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VOL. V NOVEMBER 1953 No. 2

The Final Thrust

Jaggar's enthusiasm in the proposed park was intense, and he tackled the job of helping Thurston with real vigor. An eloquent and convincing speaker, he kindled wide interest in the project. At a talk before the Commercial Club of Honolulu in the fall of 1912, he made a renewed plea for the park and again urged the inclusion of Haleakala Crater in it. It was on this occasion that he asked everyone present to exert his influence in Washington to bring about by Congress the establishment of a bureau of national parks, a plan which was gaining momentum at the time. Jaggar's interest in national park matters went back to 1897 when, as a member of the Geological Survey field party led by Dr. Arnold Hague, he helped survey the Yellowstone, which had been established in 1872 as the world's first national park. Jaggar also made a study of the laccoliths of the Badlands in 1898. including Devil's Tower, which eight years later was established as the first national monument in the National Park System.

The combination of Thurston and Jaggar produced a high-powered promotion team, one that possessed a comprehensive understanding of national park values and ideals. Thurston's own national park philosophy is demonstrated by the following extract from an article he wrote for Mid. Pacific Magazine in 1911: "Examples of what Congress has deemed worthy to be taken under national control and protection are the geysers, lakes, and waterfalls of the Yellowstone; the cliffs, waterfalls, and scenery of the Yosemite; and the big trees of California; the petrified forest of Arizona. The standard is a high one and should be kept so. Before Congress sets its seal of approval upon any proposition to create a new national park, it should be satisfied beyond the possibility of a doubt that the subject matter is of national importance and not one of local pride only; a unique object and not merely one of many similar objects."

Thurston was pushing his "See Hawaii First" campaign strongly in 1913, and in a talk before the Honolulu Ad Club that year he summarized the park picture and further sparked the project, saying: "I am possessed of an intense conviction. That the establishment of Hawaii National Park, from the standpoint of the people of this Territory, is one of the greatest projects now pending; that commercially it will contribute greatly to our financial advantages; that socially and from a health standpoint it will open a new chapter in our lives; that nationally it will be a great educational measure, as well as a big addition to the Nation's pleasure and health; that internationally it will give an impetus to scientific investigation and the advancement of knowledge. Hawaii has been agitating and working for this park for eight years. We have almost reached the goal. All that is required to achieve success is to keep everlastingly on the job; keep the project from being sidetracked either at Washington or Honolulu; and, most of all, stand ready to ourselves help whenever and wherever help is required." And everlastingly on the job Thurston kept, and Jaggar with him, exhorting all into standing with them in their dream for a mid-Pacific national park.

Thurston's interests on the Island of Hawaii kept him close to Hilo a good part of the time in 1913, and when he was free to roam he chose the proposed national park area. A young niece of his, Margaret B. Shipman, whose family maintained a home near Kilauea, had speculated for some time that an underground channel beginning near their house must have an outlet somewhere. One day the curious Thurston agreed to go exploring with his niece in search of the outlet and recruited the equally curious Jaggar to accompany them. Miss Shipman recalls that it was a test of endurance for her to keep up with the men because of the cumbersome dress of the times that she wore on the journey through the dense fern forest. Eventually the explorers came to the south side of Kalua Iki ("The Little Pit") Crater, and looking across observed a large, dark opening on the opposite wall. The three descended into the crater and made their way along its floor to the north wall to stand under a gaping hole well beyond their reach. After improvising a ladder the next day, the three climbed into the prehistoric lava tube to find it teeming with stalactites and stalagmites. Jaggar quickly christened the tunnel "Thurston's Cavern" and subsequently the "Thurston Lava Tube." The modest Thurston declined credit for its discovery, insisting consistently that it should not have been named after him but after his niece, whose idea it was to search for it. The naming of this highly significant and popular park feature represents but small honor indeed to the man who more than anyone else made possible the inclusion of the Land of Pele in the National Park System.

The change in the national administration in 1913 brought about a change in the governor's chair in Hawaii. Frear, who had so assiduously championed the national park idea, went out of office and Lucius E. Pinkham succeeded him. Each year since 1910, Frear had urged in his annual report to the Secretary of the Interior the creation of the park, and while nothing had come of it, he had been persistent in attempting to bring it about. The astute Thurston, recognizing that the new governor would be busy for at least the next year getting his feet on the ground, did not press him on the national park matter, but in the fall of that year, Thurston had occasion to go to Washington and while there sought out the new Secretary of the Interior, Franklin K. Lane, and got from him an endorsement of the proposed park. "This is a matter in which I am greatly interested, and the question of a national park in Hawaii will have my favorable consideration," Lane told Thurston. For good measure, Thurston got a commitment out of Congressman Julius Kahn, of California, to champion the bill when it came before Congress. Kahn had been sold on the ground earlier by Thurston.

