Mission 66 and the Road to the Future
Following is a quick checklist of construction
accomplishments of Mission 66:
Park roads1,570 miles of reconstructed
roads, 1,197 miles of new roads, mostly in new areas, or a total of
Trails359 miles of reconstructed trails,
577 miles of new trails, a total of 936 miles.
Airport runways30 miles of runways, all
outside the parks.
Parking areas330 parking areas with a
total vehicle capacity of 10,868 were reconstructed and repaired. 1,502
new areas with a capacity of 49,797 vehicles were added, giving us a
total of 155,306 vehicle capacity in the national park system.
Campgrounds575 new campgrounds increased
camping facilities by 17,782 campsites, giving a total, as of 1966, of
Picnic areas742 new picnic areas, which
included 12,393 new picnic sites, were added, and thousands of old
picnic sites were reconstructed and improved.
Campfire circles and amphitheaters82
campfire circles and amphitheaters with a seating capacity of 30,252
were built, and 6 older campfire circles and amphitheaters with a
seating capacity of 4,645 were reconstructed, making a total available
seating capacity, in all the areas, of 41,037.
Utilities535 additional water systems,
521 new sewer systems, and 271 power systems were provided. Additions
were made to 301 old water systems, 223 old sewer systems, and 126 old
power systems. This makes a total of new or additional for the
concessionaires of 836 water systems, 744 sewer systems, and 397 power
Administrative and service buildings221
new administrative buildings were constructed, making a total of 1,917
available. Also 36 new service buildings were constructed, making a
total of 164, or a total of all administrative and service buildings in
the service of 2,081.
The approach to Grand Teton National
Park, Wyoming, from the north, a Mission 66 project. It has since been
named the John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Parkway.
Utility buildings218 new utility
buildings were constructed, making a total of 1,152.
Historic buildings458 historic buildings
were reconstructed and rehabilitated, costing a total of
Employee residences, dormitories, apartments,
etc.743 additional single and double housing units and 496
multiple houses, or a total of 1,239 structures, were constructed.
Comfort stations584 new comfort stations
were built, and 17 were rehabilitated, for a total of 601.
Interpretive roadside and trailside
exhibitswe built new, replaced, or rehabilitated a total of
1,116 roadside or trailside exhibits.
Marina improvements50 marinas, boat
launching ramps, and beach facilities were built and boat docks were
constructed or reconstructed.
Other facilities9 new fire lookout
towers, 39 new entrance stations, and 37 new trailer sanitation disposal
systems were built.
The dedication ceremony at the Horace M.
Albright Training Center, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, a Mission
Training facilitiesWe established two
training centers, one on the south rim of Grand Canyon and one at
Harper's Ferry, West Virginia. The one at Harper's Ferry, named the
Stephen T. Mather Interpretive Training and Research Center in honor of
the service's first director, not only is a training center for rangers
and administrative employees but recently has been enlarged to include
offices and shops for the planning and construction of interpretive
services and devices. The main building is part of the old Stover College,
which had been closed for several years before it was purchased
and developed for its present purpose. The Horace M. Albright Training
Center, named in honor of the service's second director and located in
Grand Canyon National Park, was built at a cost of $331,000 primarily
for the training of new rangers, though it is also used for advanced
training of rangers and other personnel.
Visitor centersMission 66 studies
indicated that the museums that existed in the parks were not adequately
serving the public. The Park Service decided to change its visitor
facilities from small, museum-type buildings to structures of open
design that would include information and interpretive facilities,
exhibits, and rest areas. The resulting "visitor center" concept is
being used widely in the parks. It has been adopted by a number of
federal and state agencies and also by private enterprises, such as
power plants, to inform the public of their services. The more elaborate
centers in larger parks have souvenir sales, food services, and complex
audiovisual equipment; a few have small auditoriums. In some instances
the visitor center and park administrative offices are under one roof.
During Mission 66, 114 visitor centers were built.
This visitor center in Sitka National
Historic Park, Alaska, tells the story of the battle in 1804 between the
Tlingit Indians and the Russians, as well as about the Indian culture.
It also has several rooms where Indians handicraft is made and shown.
The superintendent is a very capable lady of the Tlingit tribe. Photo
by John M. Morse, courtesy National Park Service.
Visitor center, Logan Pass on
Going-to-the Sun Highway, Glacier National Park, Montana. Photo by
Keller, courtesy National Park Service.
Visitor center, Cape Cod National
Seashore, Massachusetts. Photo by Jack Boucher, courtesy National
Generally speaking, we greatly improved the operation
of parks by giving them adequate facilities and by giving maintenance
high priority. Further, Mission 66 was able to stimulate better
cooperation between the concessionaires and the government through such
arrangements as providing utilities on a rental basis. The
concessionaires invested more than $33 million of private funds during
the Mission 66 period for new and improved cabins, lodges, motels,
stores, curio shops, service stations, marinas, and other installations.
An example was the building of the new Canyon Village and Grant Village
in Yellowstone National Park and removal of the Old Canyon Lodge Hotel
and cabins from the rim of the colorful Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
Breaking ground for Canyon Village to
replace the old developments on the canyon rim in Yellowstone National
Park, Wyoming, that should not have been built there in the first place.
Left to right: Billy Nichols, president, Yellowstone Park
Company; Director Wirth; Charles A. Hamilton, president, Hamilton Stores
Company; and Jack Haynes, president, Haynes Studios. Courtesy J. E.
One of the major projects undertaken by Mission 66
was the 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway, connecting Shenandoah National
Park, in Virginia, with Great Smoky Mountains National Park, in North
Carolina and Tennessee, via North Carolina. This project was suggested
by the late Senator Harry F. Byrd, of Virginia, early in 1933 when
President Roosevelt made his first inspection of some of the CCC camps
in the national forests and national parks of Virginia. Roosevelt
thought well of the parkway idea, and shortly afterwards construction
was started under the National Industrial Recovery Act of June 16, 1933.
Specific legislative authority was enacted by Congress in 1936. Work
proceeded as the land was acquired, all through the thirties, with
Public Works Administration funds. As World War II approached, funds
were diverted to needs related to the war. By the time Mission 66 was
started only about one-third of the distance of the parkway had been
completed and made usable. Most of the work had been in places where
construction was less difficult. Under Mission 66 funds were included to
complete the parkway. The Forest Service worked in cooperation with the
National Park Service on this project. We fully intended to complete
the Blue Ridge Parkway during Mission 66 and came very near doing it,
even though some of the contracts were not completed until a few years
after 1966. The one unresolvable issue was a ten-mile stretch on the
slopes of Grandfather Mountain for which the state could not get the
right-of-way. The owner, Hugh Morton, was quite a political power in
North Carolina, and he did not want us to scar up the mountain. We and
the state spent a lot of time negotiating with him, to no avail. In the
end, Mission 66 provided better than 75 per cent of the cost of
construction of the entire Blue Ridge Parkway.
Linville Falls on the Blue Ridge
Parkway, purchased and given partly to the U.S. Forest Service and
partly to the National Park Service by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., is
administered by both agencies within their jurisdiction on the basis of
a master plan approved by both. Photo by Ralph H. Anderson, courtesy
National Park Service.
Construction detail of a bridge on the
Blue Ridge Parkway. Courtesy National Park Service.
Tunneling for the Blue Ridge Parkway was
difficult and expensive, but necessary in mountain country. Courtesy
National Park Service.