. Several calves were captured from the wild herd and all were placed in a large fenced enclosure, with the idea of setting them free after they had been confined long enough to assure that they would remain in the vicinity of the Park. [3]

The natural increase in the new herd developed from the three separate strains was so great that in 1907 a "buffalo ranch" was established in the Lamar Valley, an area some what removed from tourist travel. The ranch was placed under the direction of a salaried "Buffalo Keeper," who requisitioned supplies and reported directly to the Acting Superintendent. Though nonprofit, the ranch was operated in the same way as a domestic cattle ranch. Corrals, chutes, shelter sheds, barns, and fences were constructed; red top and timothy hay were sowed, irrigated, and harvested, and in the first year of operation, 200 tons were cut and stacked for winter feed. All of the animals were branded with a "U.S." on the left hip, some of the bulls were made into steers, and births of young bison were carefully noted. The total number of bison in captivity was placed at sixty-one in 1907. [4]

With the infusion of new blood into the wild herd by the periodic release of bulls from the tame herd, it too began to increase and in 1916 seventy-two wild bison were counted. These animals were the descendants of that small number that had escaped capture and killing, and thus represented the only true line of bison to have continuously lived in a wild state in all of the United States. By 1916 the domestic herd had increased to 273 animals and it had become possible to transfer some buffalo to other game refuges and municipal parks throughout the country. The American bison had been saved from total extinction and the military commanders of the Yellowstone National Park had played an important role in its preservation. [5]

The story of the elk is quite different. The wapiti or American elk had, like the bison, been forced into smaller and smaller areas of wilderness as civilization continued to envelop the West. Historically these animals had lived and grazed in the mountains during the warmer months of the year, but as winter approached they formed into herds and migrated to the open valleys and plains in search of food. As the American settler pushed into these lowland regions, fenced the land and pre-empted the grass for his domestic stock, this migratory pattern was destroyed. Meat hunters took their toll of these animals and, just as the bison had been killed for their tongues, many elk were slaughtered for their canine teeth, which sold for as high as ten dollars a pair and were used as unofficial badge of membership in the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.

Large numbers of elk found refuge in the Yellowstone National Park and these were, during the winter months, diverted into two separate groups, the Northern and the Southern herd. Protected from illegal hunters, these herds increased tremendously at a time when their customary winter feeding grounds outside the Park were being reduced by settlement. The Northern herd had traditionally migrated northward outside the Park during the winter, but now this was endangered by armed hunters who formed a firing line in anticipation of the annual migration. The Southern herd faced the same danger as it migrated into the Jackson Hole country to the south. As these animals moved southward they became wards of the State of Wyoming, and had to be fed by the State in order to prevent starvation due to the shrinking grazing area and the concomitant increase in the number of animals. Some animosity was thereby aroused and the Governor of Wyoming said: "When the elk are far and sleek they belong to the government of the United States. When they are starving they belong to the people of Wyoming." [6]

When it was suggested in 1911 that the Park authorities institute a winter feeding program to reduce the number of animals that annually died from starvation, the Acting Superintendent of the Park protested that such a procedure would only increase the number of animals, and thus produce a problem of ever-increasing magnitude. He maintained that not only would winter feeding be very expensive, but that once started it would have to be continued since the animals would very soon develop a dependence upon this unnatural assistance. The original problem would increase each year until some other process was devised to reduce the herds to the number determined by their summer grazing ranges. His suggested solution was to accelerate the program begun in 1892, of capturing the excess animals and shipping them to areas in the United States where they had become extinct. He was confident that the capture of a thousand of these animals a year would not be detrimental to the balance of the herds that would remain, and would be less expensive than any feeding program. [7]

The transshipment of surplus elk was accelerated, but unfortunately so was the winter feeding of the animals in the Park. The latter process produced more animals than could be drained off by transshipping and the problem of annual elk reduction remains to this day one of the most controversial subjects faced by the Yellowstone administrators. Elk are no longer fed and live trapping procedures begun under military rule are still utilized, but the elk problem persists. Today, excess numbers of elk are killed by the Park Ranger force, and while practical and realistic, this judicious slaughter has produced, in addition to much emotion, an unsatisfactory answer to the dilemma raised by a realistic wildlife management program on the one hand and the maintenance of National Park policies of preservation and protection on the other. [8]

