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NPS Expansion: 1930s







New Deal



NPS 1933-39




Expansion of the National Park Service in the 1930s:
Administrative History

Chapter One: "They have grown up like Topsy"
Administration of American Parks Before 1933
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D. Military Park System to 1933

The Secretary of War, in addition, had jurisdiction over ten national monuments that had been set aside on military reservations. Five of these were military sites--Big Hole Battlefield, Montana (June 23, 1910); Fort Marion, Florida (October 15, 1924); Fort Matanzas, Florida (October 15, 1924); Fort Pulaski, Georgia (October 15, 1924); and Castle Pinckney, South Carolina (October 15, 1924). The rest were of a non-military nature: Cabrillo, California (October 14, 1913); Mound City, Ohio (March 2, 1923); Statue of Liberty, New York (October 15, 1924); Meriwether Lewis, Tennessee (February 6, 1925); and Father Millet Cross, New York (September 5, 1925). It is interesting to note that, of the ten monuments, only two were in the West, one was in the mid-West, and seven were in the East. [100]

Beginning on August 19, 1890, moreover, with the establishment of Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park, the secretary's jurisdiction was extended over what came to be, in effect, a national military park system. [101] By 1933 this system, which was primarily in the East, consisted of four different types of units--eleven national military parks, twelve national battlefield sites, two national parks, and three miscellaneous monuments: [102]

National Military Parks

Chickamauga-Chattanooga (August 19, 1890)
Shiloh (December 27, 1894)
Gettysburg (February 11, 1895)
Vicksburg (February 24, 1899)
Guilford Courthouse (March 2, 1917)
Moores Creek (June 2, 1926)
Petersburg (July 3, 1926)
Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County Battlefields Memorial (February 19, 1927)
Stones River (March 3, 1927)
Fort Donelson (March 26, 1928)
Kings Mountain (March 3, 1931) 103

National Parks

Abraham Lincoln (April 17, 1916)
Fort McHenry (March 3, 1925) 104

National Battlefield Sites

Antietam (August 30, 1890)
New Orleans (Chalmette) (March 4, 1907)
Kennesaw Mountain (February 8, 1917)
White Plains (May 18, 1926)
Brices Crossroads (February 21, 1929)
Tupelo (February 21, 1929)
Monocacy (March 1, 1929)
Cowpens (March 4, 1929)
Appomattox (June 18, 1930)
Fort Necessity (March 4, 1931) 105

Miscellaneous Memorials

Kill Devil Hill Monument (March 2, 1927)
New Echota Marker (May 28, 1930)
Camp Blount Tablets (June 23, 1930) 106

According to the 1931 revised regulations for all sites under the jurisdiction of the War Department, the Office of the Quartermaster General in Washington had "charge of national military parks and national monuments and records pertaining thereto." [107] Since the previous year, general administrative responsibility for a particular site belonged to the corps commander of the area in which it was located. [108] On the site level, supervision was in the hands of a superintendent who, in the case of military sites, at least, had a military background and was able to demonstrate a passing knowledge of military history. [109]

In practice, however, administration of parks and monuments was much less orderly than it appeared to be on paper. At the Washington level, apparently, one or two part-time clerks in the Quartermaster General's office were assigned to oversee the "non-military function" (parks and monuments) along with their other duties. [110] Actual administrative responsibility was divided between several offices. For a period, the district engineers were assigned responsibility for recommending establishment of national monuments. [111] After 1926 the Adjutant General's office, through the Army War College, recommended the level of memorialization at the various areas. [112] In the case of Chickamauga-Chattanooga, Shiloh, Gettysburg, and Vicksburg, separate commissions, responsible to the Secretary of War, were effective administrators into the 1920s. [113]

From the perspective of the National Park Service, the War Department's administration of its parks and monuments was inadequate. It had not resulted in proper protection of the areas, nor had the War Department made an effort to develop an adequate program for the visiting public. The department had produced no literature to help visitors, and the paid guides that were available generally had little expertise. [114]

The 1931 War Department Regulations for military parks and monuments indicated that the areas were set aside to provide "inspirational value to future generations," and to provide visitors with the opportunity to study the actions that had taken place there. [115] The latter was not interpreted to mean the casual visitor, however. The primary purpose behind establishment of military parks--and this was indicated in legislation, and repeated over and over again by professionals in the department and by Congressional supporters--was to set aside those areas that would serve as outdoor textbooks in strategy and battle tactics for serious students of military science. [116] As such, the battlefields were to be maintained as nearly as possible as they were when the battles were fought. An examination of the available records indicates that while under the jurisdiction of the War Department, the battlefields fulfilled this function.

Chapter One continues with...
National Capital Parks


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