America's National Monuments
The Politics of Preservation
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Chapter 8:
Turf Wars

FRANK PINKLEY PLAYED A SIGNIFICANT ROLE in the development of southwestern archaeological tourism. Before his arrival in Arizona, no semblance of organization existed. At the turn of the century, railroads were responsible for promoting tourism, selling a southwestern mystique rather than any accurate representation of the past. Pinkley changed the realities of tourism in the region. He created an interrelated network of park areas, publicized them, and offered every amenity that his limited budget could provide. Pinkley provided the most up-to-date anthropological and archaeological information, albeit from the ethnocentric perspective that characterized his time period. Like Mather, he recognized the importance of the automobile early on and began to accommodate its users.

But he and the NPS did not administer all the archaeological sites in the Southwest. Some belonged to private organizations, and Pinkley could do little about them. The Forest Service also administered four archaeological national monuments, Tonto and Walnut Canyon in Arizona and the Gila Cliff Dwellings and Bandelier in New Mexico, that he coveted. During the 1920s, Pinkley joined in the organized assault against the USFS that Mather and Albright engineered.

The Forest Service and the Park Service had a complicated relationship, characterized by constant conflict and rivalry during the early decades of interagency relations. The USFS initially opposed the establishment of the NPS, because its officials sensed that parks presented a threat to their preeminence. Both agencies administered lands located primarily in the West, although they had different missions and constituencies. The Park Service became the federal agency responsible for preservation, and before 1920 the USFS advocated utilitarian conservation, the Progressive-era concept of wise use of natural resources. Both agencies often sought to implement their programs on the same tract of land, and between 1920 and the early 1930s, accusations and counteraccusations eroded friendly competition. Fierce territorialism rooted in incommensurable comparisons of the value of land replaced it.

During the 1920s, the Park Service acquired the upper hand in the conflicts between the two agencies. Although dynamic interaction characterized the rivalry, NPS administrators were closer to the pulse of the decade. Its leaders were effective lobbyists. Mather worked Congress like a carnival barker, taking congressmen, presidents, and other dignitaries on "catered" camping, fishing, and hiking tours of existing and proposed park areas. Horace Albright was a master of the politics of land acquisition, and his piranha-like instincts shaped the approach of the Park Service. It became the aggressor, identifying portions of the USFS domain that it coveted and giving specific reasons why the land should be added to the park system. Foresters then had to show that a tract the Park Service identified as unique, significant, and special was no different than other parts of the national forest.

The Forest Service attempted to broaden its obligations, but many in the agency resisted. As early as 1905, the USFS Use Book, the bible of Forest Service policy, listed recreation as one of the responsibilities of district rangers. Chief Forester Henry Graves ordered an inventory of recreational values in national forests in 1915, but out of the mistaken belief that the USFS would assume administration of the national parks. In 1924 Aldo Leopold, who later authored a crucial text in modern environmental writing, A Sand County Almanac, was instrumental in creating a wilderness area in the Gila National Forest in New Mexico, and the Forest Service established wilderness regulations in 1929. Yet despite this minor current, the USFS did not have recreational use in mind when it established primitive areas. Advocates of wilderness and recreation were a distinct minority with little influence. The utilitarian conservation of Gifford Pinchot remained the overwhelming emphasis of the USFS. [1]

A blurring of the roles of both agencies accelerated the rivalry during the early 1920s. Both shared the administration of the national monuments, and each agency tried to upstage the other. In partial response to the success of the Park Service, the USFS began to implement recreational programs for auto tourists. The Park Service tried to thwart such plans. By the middle of the decade, the two agencies reached an uncomfortable impasse. The Forest Service controlled large areas that Mather and Albright coveted, and it felt threatened by what it considered the wanton aggressiveness of the Park Service. Forestry officials regarded the transfer of their land to the NPS as outright defeat. The potential for interagency conflict was immense.