Governor Pinkham's first report to the Secretary of the Interior, for the 1914 fiscal year, noted that nothing further had been accomplished toward the establishment of the proposed national park and the matter stood the same as reported in the previous report. The Hilo Tribune queried in an editorial that year: "What is being done on the plan to have the Kilauea and Mauna Loa region made a national park?" By 1915, Pinkham had been sold on the plan and he reported to the Secretary of the Interior that the proposed national park was still urged. Time, Thurston, and Jaggar were responsible for this.

The year 1914 was epochal for the national parks. Stephen T. Mather went to Washington and accepted Secretary Lane's challenging invitation: "Dear Steve. If you don't like the way the national parks are being run come on down to Washington and run them yourself." Mather went to Washington and led the assault on the long years of apathy by Congress toward the national parks. In a short time, he made Congress and the Nation highly park conscious, and the moment suddenly began to season for the final thrust for the establishment of Hawaii National Park.

This was the year that the battleship North Dakota lay anchor at Hilo harbor, and hundreds of its complement came to see Halemaumau, which was erupting at the time. One of the sailors, an eager amateur photographer, anxious to get a really good picture of the fire below, leaned out on a slab protruding from the crater's edge. While he was on it, the slab gave way and the sailor disappeared from sight. The men who had seen him plunge in gasped with terror. Leaning over, they were relieved to see him perched on a shelf some seventy feet below, his white uniform soiled and tattered. One of those who had seen him fall asked, "Are you all right?" Came the salty, startling reply: "Where's my goddam camera?" Years later, Jaggar told a visiting naval officer about the incident. "Oh!" the officer replied, "I know about Volcano Bill. He's the only man who ever fell into Halemaumau and lived to tell about it." The man's feat has not since been challenged.

Haleakala Crater
Haleakala Crater, Hawaii National Park (From the painting by Paul Rockwood).

Once before—in the 1880's—John M. Lydgate, a surveyor, fell into Kilauea while engaged in survey work along the north rim of the crater. In those days, the Hilo-Kau Trail hugged the north rim of Kilauea. Although Lydgate rolled and tumbled some 400 feet before he came to a stop on the crater floor, he escaped miraculously with nothing more than bruises and a sprained ankle, but the sprain immobilized him. He began a vigil in the hope that he might hear someone along the trail to whom he could call for help, but nobody seemed to go by, or at least he did not hear anyone. Lydgate looked at his watch and suddenly realized that this was the day the mailman went through from Hilo to Kau. He continued to wait with a feeling of hopefulness instead of desperation. When it came time for the mailman to pass by. Lydgate began calling for help. The mailman was on schedule and he heard the surveyor's calls. Looking over and recognizing Lydgate's situation, he hurried to the Volcano House for help. A stretcher was quickly improvised and the shaken Lydgate was brought out.

A horde of Congressmen descended on Hawaii in 1915—124 of them—including "Uncle Joe" Cannon, Speaker of the House. Thurston knew that no better opportunity would ever present itself to enable him to sell his park plan, and he seized it. He accompanied the group to the area and made some eloquent talks on the significance of it. Jaggar scored also, devoting particular attention to the inclusion of Haleakala Crater in the proposed park. A pledge of support from Senator James A. Martine of New Jersey, "It will give me a great deal of pleasure to work for a bill creating Kilauea National Park," was typical of many which Thurston's and Jaggar's missionary work prompted. On May 18. 1915, the Hilo Tribune editorialized: "One project to which a great impetus was given during the visit of Congressmen to Hawaii last week is that of the establishment of a Kilauea National Park. The plan to establish such a park received warm responses of support from influential sources, and as there is no reasonable ground for opposing the plan, Hawaii has a right to expect that Congress will act in the matter in the near future." Thurston's and Jaggar's work with this influential group gave real momentum to the plan, and immediately they set to work laying their strategy for the next charge.