Although the military authorities were unable to solve the problem of an overabundance of game animals, they were successful in establishing the rudimentary beginnings of the National Park interpretive program. Admittedly, the average soldier was not equipped to answer all the inquiries of the curious tourist, and it was not uncommon for him to rely upon the fantastic in order to cover his lack of scientific knowledge. Troopers detailed to patrol the natural curiosities in the Parks were instructed to give what information they could, in a courteous manner, when requested to do so. The information produced by these men was probably far different from that given today by the "ranger naturalist" who is trained in botany, geology, zoology, and other branches of natural history, but a step had been taken toward what eventually evolved into the naturalist program later developed by the National Park service.

In the Yellowstone particularly, surrounded as they were with strange natural phenomena, the early military commanders attempted to maintain a close watch on the freaks of nature; geyser eruptions were charted and any change in activity was closely noted. Constant observation of the various geysers made it possible to predict their time of eruption with sufficient accuracy to inform tourists of impending geyser activity, and it was discovered that there was a close connection between the temperature of the water in a geyser and the time of its eruption. Newly formed geysers were examined and measured, temperature readings were taken, and their locations were duly reported to the Acting Superintendent. One civilian observer stated that the Park's military guardian "had a pronounced weakness for geysers . . . stopping at every little steamjet to examine it." He supposed that the Acting Superintendent felt "a personal responsibility in having them [geysers] go regularly." [9]

Definite steps were taken toward the development of an interpretive program in the Yosemite National Park when the Acting Superintendent requested the Secretary of Agriculture to send him books and publications treating the natural history, sylva, flora, and fauna of the Park. He then proceeded to construct an arboretum and botanical garden in the Park. An area comprising some 100 acres was selected, paths were opened, trees trimmed, debris and deadwood cleared, and signs designating the scientific and common nomenclature of the local trees and plants were erected. Trees and plants found in other parts of the Park were transplanted to the selected area and seats provided for the tourists. The originator of the arboretum hoped that it would "some day be supplemented by a building serving the purpose of a museum and library." This same farsighted individual suggested that the entire park be developed and preserved as a "great museum of nature for the general public free of cost." Unfortunately the location selected for the arboretum was on patented land within the Park. When the boundaries were relocated in 1905, that portion was excluded from the Yosemite Park. [10]

With the advent of the National Park Service a definite interpretive program was developed, guide folders were printed, and conducted nature tours and lectures were made available in some of the Parks. Later, museums were established and experiments in visual education were inaugurated, largely through the cooperation of the American Association of Museums and the Smithsonian Institution, augmented by funds from the Rockefeller Foundation. As early as 1908, however, the Acting Superintendent of the Yellowstone had requested that books on natural history be furnished his office for the "better education and information" of the protectors of the Park. The entire museum and interpretive program later developed by the National Park Service was suggested in 1913, when Acting Superintendent Lieutenant Colonel L. M. Brett of the Yellowstone called the attention of the Secretary of the Interior to the "necessity for an administration building, housing all that is interesting in historical data and specimens of natural curiosities, etc." He suggested that "small branches of the administration building in the shape of bungalows might be erected at Norris, Upper Basin, and the Canyon, containing like data and specimens, and presided over by one able to give intelligent information." The same suggestion was made later by M. P. Skinner, who was destined to become the first National Park naturalist. But Skinner, after talking with the Secretary of the Interior, said that "the consensus of opinion seems to be that the project is a little too advanced for the present. The museum feature in connection with the administration building they are not ready to handle yet." [11]

The military commanders also suggested what has only recently been adopted by the National Park Service, namely, inducing Park visitors to remove themselves from the heavily traveled portions of the Parks and to visit the less frequented and wilderness areas. The Acting Superintendent of the Sequoia Park in 1899 lamented the fact that there existed no guidebooks or hotels to "advertise the highest and roughest mountains" in the Park; as a consequence "those travelers who are content to stumble over the discarded baskets of the last camping party" missed the finer pleasures of Park travel. This perspicacious individual maintained that:

