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Episode Four: 1920–1933Going Home

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The Ranger System (continued)

Despite all the requirements, so many men inquired about ranger positions at Yellowstone that Albright issued a daunting form letter response. "If you cannot work hard ten or twelve hours a day, and always with patience and a smile on your face," he warned, "don't fill out the attached blank."

Rangers' Club House, Yosemite National Park, 1932 Add to Scrapbook

Rangers' Club House, Yosemite National Park, 1932

The rangers all looked up to Stephen Mather. He once gave a ranger travel money to make a cross-country trip to visit his parents, and occasionally treated rangers and their wives to meals at fancy restaurants. In Yosemite, he spent $25,000 of his own money to build the Rangers' Club House – and took to staying there himself whenever he visited the park.

Mather was so impressed by an educational nature program run by two college professors at a resort at Lake Tahoe that he paid to have it transferred to Yosemite. Soon, guided nature walks and campfire lectures by "ranger naturalists" were offered in every national park. They became one of the Park Service's most popular programs and promoted the image of friendly professionalism Mather was trying to create.

Clare Marie Hodges, first female National Park Ranger, 1917 Add to Scrapbook

Clare Marie Hodges, first female National Park Ranger, 1917

Although most of the rangers were men, there were also a few women. At age 14, Clare Marie Hodges had ridden horseback for four days to visit Yosemite with her family. Four years later, she became the Park Service's first woman ranger. At Yellowstone, Isabel Bassett Wasson, a Brooklyn native with a master's degree in geology, gave lectures at three different locations each day.

To supplement the educational programs, museums were started in each park, with exhibits explaining various aspects of the terrain. Mather himself insisted on wearing a ranger's uniform whenever he visited a park. To boost the rangers' public image, he encouraged Albright to publish a book entitled Oh, Ranger! – a collection of humorous anecdotes about life in the parks.

The Race to Save the Smokies

Horace Kephart Add to Scrapbook

Horace Kephart

George Masa, friend of the Great Smoky Mountains Add to Scrapbook

George Masa, friend of the Great Smoky Mountains

Horace Kephart first came to the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee in 1904, and soon started campaigning to save the forests that were being systematically stripped away by lumber companies. He was joined in his efforts to create a national park by George Masa, a Japanese immigrant who spent his time photographing the Great Smokies. (See sidebar video.)

Stephen Mather supported their cause and in 1926, Congress authorized the creation of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There was one catch: Congress insisted that money to buy the land come entirely from the states or private donations. Local people – churchgoers, hotel bellhops, children raiding their piggybanks – rallied to the cause, but it was uncertain whether the required $10 million could be raised before the Great Smokies were completely logged.

John D. Rockefeller Jr. came to the rescue when he offered the remaining $5 million that was desperately being sought. But with the Great Depression devastating the country, people were unable to fulfill many of the pledges they had made to create the park. Inspired by the contributions of ordinary people, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt decided to intervene, allocating $1.5 million in scarce federal funds to complete the land purchases. On June 15, 1934, the park was officially established. It was the first time in history that the United States government had spent its own money to buy land for a national park.

Continued on page 4

A proud tourist points at her National Parks windshield stickers, 1922; David Brower in Glen Canyon, 1966; Dayton Duncan's son, Will, standing at edge of canyon. Bryce Canyon National Park, 1998

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