The joint administration of the national monument category provided Pinkley with a particular problem. There were two sets of standards when it came to monument administration, that of the Park Service and that of the Forest Service, and Pinkley approved of only one. He believed that the care and maintenance of national monuments by the Forest Service was "not up to [Park Service] standards of handling the public and giving information," and argued that "dollar for dollar, the Park Service delivered better service did than the Forest Service." The very best Pinkley could say of Forest Service personnel was that they would hold the monument "in status quo [and] give it a lukewarm police protection." [2] In the newspapers of the Southwest, he often charged the Forest Service with neglect.

Pinkley had plenty of ammunition for these charges. The Forest Service could not equal his efforts, and it often did not try. The USFS regarded national monuments as makeshift, and in many cases they did little to acknowledge the significance of areas under its care. Prior to 1929, USFS protection of the Tonto National Monument, a prehistoric cliff dwelling built by the Salado people of Arizona, consisted of "the irregular visits made by local Forest Officers, whose time was fully occupied with regular Forest work." In 1929 the Forest Service granted the Southern Pacific Railroad a "cooperative permit" to hire a watchman, but only after vandals managed to severely damage the more accessible of the two clusters of ruins. The railroad installed an Apache Indian at the ruins at a salary of $33.75 per month. [3] The man had neither archaeological training nor instruction. Visitor service at Tonto, Bandelier, Walnut Canyon, and the Gila Cliff Dwellings was noticeably inferior to that at Casa Grande, and when visitors arrived at the latter, they frequently asked Pinkley to explain the differences. These circumstances made uniform service impossible and largely negated the thrust of Pinkley's efforts.

But the Forest Service jealously guarded its monuments, and Pinkley's public expression of his feelings angered many in that agency. The USFS feared that Park Service acquisitions might establish precedents that in the long run would overwhelm the foresters. Although Forest Service people generally liked Pinkley, at times they thought him acquisitive and self-righteous. His contempt for Forest Service administration of archaeological national monuments was obvious, and he had a number of unfriendly exchanges with Forest Service personnel. Mather and Albright tried to keep Pinkley clear of confrontation, but because the superintendent enjoyed public tussling, it was only a matter of time until serious contention erupted.

The conflict exploded over the Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico. A 22,400-acre tract of archaeological ruins, high desert mesas, and steep canyons about twenty miles from Santa Fe, the area attracted the attention of late nineteenth-century archaeologists, anthropologists, writers, and later, artists. Adolph F. A. Bandelier, a self-trained anthropologist and a friend of Lewis Henry Morgan, wrote about Frijoles Canyon, the main attraction at the monuments, in his novel Die Koshare, The Delight Makers. Noted author Charles Lummis, Edgar L. Hewett, and other anthropologists, archaeologists, and writers did much to imprint a picture of the monument and its wonders on the consciousness of the public.

The popularization of their work made the area a focus of American travelers. Their stories and books helped fashion a mystique that created another world of the Southwest, separated from modern America by layers of tradition and the constraints of a different culture. Here was the appeal to the urbanizing United States, rapidly losing its traditional cohesiveness in the wake of unprecedented immigration. Modern Americans saw an implicit validation of westward progress in the ruins of aboriginal cultures subjugated by a hostile environment. To an American public schooled in the Anglo-Saxon, Teutoinic determinism of the first decade of the twentieth century, the ruins affirmed a belief in a sort of social Darwinism that acknowledged the strength of Christian society and its achievement in the New World.

Bandelier was the perfect site for Pinkley to administer. His programs revealed the nature of prehistoric Indian life on the North American continent and taught Americans about the cultures that shaped prehistoric life. Few places provided a better opportunity to convey this kind of information. Although he always regarded the ruins as less impressive than many, Pinkley recognized how useful the monument would be in the southwestern group. Located near Santa Fe, which had become a center of art as well as an increasingly popular destination for travelers, a well-managed Bandelier would serve as an entry point into his organized system of prehistoric and historic sites. It could be used to pique the interest of visitors who knew little of the other monuments.

