22 Structures – Rock Walls

The Rustic Landscape of Rim Village, 1927-1941



Rock Walls

As originally planned, two stone parapet walls were proposed and designed between the road and the caldera. One, following the caldera edge, was to be 18 inches wide and 22 inches high; the other wall was to be set back along the edge of the road and outer edge of the parking strip to serve as a guardrail. These initial plans were modified in 1929 due to time and insufficient funds, resulting in the construction of only one wall along the caldera.

In the summer of 1930, a sample section of masonry wall was constructed at the rim. This prototype was based on standard designs for stone guardrails developed by the NPS, and was 18 inches in height and 18 inches thick. The wall was broken at regular intervals by 6-inch merlons. The merlons were incorporated as a design motif for altering the “monotony” of an unbroken coping line and as a symbolic representation of the rhythms found in nature. Construction of the parapet wall began that summer. Stone was quarried from The Watchman, and taken to the site where it was cut and faced. By the end of the construction season in September, 300 feet of wall was complete and additional segments had been staked out.

The following summer, five masons were working full time on the parapet wall. Throughout the project, a great deal of effort went into achieving the desired structural and visual effect of the wall, and although good progress was being made, the landscape architect frequently expressed some difficulty “getting workmen to understand just the type of work which was wanted.” Regular inspections and trimming of individual stone facings after the stone was set was not uncommon as a means of fine-tuning the overall quality of the wall. By the end of the second season of work on the structure, approximately 3600 linear feet of the wall had been constructed. The parapet as constructed was 18 inches wide, and ranged in height from 12 to 18 inches. The wall closely followed the contour of the caldera. undulating along the edge, and extending out over the caldera to follow a natural prominence or to create a bay. In some areas, retaining walls were constructed as part of the wall to reinforce areas that were unstable or required shoring. Some of these walls were as much as 10 feet in height.