Crater Lake National Park: Administrative History by Harlan D. Unrau and Stephen Mark, 1987

 CHAPTER NINE: Legislation Relating to Crater Lake National Park: 1916-Present
1. Yawkey Tract

Using Public Works Administration (PWA) funds the federal government acquired a fee simple title to 1,872.36 acres of land owned by the Yawkey Lumber Company in the southeastern corner of the park on August 7, 1940. The acquisition under condemnation proceedings, which amounted to $6,560.26 or $3.50 per acre, was subject to the right of the Algoma Lumber Company to remove the timber on approximately 123 acres of land in the SE 1/4 of Section 8 and the N 1/2 NE 1/4 of Section 17. Final judgment on the transaction was rendered on December 4, 1940. [55]

The purchase of the Yawkey Tract was a culmination of sixteen years of effort by the National Park Service. In May 1924 NPS Director Mather expressed interest in acquisition of the property. Three months later C.C. Yawkey, President of the Yawkey Lumber Company with offices in Wausau, Wisconsin, responded by offering a property exchange:

The land which we own in the Park amounts to nearly 2000 acres, and applying the stumpage price at which land has been sold both on the Indian Reservation and in the National Forests, the value of this timber would be something like $250,000, and you can readily see that we would not feel warranted in deeding this to the Government.

However, we have this suggestion to make: The Government has land adjoining our tract in the Cascade National Forest, which, as I understand it, is on both sides of our tract, and if there is anything that adjoins us so that it would leave our timber in a compact tract, we would be willing to make an exchange thousand for thousand and value for value.

There is also timber along our east line in the Klamath Indian Reserve for which we would be willing to trade. [56]

The proposal was not acceptable to the Park Service, and on September 25, 1924, Mather informed Yawkey:

That while your land is nominally within the Park it is not in a location which receives any tourist travel. Under the circumstances it seems advisable not to attempt anything in the way of a trade as you suggested. [57]

Discussions concerning the future of the Yawkey Tract lay dormant until February 1932. At that time Jackson F. Kimball of Klamath Falls, who was managing the local affairs of the Yawkey Lumber Company, sent a letter to Superintendent Solinsky suggesting that an effort be undertaken to change the boundaries of Crater Lake National Park to exclude the Yawkey Tract. Among his reasons for such a recommendation were:

I understand that there is some possibility that a Bill may be introduced in the present session of the Congress for a change in the boundaries of Crater Lake National Park.

Because of the possibility of such legislation it has occurred to me that it might be well to state to you, as the representative of the Park Service, the attitude of the Yawkey Lumber Company in reference to this matter. This Company holds some 2000 acres of land which lie in the southerly portion of the Crater Lake National Park, together with 14,000 acres outside the Park boundaries. The tract is almost entirely surrounded by lands belonging to the Federal Government, i.e., Klamath Indian Reservation, Crater National Forest and Crater Lake National Park.

The size of the tract and the quality of the timber now in the ownership of the Yawkey Lumber Company represents a most attractive operation for lumbering when and if the market conditions justify the expense of constructing a railroad to open this up. It is important however to bear in mind that it is absolutely essential, from the standpoint of the Yawkey Lumber Company, that there shall be no reduction in the volume of stumpage. The present volume represents the minimum for profitable operation . . . .

As the matter now stands it seems apparent that the Park Service would naturally prefer not to have ownership in any lands within the Park vested in a private owner. Certainly the Yawkey Lumber Company could not afford to sell except at a price which would represent compensation for not only the timber but for all the other losses accruing to the balance of its property. This in my judgment would set up a prohibitive price.

The obvious action, affording the least injury to all parties concerned, would seem to be to change the National Park boundaries to exclude the lands of the Yawkey Lumber Company from the Crater Lake National Park. [58]

After a negative response from the National Park Service negotiations concerning the Yawkey Tract lay moribund for another six years until March 1938 when Superintendent Leavitt again initiated correspondence with Kimball. As the merchantable lumber on the tract was being logged off, Leavitt suggested that when the timber was removed the company might be willing to donate the land to the government. He pointed out that the land would have little value to a lumber company after the merchantable timber was removed Thus, he suggested that, rather than continue to pay taxes on it or to grow a new stand of timber, the company might be willing to donate it to the government. [59]