If one is to know the real beauties of the Sierra country, he must penetrate many places which are most difficult of access, must reach the summits of the highest mountains and explore the gorges of the deepest canyons. Rough and broken, steep and high as the Sierras are, they can still be traveled, and will be by enthusiasts, too, if the Government will take the initiative and introduce them to its people. [12]

While almost all of the procedures inaugurated and suggested by the military commanders have been adopted by the National Park Service, many of them spread far beyond the Parks themselves. The Acting Superintendents were frequently requested to give advice on proper game protection, fire fighting methods, administrative policy and methods, financial procedures, and indeed, any and all information concerning the establishment and management of parks. Information forwarded to Japan was considered by the Japanese to have been of "no small service" to them in their "preparations for the scheme of [their] National Park" information supplied to the museum director in Stuttgardt, Germany, permitted him to greatly expand the perspective of the Museum für Länder und Volkerkunde. The military management of the Yellowstone became the model for game control in the Game Preserve on Grand Island, Michigan; the Commissioners of the Palisades Interstate Park in New York requested and received information concerning rules and regulations. Information concerning fire-fighting methods was forwarded to the State Forester of New Jersey upon request, and a state senator of North Carolina, faced with the imminent question of establishing a National Park in his state (Appalachian National Park), requested from the Acting Superintendent of Yellowstone all of the information at his command on administrative procedures. The advice and suggestions made by the military commanders thus became a part of the world-wide conservation movement. [13]

Fortunately, the military administrators were able to avoid the pressures that occasionally overwhelm present-day Park superintendents. Operating on the wise assumption that nature cannot be improved upon, they resisted the temptation to introduce into the Parks every modern convenience and innovation. When tourists complained about the lack of improvements in the Yellowstone, for example, Acting Superintendent Brett replied:

To make the Yellowstone National Park resemble Atlantic City is unthinkable. . . . To put a rustic dress on each geyser, chain in every hot pool, and erect pagodas over the paint pots, would certainly complete the grotesque picture . . . this wonderland is Nature's entertainment for mortals, and every touch of the human hand is a desecration.

The Army Corps of Engineers laid out roads so that they did not interfere with natural conditions and restricted them to the smallest area consistent with access to the principal objects of interest. Hiram M. Chittenden, one of the most prominent of the engineers, believed that Government policy was to maintain the Parks "as nearly as possible in their natural condition, unchanged by the hand of man." Some modern Park administrators appear to think that nature can be improved upon and go about building unsightly roads, housing developments, and tourist lodgings and committing other acts of official vandalism. [14]

Gradually the military superintendents were able to convince a skeptical public that preservation of the Parks was in the public interest and not an unwelcome invasion of private rights. The initial hostility on the part of residents of the area was in time overcome. This was a major contribution. For a while, as game became rarer in other parts of the country, but increased within the areas protected by the cavalry, the feeling of enmity toward the government Parks was intensified. But the military commanders were able to convince the settlers around the Parks that the benefits of keeping the Parks intact and the game protected would eventually outweigh any immediate gain they might realize by sabotaging Park operations. Legislators of the surrounding stares were aided in drafting realistic game laws and close cooperation was obtained from game wardens and other state officials. Citizens protective clubs were organized in the surrounding communities by the military commanders, and men who had once been enemies and poachers now became friends and protectors of the Parks. President Theodore Roosevelt recognized the significance of citizen support when he wrote, "Eastern people, and especially eastern sportsmen, need to keep steadily in mind the fact that the westerners who live in the neighborhood of the forest preserves are the men who, in the last resort, will determine whether or not those preserves are to be permanent. They cannot . . . be kept . . . game reservations unless the settlers roundabout believe in them and heartily support them." [15]

