40 2. Gladstone Land and Timber Company Tract

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

 

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CHAPTER NINE: Legislation Relating to Crater Lake National Park: 1916-Present

 

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C. ACQUISITION OF MAJOR PARK INHOLDINGS

2. Gladstone Land and Timber Company Tract

The Gladstone Land and Timber Company Tract, adjoining the Yawkey Tract, was acquired by the United States on August 21, 1941, in fee simple following completion of condemnation proceedings. PWA funds remaining from the allotment for the Yawkey Tract were used to make the purchase of 73.76 acres located in the southeastern corner of the park as follows:

Portion NE 1/4 NE 1/4; NW 1/4 NE 1/4; N 1/2 SW 1/4 NE 1/4; and Portion SE 1/4 NE 1/4 of Section 16, Township 32 South, Range 7 1/2 East, Klamath County, Oregon.

Acquisition of the property was finalized after more than three years of negotiations. With completion of the transaction all private inholdings in the park were extinguished.[66]

In March 1938 Superintendent Leavitt wrote to the Gladstone Land and Timber Company with offices in Gladstone, Michigan, expressing Park Service interest in acquiring its timber tract in the park. Park Service officials were interested in the tract since it was understood that the land was about to be logged. Leavitt noted:

. . . If this is true, would your company be willing to donate this land to the federal government after the timber has been logged off, so that the area might become an integral part of Crater Lake National Park. Some organizations have found it practicable to donate lands after the timber has been removed rather than to continue to pay taxes on cut-over lands or attempt to grow a new crop of timber.

It is the policy of the National Park Service to acquire all private holdings within the boundaries of its various national parks and monuments, but there are no funds for purchasing such lands and we have to look to individuals and organizations who are public spirited enough to donate their property or provide the funds with which purchases may be made. [67]

Some months later on October 20 Leavitt again wrote to the company expressing Park Service interest in its property. He observed that he had been mistaken about the timber prospects of the acreage, but that the Park Service was still interested in its acquisition:

The lands embraced in this tract were formerly covered with a good stand of timber, but fires have completely denuded the area, and the land is without commercial value except for some grazing. However, it does have value to Crater Lake National Park. Even the brush cover has park values, if not commercial values . . . .

When I wrote you last March, I was comparatively new to the position of Superintendent of Crater Lake and was of the opinion that this tract of land had merchantable timber on it. I have since learned that it is doubtful if there is a single merchantable tree on this property. As the taxes each year on the property come to a considerable amount, it occurs to me that you still might be willing to consider the suggestion I made that you donate this 73.36 acres to the government to become a part of Crater Lake National Park. [68]

Negotiations for federal acquisition of the property extended over the next eighteen months. In January 1940 the company indicated its desire to sell the property for $1,500. However, in June of that year a Park Service official appraised the property at the rate of $2.50 an acre. Finally on May 14, 1941, the company executed a stipulation in which it agreed to sell the property for the total appraised value of $183.40. Following condemnation proceedings valid title to the land was “vested in the United States of America in fee simple on August 21, 1941, pursuant to the provisions of an Act of Congress of February 26, 1931, with the right of possession on January 30, 1942.”[69]

Following Park Service possession of the property Superintendent Leavitt responded to an inquiry by the Department of Justice of the State of Oregon relative to commercial activities or improvements on the tract. He observed that there was no

evidence of mining operations, agricultural improvements, manufacturing operations, or any ditch or reservoir used in connection with water rights; that there is not within my knowledge, or any outward evidence of any mining operation or vein or lode from which ore is being or has been extracted, which might be found to penetrate or intersect the premises . . . . [70]