Under the administration of the Forest Service, Bandelier was not developed to Pinkley's advantage, and he could only mutter about lost opportunity. The rangers of the Santa Fe National Forest administered the monument, and although they did not discourage visitors, neither did they offer educational programs. The ruins were anomalies on Forest Service land, managed by people more concerned with grazing leases, fire trails, and clearing dead timber than with the remains of a prehistoric civilization. Although he never doubted the competency of the Forest Service in matters of forestry, Pinkley believed that the wrong bureau managed the ruins. He was sure the Park Service could do a better job informing visitors to the monument of its cultural significance.

Although Forest Service management of Bandelier posed problems for Pinkley, the ever-present prospect of conversion of the monument to national park status was a more direct threat to his conception of a clearly defined group of national monuments. Mesa Verde, a collection of archaeological ruins in southwestern Colorado, received national park status shortly after the passage of the Antiquities Act in 1906, and if Bandelier followed the same route, Pinkley believed it would negate much of his work during the 1920s. The definition of parks and monuments would again be at issue, and the boundaries between the categories of public reservations would blur. Bandelier easily fit the definition of a national monument in the Antiquities Act. Its transferral would shatter the integrity of the category, as well as confirm once again the impression that all significant monuments were headed for park status as soon as Congress could be convinced to pass appropriate legislation.

There had been efforts to establish a national park in the Bandelier area throughout the first quarter of the twentieth century, and one attempt indirectly led to the establishment of the national monument. Between 1899 and 1915, more than fifteen separate bills to make the region a national park were introduced in Congress. All failed, and the establishment of the national monument in 1916 was the result of a maneuver by the Forest Service to circumvent a national park bill in Congress. Secretary of Agriculture David F. Houston sent Arthur Ringland, the district forester in northern New Mexico, and Will C. Barnes, chief of grazing for the agency, to the area. The men found impressive ruins that they termed "distinctive," but felt that monument status was sufficient protection for the region. Barnes suggested that the monument be named for Adolph Bandelier, who died in 1914. Under the terms of the Antiquities Act, the USFS retained jurisdiction of the monument.

But monument status was only a prelude to further efforts to establish a national park. Edgar L. Hewett, whose empire had grown considerably since 1906, considered the area his personal archaeological project. Hewett dug extensively in northern New Mexico and used his excavations to increase the importance of Santa Fe as a cultural center. In 1907 he arranged for the School of American Archaeology [now called the School of American Research], a division of the Archaeological Institute of America, to be located in Santa Fe, and he became its first director. In 1909, he founded the Museum of New Mexico, using it as a storehouse for many of the artifacts he collected on his frequent archaeological expeditions. When he thought the proposals to turn the monument into a national park served his interests, he advocated a national park. In the summer of 1923, Hewett visited Robert Sterling Yard, Mather's old friend who had become the executive secretary of the National Parks Association, and suggested that the time was right for a national park on the Pajarito Plateau.

With Yard's and Hewett's coaxing, the Park Service moved into high gear. Yard enlisted the National Geographic Society, and Hewett used his vast power base in the state to bring the issue to the attention of the public. Newspapers in New Mexico advocated the establishment of the park, and Hewett reprinted some of the best articles in his quasi-scholarly El Palacio, the journal of the Museum of New Mexico. As a result of the uproar, the Park Service jumped on the bandwagon. In 1924, Mather brought a proposal for a national park of more than 200,000 acres to the Coordinating Committee on National Parks and Forests (CCNPF). Stunned, the Forest Service began to devise a counterattack.

In response to Mather's development of the commercial potential of the park system, USFS officials sought to assume responsibility for strict preservation of the character of the region. The foresters believed that during the 1920s Mather and Albright had abandoned preservationist policies in order to garner support for the fledgling Park Service. The Park Service seemed more concerned with catering to its visitors with hotels and new roads than with protecting the resources that attracted people to a park area. In the view of Forest Service officials, this was poor policy, and it left a gap that they intended to fill. This gave the Forest Service the incentive to hold on to places like Bandelier.

