Copyright, Randall D. Payne
Andersonville National Cemetery at Andersonville National Historic Site

As we continue our celebration of the centennial of the National Park Service, this month we explore another important period during NPS history — Mission 66. Initiated in 1956, the aim of Mission 66 was to construct park facilities in preparation for the 50th anniversary of the National Park Service in 1966. Over 100 visitor centers were constructed, many of which are still providing essential visitor services.

The following account of the Mission 66 Program was written by Roy E. Appleman, one of the members of the Staff responsible for helping to develop this program. A PDF copy of his original "A History of the National Park Service Mission 66 Program" is available (though the quality is a bit hard to read).

To learn more details about the visitor centers that were constructed during Mission 66, along with books on architecture in the parks, you are encouraged to read these additional books. To learn more about "Parkitecture", this NPS Online Exhibit titled "Parkitecture in Western National Parks" is an excellent introduction.

A History of the National Park Service Mission 66 Program
Roy E. Appleman
January 1958

This is written to preserve a brief narrative record of the origin and development of the MISSION 66 program. Mr. Wirth, the Director of the National Park Service, conceived the idea for a MISSION 66 plan early in 1955, and the plan itself was formulated in the ensuing year. In January of 1956 the plan was presented orally to the President of the United States and his Cabinet in a Cabinet meeting. The President accepted the plan and authorized the Secretary of the Department of the Interior to present it to Congress.

Meanwhile, the two Houses of Congress, through some of their members and certain Committees, had become aware of the plan. Notices of it appeared in the press from time to time. In the preparation of the final plan the Bureau of the Budget was kept informed, and its advise sought on the funding program. The first appropriation for MISSION 66 became available on July 1, 1956, under the 1957 appropriation.

The MISSION 66 Plan proved to be an unusually successful way of getting Park problems before the country and of formulating a method of receiving Administration and Congressional action to support and implement a proposed solution. Because this plan promises to be the basis for National Park Service work during the next ten years, and will undoubtedly influence policy and development far into the future beyond even that time,it has been considered desirable to leave in the records of the Service an account of how it developed.

Origin of the Idea

NPS photo
Conrad Wirth at Glacier National Park
(NPS Photo, HPC-001136)

As with most movements that lead to important and successful action in dealing with public problems, there is a background in the case of MISSION 66. For forty years the United States had had a rapidly growing population. It was a period when the automobile, over ever-expanding and improving public roads, carried more and more people yearly to the scenic end wilderness areas of North America. Prominent among these places were the National Parks and Historic Sites. A problem never solved was the need of obtaining funds adequate to finance park development to serve the increasing visitation, and yet to protect for the long future the charms, attractions, and special values of these parks.

Every Director of the National Park Service from the first one, Stephen T. Mather, on down to Mr. Conrad L. Wirth, had wrestled with this problem. To all of them—Mather, Albright, Cammerer, Drury, Demaray, and Wirth, it was the same thing—trying in the annual budget and appropriation bills to get funds on a yearly basis which would enable them to discharge their responsibilities. The yearly basis was the old accustomed and accepted way of getting funds from the Congress for the discharge of public business. In the years of the early 1950's after he assumed the Directorship, Mr. Wirth found in this method frustration after frustration. Although Congress granted certain increases, these seemed always to fall behind the pace of mounting public use and needs in the parks, partly because of the falling purchasing power of the funds appropriated due to ever-increasing inflation.

Mr. Wirth discussed this situation at different time over the years with officials of the America Automobile Association, leaders of several conservation and recreation groups, and the Department's Advisory Board on Historic Sites, Buildings, and Monuments. At the same time there were increased pressures to give up the parks because they were not being developed and maintained properly, and he had to persuade the Governors of several states that land in the National Park System was an asset to the state and did not constitute a depletion of the State's resources. Protecting the National Parks, and at the same time providing for their proper development for the use of an expanding population, were related problems ever present in Mr. Wirth's mind.

Pondering this matter one Saturday evening at his home in early February 1955, Mr. Wirth's thoughts suddenly settled on the idea that perhaps the main cause of past failures was the neglect to deal with the problem on a long-range basis. Why not set up a master plan for the System on the basis of a relatively long period of time—a period of time that looked beyond the year-to-year appropriation and yet did not carry so far into the future that it mould lack reality. If the Congress and the Administration were to grant the funds necessary properly to protect and administer the National Park System, they should know what the present and future use demands were, how much it would cost to provide the necessary personnel and facilities, what would be a reasonable and economical period to complete such a program, and what they would get for the money so expended. Ten years seemed the right length of time to plan between the extreme of the ever-present yearly budget plan and of the distant future. These thoughts ran through Mr. Wirth's mind on the night of February 6, 1955. 1/

1/ This account of what caused Mr. Wirth to launch the MISSION 66 study is based on interview, Roy B. Appleman with Mr. Wirth, March 23, 1956.

The next day, Sunday, Mr. Wirth spent at home. He found his mind occupied with and continuing the reflections of the night before. He realized that before any long-range plan could be formulated he mould need to know a lot of things that he did not then know. What would be the population of the United States in 1965? What proportion of the population ten years hence would visit the parks? What would their wants and needs be then? How would these differ, if at all, from those of present day park visitors? What changes would occur in the next ten years in the pattern of vacation and tourist travel that might affect the parks? What new and additional accommodations would be needed for overnight and dining accommodations in the next ten years? Would there be an increase in the older and in the younger age brackets of visitors over those of the present? What new roads would be needed? What new trails? What new camping facilities would be required? With the prospect of new multitudes of people in the parks, how best could one protect their perishable and unique features for the generations of the future? What increases in employee personnel would be needed to administer the parks, provide ranger protection, and supply the interpretive services visitors had come increasingly to expect and want? And what would all this cost?

Mr. Wirth, in contemplating these and other factors, decided that a thoroughgoing, objective, and scientific study of the parka and their prospective future use was basic to the long range plan that had been shaping in his mind.

With these thoughts in mind, he went to his office on Monday, February 3, 1955. As was his custom, be called a "Squad" Meeting, a gathering of his principal advisors in the Washington Office of the National Park Service, made up of the Assistant Directors, Special Assistant to the Director, and the Chiefs or Acting Chiefs of Divisions. Mr. Wirth expounded his idea to this group. He proposed to set up a special staff selected from personnel in the Washington Office, and to put this group in his conference room to work exclusively on a plan. Relieved of all regular duties, they would devote full time to the long-range planning study until it was completed. He did not know just how long a period of time this would take. The group would be selected in such a manner as to be representative of the major functions of the Service. And he said ha wanted men on it who would be missed in their regular Divisions.

The reaction of the members of the "Squad" was favorable. They seconded the idea with enthusiasm. The discussion then turned to the question of selecting the persons to comprise the study group. This led to the decision to have two groups—one would be a Steering Committee; the other would be the Working Staff. Before the meeting ended, Mr. Wirth appointed the following membership to these two groups;

Steering Committee

Lemuel A. Garrison, Chairman
  Chief, Conservation and
  Protection Branch,
  Operations Division

Thomas C. Vint
  Chief, Division
  Design and Construction

Henry Langley
  Chief, Programs and
  Plans Control Branch
  Operations Division

John W. Doerr
  Chief, Natural History Branch
  Division of Interpretation

Donald E. Lee
  Chief, Branch of
  Concessions Management
  Operations Division

Keith Neilson
  Finance Officer
  Administration Division

Jackson E. Price
  Chief, Branch of Lands
  Operations Division

Working Staff

William G. Carnes, Chairman
  Landscape Architect
  Division of Design and

Harold G. Smith
  Assistant Chief, Programs
  and Plans Control Branch
  Operations Division

Robert M. Coates
  Chief, Economics and
  Statistical Section,
  Conservation and
  Protection Branch

Howard R. Stagner
  Principal Naturalist
  Natural History Branch
  Division of Interpretation

Jack B. Dodd
  Assistant Chief Forester
  Conservation and Protection

Roy E. Appleman
  Staff Historian
  History Branch
  Division of Interpretation

Raymond L. Freeman
  Assistant Chief, Branch of
  River Basin Studies
  Division of Cooperative
  (Added to the Staff on April 20, 1955.)

The members of the Steering Committee were to review periodically the work of the Staff and help give it direction. The Staff was to give full-time work to the planning task. Mr. Wirth had already thought of the name "MISSI0N 66" for this effort.

With the "Squad" seating at an end, Mr. Wirth directed that the members of the Staff be informed of their new assignments, and for them together with the members of the Steering Committee, to meet with him that afternoon at 2:30 in Room 3100, the conference room adjoining his office.

Excitement ran through the Park Service offices just before noon that Monday as word passed around that a special study group had been formed to inquire into possible changes in the Service's policies and to plan for the future. Members of the Staff received news of their selection for the work with a mingled feeling of surprise, uncertainty, and anticipation. But all looked forward to the afternoon meeting when they would learn more about the task ahead.

At 2:30 in the afternoon in Room 3100, where they ware joined by Mr. Wirth and the Assistant Directors, Mr. Wirth proceeded at once to lay before the Staff his idea of the task it was to perform. He said, in effect, that there was a pressure of public steam criticizing conditions in the parks. It was not enough to think of bringing the National Park Service out of the muck to high ground. The habit of going to the PCP's and pulling out from them a yearly program must be changed. Since 1946 there had been more money for the Service than before, but it purchased less. Travel was increasing. Funds appropriated were actually on the basis of serving 21,000,000 visits to the parks; now there were about 46,000,000 visits yearly and this number would increase. The Service was confronted with the possible destruction in the parks, he said, of what it was charged with saving. His desire was to lay before Congress a program designed to secure a reasonable protection of the parks and yet provide for increased public use in such a way as not to wear them out. He thought there was danger of them being "loved to death."

Mr. Wirth said he wanted two things resolved in the course of the study: 1. A reasoned objective for the Service over a long period of time; (2) A program to accomplish that objective. He said the solution would not be in the books and in regulations; perhaps it could not be found within the terms of existing legislation. But whatever was required, he wanted to know it. He wanted the Staff to come up with answers. In an analogy to a poker game, he said the Service was being "called". Now it had to show its hand. And he wanted it to be a good hand.

He stressed finally that any development recommended must be for the purpose of protecting the Nation's heritage — scenic, scientific, and historical — in the national parks. He wanted the plan to be completed in time so that he could present it to the General Service Conference of Park Service Superintendents to be convened at Great Smoky Mountains National Park on September 18. He wanted the first result of the new program to show in the 1957 budget. he ended his comments by saying that he wanted a memorandum prepared and reedy for distribution to the Washington Office staff and to the field by Thursday next, February 11, informing all members of the Service of the MISSION 66 study he had just launched and what he hoped to accomplish with it.*

The writer kept an informal diary of the proceedings of the Staff during work on the MISSION 66 Report, from Feb. 9, 1955 to Feb. 8, 1955. He made notes at the time discussions were in progress and often took down literally verbatim the words spoken by various persons. He has drawn heavily on these contemporary notes in preparing this account. Almost nothing herein is based on unsupported memory.

After Mr. Wirth left the meeting, Mr. Garrison discussed the task ahead of the group and said that it would have 90 days in which to complete it.

The Staff Begins Work

NPS photo
Dinosaur National Monument
(NPS Photo, HPC-000141)

The staff members settled down for work in Room 3100, the Director's conference room between his own and Mr. Tolson's offices. There they talked about how they should start on their new job. This room was to be their work shop for the next year, although none of the group realized it at the time. The first series of discussions seemed to point at finishing the task within three or four months.

There was a great convenience and advantage to the staff in working in this room. Mr. Wirth had only to open the side door of his office and he could step in and discuss any topic with the staff. As time passed, all members came to know that the Director's time was very valuable, and that it was hard for him to give as much as half an hour to any discussion without being called away on some important and urgent matter. The arrangement worked well, however, for Mr. Wirth did find time to consult frequently with the staff.

A few of the division heads at first continued to assign work to some of the staff members detailed from their divisions. It was hard for everyone to believe at first that this Staff was to work on the new task assigned by the Director, and on nothing else. But the Director soon made it clear that no one, for any purpose whatsoever, was to request or expect Division work from any member of the Staff. Each and every member of the Staff had been relieved of his regular duties until the newly assigned MISSION 66 task was finished. There was no more trouble on that score.

The first official act of the Staff was to draft a memorandum announcing to all offices and members of the Service the establishment of the MISSION 66 Staff and its purpose. The Steering Committee reviewed the draft before it went to Mr. Wirth for approval. In this memorandum to the Washington and All Field Offices, dated February 18, 1955, Mr. Wirth officially announced his MISSION 66 project to the Service. It said in part:

"The year 1966 will mark the Golden Anniversary of the National Park Service. In an effort to solve, by that time, the difficult problem of protecting the scenic and historic areas of the National Park System from overuse and, at the same time, of providing optimum opportunity for public enjoyment of the parks, I have initiated a project which we are calling MISSION 66 ...

"The purpose of MISSION 66 is to make an intensive study of the problems of protection; public use, interpretation, development, staffing, legislation, financing, and all other phases of park operation, and to produce a comprehensive and integrated program of use and protection that is in harmony with the obligations of the National Park Service under the Act of 1916.

"The immediate objective of the MISSION 66 is the development of a dynamic program to be presented to the Secretary for consideration by the Bureau of the Budget and the Congress beginning with the 1957 fiscal year estimates. The ultimate objective is the complete execution of the program by the time the Service celebrates its Golden Anniversary in 1916.

This memorandum named the members of both the Steering Committee and Staff, and officially relieved the latter from their regular duties. It also set forth the name MISSION 66 as the term that would henceforth be used in referring to this special undertaking. It made clear that all members of the Service would be expected to participate in studies that were to be undertaken in formulating the desired program.

The Staff undertook at the start to review all the basic existing laws that affected the functions and scope of the Service. It also assembled and studied other related documents and statements from prominent individuals who had been associated with the past history of the Service. Among the most important of these documents was the "Statement of National Park Policy" signed by Secretary of the Interior Franklin K. Lane, and dated May 13, 1918. Secretary Lane had sent this document to the first and newly appointed Director of the National Park Service, Stephen T. Mather, as a policy directive to him for the new Bureau. Mr. Horace M. Albright, then a young assistant in the Secretary's Office who had been handling park matters prior to the establishment of the new Bureau, was the principal author of the directive.