With the passage of the Lacey Act in 1894, the military commanders of the Yellowstone Park found their duties materially lightened. The existence of legal machinery, coupled with an occasional but well-publicized conviction, provided an effective deterrent to vandalism and poaching. One major fault remained in the law, however. A violation of the Lacey Act was meant to be a misdemeanor, but the inclusion of the phrase stipulating "imprisonment not exceeding two years" automatically elevated any violation of the law to the status of a felony. Felonies were legally treated as crimes under the Constitution and any person so accused must be indicted, prosecuted, and tried by a court. This legal technicality vitiated the jurisdiction of the resident United States Commissioner, and all cases arising under the law had to be tried before the District Court at Cheyenne, Wyoming. This fault was not discovered until 1913, however, and the Acting Superintendent immediately recommended that the Lacey Act be amended to remove the difficulty. Four separate bills were introduced into Congress, all designed to lessen the penalty provided for in the original act, making the offenses against Park law misdemeanors rather than felonies. On June 28, 1916, Congress approved legislation providing for a maximum penalty of $500 or six months' imprisonment rather than the $1,000 fine and two-year imprisonment provided for in the original act. The change greatly simplified enforcement proceedings and substantially reduced the time and expense of criminal proceedings. [16]

The purely military activities of the cavalry units assigned to the Parks were necessarily few, for the troops were usually dispersed in small detachments varying from two to six men. This arrangement was not conducive to formal military training, but discipline was maintained, and the constant mounted work required of the soldiers on detached service taught them how to ride and care for their horses and gave them a certain self-reliance which they were not liable to gain in ordinary garrison duty. They became, if not good parade ground soldiers, good field soldiers. Troop activities were not confined to the pursuit and capture of poachers, however. In the Yellowstone, the usual garrison duties were attended to, military inspections were held, a lyceum was established to teach signaling and hippology, and weekly drills were held. The troops annually assigned to the California Parks returned to garrison every year, and the summer assignment provided six months of intensive field training, including the overland march to and from the Presidio of San Francisco.

Yet the isolation of the Park commands and the hard work in an uncomfortable winter climate convinced many troopers that $13 per month, plus food and clothing, was not sufficient recompense for the hardships of military service, and many deserted. Others found that guard posts were frequently usurped by hungry bears or marauding moose, and discovered that they, as protectors of the game animals, faced much more severe penalties for killing game than did the civilian poacher. For officers, park service presented the opportunity of more autonomy and greater freedom in command. Many officers realized, however, that the duties required of them were not precisely those for which they had been trained and suggested that a civilian service be designed to relieve the military of its civil duties. In 1907 a retired Army officer was named Acting Superintendent of the Yellowstone Park with instructions from the President to devise a plan for a civil guard to replace the military in the Park. [17]

The scheme proposed by Lieutenant General S. B. M. Young to establish a Yellowstone National Park Guard included an estimated $50,000 annual appropriation. The Park was to be divided into four districts; a chief inspector, four assistant inspectors, and twenty civilian guards were to form the entire protective force. During the heaviest part of the tourist season the guard force was to be enlarged. The estimated $50,000 included neither the salary of a superintendent nor funds for the maintenance of park roads; the construction and maintenance of roads supposedly would be left under the direction of the Army Engineers. According to the general's estimates, the annual cost of military administration was over $150,000; his proposed civilian guard could be established at one-third this cost and its members could be recruited from among discharged soldiers who had served in the parks. [18]

The plan thus proposed was remarkably similar to that eventually utilized in the formation of the National Park Service some ten years later. By the time the plan had been drawn up and presented to the Secretary of the Interior, the President had changed his mind and the Secretary of the Interior was not willing at that time to request an increased appropriation. Admitting that the administration of the parks was developing into a sort of three-headed monster—with the roads under the direction of the Army Engineers, the cavalry under control of the Secretary of War, and the Acting Superintendents serving both the Department of the Army and the Department of the Interior—the Secretary still thought that the moral effect and the saving of expense were enough to justify the continuation of military control. [19]

The Secretary of War, however, was beginning to think otherwise. The system was obviously unjust to the Army. Appropriations charged to the War Department were being spent on duties that were the responsibility of the Department of the Interior. Although the soldiers assigned to the Parks were gaining valuable field experience, some military men thought that such duty was detrimental to military discipline and training. Several years passed before the dilemma was resolved by events beyond the borders of the United States.