Yet the Pajarito Plateau national park was a crucial addition for the Park Service. Within Mather's and Albright's plan to broaden the boundaries of the park category, the Pajarito Plateau gave them the opportunity to create a new concept—the "aggregate value" national park. Like Mesa Verde, the Bandelier vicinity included many prehistoric ruins. But the area also contained excellent scenery in the nearby Jemez Mountains, to the west of the existing monument. Mather and Albright did not want an exclusively archaeological park, and the mountains alone were not sufficiently important to make another mountaintop park. Combining the values gave the agency an area of national significance and the rationale for creation of many more national parks in the future.

With such a strong difference of opinion between the two agencies, resolution in Washington, D.C., seemed unlikely. Members of the CCNPF planned an inspection tour of the region for early in September 1925. Its members represented both NPS and USFS perspectives, but the Park Service was outnumbered. Congressmen Henry W. Temple of Pennsylvania, a staunch park advocate, headed the committee, and Charles Sheldon of the Boone and Crockett Club, Maj. William A. Welch, the general manager and chief engineer of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission of New York, Mather, and Forester William Greeley made up the commission. Welch and Sheldon frequently appointed substitutes for fact-finding trips, as did Mather and Greeley. Arthur Ringland, who was responsible for the creation of Bandelier and had also been the forester in charge of the Grand Canyon National Monument during the Forest Service tenure there, served as the secretary on the New Mexico trip and Assistant Forester Leon F. Kneipp represented the USFS. Mather could not be present and he appointed Dr. Jesse L. Nusbaum, the superintendent of Mesa Verde and a close associate of Hewett's, to go to central New Mexico as the Park Service representative on the tour.

The task of the commission was to gauge local sentiment about the park project. On 16 September 1925 Temple headed a public meeting in Albuquerque. Nusbaum found a sympathetic audience; he reported that all who came to a public meeting "desired a National Park or Monument area and were not hesitant about saying so." He decided that the people of Albuquerque recognized the economic value of the proposed parks, and their support kept Forest Service representatives from offering substantive opposition to the proposal. [4]

The hearing the following night in Santa Fe began similarly, and the committee expected to hear additional expressions of sympathy for the park. Edgar L. Hewett chaired this public meeting. He traced the history of previous efforts to create a park in the region and pointed out the shortcomings of each attempt. Congressman Temple stood up to explain the purpose of his committee and to make it clear that he wanted a reading of local sentiment on the park question. As Temple sat, the Forest Service representatives took their cue, and efforts to stymie the establishment of a national park in north-central New Mexico began to unfold.

Forest Service resistance to the latest effort had begun long before the commission hearing. As Nusbaum reported to Mather the following day, in the months preceding the visit of the commission, a former Forest Service employee, A. J. Connell, who ran the Los Alamos Ranch School, a boarding school for boys located about ten miles from Ban delier, "started a campaign of defamation of the Park Service and the National Park idea." Nusbaum heard that Connell also threatened to close his school if a national park was created and "in the course of his talk [at a local gathering] and in subsequent talks, made public personal statements which any person knowing anything of the Park Service would know as absolute falsehoods." Connell convinced some area landholders that the Park Service would seize their land, that no one would be allowed to collect even dead timber for firewood, and that the Park Service would ban private cars from the park and force visitors to pay "to ride in the shrieking yellow busses of the transportation monopolies." [5]

Nusbaum felt that in an attempt to thwart the creation of the national park, Connell maliciously misstated both the objectives of the park project and the policies of the NPS. In fact, the agency followed a policy allowing any reasonable compromise that furthered the procurement of land in a region where a national park was proposed. For example, during the First World War, a unique agreement permitted grazing in Yosemite, and the Department of the Interior established the precedent that allowed the collection of dead timber for private use at Mukuntuweap (Zion) National Monument in 1914. [6] But Connell's insistence mustered strong and vocal resistance to the idea of a national park on the Pajarito Plateau.