The vision and soundness of this first policy statement for the new bureau is confirmed by the fact that nearly all of it is still applicable, in a broad way, to Service policy today. A few excerpts from Secretary Lane's directive to Mr. Mather may be appropriate here. The Staff accepted it as stating certain valid basic assumptions on which their work should proceed. It said in part:

"For the information of the public an outline of the administrative policy to which the new Service will adhere my now be announced. This policy is based on three broad principles: First, that the national parka must be maintained in absolutely unimpaired form for the use of future generations as well as those of our own time; second, that they are set apart for the use, observation, health, and pleasure of the people; and third, that the national interest must dictate all decisions affecting public or private enterprise in the parks.

". . The commercial use of these reservations, except as specially authorized by law, or such as may be incidental to the accommodation and entertainment of visitors, will not be permitted under any circumstances ...

"Every opportunity should be afforded the public, wherever possible, to enjoy the national parks in the manner that best satisfies the individual taste."

The Staff studied legislative background of the Service. This included particularly the organic act of August 25, 1916 (39 Stat. 535) establishing the National Park Service; the Antiquities Act of June 8, 1906 (34 Stat. 225); the National Historic Sites Act of August 21, 1935 (49 Stat. 666); and the Park, Parkway and Recreation-Area Study Act of June 23, 1936 (49 Stat. 1894).

Changes in responsibilities and mission brought to the Service "by Executive Orders No. 6l66 of June 10, 1933 and No. 6228 of July 28, 1933 were studied. In these two Executive Orders, President Franklin D. Roosevelt consolidated in the National Park Service all national military and battlefield parks and the national monuments that had been, up to that time, variously held and administered in three Departments at the Federal Government — War, Agriculture, and Interior. The most important new function imposed on the Service in these Executive Orders was responsibility for a large number of historical areas — the battlefield parks and some memorials — previously administered by the War Department. In some cases the War Department had administered this responsibility for nearly forty years. Twenty-some years later, in 1955, it became clear that in the forty years since its establishment the National Park Service had greatly expanded, not only in the number of Federal properties, but also in the type, for which it was responsible.

Interestingly enough the principles of policy adopted to guide the development and use of the first great natural parks were equally applicable to the historical, scientific, and Memorial properties. For all, there was a singleness of belief and intent; the application of principles and direction of purpose for each would emerge from evaluating the particular resources of each park and adopting the proper means of safeguarding these resources while at the same time making available their values to the American people.

For additional guidance in evolving any new policies that might be needed for the changing times expected in the next decade, the minutes and resolutions of the Advisory Board on Historic Sites, Buildings, and Monuments were examined. Those principles of conservation and protection which this body of eminent men had formulated in advising the Secretary on park matters over the past twenty years were listed. The problems of the past two decades offered many hints of what those of the next decade might be.

The Staff adopted for its own, as an axiom of intent and purpose, a statement from the opinion of Justice Mathew W. Hill in the case of State vs. Dexter, delivered in the Supreme Court of the State of Washington, February 18, 1949 (202 Pacific Reporter, 2d series) as it concerns the Nation's natural resources.

Edmund Burke once said that a great unwritten compact exists between the dead, the living and the unborn. We leave to the unborn a colossal financial debt, perhaps inescapable, but incurred none the less, in our time and for our immediate benefit. Such an unwritten compact requires that we leave to the unborn something more than debts and depleted natural resources. Surely, where natural resources can be utilized and at the same time perpetuated for future generations, what has been called 'constitutional morality' requires that we do so.

The practices of European countries in preserving and making use of their great natural wonders came under scrutiny for whatever good suggestions experience there might offer. Policy and practices are by no means the same in various parts of that continent. The English in their own country and the Swiss in the Alps almost opposite practices, and it is not always easy to say which is right. Even some eminent Englishmen have doubts on this matter, as can be sensed from a remark of Professor G. M. Trevelyan to the effect that it is fortunate the Alps are not controlled by the British since, if they were, "they would long ago have been closed on account of the chamois."

Trevelyan was an apostle of close and intimate relationships between man and the countryside. Only by walking over the ground, among the meadows and in the forests, over mountains and across valleys, he thought, could this relationship best be obtained. He once said, "I have two doctors, my left leg and my right ..." Be advised calling in these doctors for every disease of the mind and torment of the soul. To him it was for human beings a truth that walk long enough and far enough and there is no trouble which at the end of the day will not look different and feel lighter.

For the first two or three weeks the Staff busied itself with discussing all these and other related matters. It was trying to find a point of departure, a standard against which to measure the many questions it now must consider. It tried to find a series of maxims or rules of conduct to guide its thinking and control its action in the days ahead. The members took it for granted after Mr. Wirth's several discussions with them that they must be as objective as possible . Each was to be free to question anything if he thought a better way could be found. Nothing was to be sacred except the ultimate purpose to be served. Men, methods, and time-honored practices were to be accorded no vested deference. Everyone realized after a review of Park Service history that such development in the larger national parks, certainly, had been based on how far a stagecoach could travel in a day. The time for a change in the application of different criterion was overdue.

By March 1, two steps had been decided upon in the Staff and Steering Committee to develop the detailed information the Staff would need in starting to evolve a program for MISSION 66. Requests were sent to each Division and Branch of the Washington Office for a recommended program, within their fields of responsibility, to accomplish the stated purposes of MISSION 66. At the same time, the Staff began work on a questionnaire to be sent to all the parks. Answers to this questionnaire would cover both statistical information and theoretical discussion of park problems. The term "park" was used to apply to any area administered by the Service.

Concurrently with these opening steps in starting its work, the Staff decided to carry on interviews with persons from all the Branches and Divisions of the Washington Office. Interviews were to be arranged also with park officials from outside the Washington Office when they were in the city on other business and could spare the time to appear before the Staff. It was agreed that these interviews would be wide open to all members of the Staff to ask any questions pertinent to the task ahead. No interviews were to be spared embarrassing questions if they promised to bring out useful information. It was recognized that the most fruitful result of the interviews would be to get the impressions, the criticisms, the pet ideas, the recommendations of a multitude of persons on park problems. Many of the persons who would take the "witness stand" had behind them a long period of varied Park Service experience. In the composite, they represented just about all aspects of Service work and responsibility. The Staff meant to pick their brains.

The Mount Rainier Pilot Study

Concurrently with formulating this plan to interview a great number of people on MISSION 66 problems, the Staff and the Steering Committee on March 1 began considering the best way to approach the study of each park in the System. The purpose here was to arrive at the best evaluations of park resources, the way in which they could best be used for human enjoyment, and yet preserve them for continued used indefinitely into the future. After considerable discussion, the decision finally was reached to make a pilot study of a park having a variety of typical problems. The experience gained in such a study might be applicable to formulating an approach to similar studies for each park in the System. Taken together, the individual park studies would add up to MISSION 66. It was agreed that the first pilot study should concern a park of reasonably difficult problems, many of which would be typical of park problems in general.

Mount Rainier National Park was finally selected for this study. It had both summer and winter use problems. It had mountain and forest. It had a rich flora and fauna, and great scientific interest. It had superb scenery. It had concession problems, road and trail problems, camping and day use problems; it also had public relations problems.

By March 24, 1955, the Staff, with considerable assistance from the Steering Committee, had drawn up general guidelines and precepts for the Mount Rainier study. An outline of the proposed study was discussed with the Director. He seemed in general agreement with the Staff's proposals, except for the completion of the Mount Rainier West Side Highway. The completion of that highway, he thought, should be dependent upon adjustment of the Park boundary to obtain more favorable terrain for the road.

One particular precept that evoked long and, at times, rather sharp, divided opinion in the Staff concerned exclusive franchise for transportation. The viewpoint gradually prevailed, however, that there should not be an exclusive franchise for transportation in any park. This precept was particularly applicable to the Mount Rainier Study because courts had decided in the past that the Interior Department, under its regulations then in effect, could keep "Drive-It-Yourself" cars out of the park — Mt. Rainier was the park involved in the case. There was finally a very strong feeling on the part of a majority of the Staff that such a practice of limiting transportation facilities within a park was not in the public interest. Where it was in effect it could seriously impair the convenience of individuals and increase their financial burden in visiting a park. The majority of the Staff felt that any means of transportation a visitor might want to use for his own convenience should be allowed in the parks, if it met park regulations concerning safety and protection. This viewpoint was successfully presented to the Steering Committee and the Chief of Concessions, and was accepted by Mr. Wirth. Henceforth concession contracts were not to contain provisions for exclusive transportation franchise within the parks. The members of the Staff who had argued long and sometimes heatedly for this principle felt that in its adoption a major achievement in MISSION 66 objectives had already been accomplished.

Discussion of the Mount Rainier study early brought out the difficult problem concerning overnight accommodations within that Park. The Staff felt rather strongly that the weather and climatic factors, and the past history of overnight concession operations at Mount Rainier, argued for a discontinuance of such faculties. In this connection, Mr. Wirth reviewed for the benefit of the Staff his recent decision not to have overnight accommodations in the Everglades National Park for the present at least, and to allow it at some time in the future only if by then it was demonstrated that interpretation of the Park required it for visitors who started from a point outside the Park and traveled by water into it.

One very basic concept emerged quite early in the Staff deliberations, and continued to grow in importance and influence in Staff thinking about the National Park System. This is the very simple and obvious concept that the first step in planning is to define the human benefits which should accrue to a park visitor, and that everything that is done in a park in the interests of a visitor must be directed toward and find its justification in that definition. The full recognition of this concept in all its implications can be the most important and far-reaching influence of all conservation — public use ideas toward an improved quality of park use, and the preservation of park resources as well.

The Staff study of Mount Rainier had reached the point at the end of March where it was desirable to go over it in detail with Superintendent Preston Macy. Accordingly, he came to Washington, and during the week of April 4-8 the Staff discussed the study with him. The Steering Committee participated with the Staff and the Superintendent in the review. On the 7th, Mr. Wirth joined the group and with it went over the Mt. Rainier study. The next day, corrections and final changes were made in the study. Mr. Wirth asked that enough copies of it be available for use at the forthcoming Advisory Board meeting and at the meeting of the Regional Directors. The study, called a prospectus, was finished and copies assembled on April 11.

The broad principles evolved in the Mt. Rainier study can be summarized by stating that the MISSION 66 study of any park, and the development of a good use plan for it, required establishing the following things in the priority listed:

  1. Determine and state the important park resources.
  2. Fix a road and trail circulation system to carry visitors to these resources so that they may see, experience, and enjoy the values to be derived from them.
  3. Determine what visitor facilities, other than roads and trails, are necessary within the Park to provide visitors a reasonable opportunity to enjoy the Park resources.
  4. Determine the administrative requirements of the Park in terms of protecting its resources and providing visitor services.
  5. Determine what land acquisition, if any, is needed for protection of Park resources and to assure reasonably convenient visitor use of those resources.

Staff Interviews

Interviews of Washington Office personnel was carried on rather intensively during March and April. When park personnel, and members of the Regional and Design Offices were in Washington they too were invited to present their conclusions on park use problems.

One of the Staff's first interviews was on March 4, with a representative of the Mobile Home Manufacturing Company of Chicago, Illinois. The purpose was to inquire into the feasibility of using trailers for cheap overnight accommodation in the parks. As a result of this interview the staff learned that an 8-foot wide, 35-foot long, trailer with two bedrooms could probably be manufactured for $3,500. Terms of sale were generally 1/3 to 1/4 down payment, with 5 years to pay the remainder. The Trailer Manufacturer Association was trying to obtain financing terms which would permit a 1/5 down payment, and 6 year to pay the remainder. Oil heat is used in most of the trailers. The Public Housing Authority has used trailers in flood areas, and the Atomic Energy Commission has used about 4,000 units successfully at one of its projects on the Savannah River. The staff discussed this subject periodically thereafter but never reached the conclusion that trailers would be a good solution for cheap overnight accommodation within the large parks.

A partial listing of ideas and suggestions that came to the attention of the Staff in the March and April interviews may be worth recording here.

1. Each park should have erected at its entrance, or just inside the entrances, a large panel marker giving the name of the park and stating the most significant resources of the park. Its purpose would be to alert all visitors to the main features of the park and set the mental tone of what the visitor should expect to find in the park. In a sense, this entrance marker would carry a statement of significance; it would give the meaning of the park, the reason for its being established.

2. Thousands of miles of trails were in existence that were little used, and in some cases used almost not at all.

3. Women want good trails, trails that they can walk on in high heels. Many are not prepared to change into walking shoes for short walks to points of interest. Trails to points of interest should be hard surfaced for all-weather and smooth enough for all kinds of shoes.

4. The Service should get away from one-man parks. The smallest park needed at least three full time employees. Personal services were better than that of gadgets in most instances. Gadgets cannot answer questions. People will look at scenery in daytime; at night they want something else to do. A failure to reorganize park staffs to meet changing conditions. In many places the functional organization had not changed in decades; ranger districts for example remained the same over the decades although there were different problems of protection and vastly changed means of travel and communication now than in times past.

5. The use of radio, and neglect of telephone communication, has resulted in generally bad communication for fighting forest fires. Park staffs are not able to maintain radio equipment. Radio equipment in the parks has performed less satisfactorily than expected.

6. The majority of people will not camp or stay overnight at places in the parks where there is no special attraction. The majority of people will go to slum campgrounds rather than to new, wholesome ones in good wilderness environment, if man-made attractions and entertainment are at or near the former. Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks were cited as examples of this experience.

7. The broad policy of forest conservation has in the past led to a misconception of proper management of eastern historical areas, particularly where conservation of the natural scene was not the real conservation problem. The foresters were not generally the source of this misconceived policy interpretation; it came from other personnel in the Service. Fortunately, there has been a decided improvement in understanding the real conservation factors based upon the important resources of each park and the type of development needed for each one by the public.

8. Concentration of technically trained personnel in the parks often is inefficient. Stationed in a regional or central office they could be used in a more diversified manner and wherever and whenever their talents and skills are required. This matter was discussed at many different times by the Staff. There seemed to be general agreement that, with few exceptions, the technically trained personnel in the higher grades should be stationed in central offices and assigned to park work as needed. Smaller parks, particularly, would benefit from such an arrangement. But it also was understood that certain budgeting and personnel factors made this very difficult to carry out except in a rather limited degree.

9. Mechanical and audio-visual devices cannot answer visitor questions.

10. The National Park System is weak and out of balance with respect to historic sites commemorating western expansion, industry, invention, and great social changes.

11. Concessions are not needed in small areas in urban centers; examples would be those at Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine and Fort McHenry at Baltimore. These compete with business establishments in the immediate surrounding community, and the services they provide are not required for visitor comfort.

12. Night use of parks will diminish.

13. Individuality of each park must be key to policy and development relating to that park.

14. There should be more lifesize exhibits in historical parks. Museum is only an aid to the "thing" itself. This idea favors more reconstructions. People are showing an ever-increasing preference for lifesize reconstructions in the places they visit.

