The late Jim Redmond had a deep appreciation for the park he superintended. He valued its importance as a natural oasis in the nation's capital, and he also valued its historical significance. Looking forward its centennial in 1990, he spoke to me several times about nominating Rock Creek Park to the National Register of Historic Places.
In 1983, shortly before Jim's death, Regional Director Jack Fish of National Park Service's National Capital Region asked if I could do an administrative history of the park. The history was needed to provide background for a park general management plan. It could also serve as documentation for a National Register nomination, if responsible managers and staff in the park and regional office wished to pursue that course.
The resulting product, like other park administrative histories, relates how Rock Creek Park was envisioned and established and how it has been managed to the recent past. Unlike some such histories, this one s not attempt to treat every aspect of the park story, and it does not exhaust those aspects it does treat. It is a broad overview that focuses some of the more prominent features and attributes of the park. My hope is that more readers will be attracted by its relative brevity and informed by its selective nature than will be disappointed by its omissions and inattention to detail.
During my research I enjoyed the excellent assistance of Bob Kvasnicka and his colleagues at the Natural Resources Branch of the National Archives, where I combed the records of the Rock Creek Park Commission, the Board of Control of Rock Creek Park, the Office of Public Buildings and Grounds, the Office of Public Buildings and Public Parks of the National Capital, the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway Commission, and the National Capital Parks office of the National Park Service. At the Park Service's National Capital Regional Office, I found recent files and obtaineded older ones ordered from the Washington National Records Center in Suitland, Maryland. Files at the park headquarters and the Nature Center proved valuable, as did the information, aid, and review comments I received from the park staff--notably Georgia Ellard, Joe Lawler, Bob Peggy Fleming, and Dave Smith.
My two severest critics, Chief Historian Ed Bearss and Gay Mackintosh, scrutinized my draft and caught more errors than I had thought remained. To them as to those mentioned above, I am grateful.
Last updated: April 10, 2015