Superintendents – Charles Goff Thomson, 1923-1929

Charles Goff Thomson

Charles Goff Thomson became park superintendent on February 15, 1923, and served for six years until February 15, 1929, when he was transferred to the superintendency of Yosemite National Park, a position he held until March 22, 1937. After graduating from Cornell University in 1907, he was appointed to the veterinary corps in the Philippines under the Department of Agriculture. Two years later he was appointed superintendent of the government serum laboratory. In 1911 he joined General Pershing, who was then civil governor of Mindanao, with the assignment of eliminating the outbreak of a lethal disease menacing the supply of work animals in the province. From July 1914 to April 1917 he served as assistant director of prisons in the Philippines, in which position he had executive control of 46 institutions with some 8,400 prisoners.

After returning to the United States in 1917, he joined the armed forces, being commissioned a captain in the remount service. He organized and commanded the remount depots at Camp Gordon, Georgia, and Camp Dix, New Jersey, before being promoted to major and assigned overseas. He advanced to lieutenant colonel in command of 2,600 officers and men at Lux, France, where he handled 76,000 horses and mules for the First and Third Armies of the Allied Powers. On July 19, 1919, he was cited for “exceptionally meritorious and conspicuous services as commanding officer, United States troops, at Lux, France.”

Thomson joined the National Park Service as superintendent of Crater Lake National Park. In December 1923, nine months after taking office, he declared that “the park service is the best in the world and that he expects to die in it.”

Thomsons avocation was free-lance writing. Among his published works were two books based on his experiences in the Philippines: Terry: A Tale of the Hill People (1921) and Time Is A Gentleman (1923). He also wrote short fiction pieces for such periodicals asPictorial Review, Country Gentlemen, and Munsey and outdoor articles for Field and Stream and Scenic America. [Administrative History of Crater Lake NP]


January, 1929, Crater Lake National Park superintendent Charles Goff Thomson poses with a ruler, measuring the height of a snowbank for a photo. Photo courtesy of the Crater Lake Institute.

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