15. A planned approach to a park; put facilities in the approach. This would protect central areas.

16. Trailers for overnight park accommodations — too cramped, too expensive to maintain. Some of the new motels, example those at Great Meadows in Shenandoah National Park, cost about $3,800 a unit. Employee residences should have a minimum of 3 bedroom. Will need 1,000 houses in next 10 years; 1/2 new, 1/2 replacements. Will need about 400 seasonal quarters. With rotation policy in effect, the Service cannot expect employees to live outside park in houses they must purchase or rent themselves. House should be replaced after 50 years. Superintendents say they cannot rent houses to employees at $30 a pay period. The trend now is for units with 2 double beds. Perhaps construction of houses for employees; in this kind of construction unit will cost about $18,000. Must have standardized employee residence plan.

17. The Service cannot control hotels in parks because they are concession owned and operated. It can control campgrounds. Best to have hotels outside park wherever possible.

18. Warehouse operations in parks costly and inefficient. Small warehouse cannot stockpile. Most parks should contract for supplies or move this part of park operations to nearby town where supplies can be purchased readily. Money is tied up in personnel, equipment, and structures in warehouse operations that is not justified in most places. These views were echoed by many people who discussed this phase of park operations, but seldom by a Superintendent. Even though more costly, most of them like the greater convenience of warehouse and ordinary supply facilities immediately at hand in the park.

19. Past experience shows that personnel trained in radio communication and maintenance in the parks leave for better paying jobs outside as soon as they attain competence. The National Park Service should get out of the electrical business. It is cheaper and more efficient to contract for such services. Utility companies should provide services. Equipment should be leased and maintained under contract. Telephone is still the best means of communications for park purposes.

20. How can the Service justify expending Federal tax money in providing local recreational use? Certain ski facilities come within this category.

21. Strong belief within Staff, and among many interviewees, that private enterprise and the resulting competitive interplay of economic forces would result in giving better quality accommodations and visitor services than those obtained presently through concessioner operation under Government rules and regulations. This opinion strongly permeated a great amount of discussion on the subject of visitor services within the parks.

22. The Service needs a research unit to chart changing public habits in terms of visitor accommodations and services.

23. Programs for young people should be emphasized.

24. People are staying a shorter time in the parks now than formerly. Older people form a larger part of the visitors than formerly. Local riff-raff cause trouble and engage in vandalism; it is seldom the bona-fide park visitor. Not favor special programs for age groups; a general one suitable for all the best; it is the only kind the Service can afford. (Most of the Staff agreed with this.) Eliminate special day events. They are good for local town business but seldom for the park and the bona-fide visitor. One has to fight the carnival entrepreneur wherever great crowds gather.

25. A visitor service program should provide simple information. Give opportunity for outdoor experience in which each person directs himself. Hold interpretive effort to what is suitable for general application — for all kinds of minds. Do not provide for artificial types of recreation — that is, recreation that requires man-made facilities to engage in it.

26. The experimental information station at the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park proved a failure. Experience there seemed to show that people went to get to the place they have come to see, and prefer to get their information after they have arrived there.

27. The Staff was of the opinion that the concession problem is a complex one, and weaknesses in the present system probably cannot easily be corrected. The concessions appeared to be somewhat in the nature of a vested interest. Political influences can easily be brought to bear against any proposed changes in it that might adversely affect those interests. It would be bard to implement recommendations calculated to change the system, even though it appeared that to do so would result in better and cheaper services for the public. The need for expanded and better overnight accommodations, and better sanitary facilities in these accommodations, of a quality and kind that would compare with modern facilities outside the parks along the highways, at reasonable rates, was the burden of the vast proportion of public complaints against present services in the parks. Accordingly, it appeared to the Staff that this matter was of over-riding importance.

There was a large body of opinion that the day of the big hotel in the parks is over. The cost too much. Most people want cheap accommodations, hot water, toilets. They spend about 1/3 of travel expenses for lodging accommodations. The key to public service is to open everything to competitive bidding. The public would then decide quality, and rate of charge for services. Preferential treatment in concession contracts should be limited to right of first refusal. Park concession contracts are now very broad. Operator and concessioner can run in anything as a cost item. There should be more and better cost accounting. Transportation franchises believed to be very profitable. Concessioner books will not disclose this, however, and also one cannot tell from the books where profits and losses are occurring in lodging, dining facilities, and transportation. Accordingly, it is not possible to determine proper charges for each. Hard to tell what is subsidizing what. Changes in these procedures and practices are necessary if public interest is to be served — otherwise not possible to set suitable charges for each type of service and to eliminate poor management.

There is now no definition of admissible costs in a concession operation. An example was found in one instance in which a concessioner in one year gave away $80,000 in free accommodations. Obviously, this charge was passed on to the paying guests. Much of the concession business has been run on the basis of the concessioner's personal right without regard to the assumption that his operation is for the public interest. As such it should be controlled and abuses eliminated. The larger parks which major concession operations need a resident cost accountant on the park staff to check on concession activity; otherwise there is no way of knowing what abuses are being tolerated to the detriment of the public interest, creating bad public opinion that inevitably reacts against the Park Service and seldom against the concessioner. The public generally blames the National Park Service for any evil, abuse, or incompetence in the services it receives in the parks. It is held responsible. The public interest would be best served by the Department allowing only direct contracts. Indirect contracts, sub-constructors, often make very big profits, with resulting high costs to the public.

28. One person interviewed was typical of the average interested and intelligent park visitor; she was a young stenographer who liked to travel during vacations. Her answers to questions in discussion with the Staff disclosed that she would like to do the following things, and have these facilities, in the national parks; go to the large parks; have private bath facilities in room or cabin; have clean linen; take a conducted tour; drive to parks in car; would not object to a reasonable fee for services within a park; would pay a guide fee; would want to see everything worth seeing; would visit museums to get history of park; would attend lectures at night on park subject, but one or two would be enough; would not expect man-made recreational facilities in the parks; would not expect to pay more than $3 a night in a 2-bed cabin or motel-type quarters; would being walking shoes and hike; would want signs and markers telling where things of interest are located and what they are; would buy souvenirs; would buy lots of picture post card; would want to sit at a table for meals; would not look for fancy accommodations, and would not want to dress for dinner; would want good, tasty, hot, inexpensive food; would prefer to stay overnight inside park — thought that would have a real although intangible value — would even pay more to stay inside the park; would be disappointed if there was not the opportunity to stay inside the park; would want to get to high places and look at the scenery, would not expect to find cocktail bars; would not expect or like to find a resort-type development in the parks; prefer motel-type accommodations because of convenience and luggage; would stop at park orientation center; would not want too much information thrust upon here — just a little, with the chance to ask for more if she wanted it; would not object to staying overnight in park some distance from one of its principal features; above all, would want cleanliness and simple comforts in overnight accommodations and public rest room facilities.

Memorandum No. 2

Five weeks after Mr. Wirth had established the MISSION 66 Staff, it and the Steering Committee had made sufficient progress to formulate a statement outlining the way in which the MISSION 66 Study was to proceed. This statement was issued by the Director as Memorandum No. 2, dated March 17, 1955, and sent to all office and parks of the National Park System. There were three parts to it; 1) the memorandum itself giving a summary of the work done by the Staff up to that point, reiteration of the directives under which it was working and expressly extending these directives to all members of the System who were asked to give their best abilities in helping to advance the study; 2) Attachment No. 1, a summary of some of the more troublesome problems existing in the larger parks, and a firm reminder that solutions to these must be found consonant with preserving the resources and special features of each park; 3) a questionnaire to be answered by each Park Superintendent outlining a course of action for a MISSION 66 program suitable, in his opinion, for the park under his administrative control. These replies were to be mailed to reach the MISSION 66 Staff by April 11.

Memorandum No. 2, in effect, was the first of several steps taken to secure from the park staffs and other field offices a great wealth of data about current park operations, and of ideas how the future park developments could meet the announced goal of MISSION 66. The Director specifically invited any employee to send his ideas to the MISSON 66 Staff without reference to official channels. He was most anxious not to have any idea suppressed, or the individual advancing it inhibited, by the chance that it might not meet favor with some superior who disagreed with it. And he wanted everyone to feel free to express himself even though that might mean criticizing past policies and officials who had promulgated and favored them. A significant passage in the memorandum said on this point, "Each employee who feels he has something to contribute to the MISSION is urged to submit his personal views (regardless of area or subject) directly to the Committee without regard to normal channels of official communication." He further reminded everyone that, "Within the limitations of the fundamental objectives of the National Park Service to protect and preserve, the lid is off."

Some of the precepts that later were adopted as part of the official MISSION 66 Report had already taken shape in the thinking of the Steering Committee and Staff. One of the ideas earliest adopted as a precept was expressed so well in one of the Superintendent's replies to the questionnaire that the Staff adopted his wording. It said, "substantial visitor enjoyment of the parks is the best means of protecting them against exploitation encroachment." Related concepts to avoid overuse of great natural or historical features, or the immediate environs of these important public properties." And then to the next step that "proper development is an essential protective device in channeling use." A preliminary list of Precepts for Staff guidance was adopted and made a document of the MISSION 66 Study on April 8.

The Shenandoah Regional Directors Conference

During the week of April 11, a Regional Director's Conference was held at Shenandoah National Park. As usual at such conferences, the Director and his principal assistants and Division Chiefs attended. The principal topic of discussion was the MISSION 66 Study. In all meetings of Service officials, henceforth, as everyone was to learn, this subject was the over-riding concern and passion of the Director. He gave to it his time and best thought, and he demanded of others that they do the same.

In the Shenandoah discussions, the Director decided on certain steps to be taken as part of the Study. Perhaps the most important of them for the Staff, in terms of work for the next few months, was his decision to follow the Mt. Rainier Pilot Study with others. Six additional pilot studies were to be undertaken by the Staff. The parks selected were chosen because they represented different types of areas, and taken together would constitute a good cross section of Service administration, preservation, protection, development, and visitor use problems. The parks chosen for the additional pilot studies were as follows:

Yellowstone National Park
Chaco Canyon National Monument
Shiloh National Military Park
Adams Mansion National Historic Site
Fort Laramie National Monument
Everglades National Park

In this group there was the largest and oldest national park, and having perhaps the most complex and difficult problems of all; an archeological park; a battlefield park; a great historic house with priceless heirlooms and furniture; an old army and frontier post; and the new, and in some respects unique, national park at the tip of Florida.

The discussions at Shenandoah caused the Director to add one more member to the Staff, bringing the membership in that body up to seven. It was suggested in the course of the Regional Director's conference that there should be a representative on the Staff acquainted with problems of State cooperation and of cooperative activities with other Federal agencies in the field of recreation. Mr. Raymond L. Freeman of the then Division of Cooperative Activities was selected as the new member of the Staff. He reported to the Staff for duty with it on April 20.

Within a week or two after the MISSION 66 Staff had began work in February it had initiated a weekly report to Mr. Wirth summarizing its activities and progress in the study during the last report period. Mr. Harold Smith, whom Mr. Carnes had named Co-chairman of the Staff, normally prepared this report. By means of this periodic report Mr. Wirth kept abreast of what was being done and the status of the work at any given time. As often as his duties would permit, Mr. Wirth stepped through the side door of his office to join the Staff informally for a few minutes. He would comment on some aspects of the work or pass on to the Staff members some bit of information he had just received. He cut through the confusion that often seemed to overwhelm the Staff and helped to keep its work on course by advice and criticism. Above all, his optimism on the outcome of the Staff's work was of immeasurable value.

The Yellowstone Park Discussion

Much talk had already taken place by April of what should be done at Yellowstone National Park in the MISSION 66 program. The immediate cause of this discussion was the fact that the 20-year contract of the Yellowstone Park concessioner expired in 1955 and a new contract would have to be negotiated before the end of the year. What should be the nature of this contract? How was the public interest best to be served in arranging for overnight accommodations, dining services, transportation, and a host of other matters relating to visitor services in which the concessioner up to that time had had a controlling part, operating under rules and regulations established by the Department? Because of the need to make haste with the Yellowstone study and because of the complexity of its problems, the Director arranged for Superintendent Edmund Rogers, Resident Landscape Architect Frank Mattson, Chief Ranger Otto Brown, and Chief Naturalist Dave Condon to come to Washington. They arrived and sat down with the Staff on Monday, April 11, and spent a week in a detailed examination of the Yellowstone problems in terms of a 10-year planning program under MISSION 66.

During most of the Yellowstone discussions Mr. Garrison sat with the Staff, and Regional Director Howard Baker joined it and the Yellowstone group part of the time. Among the questions discussed were the following:

Are the basic resources of the park adequately protected?

Should overnight accommodations in the park, other than camping, continue to be provided?

Should there be one central area developed for overnight accommodations, or several, if they were to be retained in the park?

Was it reasonable to suppose that the park could provide fishing for the 2-3 million people expected to use the park yearly in the next ten years?

Should trailer courts be allowed in the park?

Should new developed areas be opened in the park, and, if so, how many and where?

In the interest of the public what kind of concession contracts should be negotiated with concessioners?

There were many diverse opinions on most of these and other questions. There was general agreement that because of its size, overnight accommodations would be needed within the park. There was discussion of a proposal to bring all overnight accommodations in the park to one town area that would be established for that purpose. But this idea did not win majority support, and finally the consensus was that there should be at least three or four built-up sites for visitor overnight accommodations. The size of the park, its varied interests, and the travel pattern led to this conclusion. The view was held that the Canyon, Lake, and Thermal areas would need overnight accommodations. There was divided opinion on the Mammoth Hot Spring area. Strong arguments were presented for removing all developments from it except for the hotel which would be retained temporarily. It was pointed out that the Mammoth development is built on top of a presently quiescent thermal area that might at any time become active. Many felt there is too much development now at the Mammoth area consistent with protection of the terraces.

Discussion of whether the unique and basic resources of the park were being protected led to unanimous agreement that there was far too much developed facilities at Old Faithful geyser area. It was decided to recommend that all accommodation facilities there be removed and a new site for overnight accommodations and dining services, with accompanying interpretive facilities, be established in the vicinity of Mallard Lake, about 1-1/2 to 2 miles northeast of Old Faithful. All major roads in the Old Faithful Geyser Basin would be abandoned, and access to it would be principally by foot trail from new roads at the rim of the basin. Most of the conferees agreed that the present hotel, cabin group, stores, and related development are intrusions which will become much worse if expanded to meet expected increased visitation of the future. The preservation and protection of the Old Faithful geyser area seemed to dictate that all such facilities be removed from the Thermal basin and its immediate environs.

