Weldon Years Development
The Weldon Years include:
According to Weldon, major development progress from 1950-1956 "might best be described as that of a snail."  From 1947-1952 National Park Service officials assumed that additional land for the Whitman National Monument would be purchased by local groups for donation to, and development by, the government. As a result, money was secured for a superintendent's residence, utility building, and visitor center although the necessary land had not yet been acquired by the government. The irony of the situation did not escape Superintendent Weldon who noted, "We have money and can't spend it! What a disaster!"  When it became obvious in September 1952 that Walla Wallans could not afford to purchase the desired land, amendatory legislation was sought to provide for the needed acreage.
The number of acres required for development was undetermined until 1952 when Coordinating Superintendent Macy recommended securing the farm buildings north of the "monument tract" for use as a superintendent's residence.  Therefore, in 1952 the National Park Service sought to acquire a total of 20.7 more acres for the monument.  Since all major projects depended on this additional land, little else by way of major development was accomplished until the next administration. From 1950-1956 major development truly had "progressed like a snail."
Though major development was not a high point of Weldon's administration, he certainly had many achievements of which to be proud. Weldon remembers building the zigzag rail fence along the county road, replanting Whitman's apple orchard, outlining the building sites and installing interpretive signs, creating interesting exhibits, and "at least at times, getting the better of the tall, obnoxious weedy patches which caused so much bad comment."  In his last year as superintendent Weldon described the years 1950-1956 as the period of "grounds improvement and doubling of travel from around 10,000 annually to over 20,000."  Certainly Weldon made contributions in maintenance, interpretation, and public relations that set the stage for the mission's future.
Last updated: March 1, 2015