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Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson, the wife of the President, and whose beautification program had caught the imagination of the American people was a natural choice to dedicate Redwood National Park. The ceremony was scheduled for 10:10 a.m., Monday, November 25, 1968, at a site near the Bald Hills Road, overlooking Prairie Creek.

*See National Register Forms, pp. 419-431.

The First Lady arrived by jet at the McKinleyville airport on Sunday evening, where she was greeted by Humboldt County officials. Later, a reception sponsored by the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors was held for Mrs. Johnson at the Eureka Inn.

On the morning of the 25th, Mrs. Johnson, accompanied by many visiting and local dignitaries, was driven up the Bald Hills road to a parking site near the crest of the ridge. A brisk ten minutes walk brought the official party and invited guests, including conservationists and government officials, to the dedication site. National Park Service Director George B. Hartzog introduced the First Lady, referring to her as "Mrs. Beautification," and "Mrs. Conservation," and praising the work she had done to "stir the soul of America" in preserving natural resources and improving the environment.

Mrs. Johnson, addressing the group, reviewed briefly the work of private and public agencies in preserving the redwoods, culminating in the signing into law on October 2 at the White House of the bill establishing the Redwood National Park. Speaking of conservation efforts, she pointed out that much remained to be done, but added that 300 conservation bills had already been signed into law by the President during the last five years, mostly due to the efforts of individuals and groups working in their home areas."

Referring to Redwood National Park, as the "crowning moment of a crusade which has lasted two generations," she pointed out that its establishment would change the local economy from a timber base to tourism. Mrs. Johnson expressed her gratitude to the local redwood timber operators and praised their "cooperative spirit." She observed that support for the project had been world wide. "Now the dream of nature lovers and conservationists is a reality."

Dwarfed by the giant redwoods, the First Lady was buoyant over her trip to the area. "This is my first visit here, except in my imagination," she said. "I've been waiting to come here all my life."

United States Representative Don Clausen, Newton Drury, and other guests joined Mrs. Johnson in unveiling the plaque. (The plaque will eventually be positioned on Redwood Creek at The Tall Trees.) Mrs. Johnson at this time cited Drury of the Save-the-Redwoods League for special commendation for his group's work in preserving the redwoods for the enjoyment of unborn generations.

Besides the remarks by Mrs. Johnson, the program included choral selections by the Humboldt State College Concert Choir; an invocation by Dr. Melville B. Grosvenor of the National Geographic Society; and remarks by Elwyn Lindley of the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors, State Natural Resources Director Norman B. Livermore, Representative Clausen, and Director Hartzog. [37]

Following the ceremony, Mrs. Johnson led a bus and automobile caravan to Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park for a "Lumber Jack" luncheon. At 12:30 the official party left the park and motored up U.S. 101 and across Howland Hill to Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. The First Lady then led a hike along the Nickerson Ranch Trail. Buses then took them to the picnic area, where 75 residents of Del Norte County greeted Mrs. Johnson. Refreshments, including salmon and clam juice, were served. Entertainment was provided by several Tolowa, "who performed ancient ritual dances in traditional costumes."

The trip back to McKinleyville Airport was detoured south of the Klamath along old U.S. 101 to permit Mrs. Johnson to enjoy a panoramic view of the Pacific, before boarding the 5 p.m. jet for Washington. [38]

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Last Updated: 15-Jan-2004