There were those who argued that the same principle should be applied to the Fishing Bridge area of Yellowstone Lake. That point where the Yellowstone River leaves the Lake and begins its course from the high plateau to the Missouri River, and eventually the sea, was considered by several as a place of sufficient importance to cause its classification as an area resource that should be protected, kept free from intrusions, and restored to its original, natural condition. This would mean removal of facilities at the Fishing Bridge, and possibly the removal of the bridge itself. In the end, however, the weight of opinion did not support this view.

There was not much enthusiasm for trailer courts in the park, but there seemed no good basis for denying trailer travelers the opportunity to remain in the park a reasonable length of time, and the use while there of their trailer facilities. It was agreed that only one trailer court should be provided.

At Canyon, only the hotel was to be retained. Everything else would be moved to the new site for a developed area on the south rim.

One new developed area was proposed for the park. After talk on this subject, a place on the west side of Yellowstone Lake, south of West Thumb, and called Bridge Bay, was selected. Study of additional needed facilities resulted in a recommendation that the development there provide for 1,200 overnight guests. Expansion of overnight facilities at the other developed areas would increase capacity for another two or three thousand guests.

On the question of protecting fish in Yellowstone Park, there was a strong recommendation that all hatchery activity for collecting eggs from streams flowing into Yellowstone Lake for shipment outside the park be halted. As part of this general problem of fishery resources, there was strong doubt expressed by some of the conferees most familiar with the park that it could provide fishing waters for two to three million visitors annually. Some curb and control on this activity was believed necessary in the not distant future. Closing the Yellowstone River between the Lake and Canyon to fishing was suggested.

It was agreed that there should always be camping in the park. Because people want to stay in the park, the availability of camp grounds outside the park in adjacent national forests will not appreciably relieve the demand for camping in the park, it was thought, and relief should not be expected from that quarter. It was the viewpoint of all conferees that camping facilities in the park will have to be expanded.

At present there is a great amount of noon-day picnicking in the park, and this activity apparently is on the increase. People stop at any good spot alongside the road and eat in their cars, or on the ground if the place is inviting. This activity stems from the need in most families to cut down expenses and the inconvenience of driving long distances to a dining facility.

There was discussion of the advantages of having the park headquarters at a lower elevation to escape extreme temperatures and the heavy snow. It was thought there would also be certain economies if it were in a town such as Gardiner. In the opinion of many of the group, there would be an advantage for the park headquarters to move from Mammoth to Gardiner, outside the park. The discussion took cognizances of the fact that a special study some years ago pointed in the direction. No conclusion was reached in the Staff, however, on this question. There was strong feeling on the part of some that a park headquarters should be in the park unless over-riding factors made it advisable.

The group favored a proposed tour of major points of interest within the park. This could be arranged either by the present concessioners for transportation, or by a new concessioner for that purpose. It might be possible to have such tours going in both directions around the loop, clockwise and counter-clockwise, so that people who wanted to go only to one or a few of the points of interest on the loop would find available a schedule by which they could return to their starting place the same day. The present transportation within the park is designed to bring to the hotels as many overnight guests as possible. It is not designed primarily to provide convenient and economical transportation to points of interest for the benefit of visitors. Visitor Services for those who do not have their own transportation needs special consideration at Yellowstone.

The many questions relating to concessions in the Park inevitably received a lot of discussion. It was pointed out that Hamilton Stores, a concession, is selling more groceries and fewer meals than formerly, apparently pointing to a trend in eating habits of modern-day visitors to the park. It was also noted that the principal concessioner does not appear over-anxious to cooperate in the park interpretive program. As an example of this, Canyon Lodge and Canyon Hotel do not want to provide space on their premises for an evening interpretive program by park personnel. Much testimony was brought out that the hotels do not make money for the concessioner, but are in fact subsidized by the cheaper accommodations, such as the cabins. Many of the cabin are poor and very old, and possibly are overpriced as accommodations. The present trend appears to be away from the large luxury hotels, and toward clean, modern, and reasonably priced accommodations of the motel type. When the present large hotels are scraped it is unlikely that any others will take their place. An exception to this may be noted in the Rockefeller built lodge in Grand Teton National Park, but that can be explained in the special circumstances attending its construction. The Old Faithful Inn, first built by the Northern Pacific Railroad Company in 1891, burned in 1896; the second one burned in 1901; and the present one, the third, dates from 1906.

In a comparison of the cost of building a new one room cabin inside the park and outside it was shown that $729 would build one inside the park while outside the same cabin could be built for $660. This means that one inside the park would have to be rented at $9.12 a day to be profitable while the one outside could rent on the same basis of profit for $8.50 a day. It unquestionably is more expensive to build accommodations inside the park than outside because of the isolation factor in the park and the difficulty of bringing materials and workmen to the building sites and of providing utilities. It is doubtful if overnight accommodations and dining facilities inside Yellowstone Park will ever be possible at prices comparable to those outside on the main highways and railroads. People who stay in the park will have to expect a somewhat higher rate of charges than elsewhere.

There was much sentiment for new concessioners in Yellowstone. Most of the conferees favored the introduction of new concessioners for any new developed area that might be opened for expanding visitor use. There was a very strong feeling that the present concession system, which has prevailed in the park for more than half a century, has become outmoded by changing circumstances, that introduction of competitive operations would be in the public interest and improve the variety, quality, and price structure of the concessioner services in the park.

Advisory Board on MISSION 66

On Monday, April 18, the Advisory Board, then meeting in Washington, was briefed on plans for MISSION 66 and the Staff's work up to that time. The Board reacted favorably to the briefing. Mr. Horace Albright, a member of the Board, stressed that the National Park Service should give the greatest attention to selecting its new employees because on them would depend its future success. Personal contact, he thought, must remain an ever present aspect of Service relations with that part of the public visiting the parks.

Mr. Albright commented critically on the Service sign and marker program. He mentioned that in recent years many of the markers in the larger parks have come down, such as those pointing out topographical features like the Continental Divide and similar landmarks. He thought people were interested in this type of information, and that one of the immediate goals of the Service should be to see to it that the parks are well signed. In discussing this point later, the MISSION 66 Staff was in unanimous agreement with Mr. Albright's view.

Dr. Jo Brew commented that he thought the Service should design a distinctive gate to be used at all park entrances, at least for all the larger scenic parks. This would serve to give the entrance a pleasing and somewhat formal entrance and would at the same time serve to advertise the type of area to the public. Many people do not have a clear notion of what Government agency administers the national parks and often confuse the National Park Service with the Forest Service. This idea was favorably received by others of the Board.

The Pilot Studies

NPS photo
Natchez Trace Parkway
(NPS Photo, HPC-000145)

Response received from Service personnel in the Regional Offices, in the parks, and the discussions at the Regional Directors' conference relating to the MISSION 66 plan caused the Director to decide that Mr. Garrison and Mr. Carnes should visit each of the Regional Offices and the two Design Offices. The purpose of their trip was to explain in some detail the purposes and objectives of the MISSION 66 work, so that field personnel would have a better understanding of the part they where to play in the development of individual park plans.

Garrison and Carnes set out on a western trip toward the end of April and returned from it on May 6. Subsequently, they and members of the Staff went to the Region One and Five Offices. At Region Five, Eastern Office of Design and Construction personnel joined in the conference. These meetings seemed to have a beneficial result, and undoubtedly gave to the Regional and Design Offices personnel a clearer idea of the MISSION 66 Plan and the scope of work to be accomplished in drawing up a sound plan for each park.

After these meetings, the several Regional Offices established MISSION 66 Committees within their own organization and scheduled a series of meetings with Park Superintendents and their staff. In this way, by the end of June, a rather complete indoctrination of the purpose and scope of MISSION 66 had been spread throughout the personnel of the Service. With very few exceptions, Service personnel, from the Director's Office to the smallest park staff, proceeded to give their best efforts and thoughts to the project.

On June 27, 1955, the Director issued Memorandum No. 3. It set the stage for the next big step in the MISSION 66 Plan — the preparation of the individual MISSION 66 park prospectuses. This memorandum announced the seven Pilot Studies the MISSION 66 Staff could undertake. An eighth pilot study, that on Mesa Verde National Park, was to be prepared by the Region Three Office. Of the seven studies the Staff was responsible for, that on Mt. Rainier had been finished, and preliminary drafts on Fort Laramie and the Everglades had been prepared at this time.

Memorandum No. 3 reviewed the work already accomplished, set forth procedures for carrying it forward, and outlined current activities of the Staff. The Director indicated that a MISSION 66 prospectus was to be prepared for each park by the park staff, with assistance as needed from the Regional Offices. The drafts of these prospectuses were to be in the Washington Office not later than July 20. The memorandum outlined what was wanted in the prospectuses. Copies of the prospectuses were to be furnished the appropriate Regional and Design Office for review and comment.

In Memorandum No. 3, Mr. Wirth directed that "Officials in charge of areas and offices are requested to see that each employee is familiar with the purposes and objectives of MISSION 66; that each employee has the opportunity to read this memorandum and memoranda numbered 1 and 2 of February 18 and March 17 respectively; and that each is invited to participate in furthering the objectives."

Made a part of this memorandum for field guidance was a list of seven principles guiding MISSION 66 Staff in its work on the pilot studies, and a related list of seven precepts. These were to apply also to the prospectuses the park staffs would prepare. Again the Director emphasized that "precedent, practices, priorities, et cetera, are to be disregarded in approaching our problems anew. Each area is to be considered as a separate problem. The conclusions reached in the study of one area are not to be considered as being applicable to other areas."

Following the completion of the Mount Rainier Pilot Study and the conferences with the Yellowstone Park staff on the prospectus for that park, the MISSION 66 Staff began work on May 2 on two other pilot studies, those for Fort Laramie and Everglades National Park. The Staff split into teams for this work. During May and June the several pilot studies were prepared and made ready for review by the Steering Committee and the Superintendents of the respective parks to which they related. In this period, however, staff work was not devoted exclusively to the pilot studies, as other matters associated with the MISSION 66 work claimed a large part of the time.

The Everglades Pilot Study: On July 11, Superintendent Daniel B. Beard and Mr. George W. Fry of his staff, together with Mr. V. R. Ludgate of the Region One staff and Mr. Ed Zimmer, Chief Eastern Office, Division of Design and Construction, met with the MISSION 66 Staff in Washington to consider the Everglades prospectus.

The discussions on the Everglades extended to the 13th, but not all the time was devoted to that subject since Mr. Wirth had to meet with the Staff on other matters for several hours on the 12th and 13th. Mr. Garrison, Mr. Vint, Mr. Langley, Mr. Doer, and Mr. Neilson of the Steering Committee sat in on the Everglades discussion part of the time.

The principal arguments centered around whether the park headquarters should be in or out of the park. Superintendent Beard strongly supported the principle that it should be in the park. Several of the Steering Committee and Staff favored it outside the park, at Homestead. There also was much talk on whether the park should contract for maintenance of its equipment, or contract for use of equipment. Beard and Fry thought it would be cheaper to have a park mechanic maintain their own equipment. There was discussion both for and against a trailer court in the park.

On the 13th, Mr. Wirth joined the Everglades discussion group, and Mr. Beard outlined the discussions and the agreements reached which would be reflected in the park prospectus.

Events were to prove that the discussions on this prospectus had not resolved all the issues relating to the development and use of the Everglades. A number of alternations in, and some additions to, the prospectus were made during the next year. No doubt experience with this new kind of park would bring still others. The work on this park prospectus showed all too clearly that it was not always to solve specific problems by the application of a fine-sounding principle.

The Adams House Pilot Study: The next pilot study to be reviewed was that for Adams National Historic Site. Regional Director Tobin of Region Five and Hodge Hanson of the Eastern Office, Design and Construction on July 21 participated with the Staff and some members of the Steering Committee in this review. The Staff prospectus was accepted with virtually no change. This study occasioned less differences of opinion than any previously undertaken. The approved park prospectus reflects the results of this pilot study.

The Fort Laramie Pilot Study: Following the Adams study came that for Fort Laramie. To participate in its review, Superintendent David L. Hieb came from Fort Laramie and Regional Landscape Architect Harvey P. Benson came from the Region Two Office. Copies of the Staff prospectus had been provided these offices in advance. It was known that neither the Superintendent nor certain persons in the Regional Office liked the Staff study. It had departed in several important respects from the previously partially approve proposed development sheets of the Park Master Plan.

The discussions on July 25-26 disclosed that Superintendent Hieb was opposed to nearly every part of the Staff Study and wanted to stand fast on the developments proposed in the Mater Plan, a plan which he had helped to chart. Two or three members of the Staff attempted to defend the proposals of the Staff study, but their relative lack of detailed information on the site as compared with that possessed by the Superintendent placed them at a disadvantage in the sometimes heated debate. The major issues concerned the Staff proposals to build the park entrance from the north, to terminate the the entrance road near the Cavalry Barracks, to convert the Cavalry Barracks to Park Headquarters and Visitor Center use, and acquire little more land. This plan would permit an immediate development of the area. The alternate plan involved considerable land acquisition; new buildings, including a Visitor Center on the other side of Laramie Creek from the Fort proper; and a rather long walk across the stream to the main parts of the Fort. In the end, the Superintendent's arguments won the day in the Steering Committee an part of the Staff, and the vote was for the old Master Plan proposals. The prospectus was changed accordingly.

The Staff members registered a minority view in the decision. The period of history to be emphasized in the development, however, was changed from an 1889 period piece to a varied picture reflecting the many aspect of the Site's importance from 1834 on down to 1890 when the post was abandoned and sold by the Army. The period of the Fort John period 1841 on into the 1850's was to be emphasized as much as possible.

Shiloh Pilot Study: After the heated sessions on the Fort Laramie pilot study had terminated, relative calm descended on the MISSION 66 Staff with the taking up next of the Shiloh National Military Park pilot study. On July 28-29, Superintendent Ira B. Lykes and Messrs. A. P. Bursley and V. R. Ludgate of the Region One Office participated with the Staff in discussing this study. There was unanimous agreement on all important points, and difference of opinion on only a few relatively minor matters of the study. The approved prospectus reflects the proposals of this pilot study.

Chaco Canyon Pilot Study: In some respects the discussions and review on August 2-5 of the Chaco Canyon National Monument Staff pilot study with Superintendent Glen T. Bean, H. A. Marsh of Southwestern National Monuments, and Jerome C. Miller, Regional Landscape Architect, Region Three, resembled that on Fort Laramie. The Staff and Steering Committee members had appeared unanimous in approving the pilot study before the Superintendent and the others from Region Three arrived. The Superintendent was opposed to the main points of the pilot study, however, and wanted to retain the Master Plan proposals with virtually no change. The MISSION 66 Staff innovators who had approached the problem by casting aside precedent were having a hard time.

