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Episode Four: 1920–1933Going Home

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An Old Enemy Returns: Mather vs. Cameron

Ralph Henry Cameron, 1915 Add to Scrapbook

Ralph Henry Cameron, 1915

Stephen Mather at entrance to Cameron's Indian Garden Mine, Grand Canyon National Park, 1921 Add to Scrapbook

Stephen Mather at entrance to Cameron's Indian Garden Mine, Grand Canyon National Park, 1921

Ralph Henry Cameron had fought against Mather and Albright in their bid to create the Grand Canyon National Park. When he lost, Cameron carried on as if nothing had changed, and refused to remove his buildings. Now a U.S. senator, he used his political power to ensure no action was taken against him.

When Cameron proposed two giant hydroelectric dams and a platinum mine within the park, Stephen Mather set out to stop him and other developers who were planning dams at other national parks. The recently enacted Federal Water Power Act specifically allowed for these dams; Mather, who considered the flooding of Yosemite's Hetch Hetchy Valley to have been a great travesty, was determined that it would never happen again.

Mather and Albright wrote memos objecting to the Federal Water Power Act, but they were torn up by, Interior Secretary Franklin K. Lane, who was squarely on the side of the dam builders. When surveyors showed up in Yellowstone to inspect a basin for a series of dams, Albright ordered the wooden trail bridges removed so that the surveyors could not cross the rivers.

Meanwhile, Mather galvanized public support through a public relations campaign. The resulting outcry soon put a stop to the proposed dams and all of Cameron's projects in the Grand Canyon.

Niles Cameron collects tolls at head of the Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon National Park, 1906 Add to Scrapbook

Niles Cameron collects tolls at head of the Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon National Park, 1906

Furious, Cameron denounced Mather on the Senate floor and instigated a congressional investigation, but when Arizona voters refused to return him to office in 1926, he finally lost control of his Grand Canyon empire. At Bright Angel Trail, the toll gate was removed, so the people who actually owned the park could freely use it.

Among those who would use the Bright Angel Trail was an adventurous couple whose attempt to travel down the Colorado River in 1928 would end in tragedy. (See sidebar)

Albright's Dream for the Tetons

Horace Albright with others, Grand Teton National Park, 1919 Add to Scrapbook

Horace Albright with others, Grand Teton National Park, 1919

When he became superintendent of Yellowstone in 1919, Horace Albright made it his personal mission to expand the park southward to include the Teton Range and the valley next to it in Wyoming, called Jackson Hole. He had first seen the stunning series of granite spires and the sparkling Snake River when taking a day trip with Stephen Mather to inspect the progress of a new road. Both men were flabbergasted by the magnificent scenery.

Back in 1882, General Philip Sheridan had wanted Yellowstone Park enlarged to include the natural grazing range of the world's largest surviving elk herd. The Tetons and surrounding lowlands were an essential part of the elk's migratory home, and conservationists hoped to include them in a "Greater Yellowstone."

As superintendent, Albright promoted his cause to every dignitary who visited Yellowstone. Congressmen, journalists, and two presidents were all taken to view the Tetons, while Albright passionately explained his vision.

Continued on page 5

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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