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

CHAPTER TEN: Administration Of Crater Lake National Park: 1916-Present


Since the inception of the National Park Service, Crater Lake National Park has been served by some nineteen superintendents, each of whom has played a role in the growth and development of the reservation. As the persons in immediate charge of the day-to-day operations of the park, the superintendents have had a major impact on its management, administrative policy, design and construction of facilities, and protection of resources.

William G. Steel resigned as park superintendent on November 20, 1916, to become U.S. Commissioner for the reservation. While the circumstances surrounding his resignation are not well documented, it is clear that he and NPS Director Mather had personal differences that would soon become highly-publicized. Steel had close personal and financial ties with Alfred L. Parkhurst, president of the Crater Lake Company a firm that Mather became increasingly interested in replacing as park concessioner in his zeal to provide quality accommodations and facilities for park visitors. It is also probable that Democrats, following the reelection of Woodrow Wilson to a second term as President of the United States, were interested in replacing Steel, a life-long Republican.

Steel was replaced as superintendent by H. E. Momyer who had been the first park ranger to be hired at Crater Lake some years before. Apparently, Mather named Momyer to serve as acting superintendent until a permanent superintendent could be found. Momyer served in this capacity for less than a year, covering the period from November 22, 1916, to August 1, 1917. [1] In 1924, several years after leaving the park staff to establish a Klamath Falls branch office of the World Fire and Marine Insurance Company of Hartford, Connecticut, Momyer described his experiences:

I was appointed as Ranger in August 1907, I think, was the first Ranger, resigning [sic] in 1920, was appointed as Acting Supt when Mr Steel was appointed [sic] Commissioner [sic] Nov 24 1916, and served until Mr Sparrow was appointed July 25 1917.

During that time I was notified to send reports to Mr G.E. Goodwin, and think I sent one report to him but as he never was in the Park, and I never received [sic] any orders from him, never considered that he was Supt in any thing only name, as all mail came to me, part of the time addressed as Acting Supt, and part as Ranger in Charge, there was nothing particular happened during my administration, just regular routine business, so do not suppose I will figure very high in the Roll of Fame. . . . [2]

Alex Sparrow was the first full-time superintendent at Crater Lake to be appointed by Mather. His dates of services extended from August 2, 1917, to February 15, 1923. Born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Sparrow was a veteran of the Spanish-American War, having served both in Cuba and the Philippines. Prior to his superintendency, Sparrow settled in the Rogue River Valley and established a farming operation. During the summers of the four years before he became superintendent, he served as an engineer in the park road construction program under the direction of the U.S. Corps of Engineers. In 1916 he served briefly with Brigadier General John J. Pershing during the Mexico border campaign. While serving as superintendent at Crater Lake, Sparrow was named acting superintendent of Mount Rainier National Park from April 19 to May 28, 1919. After leaving the Park Service he became a Jackson County judge with offices in Medford. [3]