The principal differences among the conferees concerned the Master Plan proposal to build a road down the Canyon floor to the major ruins, with the Visitor Center in the valley adjacent to the great ruins. The pilot study proposed to bring the park road a short distance from the highway along high ground to the rim of the canyon at a point overlooking the ruins. There the visitor center would be built. For those who did not wish archeological details and a trip through the ruins, a clear picture of the canyon with its great ruins, distant not more than two or three hundred yards, would be in front of and directly below them. For those who wanted to reach the ruins, a short foot trail down from the rim would take them there. This plan would keep all developments such as roads, parking areas, and buildings out of the valley and the close proximity of of the ruins. This in itself was considered by several of the Staff to be a desirable objective. The whole valley at the time of major use by its former aboriginal occupants had been of importance. Employee housing would go in the most sheltered place in the monument and would not need to be near the visitor center or park headquarters.

In the end, all members of the Steering Committee who had voted favorable on the original pilot study reversed themselves and voted for the old Master Plan proposals, as did a majority of the Staff. Two members of the Staff held out to the last for the Pilot Study.

The final score of action recommendations to the Director on the pilot studies stood that two were rejected, two accepted as prepared, and three accepted in part and modified in part.

Mesa Verde Pilot Study: The Region Three Office pilot study of Mesa Verde National Park had a shockeyed reception in the Staff and Steering Committee, and with the Director and key members of his staff, when they reviewed it. The principal bone of contention centered around the question of whether to remove much of the park operation and concession activities from the Mesa to the valley below. The difficulties of reaching and holding to a decision on this major consideration continued on after the decision was reached to move the concessioner activities from the mesa to the valley. This tentative decision was subsequently modified, and the Mesa Verde prospectus kept under continuing study.

The experience of the Staff, the Steering Committee, and the Director with the pilot studies showed that it was not going to be an easy matter to arrive at decisions and plans for all parks without engendering some heat. It was clear that, despite guiding principles and precepts, various people were going to have different ideas of what constituted the best and most suitable plan for park development and public use. And each thought that his plan promised the best protection of a park's unique resources.

Although the Steering Committee and the MISSION 66 Staff completed work on the several pilot study prospectuses in August, and Mr. Wirth made some tentative decisions concerning them at that time, it was not until later that he gave personal approval to them. On October 24, Mr. Wirth met with the Staff and reviewed the action and status of each prospectus. At that time he approved the Adams and Shiloh prospectuses. He was reluctant to approve all aspects of the Mt. Rainier Prospectus, especially that part calling for moving the park headquarters out of the park to a new location at lower elevation. He said that he would approve it, however, on the basis of land use and not on the economies of the proposal. He approved the Everglades prospectus except for the park road which he wanted given more study. Prior to review of the Fort Laramie Staff Pilot Study with the Superintendent, the Director had read the study and voiced strong support of it. Now he reluctantly went along with the majority vote of the Steering Committee and Staff discarding that Pilot Study. He approve the Chaco Canyon prospectus with the provision that there should be a study in the field as to the feasibility of building the entrance road on top of the plateau to the rim of the canyon, as proposed initially in the Pilot Study, before the Visitor Center and road in the valley were built as called for in the majority vote of the Steering Committee and Staff.

The Poll National Parks Study

Soon after the MISSION 66 Staff began work it learned of the prospect that a private donation might make possible a sample poll of the public about the National Park System. This poll was prompted by the fact that more space was needed in the park for public facilities. This private contribution for the poll did indeed become a fact. During April and May staff members of Audience Research, Inc. began work on a questionnaire after consultation with Mr. Wirth and some of his staff. The draft of a questionnaire came to the MISSION 66 Staff for study and comment. It gave the questionnaire careful study and prepared a memorandum suggesting changes in certain questions, the deletion of some, and the addition of others. The MISSION 66 Staff comment on the Poll questionnaire was ready by May 16. The research organization proposed to conduct the poll by drawing a national sample of adults which included both those who had visited the parks and those who had not. This would be done in personal interviews by interviewers. The poll established some interview points near several of the parks, yet far enough away that the persons being interviewed would not associate the interview with park employees. A specific purpose of this part of the poll was to get the reaction of park visitors to park accommodations and facilities while their impressions were still fresh.

A result of some visitor reactions as revealed by the survey bearing on the conclusions of the MISSION 66 Study may be useful here. The survey was published in multilithed form in December 1955 in a limited number of copies. It was entitled, "A Survey of the Public Concerning the National Parks," (119 pages), conducted for the National Park Service, Department of the Interior, December 1955, Audience Research, Inc., Princeton, New Jersey.

The survey findings were based on interviews with 1,754 United States adults made in 157 different places in cities, towns, and rural areas in the period from November 25 to December 31, 1955. Of 1,300 persons interviewed in the main operation, 264 had visited one or more national parks in the last five years. In order to obtain a larger number of interviewees with experience in the national parks, a supplementary additional 454 persons were interviewed who had visited the national parks during the past five years. This gave, of the total of 1,754 interviewed, a total of 716 persons who had visited in the national parks during the past 5 years.

The principal findings of the survey, which in general confirmed the conclusions already reached by the MISSION 66 Staff, were as follows: 69 per cent had complaints of one kind or another; there were many complaints against facilities available in the parks; there were very few complaints against National Park Service personnel. The most numerous single complaint was overcrowding — 1/3 had that complaint. The next most numerous complaint was against sleeping accommodations; half those who had stayed overnight in the parks said more accommodations were needed; 1/10 said cabins were poorly maintained. Altogether, the complaints against sleeping accommodations was the principal reason given by visitors for the parks not coming up to their expectation. Approximately 1/3 said more eating facilities were needed; 1/7 were dissatisfied with the roads; 1/10 thought the grounds were not as clean as they should have been.

Motels were given as the preferred type of accommodation, and among those who thought they might visit the parks in the future this preference was more pronounced than among those who had visited the parks recently. Only 8 per cent indicated a desire to use a hotel; in contrast 34 per cent wanted a cabin, 43 per cent a motel, 14 per cent a campground. Of those who had been in the parks, 70 per cent had been there for one day or less, 29 per cent stayed overnight in a park, 28 percent stayed overnight near a park; 49 per cent did not stay overnight in or near a park. Most of the people visiting a national park had available more vacation time than the two weeks or less common to most citizens.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Public Services Conference

NPS photo
Colonial National Historical Park
(NPS Photo, HPC-000461)

After the MISSION 66 work had progressed beyond its initial steps, and the course it was to follow had steadied a bit, Mr. Wirth informed the Steering Committee and Staff that he expected certain definite accomplishments to be in hand by the latter part of September. As early as June 30, he told the Staff he wanted the 8 pilot studies finished, legislation blocked out, principles guiding the study written out, and a balanced program drafted ready for the Public Services Conference to be held at the Great Smoky Mountains beginning September 20.

This was to be the regular conference of Park Service Superintendents with the Director and the principal members of his staff, the Regional Directors and selected members of their staffs, and the Chiefs of the Eastern and Western Offices of Design and Construction. Mr. Wirth made it clear to the Staff that he expected the Conference to review the MISSION 66 Plan. For that purpose he wanted certain documents ready for distribution to persons attending the Conference.

First, he wanted a balanced statement and budget for the plan to be written and reproduced. Secondly, he wanted a brief popular booklet with charts and tables summarizing the more important statistics on visitor use, needs, proposed facilities and costs, and a pictorial representation of some of the more wide-spread problems. Thirdly, he wanted a talk prepared that would represent his ideas on the MISSION 66 plan, its then present status, and what he expected to be done with it before completion. After outlining his intention of making a strong presentation of the MISSION 66 subject to the General Services Conference, Mr. Wirth said that he would schedule four two-hour meetings with the Staff during the next week, July 11-14, to discuss in some detail the things he wanted included in these documents. He also indicated his intention at that time of reviewing the work of the Staff to date.

On July 11, Mr. Wirth discussed with the Staff the nature of the MISSION 66 Report for the General Services Conference. Among other things, he said he wanted chapters on employee housing, visitor housing, concessions, camping, roads, and administrative facilities. This document he expected to be the "bible" for MISSION 66 thereafter. The next day he continued discussion of this report. He concluded by saying that he wanted to be ready on January 1, 1956 to go to Congress with the whole completed plan for the ten-year program. On the 13th, he said he wanted a performance type of report, one that would give total costs for various units of construction. Three pieces of legislation that he considered urgent for the MISSION 66 plan were the following: 1) legislation to help finance concession activities, principally for providing overnight accommodations; 2) inquire into feasibility of a contractual authorization for constructing buildings and utilities in the parks; 3) inquire into feasibility of establishing a revolving fund for erecting employee housing. On the 14th, Mr. Wirth reviewed all he had outlined for the Staff to do and said that he would consult with the Staff again when he returned to Washington on August 15, about a month hence.

Everyone on the Staff felt that the Director had given a pretty heavy assignment, and wondered if it could be accomplished by the middle of September. After the pilot studies were finished, all members of the Staff devoted as much time as possible on one or another of the three jobs to be done. For this purpose, the Staff split up in its work on the three documents to avoid duplication of effort. The entire Staff, however, reviewed all work as it progressed and made contributions to each document as it was completed.

The Staff worked steadily on three main tables; 1) the Director's statement on the General Services Conference; 2) the MISSION 66 Report; and 3) a rough dummy for the popular booklet. Frank Buffmire of the Museum Branch prepared the layout for the popular booklet, with the final dummy being done commercially.

On August 16, Mr. Wirth and members of the Steering Committee met with the Staff and discussed certain MISSION 66 matters along with a review of the Mesa Verde National Pak pilot prospectus. On the 22nd, the Director and the Steering Committee met again with the Staff and discussed certain key matters that had been debated in the Staff for months. In this meeting the view that it would be unwise to have an omnibus bill introduced in Congress on MISSION 66 problems was given very careful consideration. The prevailing view was that bills should deal with specific problems, separating one problem from another. Otherwise, objections to part of an omnibus bill might kill the entire proposal — such bills had a way of consolidating opposition and sacrificed non-controversial items.

At this meeting Mr. Wirth decided that the land acquisition program under the MISSION 66 Plan should include a yearly appropriation of $1,000,000 for general land acquisition and an added $500,000 appropriation to be used on a matching donated fund basis. If the matching donated money became available this would provide $2,000,000 annually for land acquisition.

Mr. Wirth also decided another point that had been the subject of much debate, namely, should there be a campground fee? He held the view strongly that there should not be a fee. He also said that he was personally against park entrance fees. At least one member of the Staff was delighted to hear that expression of view.

The next day, August 23, Mr. Wirth met again with the Steering Committee and Staff. On the question of employee housing which had taken much of the Staff's time during the past several months, Mr. Wirth, after hearing various arguments, stated that he favored a 50-year amortization instead of the currently used 40-year period as the basis for establishing rents. This would result in lowering the pay period rental charge from $24 to $19 or $20. Mr. Wirth said he wanted housing rentals established so that housing would stand on its own feet financially.

On September 15, the Director had a final session with the Staff preceding the General Services Conference. At this time, he directed that the program for the first five years of the Plan be broken down into successive years, and that by October 14 all 10 years of the Plan be so broken down. He informed Mr. Langley that he could go to $8,000,000 in preparing the building and utilities program in the 1957 fiscal year budget. Mr. Wirth stated that all members of the MISSION 66 Staff were invited to attend the General Services Conference.

The Staff completed on time for distribution and use at the Conference; 1) a 22 page, green cover, illustrated popular booklet on MISSION 66, entitled, "The National Park System"; and 2) a 43 page, green backed, "MISSION 66 Report." All members of the Staff except Mr. Appleman attended the Great Smoky Mountains General Services Conference. They took with them the preliminary park prospectuses thus far received and certain other MISSION 66 data that had been assembled. At the conference, members of the Staff set up shop in a room adjoining the conference room where they had the opportunity of discussing the MISSION 66 work and the individual park prospectuses with many of the park superintendents.

True to his purpose, Mr. Wirth, on September 20, opened the conference with an effective statement of the MISSION 66 plan. He summarized the major proposals of the plan in eight points, and promised that the details of the plan would be ready in one package later in the fall. Mr. Wirth emphasized that the plan was based on three assumption: 1) that the Service must plan for a total of 80 million visits by 1966; 2) that this visitor load must be accommodated without undue harm to the parks; and 3) that plans for the future must include all existing facilities that were useable. On this basis the solutions for each park's problems were being sought.

The Director's statement before the General Services Conference became the basis for a slide talk with tape recording on MISSION 66 that was produced in quantity, and distributed to the Regional Offices for circulation to the parks for use in acquainting the Public with the plan.

The conference advanced a better understanding of what was being attempted in the MISSION 66 plan and heightened the already mounting enthusiasm of Service employees for the undertaking. Important representatives of the press attended parts or all of the conference and publicized it throughout the country in influential newspapers, including The New York Times. To an ever-increasing number of daily newspaper readers MISSION 66 was rapidly becoming a well-known phrase associated with the National Park Service's plan for the future.

Prospect of a MISSION 66 Cabinet Meeting

NPS photo
Big Bend National Park
(NPS Photo, HPC-000271)

Long before the General Services Conference at Great Smoky Mountains Park in September, Director Wirth and the MISSION 66 Staff had known that the MISSION 66 plan might be presented before President Eisenhower and the Cabinet. The Staff first learned of this possibility on May 13 when Mr. Wirth called them into his office. He said that the night before Mr. Harry Donohue of Assistant Secretary Lewis' office had told him there was a prospect that the MISSION 66 plan might be presented before the Cabinet. Also present in the Director's Office on the 13th when he announced this news were Messrs. Lon Garrison, R. F. Lee, H. E. Evison, Thomas J. Allen, Henry Langley, and Phil King. Mr. James Cullinane of the Secretary's Office was present. It appeared that there might be two presentations before the President and the Cabinet. The first might be in the immediate future which would outline the problem facing the Service and the Nation, then sketch the tentative plan and hat had been accomplished on it to date. Th second, later in the fall, would present the proposals of the final plan after an on-the-spot survey of the 1955 summer use.

Mr. Wirth said his information was that about 25 minutes would be allowed for presenting MISSION 66 to the Cabinet. He then outlined what he wanted included in a statement to run that length of time. He wanted interpretation emphasized as the foremost aid of protection. He estimated the document would have to be ready in about 6 weeks or 2 months. He envisioned it as the foundation of a structure; on it the house would be built later.

From this day on into the following January hardly a day passed that the Staff did not hear new rumors about the Cabinet presentation, the date it was to be given, that it had been called off, that the Assistant Secretary would make the entire presentation, then that Mr. Wirth might make part of it. Throughout all this time the Staff was working in one way or another on the projected Cabinet presentation of MISSION 66, and was also trying to keep the other several parts of the MISSION 66 work going forward.

