Parks Go To War

General view of McDonald Ranch Headquarters from top of old well derrick (April 1945)
General view of McDonald Ranch Headquarters at White Sands National Monument from top of old well derrick (April 1945)

Courtesy Los Alamos Photographic Laboratory

During World War II, national parks went to war. Many park roads and facilities once crowded with tourists now hosted military equipment and personnel. The vast amounts of government-owned land, harsh terrain, and remoteness of national parks made them ideal for military training camps and frequent locations for downed aircraft.

But at what cost? Throughout the war, National Park Service Director Newton B. Drury was in a war of his own. Drury was responsible for protecting the precious resources of national parks 'unimpaired' for future generations. He successfully resisted the overwhelming demands for uses of park resources to aid the war effort. While providing some training areas, Drury saved many of America's pristine parks from irreversible logging, bombing, mining and more.

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