Nusbaum found himself in a sticky situation. "The Forest Service had all the objectors to the plan lined up for the meeting," he told Mather, and they tried to make it seem that the region was inappropriate for a national park. Hewett, the most important advocate of a national park in north-central New Mexico, felt compelled to remain neutral because he chaired the meeting. Caught unprepared, the park advocates were leaderless and relatively unorganized. Two stand-ins on the committee, Barrington Moore, Sheldon's representative who had worked for the Forest Service employee and had become the editor of Ecology Magazine, and Assistant Forester Leon F. Kneipp, mercilessly pounded Nusbaum with "leading questions." Ringland, who originally worked to have the area set aside as a monument in 1915, was "apparently . . . bored to death [by talk of the region], and every remark he made belittled the area as a national park." [7]

The meeting proved uncomfortable for Nusbaum and the park constituency. Even with the support of New Mexico congressman John Morrow and Temple, Nusbaum felt that the evening was a failure. He had been ambushed because of his unpreparedness, and as a result, he felt that the question of the Cliff Cities National Park, the name given to Mather's proposal, was not fairly evaluated. Innuendo and propaganda formed the basis of public assessment of the issue, and its merit as an important artifact of the American archaeological past was ignored.

The Forest Service opposed creation of the national park because its policy dictated that economic development on the Pajarito Plateau was more important than the preservation of ruins. The foresters contested the Park Service premise that administration of the ruins was the primary issue on the plateau. In their view, there was little benefit for local homesteaders in promoting tourist travel, and economic development that focused upon ranching and timber cutting was far more important. As long as the Park Service insisted that effective preservation of archaeological ruins required restrictions upon the commercial use of large tracts of forest land, the Forest Service planned to oppose the project.

Homesteaders, stockmen, and timber interests comprised the Forest Service constituency, and the foresters position dictated that the economic value of forest land was at least equal to the cultural value of archaeological sites. From the local perspective, Forest Service officials contended, the timber resources were far more important than the need for preservation of large areas of the plateau. If the archaeological ruins could be administered in conjunction with the use of forest land on the plateau, then perhaps a compromise could be worked out. But a large national park, restricting the use of the timber and grazing resources of the Santa Fe National Forest, was out of the question.

Although it was a despondent Nusbaum who continued with the committee to visit the ruins the following day, the damage to his cause, except for public embarrassment, was minimal. His performance in Santa Fe greatly disappointed him, and he was certain it hurt the chances of establishing a park. But Temple and Morrow remained strong proponents of the national park, even though the intensity of the resistance of the USFS surprised Morrow. [8] Despite the public battering Nusbaum took, it appeared that a national park in the northern half of New Mexico would become reality. The Forest Service representatives knew that Temple's support of the proposal put them at a disadvantage. He was the only elected official on the committee, the only member without a vested interest in the outcome, and his opinion outweighed all the others.

Kneipp, Moore, and Ringland sought opportunities to make their case to Temple without NPS interference, while Nusbaum complained about their tactics. During the visit to the Pajarito Plateau ruins the following day, Nusbaum did not have an opportunity to speak to Temple without a forester present. The Forest Service representatives took Temple to lunch at Connell's Los Alamos Ranch School and "wasted much valuable time" during the meal in a ploy Nusbaum interpreted as an attempt to steer the congressman away from the ruins in Frijoles Canyon. By the time the party arrived at the canyon rim, it was nearly dark. The travelers hiked down the trail and glanced around in the dusk, visiting the ruins in what Nusbaum called "a very superficial way." [9]


America's National Monuments: The Politics of Preservation
©1989, Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois
©1994, University Press of Kansas
All rights reserved by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois

rothman/chap8.htm — 04-Feb-2005

Copyright © 1989 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. Material from this edition published by the University Press of Kansas by arrangement with the University of Illinois Press and may not be reproduced in any manner without the written consent of the author and the University of Illinois Press.