How did the idea of a Cabinet presentation originate? Who had the idea? At the time it first came to their attention, the Staff did not know. And they learned very little more on this point in all the months that precede the actual Cabinet presentation.

At first, all information on the subject came to Mr. Wirth from the Secretary's office. The Secretariat to the Cabinet for a considerable time communicated with Assistant Secretary Orme Lewis' office since he was responsible within the Department for National Park Service affairs. At the time the word first came that there might be a hearing before the Cabinet, Mr. Lewis was in Europe and Mr. Donohue, in his absence, acted as the principal liaison with the Service on the subject. Only several months after the MISSION 66 plan was presented to the President and the Cabinet did anyone in the National Park Service learn fully just how the whole thing had come about. Perhaps this is the best place to relate how the MISSION 66 Cabinet meeting was conceived.

Mr. Maxwell M. Rabb, Secretary to the Cabinet, conceived the idea. He had read an editorial in the Saturday Evening Post describing deplorable conditions in the national parks and the need for improved and modernized visitor accommodations.

One day at the White House offices of the Cabinet Secretariat Mr. Rabb mentioned to his Assistant, Mr. Bradley H. Patterson, Jr., that he had been thinking about the Post editorial and he wondered if the condition of the national parks would not be a good subject for Cabinet discussion. Mr. Patterson agreed that it was a subject of potential Cabinet and Presidential interest and volunteered to work on the subject with the Interior Department for a possible presentation. Patterson's subsequent telephone call to the Department was the first word officials there had that such a thing was being considered. It is clear that the initiation of the idea for the MISSION 66 Cabinet meeting came from the Secretariat to the Cabinet, and not from either the Department of the Interior or the National Park Service. 1/

1/ Interview, Roy E. Appleman with Bradley H. Patterson, Jr., and Maxwell M. Rabb in the White House, June 25, 1956. Most of the discussion concerning White House participation in the MISSION 66 project is based, in part at least, on this interview.

So it was a fortuitous circumstance that brought the telephone call from the White House a few months after the MISSION 66 Staff had begun work on the problem. Mr. Patterson informed the write that the Cabinet Secretariat pays close attention to national periodicals having a wide circulation in order to note those problems in the field of Federal governmental responsibility receiving public criticism. The Secretariat, he said, considers it its duty to arrange to have such problems brought before the Cabinet whenever possible for the purpose of seeking a proper solution in the public interest. Thus, the press may be considered to have been indirectly responsible for the Cabinet meeting that eventually came about on the Park Service problem. Mr. Patterson has indicated that this form of action by the Secretariat is something relatively new, originating with the Secretariat after it was established in the Eisenhower Administration. Since 1954, Mr. Patterson stated, there had been many presentations before the Cabinet of their problems by responsible persons from the Bureaus and Departments. That of MISSION 66 by the National Park Service was not one of the first.

Following Mr. Patterson's first telephone call to the Department on this matter, and Mr. Donohue's subsequent conversation with Mr. Wirth about it, Messrs. Harry J. Donohue, James J. Cullinane, and John J. Shanklin of the Secretary's Office and Mr. Garrison, Chairman of the MISSION 66 Steering Committee, went to the White House to discuss the idea of a Cabinet presentation with Mr. Rabb and Mr. Patterson. At this meeting, the White House Cabinet Secretariat learned for the first time that Mr. Wirth had constituted within the National Park Service a special staff which for several months had been engaged exclusively in working on the very problem in which it was interested. Following this meeting, Mr. Wirth and the Office of the Secretary decided that the MISSION 66 Staff would work with the Cabinet Secretariat in preparing material for a possible Cabinet presentation. After a review of this material Assistant Secretary Lewis, Under Secretary Davis, and the Secretariat would decide if and when a presentation should be made before the Cabinet.

In the period of May 17 - 20 the Staff worked on individual proposed outlines for a Cabinet paper. These were then turned over to Mr. Carnes for review. On May 20, Mr. Donohue from the Secretary's Office came in to the Staff room and said that very likely the MISSION 66 subject would be given at one of the last Cabinet meetings before the summer vacation period. On June 16 a Staff draft of the proposed Cabinet paper was ready and Mr. Wirth, with Mr. Cullinane from the Secretary's Office, went over it with the Staff. A tentative date of July 8 was then given as the probably date for the Cabinet presentation. Mr. Lewis was expected back from Europe momentarily. June 22 was scheduled as the day he would review the draft statement. On the 21st, Mr. Donohue brought word to the Staff that Mr. Lewis wanted a series of large graphs and a large map prepared as part of the presentation materials. The next day, June 22 at 3 p.m., Mr. Lewis auditioned in room 4616 a tape recording of the proposed Cabinet talk and the color slides and film strip illustrating it. He said little after listening to the talk and watching the slides, but he appeared to be pleased rather than displeased with it.

In the preceding month the Steering Committee, the Staff, other members of the Director's Staff, and the Director himself had discuss just what form the Cabinet presentation should take. Some members favored a formal talk or statement with a few charts for statistical purposes. Others wanted a picture type presentation, composed largely of slides and possibly motion picture. Advocates of this viewpoint thought the Cabinet member would enjoy relaxation from heavy burdens of their offices and that such a presentation would gain the most favor. Those who opposed this viewpoint held that the Cabinet members were men accustomed to serious matters and were, for the most part, able men who wold expect a businesslike, brisk, serious presentation of the subject. They thought a movie might appear frivolous to the Cabinet and result in an unfavorable reception.

As it worked out, the Cabinet presentation material was a compromise between these two viewpoints. There was to be a serious, concise statement of the Park Service Problem, proposed solutions, and a request for Administration and Congressional support of the program. Parts of the talk would be illustrated by slides and movies, but these features were to be subordinated to the oral presentation itself. Certain graphs of large scale were to be prepared and ready for use as desired by the speaker. These were to emphasize certain statistical aspects of the talk.

By July 5 the large charts Mr. Lewis had wanted for the presentation were ready for his review. They had been prepared on short notice over the 4th of July weekend. Artists from National Capital Parks, The Bureau of Fish and Wildlife, and The Bureau of Land Management had assisted in their preparation. That day Mr. Lewis, and Mr. Donahue, and Mr. Cullinane of his staff, came into the MISSION 66 Staff room and studied them. With some he was pleased; others he wanted changed. Again on the 7th, Assistant Secretary Lewis reviewed the charts and color movie material obtained in some of the parks for possible use in the presentation.

A dry run in the Interior Department of the proposed Cabinet presentation by Mr. Lewis was attended by Mr. Rabb and Mr. Patterson of the Cabinet Secretariat. Mr. Rabb thought that further preparation for the Cabinet meeting was necessary. This, together with the fact that the lateness of the season and the probability that the President and the Cabinet would meet only once or twice more before adjourning the meetings until later in the year, brought the decision that it would be impossible to have the MISSION 66 presentation until later. Mr. Rabb also took the position that Mr. Wirth, as Director of the National Park Service, should have a part in the Cabinet presentation when it took place. From this time on, while no definite and conclusive arrangements were made in the matter, it began to appear that Mr. Wirth would have some part in the presentation, but just what it would be was not clear for a long time.

With the Cabinet presentation indefinitely delayed in July, the Staff devoted most of its time during the next two months to other matters, particularly to that of completing the MISSION 66 Report Mr. Wirth wanted for the September General Services Conference.

The Cabinet Secretariat, in the course of consultation with Departmental and Service representatives in the summer, had suggested that the term "MISSION 66" not be used publicly by the Service or the Department in referring to the planning studies under way. The Secretariat's ideas was that this term should first be used by the President when he referred to the plan if he approved and supported it following a Cabinet presentation. But at the General Services Conference at Great Smoky Mountains National Park the term inevitably came out, and it was printed in the New York Times and other newspapers reporting the proceedings of the Conference. Thereafter, it was used rather generally in the press in references to the National Park Service planning project.


Following the General Services Conference near the end of September, the Staff worked all during October in conducting certain interviews that up to that time had not been possible, in completing revision of some of the pilot studies, and proceeding with plans for the final MISSION 66 Report. Mr. Wirth had stated that he wanted this ready by the end of November. Word came too, on October 28, that the tentative date for the MISSION 66 White House presentation was December 9. The Director expected to announce a rather definite date for it after he had discussed the matter with Assistant Secretary Wesley D'Ewart, who had succeeded Mr. Orme Lewis, resigned. That meant more work would be crowding on the Staff.

An interesting meeting in the Staff room took place on October 25 when Mr. Max K. Gilstrap, of the Christian Science Monitor, arrived to confer with the Director and the Staff on a series of articles he proposed to prepare for the Monitor on the MISSION 66 program. Mr. Wirth came in just after 11 o'clock and spent abou two hours talking to Mr. Gilstrap and the Staff. His comments apparently reflected his frame of mind at that time. Mr. Wirth rarely, if ever, was more eloquent in discussing the plan with the Staff then on that occasion.

He said that the 1957 budget would carry the first year of MISSION 66 financing. He had just confirmed this point with officials of the Secretary's Office. Mr. Wirth went on to direct that Mr. Langley prepare a tabulation of projects in Buildings and Utilities that ame within the previous $4,400,000 for that category in the 1957 fiscal year budget estimates, and a second tabulation to list additions which would fall within the MISSION 66 increased financing, and then total these two columns. He said the MISSION 66 program would receive more publicity on November 21 when Secretary McKay dedicated Big Bend National Park. The Secretary intended to devote most of his talk to the program.

Mr. Wirth went on to outline his plan of action under the MISSION 66 program. He wanted small areas put in good shape. In them, much could be accomplished and a good showing made with the expenditure of a relatively small amount of money. He wanted to complete the development of Grand Teton National Park; it already was well along. He emphasized that the MISSION 66 program was not primarily a construction program — construction was only the means to an end — the end was the important thing for MISSION 66. He reiterated that he wanted a sound program.

In the final MISSION 66 Report he said he wanted the precepts to be well expressed since he considered them to be most important. The report as a whole he wanted as well written as the Service could do it. He indicated that major items should be listed and particularized, including such things as miles of roads to be constructed or rebuilt; a tabulation of camp facilities needed and where proposed (Mr. Wirth was against organized camp ground as favoring special groups and classes); a tabulation of interpretive facilities in terms of visitor centers, museum installations, and similar facilities, with statistics to support proposed costs. He said he wanted something better than guesses. He wanted the report just as honest as we could make it, one that would reflect the need in each park for a 10-year plan to serve an estimated total of 80,000,000 visits in 1966. Further, he said he wanted all our back-up material retained; he wanted a record kept of how figures were arrive at for any particular part of the report.

On October 28 Mr. Wirth met again with the Staff. At that time he instructed it to stop reviewing individual park prospectuses for the present, and to devote full time henceforth to the completion of the final MISSION 66 Report. He suggested that the Staff divide into teams to do the drafting of various sections. He said he would review the draft as they were completed.

Preparatory to work on the final report, the Staff had prepared Memorandum No. 4 which was sent to the Washington and all field Offices under date of October 7, 1955. This memorandum outlined the form the final MISSION 66 Report was to take, both in terms of the overall Service report and of the individual park prospectuses. It indicated there would be three MISSION 66 planning documents: 1) a popular type booklet for general distribution: 2) a detailed official report with statistics, charts, graphs, and explanations of the proposed development and operating programs, workload figures, and fund requirements in the format used for appropriation estimates: 3) final prospectus for each park. All park officials were requested to begin preparation immediately of the data needed for completion in Washington of item No. 2, the detailed MISSION 66 Report. This material was to be in the Director's Office on or before November 15. A copy would go from the park to the appropriate Regional and Design Offices at the same time it was sent to the Director. Details of the park development programs were to be tabulated according to sample forms provided as attachments to Memorandum No. 4.

On December 2, Mr. Wirth advised the Staff that he had an appointment with the Secretary for December 1 to go over the MISSION 66 final report. Accordingly, he wanted it finished by December 9. He had just received word, he said, that the Cabinet meeting in the third week of January probably would include the MISSION 66 presentation in its agenda. On the 5th he went over various parts of the draft report, approving some and suggested changes in others. At this meeting he directed that certain very expensive items in the program be removed from the MISSION 66 program and set aside for special legislation and action; examples of these were the developments at Independence National Historical Park, Federal Hall National Memorial in New York, and the proposed Sports Center in Washington in the National Capital Parks program.

The Director had gone over with the Staff its outline for the final report. Some changes and additions to it were made, and it then was adopted as the basis for writing the report. The report was to have a foreword and five chapters. The first chapter was to be a brief explanation of what the National Park System is and something of its background; Chapter 2 was to state the problem; Chapter 3 was to give the 10-year program to meet the problem; Chapter 4 was to outline legislation needed; and Chapter 4 was to indicate briefly the gains to be expected from carrying out the MISSION 66 plan. The Staff members assumed specific assignments to work individually or in teams on parts of the report. On this basis the work went forward. The various drafts were reviewed by the whole Staff. All figures of construction costs and staffing were checked by Mr. Wirth personally before they became part of the report. He knew what was in the report; all along he had guided the form it would take and he had approved or made decisions on important activities and budgeting for them.

Complicating the work on the final MISSION 66 Report somewhat were the special talks the Staff had to prepare for the Director during October and November on the MISSION 66 Plan. He gave talks on this subject at that time before the Garden Club of America in New York and before the National Conference of Editorial Writers at Great Falls, Maryland.

Prior to the completion of the final MISSION 66 Report, the Director discussed fully the main proposals to be embodied in the document with representatives of many conservation organizations in one of the monthly meetings he had been holding with representatives of those groups. As a result of that discussion the Director had Point 8 added in the final report and to the text of the booklet, Our Heritage, to outline an 8-point program. Point No. 8 was designed to set a rest some apprehensions that the 7-point program proposed neglected Wilderness values. In fact, the principle of wilderness preservation had never been an issue in the Staff discussions, and the preservation of wilderness values was a built-in feature of the MISSION 66 program. Taken together, the precepts that stated the central guiding thought in the MISSION 66 plan guaranteed wilderness preservation. Although the Director and the Staff felt that Point 8 was superfluous, that it stated something that was implicit in the whole body of the report, nevertheless adding it was an easy and readily acquiesced sure way to quiet the fears of certain conservationists.