Revolution in Mexico in 1910-11, followed by counter-revolution in 1913 and the presidency of Victoriano Huerta, led many Americans to believe that military intervention into Mexico was not improbable. The Secretary of War suggested that the squadron of troops then on duty in the Yellowstone be immediately reduced to a detachment of selected cavalrymen having a natural taste and aptitude for Park duty. Thus, should the necessity arise, these men could be discharged from the Army and taken over by the Secretary of the Interior as civilian rangers. The Secretary of War further suggested that the military detail in the Yosemite Park be reduced to one troop of cavalry and that no troops be detailed for service in the Sequoia and General Grant Parks. These suggestions were acceptable to the Secretary of the Interior and organization of the Yellowstone Park Detachment was initiated. [20]

The Acting Superintendent of the Yellowstone was instructed to recommend the names of those soldiers who preferred transfer to the newly formed organization. A force of 200 men was drawn from nine regiments. According to the original plans, this Detachment would exist as a military unit for only a short rime, and form the transition from military to civil control. Complete civil take-over did nor occur until 1918, however, and in the interim, the military commanders lobbied incessantly for an end to the military administration of the Yellowstone. [21]

Military management of the Yellowstone would have ended several years earlier had it not been for the resistance of some members of Congress. Congressman J. J. Fitzgerald of New York, Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, held that a civil guard would be far more expensive than continued use of the military. Fitzgerald maintained that Congress had placed the Yellowstone under the protective arm of the military and he believed that Congress intended for it to remain there. [22] The military commanders fell back upon arguments previously used: that conditions in and around the Yellowstone had changed considerably, that the surrounding states had provided protective laws over the adjoining lands and had also legislated excellent game laws. While poachers formerly had to be guarded against by constant vigilance, they were now a threat only a few months out of each year when game seasons were closed in the surrounding states. The military lobbyists claimed that the sentiment of the communities around the Park was now overwhelmingly in favor of strict compliance with the regulations. [23] It was suggested that the use of soldiers to work on roads and telephone lines, to check automobiles, stock streams with fish, fight forest fires, register tourists, and indeed, to perform any duties other than those specified in the Act of March 3, 1883, was strictly illegal. If the law were to be followed, the soldiers could only eject trespassers, leaving other tasks to be performed by a large civilian force.

All these arguments had previously been cited in reference to the California Parks, but now there was a new argument: the President had stated that the United States Regular Army was not large enough for the military demands of the country in times of peace; hence it could not afford to detach troops for use in the Parks, it was claimed. The cost to the government for the military guardianship of the Yellowstone for fiscal 1915 was placed at $194,193.59 and it was alleged that a civilian force could be formed for less than half that sum. When Newton D. Baker was named Secretary of War in the spring of 1916, the opposition to continued use of the cavalry in the Yellowstone increased. All the previous arguments were repeated, and strengthened by an opinion from the Judge Advocate General staring that the troops could be used only to prevent trespassers from entering the Park, and to remove those who did gain entrance.

Comprehensive plans for the development of a civil guard to replace the cavalry in the Yellowstone had been developed by the military superintendents as early as 1907. Subsequent military commanders advocated the formation of a separate government bureau that would have the responsibility of guarding and administering all of the National Parks. In 1911 the first of several conferences between Department of Interior officials, Acting Superintendents, and other interested persons was held in the Yellowstone National Park. A second conference was held in the Yosemite National Park the following year, and a third was convened in Berkeley, California, in 1915. Out of these conferences there developed an increasing awareness that conditions in and around the various parks had changed and military protection was no longer necessary. Several bills were introduced into Congress, all designed to establish a separate bureau within the Department of the Interior to supervise, manage, and control the National Parks and monuments under that Department's jurisdiction. The continual opposition to the use of cavalry units as Park guardians finally proved effective and on August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed an Act establishing the National Park Service. The newly formed bureau did not begin functioning until after funds providing for its formation were approved in the deficiency appropriation act of April 17, 1917. [24]

