PART III: Management and Administration Under the National Park Service: 1916-Present INTRODUCTION

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

 PART III: Management and Administration of Crater Lake National Park Under the National Park Service: 1916-Present



The National Park Service was established in the Department of the Interior by an act of August 25, 1916 (39 Stat. 535), and funds were provided for its operation by an act of April 17, 1917 (40 Stat. 20). The act provided that the Service would administer the fourteen national parks, twenty-one national monuments, and Hot Springs Reservation. The bureau was to

promote and regulate the use of the Federal areas known as national parks, monuments, and reservations hereinafter specified by such means and measures as conform to the fundamental purpose of the said parks, monuments, and reservations, which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.

Thus, Crater Lake National Park became a part of the National Park System. Prior to 1916 the individual national parks and monuments had been administered as separate entities, but with the inauguration of the Park Service the various areas were slowly melded into a coordinated system under the energetic leadership of the bureau’s first director, Stephen T. Mather, who was appointed to that position on May 16, 1917.

Within days of the establishment of the National Park Service Mather, who was functioning as Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Interior, was in Oregon voicing his dreams and hopes for Crater Lake National Park. His ideas, which would play a significant role in the conceptual and functional development of the park during the next decade, were presented at a luncheon to Portland businessmen. He observed:

It looks like we’d have to go to the bat for the development of Crater Lake National Park this Winter. . . .

I have just come from the Crater Lake Park, and I am free to say that I believe it has probably the greatest possibilities of any scenic park in the world.

Its development cannot be allowed to be delayed any longer. Either we shall have to get the co-operation of Oregon people to carry forward its development, or I shall go to California and try to interest the capital there. It seems that Oregon people should be willing to go forward and help develop their great park, and Oregon would be my first choice in looking for men to co-operate with the Government in the work. I am a native of California, however, and, in case Oregon doesn’t come forward, I may yet have to go to my friends in California with the matter.

Tacoma and Seattle have raised $200,000 for the development of Rainier National Park and the Park Service Company in California is spending $700,000 in the development of Yosemite Park to improve its accessibility and the service to tourists.

As a suggestion of how Crater Lake development could be implemented, Mather recommended that Portland, Medford, Ashland, and Klamath Falls might raise $500,000 and arrangements be made with the railroads to sell tickets routing tourists by automobile through the park. Since the development already undertaken in the park by Parkhurst was “broad in its conception,” Mather challenged the Portland businessmen to display an interest in a project that was being developed by one of its own men. [1]