Work on the MISSION 66 popular booklet went forward at the same time the final report was being completed. A donation of private funds would publish this booklet. The work of preparing text, designing layout, drawing illustrations for the booklet, and printing it was let by contract to Creative Arts Studio, Inc., Washington, D.C. A rewrite man, using the preliminary draft of the MISSION 66 final report worked on the text for the popular booklet. This was reviewed by the Staff and Mr. Wirth. The draft was several thousand words too long, and had certain literary shortcomings. In the end, Mr. Evison worked with the rewrite man and made an important contribution in getting the booklet text in acceptable form. Mr. Wirth personally selected the cover design.

This popular booklet, entitled Our Heritage, ran to a length of 36 pages without cover, was copiously illustrated with drawings on the them of various activities in the parks, had a text of about 12,000 words, was printed in 2 colors, and contained a large and very handsome double page center spread in full color of Jackson Hole and the Teton Range in Grand Teton National Park (use of color plate donated by Standard Oil Company of California). The cover featured in full color the Liberty Bell, on which was superimposed four figures of an American family walking forward to symbolize confidence in the future of our country and its institutions, dedicated to liberty of the individual. (Walter Miller, a commercial photographer of Williamsburg, Virginia, took the two color pictures used in making the cover. The four figures are Mr. and Mrs. Edward M. Riley of Williamsburg and two of their children.)

This booklet was printed in an edition of 10,000 copies at a total cost of approximately $8,300 (about $5,000 for actual printing). Delivery was to be early in February. Mr. Wirth indicated that he expected to make the first distribution of it at the Pioneer Dinner scheduled for the evening of February 8, 1956. As it turned out, a month or two later an additional 5,000 copies of the booklet was printed at a cost of $2,700.

The large, detailed final MISSION 66 report was to be reproduced in multilith form in 1,000 copies, ready for use as Mr. Wirth might decide early in January 1956. The Staff met the deadlines for both the final report and the popular booklet. Only those of the Staff who worked furiously to complete and make final drafts, last minute revisions, and later to complete assembly of the copies, know what a narrow margin of time there was left in the case of the Final MISSION 66 Report.

The President's State of the Union Message

All during December Mr. Wirth and members of the Staff had been working with Mr. Bradley Patterson, Jr., of the Cabinet Secretariat to complete preparation of materials for the MISSION 66 presentation at the White House sometime in January. Mr. Patterson who, with his family had been visiting and mountain-climbing in the National Parks regularly since 1948, was fully familiar with the Parks and their problems as well as with the MISSION 66 proposals. One result of the Secretariat's interest in the MISSION 66 plan was a paragraph in the President's State of the Union Message delivered to the Congress on January 5, 1956. In that part of the message dealing with Resources and Conservation the following statement appeared:

During the past year the areas of our national parks have been expanded and new wildlife refuges have been created. The visits of our people to the parks have increased much more rapidly than have the facilities to care for them. The administration will submit recommendations to provide more adequate facilities to keep abreast of the increasing interest of our people in the great outdoors.

This in itself was a signal recognition of the extent to which the MISSION 66 Plan had taken hold in high quarters and the support that might be expected for it. This inclusion in the President's Message to Congress foreshadowed the favorable reception the plan was to receive officially from the President during and following the Cabinet presentation.

MISSION 66 Presented at the White House

NPS photo
Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument
(NPS Photo, HPC-000514)

For a while in December it seemed that the Cabinet meeting for MISSION 66 would be held on January 13, and plans were geared to that date. Mr. Wirth had several "dry runs" of the presentation with Mr. Patterson of the White House Staff and certain officials of the Secretary's Office. Soon after Mr. D'Ewart succeeded Mr. Lewis as Assistant Secretary of the Interior for the land management bureaus, he and Secretary McKay decided that Mr. Wirth should make the principal statement in support of the MISSION 66 program at the Cabinet Meeting. Secretary McKay would introduce the subject in a brief comment requiring only a minute or two, and say that the program had Departmental support. Assistant Secretary D'Ewart would make some general remarks about presenting the program to Congress after Mr. Wirth had spoken. As it finally turned out, the MISSION 66 presentation was on the Cabinet meeting agenda for January 27, 1956.

Before the cabinet meeting a great amount of work had been done by Mr. Wirth and the Staff in getting the presentation in final form. Mr. Wirth himself went over several successive drafts and made many changes. He gave to this task a great amount of his time in the final weeks before the Cabinet meeting.

Not so readily known to members of the Staff at the time, and of course to others in the Service, was the amount of time that Mr. Bradley Patterson gave to the matter. He worked as hard on the final arrangements and in getting the presentation ready for a successful Cabinet presentation as anyone in the National Park Service. His experience and knowledge, as a member of the Cabinet Secretariat, of how to prepare presentations for an effective Cabinet meeting caused him to be certain that the MISSION 66 presentation would be successful. Mr. Sam Dodd of the Budget Bureau was responsible for clearing Interior Department Budgets for consideration by the Director of the Budget, Mr. Rowland R. Hughes, and the Assistant Budget Director, Mr. Percival F. Brundage. Mr. Dodd proved very sympathetic to the program and was able to help Mr. Patterson secure Bureau of the Budget approval of the program's fiscal provisions in advance of the Cabinet meeting. Mr. Patterson told the writer he thought this to be a highly important accomplishment. He felt that if the MISSION 66 program came before the Cabinet and the President should turn to Mr. Hughes, as he often did in such matters, and asked his opinion of it in connection with the budget program, and the latter should express doubts about it or outright opposition, then the progress in all probability would be under a cloud in the President's eyes.

In working on this matter in the Bureau of the Budget, Mr. Dodd found it desirable to remove from the MISSION 66 Plan the proposal to obtain contractual authority for construction of buildings and utilities. It was agreed that the President would be asked to approve the program as a whole, but that he would not be asked to support a given sum of money to carry out the 10-year program. He would be asked to approve and recommend to the Congress specifically only the first year's fiscal needs to launch the program. As would be customary, the Bureau of the Budget would keep a close eye on the progress of MISSION 66 from year to year, and its continued support would depend on how the National Park Service executed the program from year to year. It particularly intended to observe whether the funds were being used to provide visitor service and accommodations that justified the program.

The agenda for the January 27 Cabinet Meeting was published at the White House on January 25. It listed four topics for Cabinet consideration in the meeting to begin the next Friday at 9:00 a.m. The first item was, "The National Parks MISSION 66 - CF-43/1." This listed Secretary of the Interior McKay, Assistant Secretary D'Ewart, and Mr. Wirth to make the presentation.

A MISSION 66 Cabinet paper entitled, "The National Parks - MISSION 66: Summary of the Program," had been prepared by the Staff with Mr. Patterson's help and published on the Cabinet's blue "for consideration" stationery on January 25, 1956. This paper was distributed by Mr. Maxwell M. Rabb, Secretary of the Cabinet, to Cabinet members for their consideration. It was a seven-page, legal length document. The last two and a half pages summarized the 10-year program of needs and proposed accomplishments. This document bore the identifying number, CF-43/1. (1)

(1) Mr. Patterson gave the writer a set of all official papers used in the Cabinet and at the White House bearing on the MISSION 66 program. They have been used in writing this section, together with the author's notes of his conversation with Mr. Patterson at the White House June 25, 1956. The White House Papers on MISSION 66 will, subject to the final approval of the White House, be turned over to the Director for the NPS permanent official file on this subject.

Mr. Wirth asked Mr. Garrison, Mr. Carnes, and Mr. Stagner to accompany him to the Cabinet Meeting and assist in the arrangements for the presentation. Mr. Stagner was proficient with the slide and movie projectors and on him would fall the responsibility of preventing any malfunction in this equipment during Mr. Wirth's talk. Garrison, Carnes, and Stagner arrived at the Interior Building at 8:15 a.m. on Friday the 27th, picked up the projector equipment, spare bulbs, and proceeded to the White House. There, in the Cabinet Room, they placed a rostrum with reading light in a corner for the Director's use, placed the screen for the projections, and set up the easels for two large charts. One of these showed the financing table for the MISSION 66 program; the other gave a brief listing of the principal legislative requirements needed to implement certain phases of the plan. The projector was adjusted for focus and all arrangement completed before Cabinet members began entering the room.

The Cabinet members began arriving in the room about 9:25 a.m. and gathered in small groups. They stood around engaged in casual conversation waiting for the President to enter. At this time one member of the MISSION 66 Staff present in the room overheard Mr. Stassen remark to Mr. Lodge, the Ambassador to the United Nations, who had come down from New York for the Cabinet Meeting, "What is this MISSION 606, Davy Crockett in Yellowstone?" The meeting was to begin at 9:30. Punctually at that hour the door opened from the President's study, and President Eisenhower entered the Cabinet Room. He took his seat at the center of the Cabinet conference table; the others then took their seats. (1)

(1) This account of most of the details of the Cabinet meeting is based on a memorandum prepared for the writer by Mr. Carnes of what he observed, and on a conversation by the writer with Mr. Stagner. The latter apparently either made notes at the time of the meeting or entered them in a pocket notebook soon thereafter, since he referred to these notes frequently during the conversation on this subject.

All persons normally attending the Cabinet meetings were present except the Vice President and Secretary of State Dulles. Mr. Herman Phleger, Legal Advisor for the State Department, represented Mr. Dulles. Mr. Percival F. Brundage represented Mr. Hughes for the Bureau of the Budget; and Mr. Victor E. Cooley, Deputy Director, Office of Defense Mobilization, represented Mr. Fleming. As already mentioned, Mr. Harold E. Stassen, Special Assistant to the President for Disarmament Matters, and Mr. Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., United States representative to the United Nations, were present. The following White House and Cabinet aids also were present: Bernard M. Shanley, Kevin McCann, Fred A. Seaton, Maxwell M. Rabb, Bradley H. Patterson, Jr., Murray Snyder, Howard Pyle, Gabriel Hauge, Bryce N. Harlow, Gerald D. Morgan, an I. Jack Martin. (1)

(1) Based on list in Mr. Patterson's file.

After the group had seated itself at the table, the President asked for a moment of silent prayer. The meeting then opened. Before each Cabinet member was his personal black notebook containing a copy of the agenda for the meeting with supporting papers on the topics to be considered.

Secretary McKay opened the discussion on the MISSION 66 item. He spoke for about three minutes on the public concern with present conditions in the national parks, the increase in visitation that was aggravating the problem, and the inadequacy of appropriations to permit the National Park Service to take all the corrective actions needed. He then asked Director Wirth to outline the existing problems, and to set forth the program he propose to meet them.

Mr. Wirth explained the National Park Service situation, problems, and proposed plan of action. Altogether he spoke for about 16 minutes. His presentation as informal in a conversational tone. He used some slides to illustrate crowded conditions in the parks. Following the slides, three minutes of color movies taken in some of the larger parks in June of the preceding summer illustrated the same theme. After the film, Mr. Wirth referred to the large charts showing the financing schedule and the legislative needs for the program he had just outlined.

After Mr. Wirth had concluded, Secretary McKay called on Assistant Secretary D'Ewart to comment on how the program might best be presented to Congress, in the light of his 10 years' experience there. When Mr. D'Ewart had finished his brief comments, Secretary McKay turned to the President and asked, "Mr. President, and Gentlemen of the Cabinet, are there any questions?"

President Eisenhower spoke up at once saying, "Yes, I have a question. Why was not this request made back in 1953?"

Secretary McKay explained that appropriations had been increased from $45 million to $62 million, but that the Department had not been in a position to present this recommendation in 1953. There were then a number of questions and comments from various members of the Cabinet group. Discussion turned briefly on the minimum wage as it affected park concessioners, and the possibility that the Departmental rules for concessions needed to be reconsidered.

Then there was the query as to how nearly the revenues from park fees matched park development and operating costs. The answer was that they did not. Then came the comment from one of the Cabinet that he had noticed the average annual cost of the MISSION 66 program would be in the neighborhood of $80,000,000. Since 80,000,000 visits were expected annually by 1966, according to the MISSION 66 study, would not an average entrance fee of $1 for each of the visits pay off the sum needed for the MISSION 66 program, he asked.

At this point President Eisenhower interjected that he did not think it right to charge visitor fees to the historic and patriotic shrines of the Nation, even though it might be justified in the larger parks of the West. He then asked how much money was collected in park entrance fees. Upon receiving this information Mr. Eisenhower said that that sum of money did not mean anything. Why bother people with collecting it? He mentioned Gettysburg National Military Park as an example where an entrance fee was not practicable. There were too many entrances to check. One of the Cabinet members commented that personnel to watch the entrances and collect the fees would cost salaries; utilities and quarter maintenance would add to the cost of collecting fees; and, in the end, these costs would eat up all that had been collected, and in some places might cost more besides. In the Nation's historic shrines the President intimated that fee-collecting might be a bagatelle which might not be worth the cost and annoyance.

After a discussion of some twenty minutes, President Eisenhower asked Secretary McKay if he could start the MISSION 66 program of improvement for the parks at once. The Secretary answered that he could "as soon as I get the money."

The President then said that he approved the MISSION 66 program as the basis for an expanded 10-year development of the Nation's park and historic sites. He said that he would sign a letter to the Congress recommending the program but that Secretary McKay would be responsible for presenting and supporting the program before the Congress. (1) Secretary McKay offered the letter for signature "on the spot" at the Cabinet table, but the President deferred this until later in accordance with his custom of using the Cabinet meetings exclusively for policy discussions and not for signature of detailed, specific documents.

(1) Cabinet Paper - Privileged, RA - 43, January 27, 1956. This is a record of action taken on the items in the agenda of the Cabinet Meeting of January 27, 1956. CP - 43/1 covered the MISSION 66 item.

At the conclusion of the MISSION 66 discussion, Mr. Wirth and his assistants from the National Park Service were asked to wait in an adjoining room while the other items of the agenda were discussed by the Cabinet. After the Cabinet Meeting had terminated, they made a second presentation of the MISSION 66 Program to the Departmental Cabinet Assistants who regularly are called together after each Cabinet meeting for an oral "debriefing" by Mr. Rabb and Mr. Patterson in order to insure full and immediate staff follow-through on Cabinet decisions. Mr. Wirth gave this second presentation in the Cabinet Room at 11:30.

Mr. Patterson stated subsequently that the White House Cabinet Secretariat considered the National Park Service MISSION 66 one of the most effective agenda items ever presented at a Cabinet meeting.

Those of the staff who had not gone to the Cabinet meeting spent the time in desultory work and wondering how the thing was going. Their first information came just after noon when Mr. Wirth popped into the room and gave them a first-hand briefing of the event.