Members of the Yellowstone Park Detachment who desired to remain in the Park were discharged from the Army and appointed as rangers in the Park Service. The military force then guarding the Park was withdrawn, Fort Yellowstone was abandoned as a post, and the guardianship of the Park was transferred to the Department of the Interior, effective October 1, 1916. No attempt was made to establish the valuation of improvements made by the Army, and all buildings were transferred to the Department of the Interior without cost. The men who desired to remain in military service were reassigned to their original units and, accompanied by the last military Acting Superintendent, departed from the Park on October 26, 1916. For the first time since 1886, no cavalry troops were stationed in any of the nation's Parks. [25]

The abandonment of military establishments has always been accompanied by a furor of protests by residents of towns situated near those establishments, and the abandonment of Fort Yellowstone was no exception. Opposition came from residents who looked upon the maneuver from a purely commercial standpoint. Petitions opposing the withdrawal of troops were forwarded to the Secretary of War and, since 1916 was an election year, the politicians were drawn into the fray. Senators Thomas H. Walsh and H. L. Meyers of Montana were attending the Democratic National Convention in Chicago when they learned that orders had been given ending the military guardianship of the Yellowstone. Walsh immediately telephoned the Secretary of the Interior and demanded that the troops not be recalled from the Park until January 1; telegrams were sent by both him and Meyers demanding that they be heard before any further action was taken. When informed that the orders had already been given, the two Senators pleaded that the order be at least postponed until after the election. Apprehensive over the effect the withdrawal of troops might have upon their constituents, the two Senators placed their case before the President of the United States, claiming they had received only evasive replies from the Secretary of War. President Wilson, in the midst of a campaign for re-election, stated that he was very much disturbed and requested that the Secretary of the Interior confer fully with the Montana Senators before executing the order. But this was too late to have any effect, for the troops were even then departing from the Yellowstone. [26]

Unable to obtain what they wanted by telegrams and letters, the Senators from Montana turned to Congress for relief. By exerting pressure upon their colleagues in the House of Representatives, they were able to have included in the sundry civil bill for fiscal 1918, the provision that no part of the appropriation for the Yellowstone Park be used for payment of salaries for a civilian protective force, and that protection of the Park be performed by a detail of troops. The Secretary of War protested these provisions and claimed that the war with Germany necessitated the employment of every soldier in the wartime army then being constructed. However, since the appropriation bill included the two noxious provisions, the Secretary of the Interior faced the dilemma of either requesting a detail of troops, or closing the Park to visitors. Either alternative involved the discharge of the previously selected ranger force. A request for troops was made, a squadron of the Seventh Cavalry was detailed to Fort Yellowstone to police the Park, and upon its arrival on June 26, 1917, the ranger force was dismissed from service. The civilian Supervisor remained at his post, and no administrative duties were assigned to the military commander. [27]

The immediate results were chaos and confusion. The Department of the Interior, through its civilian Supervisor, controlled the concessionnaires, authorized the rate charges, and supervised the admission of automobiles and the care of the wild animals; the water, electric and telephone systems were under the control of the Interior Department also, but its authority went no further. All road and trail construction was done by Army Engineer Corps, and the actual protection of the Park was entrusted to the cavalry. This three-headed administrative animal was less than docile and conflict soon erupted between its separate parts. Owing to the exigencies of war, the Army officers were changed several times within a matter of months; general dissatisfaction among the soldiers assigned to the Park resulted in gross inefficiency; tourists complained about the soldiers' arrogance and sometimes drunkenness and were curious as to why troops were patrolling the Park when their sons and brothers were being drafted to fight a war. The civilian Supervisor found that it was not safe to leave any personal belongings unguarded, lest they disappear, and complained that the War Department was utilizing the Park command as a transient station for unassigned officers and men, that the troopers never learned their duties and cared nothing for the welfare of the Park. One seasoned cavalryman assigned to the Yellowstone questioned the advisability of using 450 men trained in the art of combat to replace fifty rangers for peaceful patrol work, and claimed that if he did not have a mother and sisters he would "pull our" and enlist in the Canadian Army.

Congress was finally convinced of its folly, the clause providing for the non-use of funds for administrative and protection work was deleted from the sundry civil bill in 1918, and in that year the United States Army was finally and completely withdrawn from the Yellowstone National Park. [28]


How the U.S. Cavalry Saved Our National Parks
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