Rainbow Forest Museum

Einstein at Rainbow Forest
Einstein visiting in March 1931


Rainbow Forest was the heart of the original Petrified Forest set aside by President Roosevelt as a national monument in 1906. One of the earliest facilities in the park was a wood and tar paper shack near where the current museum is located. Looking through the Superintendent's Reports (excerpts below) from 1931 we can discover the construction of the museum—which was the headquarters at the time—and some residences.

Rainbow Forest prior to summer 1931
Rainbow Forest prior to summer 1931


June 29 1931
"Contracts are being let for buildings at headquarters in the amount of $21,094 which provide for an Administration Building, three residences, and one tool and implement shed."

July 28, 1931
"The road programs moving along in a very satisfactory manner as is also the building program. Herbert Krienkamp Assistant to the Chief Landscape Architect is making his headquarters here while the building is going on."

Aug 28, 1931
"The building program is going ahead nicely, the walls of the Administration Building, the Custodian's residence and the Tool and Implement Shed are now about ceiling high and the stone work is very pleasing."

Sep 29 1931
"The buildings are about ready for the interior work, the roofs of the Administration Building having been poured and the two wing floors being finished. The bedrooms and living room floors are also finished in house No. 6."
Rainbow Forest Museum during construction, 1931
Rainbow Forest Museum during construction, 1931


Oct 1931
"Thos. C. Vint, Chief Landscape Architect spent two days in the Forest. Mr. F. A. Kittredge was with us one day while Mr. Vint was here and many problems were gone over on the ground while inspecting the new road, bridge, and buildings….

The buildings consisting of an Administration Building, 3 employees quarters, and a tool shop are well along towards completion, the outside being practically finished and they are about half plastered inside. The roofs and floors are finished. On the whole the work is very nicely done and they will no doubt be a credit to the Monument and to the Service. They have been admired by practically all visitors and officials."
Rainbow Forest Museum interior post-1931
Rainbow Forest Museum interior post-1931


Dec 30 1931
On December 22, the Custodian was notified by the contractor, Mr. Norman P. Berber that the Administration Building, Employees Residence No. 6, the Tool &Implement shop, and the Employees Residences Nos. 2 &3 were completed and ready for inspection and acceptance. Having watched these bu8ildings grow stone by stone only a short inspection was necessary and they formally accepted.

Residence no. 2 was assigned to Park Ranger Frank J. Winess. Park Ranger Phillip F. Murray was assigned Residence No. 3, and custodian Chas. J. Smith was assigned Residence No. 6. Preparations have been made to move into those buildings and they will be occupied the first of the year. It was thought wise to move into the new Administration Building and this is being done at this time. A party of 18 from the Santa Fe. R. R. via Clarkson Couriercars, (the largest for some time) were the first to be welcomed into the new Exhibit Room which was the evening of December 28
th. They then stepped out the back door and were in the heart of the Rainbow Forest. The party [was] much pleased to be the first in the new building and complimented the Service highly on the location and beauty of the structure."


The basic facts of Rainbow Forest Museum and area
The building of Rainbow Forest occurred between June through December, 1931. The contractor worked under Thos. C. Vint, The Chief Landscape Architect, and his assistant Herbert Krienkamp who was onsite. The contract was for the amount of $21,094 which provide for an Administration Building, three residences, and one tool and implement shed. The contractor was Mr. Norman P. Berber.

Rainbow Forest was not built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, although other buildings were added during their stay in the park. President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 6101 on April 5, 1933 which established the CCC organization. They didn't even exist when the original RFM was built!

1935 description of rainbow forest museum
Rainbow Forest Museum from a 1935 on park facilities



Last updated: January 17, 2021

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Petrified Forest National Park
P.O. Box 2217

Petrified Forest, AZ 86028-2217


928 524-6228

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