I came across a speech given by one of the early national park advocates; an influential man who knew all about the levers of power. This quote seems to answer a couple of my questions, and Im only sorry that the simple world he inhabited has been replaced by the complicated intertwining of interests we are so used to see blunt and derail good intentions.
J. Horace McFarland, President, American Civic Association; Jan 3 1917:
Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, the American Civic Association early in its existence saw the importance of considering that national parks were actually national parks, and not merely incidental parcels of lands set aside by quite incidental legislation…
Even before we began with the national parks as such, dealing with those already established, we thought it our duty to prevent aggression. It was rather early in Mr. Roosevelt's administration that I received a letter one day from a good woman who wanted to know if something could not be done to prevent the building of a trolley line around the rim of the Grand Canyon of the Colorado. I thought something could. So did Mr. Pinchot. So did Mr. Roosevelt. And the Grand Canyon immediately thereafter was, by Executive order, declared a national monument. The trolley line is not yet there.
Mr. Roosevelt was not addressed on the subject of national parks because the broad conception was not yet in our minds.
What do you think? A bit of self-puffery? An inside view of how the Victorian patriarchy ran the world? A true view?
I do think the last sentence sounds like an apologetic for TR.