Sunday, December 27, 2009

Pre-state (Arizona) Park proposals

By the time TR left the Presidency, the idea of a National Park for the Grand Canyon had been put forth in and outside of government for over a quarter century. His proclamation of a Monument pushed the idea along, not least because Monument status was seen as a strait-jacket on all kinds of development & exploitation. Park legislation would be a chance to "open it up", as the exploiters like to say. The Taft administration was of great importance first because in 1912, Arizona became a state, with two Senators and a single Representative. The latter was Carl Hayden, a man essential in much of Grand Canyon history for the next six decades, and a dedicated, if often quiet, toiler for the whitefolk and economic development. 

The Taft years were the scene for several Park proposals. Along the line of having fun with maps, here are three from 1909-11. The base map is the township grid for Grand Canyon National Forest, particularly showing the 1908 National Monument boundary. It is the solid black line drawn along section lines that is closest to the rim and inside the magenta lines. Some of the GCNF lines also show, with a gray cast next to the black.

The magenta lines represent an approximation of a proposed boundary sent by the Secretary of the Interior to GLO for information about private claims in December 1909. The description is also along section lines, which I have approximated by the diagonals. On the north and south, the proposal almost matched the existing Monument. However, right at the railroad terminus, bits were taken out to help the Santa Fe.The proposal did add in most of Kanab Canyon, up to Snake Gulch, (much as Park advocates convinced the House of Representatives (but not the Senate) to do in 1974). Adding lower Marble Gorge is the other notable difference from the Monument. There seems to be an attempt to stretch out toward more significance

In Jan 1910, this national park proposal was, I think, introduced in the Senate as S.5938 by Frank Flint (R-Calif), though the files do not indicate who was the prime mover. Flint was a one-termer, and after leaving the Senate in 1913, he worked for the Southern California Auto Assn, to whose members parks were important as touring destinations.

The Monument itself, by the way, looks very much like an attempt to stay with what the USGS called a "tightly drawn" boundary, getting in close to the rim in a misguided attempt, perhaps, to satisfy the Antiquities Act, if not the exploiters. The very notable exception is in the southwest, where plateau lands lived on by the Havasupai are swept up. Indeed, their reservation down in Cataract is not even shown on the base Forest Service map. Overall, the foundation concept is located in what Powell offered in 1882, that of the elongated bowl from Nankoweap to Kanab, a scenic panorama rather than a complete erosion wonder. Later, that panorama idea became tied to well-known viewpoints at what is now Grand Canyon Village, the transport tail wagging the geologic dog--but an animal with amputated cuts of head, limbs and torso, not to be restored, Frankenstein-style, for more than six decades. 

What I hope comes across in presenting these proposals is that they are more than just niggling quarrels over an inholding here or right-of-way there. To some degree, they are different conceptions of how to define the Canyon (an issue the 1975 GCNP Act explicitly dealt with), not just ways to get maximum scenic bang with minimum impact on the development buck.

Flint having received, he said, some criticism from stockmen, made changes and re-introduced a quite different Park bill in January 1911 as S. 10138 (61st Cong, 3rd Sess.).  

This is about as restrictive as it gets. Again, the diagonal lines indicate that the Monument boundary was being followed, more or less. The sensible additions are gone. Noteworthy here is the line up through Great Thumb Mesa, leaving Cataract Canyon (and the Havasupai Reservation) within the Forest (because of the stock, not the Havasupai). It then goes to the north bank of the river at Tapeats Creek, and more or less easterly along drainages to just above the rim. The upstream line is at Nankoweap, eliminating any of Marble Gorge. A tidy little scheme that resonated with the small-minded map-drawers for some years. Or was this an even more extreme attempt to make sure scenery did not interfere with greediness? 

The American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society, a bit tardily, in Feb 1911 wrote to Congress disapproving a change at Grand Canyon Village, by which private interests would secure land at the most accessible viewpoint. Its comment makes no sense; they seem to have the wrong township, and the Flint bill of Jan 1911 actually protected better than the Monument the rim area the ASHPS complained about. In any case, it had liked the Kanab and Marble additions in Flint's original, deleted in his second try. All a bit puzzling. In any case, the bill was not acted upon. 
My notes do not show any authorship at all for the next offering, in Nov 1911, a draft bill, filed as "Proposed legislation", although without identification or content other than the boundary description. The proposal looked like this: 

The western boundary goes over to the Hualapai Reservation, an extension not realized until  the second Monument proclamation in 1932. It is also far more generous on the south, taking in forested, open land (as well as, again, the Havasupai Reservation, still incognito). Strangely, the north side is just like the (skin)Flint bill, coming right down to the Colorado to exclude Kanab Canyon and all of the Canyon above Tapeats Creek, as well as anything north of Nankoweap (the boundary lying on the hydrographic divide, as the description goes). 

Although references in the files are meagre about who and why, these drafts show consideration was being given, pots were on the fire, the Grand Canyon pie was having fingers stuck in. However, the major actors had yet to appear.

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