The arrangements worked out in 1912 for financing the work of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory covered a period of five years, and Jaggar's leave of absence from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology corresponded with the period that the research work at Kilauea was to be subsidized by the Hawaiian Volcano Research Association and M. I. T. Recognizing that other means must be found for continuing the work after July 1917, Thurston and Jaggar conceived the idea of turning the Volcano Observatory over to the Government for operation as a Federal project. When the Congressional delegation visited Hawaii, Thurston and Jaggar made their plight known to the lawmakers, some of whom responded warmly to the idea and urged that Jaggar bring the matter before Congress. The Volcano Research Association, as a result of the encouragement received from some of the visiting Congressmen, appointed Thurston, Jaggar, and W. D. Westervelt as a committee to consider a method of making the Observatory a Government operated and financed project. The committee recommended that Jaggar be sent to Washington to promote the plan as well as to spark the legislation which Prince Kuhio would introduce in the House the following winter for the establishment of the park. Both proposals were endorsed by the directors of the Volcano Research Association as well as by the Honolulu Chamber of Commerce, the latter taking such interest in them as to help pay for Jaggar's travel expenses to and from Washington. The Research Association was in uncomfortable financial straits at the time and had to conduct a special appeal for funds among its members to help defray Jaggar's expenses.

Jaggar arrived in Washington during the Christmas week of 1915 and immediately set to on both projects. He called on D. F. Houston, the Secretary of Agriculture, and got an endorsement of the plan to have the Observatory work taken over by the Weather Bureau. The plan had sympathetic understanding in some Congressional circles but did not quite become law. As a result of this, Jaggar served practically without salary from the time the M. I. T. subsidy expired in July 1917 until the Weather Bureau took over the operation two years later.

On the national park matter, Jaggar got in touch immediately following his arrival in Washington with Prince Kuhio, Interior Secretary Lane, Stephen T. Mather, at the time Lane's assistant for national park affairs, and several Senators and Congressmen and discussed the proposal at length with them. A few days before Jaggar arrived in Washington, Kuhio had introduced legislation in the House to establish the park. This bill, which was drafted in Hawaii earlier that year by Thurston, Jaggar, Charles R. Forbes, Territorial Superintendent of Public Works, and others, provided for an appropriation of $50,000 to be used in acquiring private landholdings within the exterior park boundaries. Lane and Mather convinced Jaggar that Kuhio's bill should be withdrawn and a substitute measure introduced that would define the limits of the area and not provide for a land acquisition appropriation, which the landholders would want to "gobble up." So Jaggar reported to Governor Pinkham later.

Kuhio withdrew his bill and on January 20, 1916, introduced a substitute measure drafted by Jaggar and Forbes along the lines recommended by Lane and Mather. The new bill, H. R. 9525—the fourth to be prepared and third to be presented to the Congress by Kuhio since 1911—was heard before the House Committee on the Public Lands the following February 3. Congressman Scott Ferris, of Oklahoma, Chairman of the Committee, presided over the hearings and immediately gave the bill a healthy boost by stating, "The party of Members of Congress and Senators who went down there (to Kilauea) were completely captivated by the wonder of that scene.

In testifying before the House Committee on the bill, Jaggar commented: "There is the same justification for creating a national park about the three great volcanoes of Hawaii that there was for setting aside the wonders of the Yellowstone, the big trees of California, and the great Canyon of the Yosemite. The Hawaiian volcanoes are truly a national asset, wholly unique of their kind, the most famous in the world of science, and the most continuously, variously, and harmlessly active on earth." He went on to describe the scenic and other values of the proposed area, and of Haleakala said, "The crater at sunrise is the grandest volcanic spectacle on earth." He also read into the record a statement prepared by Thurston in which the publisher compared the wonders of Kilauea and Haleakala with other areas in the National Park System.

The day before the hearing, Secretary Lane filed a report with the House Public Lands Committee in which he stated: "I am in favor of the preservation of these great natural wonders, and would be glad to see them made a part of our national park system." At the hearing, Congressman Edward T. Taylor, of Colorado, also gave the bill his blessing by stating, "I am enthusiastically in favor of the park, and I am going to support this proposition." Sidney Ballou, representing the Honolulu Chamber of Commerce, also made a favorable statement. Congressmen Louis C. Cramton, of Michigan, and Carl Hayden, of Arizona, both champions of the national parks, also participated in the hearings and lent support, as did Delegate Kuhio.

The House Committee issued a favorable report on the bill on February 7. The Committee's report noted: "Strong reasons for creating a national park in this district are that the craters in question are among the most remarkable of natural wonders. Scientifically and popularly, the volcanoes are a national rather than a local asset, and the opinions of travellers appear to be unanimous that this area is of national importance for park preservation." With this endorsement, the bill was passed by the House on April 17 and later by the Senate and signed into law by President Wilson on August 1, 1916.

Thus the Land of Pele became the eleventh national park in the United States and the first in one of its Territories. Its establishment brought to a close ten years of hard and applied work by Thurston and others, but Thurston principally. As was said of another great man can be said also of him: "There will never come an end to the good that he has done."

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