The President Recommends MISSION 66 to Congress

Pursuant to the President's action in the Cabinet meeting on January 27, the Cabinet Secretariat began the preparation of the necessary documents to indicate to the Congress Executive approval of the program. This task fell largely on Mr. Bradley Patterson. The Cabinet Paper, which had been approved without change, was re-circulated by Mr. Rabb on the same day, in the regular format of an approved Cabinet Paper. Following this, Mr. Seaton, Mr. Murray Snyder, and Mr. Rabb reviewed and cleared the implementing letters which were drafted by Mr. Patterson for Secretary McKay's and the President's signatures. There were three documents. The first was a letter from Secretary McKay addressed to the President. It was signed on February 1956, and formally transmitted to the President the National Park Service MISSION 66 program and recommended this undertaking to him for consideration and approval as part of the Administration's resources conservation program. The second and third documents were identical letters from the President to the Vice President as President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, stating that he had asked the Secretary of the Interior to present to the Congress the MISSION 66 program, and that he was much concerned with existing inadequacies in the national parks it was designed to correct. The President signed these letters on February 2. The concluding paragraph of this letter to the presiding officers of the two Houses of Congress said:

I have requested the Secretary of the Interior to submit this plan to the Congress and, to the extent that funds are available therefor in the current fiscal year, to make an immediate beginning. There will shortly be transmitted to the Congress an amendment of the 1957 Budget so that adequate provision may be made for carrying the program forward without delay in the new fiscal year. (1)

(1) In a memorandum of January 30, 1956, Mr. Maxwell M. Rabb transmitted drafts of the three letters to the Secretary of the Interior for his review and clearance. The first letter vas a revision of one prepared in the National Park Service and the Department, dated January 13. Mr. Rabb's memorandum stated that the last sentence of the paragraph quoted above was inserted at the request of the Bureau of the Budget.

That same day, February 2, the White House made these letters public.

The President's letters to Congress on MISSION 66 did not find that body unaware of the program. Several members of the Senate and House had followed the progress of the MISSION 66 Study for several months and had taken a very active interest in it. The Director had not released to members of the Congress any of the plan's provisions prior to its presentation to the President and the Cabinet, so they did not know specifically what the program called for. But of its general import they were fully aware. As a matter of fact, prior to the Cabinet presentation, several members of Congress had of their own volition started action in Congressional committees on bills to provide the kind of assistance the MISSION 66 program spelled out. Thus, the President's support of the program placed the Executive arm of the government alongside the legislative in giving solid support by these two coordinate branches of the government to the MISSION 66 program. Seldom has say program administered by a Bureau of the Government for public service received such solid, and virtually unanimous, support.

Congress translated this approval of the MISSION 66 program into legislation which considerably increased the National Park Service appropriation for fiscal year 1957 over that of 1956. The 1957 appropriation for the 3ervice was $68,020,000. This was an increase of $19,153,700 over the amount appropriated in the 1956 fiscal year. The Building and Utilities amount alone was increased from $4,400,000 in the original budget estimates to $14,250,000, and an added $1,000,000 was allowed for acquisition of lands and water rights. The entire 10-year program of the MISSION 66 plan was estimated to cost $786,545,600.

It Is apparent that Mr. Bradley Patterson of the White House Secretariat played an important, perhaps vital, role in the successful presentation of MISSION 66 to the President and the Cabinet. This engaging young man deserves a special word of praise in any chronicle of the MISSION 66 program, even though it is as brief as this one. A letter from Mr. Patterson to the Director on February 11, 1955, answering one from the Director thanking him tor his help in obtaining Administration support of the program, reflects some indication of his personality and temperament, and the feeling he personally had for the nation's great parks. In this letter Mr. Patterson said in part:

If there was a pinch of added enthusiasm, and a few extra hours on my part, let it be in remembrance of some of those days which have enriched my life beyond any measure.

From my bank account will never come an inheritance for my children, but let there be bequeathed to them and to their children to come, Lake Solitude, Camp Muir on Rainier, a swim in Lake Tenaya, a stroll in Crescent Meadow, a campfire at Elizabeth Lake. With these safely in trust for them, Midas could not give them more."

The American Pioneer Dinner
February 8, 1956

NPS photo
Gettysburg National Military Park
(NPS Photo, HPC-000880)

With the MISSION 66 Report sent to press, and the work finished as well on the popular booklet version of the MISSION 66 plan, the Staff resumed the long interrupted work of reviewing the individual park prospectuses, all of which had been received in the Director's office by the end of 1955. While all of these were not in final form, Mr. Wirth wanted to send to the parks quickly an approval notice or to indicate that more work was needed. In order to accomplish this without delay he initiated a series of meetings over the weekends, Saturdays and Sundays, beginning on 14-15 January, 1956. Certain members of the MISSION 66 Staff, Mr. Garrison from the Steering Committee, and the Division chiefs met with Mr. Wirth in this review. They had the benefit of many comments in the folders already prepared by members of the Staff who had reviewed the prospectuses, and of digests prepared by some of the Departmental Trainees. In a series of five week-end meetings the Director gave a hurried review to the prospectuses. On this basis, letters were sent to the various park Superintendents advising them of action taken on the park prospectuses.

During January 1956, as the White House Cabinet presentation was being readied and work on the reports completed, the Director and certain members of his staff had to give considerable attention to the forthcoming American Pioneer Dinner, scheduled for the evening of February 8 in the cafeteria dining room of the Interior Building. The dinner was sponsored jointly by the Secretary of the Interior and the American Automobile Association. The menu featured bison and elk meat furnished for the occasion by the State of South Dakota, Mr. Russell E. Singar, Executive Vice President of the American Automobile Association, was to serve as Toastmaster on the occasion. Featured speakers were to be the Honorable Clarence A. Davis, Under Secretary of the Interior, representing Secretary McKay who was out of the city; Mr. Maxwell M. Rabb, Secretary to the Cabinet; Mr. Edwin S. Moore, Secretary and General Manager, California State Automobile Association; and Mr. Horace M. Albright, Board Chairman, American Planning and Civic Association.

After the dinner Mr. Wirth was to give a presentation of the MISSION 66 program to the dinner guests, and there was to be a showing of a film entitled, "Adventure in the National Parks," prepared especially for the occasion by Mr. Walt Disney. At the American Pioneer Dinner, Mr. Wirth planned to make the first distribution of the attractive booklet entitled, Our Heritage, intended to serve as a popular presentation of the MISSION 66 plan.

Approximately sixty members of the Senate and House of Representatives accepted invitations on behalf of themselves and their wives to attend the dinner. All members of the American Planning and Civic Association attending the Association's annual meeting then being held in Washington were invited to the dinner. Officials of conservation groups and other persons influential in that field also were invited. Mr. Ronald F. Lee of the Director's staff served as principal liaison in the National Park Service to work with the American Automobile Association in making the arrangements and performing the many duties incident to what proved to be a very pleasant and successful dinner ceremony.

The approximately 350 guests at the American Pioneer Dinner obviously enjoyed the occasion. The comments of each speaker referred in varying degrees to the National Park Service MISSION 66 plan. Mr. Rabb spoke in strong support of it for the Administration. The American Automobile Association pledged its support. The presence of so many Senators and Congressmen attested to a widespread Congressional interest in the plan. At the conclusion of the dinner a large number of the guests repaired to the Interior Department Auditorium where Mr. Wirth, using color slides and film strip, spoke on the MISSION 66 plan. The last item of the evening's program was Walt Disney's special color movie for the occasion, a series of sequences taken from "The Living Desert" and "The Vanishing Prairie," which had been filmed in the national parks. (1)

(1) A good account of the American Pioneer Dinner will be found in Planning and Civic Comment, March 1956, pp. 8-11. The New York Times, Sunday, February 12, 1956, Sec. X21, also carried an excellent summary of the MISSION 66 plan and reference to the American Pioneer Dinner, under the title "Saving The Park," written by William M. Blair.

Mr. Wirth viewed the American Pioneer Dinner as the culminating event in his year-long campaign of launching the MISSION 66 program. That night, although very tired from long hours of overwork and tension, Mr. Wirth probably felt that greater success had marked his efforts with the MISSION 66 idea than he had dreamed possible a year before.

A testimonial of his great services soon came to Mr. Wirth in the form of the Interior Department's Citation For Distinguished Service. Secretary McKay awarded him this in recognition of outstanding service in promoting and administering the national park system. But Mr. Wirth knew that although an excellent start had been made toward this goal, nine more years of persevering work loomed ahead before it would become an actuality. That part of the text of the Department's Distinguished Service Award to Mr. Wirth, March 12, 1956, relating to the MISSION 66 Plan follows:

Early in 1955, Mr. Wirth conceived and launched MISSION 66, the comprehensive study of the National Park System and its requirements. The program, developed over a period of years, is intended to provide such development and staffing as will permit the Service by 1966 to provide the maximum of benefit to the American public while safeguarding its resources. For his foresight, courage, and outstanding leadership, and his many contributions to park conservation, the Department of the Interior bestows upon Mr. Wirth its highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award.

The MISSION 66 Staff Disbanded

NPS photo
Grand Teton National Park
(NPS Photo, HPC-001669)

Now that the job for which it had been established was finished, the original MISSION 66 Staff no longer had a reason for being. Early in the summer of 1955, when the work of the Staff was just beginning to assume shape, Mr. Wirth had told its members one day that he thought he would establish a smaller staff on a permanent basis, or at least on a ten-year basis, to watch over and help implement the execution of the MISSION 66 Plan if it won acceptance. On several occasions he mentioned this idea. The Staff early came to expect, therefore, that the Director would, in fact, establish such a group to replace the Study Staff. By February 1957, with its work finished, the original staff had been in being just about one year.

By this time Mr. Wirth had announced the composition of the permanent MISSION 66 Staff whose duty would be to help keep the program moving ahead of schedule, and to assist in the many problems that were certain to arise with reference to it in the field of public relations. To this staff Mr. Wirth named Mr. Carnes as Chief, Mr. Stagner as Assistant Chief, and Mr. Coates, Mr. Freeman, and Mr. Martinek as members. Of this group, Carnes, Stagner, Coates, and Freeman had been members of the Study Staff. Mr. Julius A. Martinek transferred from Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park to become the final member of the permanent Staff. Three members of the original Staff returned in February to their former positions and permanent work; Harold Smith returned to the Progress Branch, Jack Dodd returned to the Forestry Branch, and Roy Appleman returned to the History Branch.

Some weeks later, in April 1956, the members of the original Staff received the Departmental Unit Award for Meritorious Service, citing the Staff of MISSION 66 National Park Service. This award, signed by Secretary of the Interior Douglas McKay, reads as follows:

In recognition of outstanding accomplishments for a long-range research and planning project which has as its goal the planning of a National Park System of tomorrow.

The purpose of MISSION 66 is to review all operations and plans of the National Park Service and to present a constructive and sound program to bring the presently inadequate development for operation, protection, and public use into harmony with the visitation and use demands anticipated by 1966, the 50th anniversary of the National Park Service. Director Conrad L. Wirth selected a staff of seven highly qualified employees who possess vision and ability to plan and do creative thinking. These men were instructed to disregard limitations of precedent or custom in planning a National Park System for tomorrow, keeping in mind only the basic objectives of the Service to conserve scenic and historic objects and wildlife, and to make the areas available for use and enjoyment without substantial impairment. The imaginative and creative approach demonstrated by the staff with respect to problems, which at times seemed insurmountable, has been effective in stimulating a new era of optimism and objective thinking for the entire Service personnel. Without regard to personal inconvenience, staff members met with field representatives and others whenever groups could convene for the purpose of selling the objectives of MISSION 66 and for re-examination of present-day operating methods. The staff established a pattern for a new freedom in approach to a wide variety of problems that has been inspirational and stimulating. MISSION 66 is not finished but it is well on its way. This is due in large measure to the fine work and extraordinary devotion which this task force displayed. Its work will continue and intensify in years to come as the mission is crystallized into tangible achievements. In recognition of outstanding accomplishments, the Department of the Interior confers upon the staff of MISSION 66 its Unit Award for Meritorious Service.

Early in February 1956, Mr. Wirth replaced the original Steering Committee with an Advisory Committee for the MISSION 66 Program, expecting that its membership would change periodically. The Advisory Committee included membership from the Washington, Regional, Design, and Park Offices. It held its first meeting in the old MISSION 66 Staff room on February 13, 1956. Its members were the following:

Lemuel A. Garrison, Chairman, Chief, Branch of Conservation and Protection, Washington Office

John E. Doerr, Chief, Natural History

Warren Hamilton, Asst. Supt., Yellowstone National Park

Herbert E. Kahler, Chief Historian, Washington Office

Thomas Vint, Chief, Division of Design and Construction, Washington Office

Herbert Maier, Assistant Regional Director, Region Four Office

Ray Vinton, Supt., Castillo de San Marcos National Monument

Robert P. White, Supervising Engineer, Eastern Office, Division of Design and Construction

J. Carlisle Crouch, Chief, Division of Operations, Region Five Office

Glen T. Bean, Supt., Chaco Canyon National Monument

In February, after the favorable reception of the MISSION 66 Report had become a firm fact, a meeting of some importance was held in the Director's Conference Room with all members of the original MISSION 66 Staff, the original Steering Committee, the Director and Chiefs of Divisions, and certain members of the Secretary's Office present. The occasion was to listen to comments from Sam Dodd of the Budget Bureau on the MISSION 66 program. Mr. Dodd had had a far larger part than most of those present realized in bringing the MISSION 66 Program to a favorable reception within the Administration. In the course of his comments he stated what was already well known — that he was soon retiring. As a friend of long standing of the National Park Service he spoke of the pitfalls and difficulties the Service must guard against over the long haul, the ten-year period, if it were to see the program go on to a successful conclusion. One must not take it for granted, he warned, that the very successful start of the program would assure continued strong support unless the program were carefully supervised and kept to its purpose. There must be diligent care exercised that the program provided public facilities and that the funds provided by the Congress were not diverted to other purposes, no matter how well justified that might be.

It was clear from his comments that representatives of the Bureau of the Budget expected to watch carefully the progress of the MISSION 66 program, and that if it did not live up to its avowed and expressed purposes it might very well encounter future strong criticism and opposition. If this happened, the whole MISSION 66 program would be in jeopardy. Mr. Dodd's words too on all the more weight because he spoke as a friend who was trying to give good advice to those who would be responsible for administering a program in which he believe and which he had helped to get started. To the writer at least, remembering later Mr. Dodd's words when he discussed the MISSION 66 subject with Mr. Bradley Patterson of the White House Secretariat, it became clear that the MISSION 66 10-year program was in fact a 10-year Plan merely as to the central idea and purpose, but that its implementation would be a yearly matter, each successive year's budget for it depending in great part as how well the past year's appropriation had been spent in accomplishing the avowed MISSION 66 Program.

But at least the MISSION 66 Plan was off to a flying start. Its continuation and final completion rested with the future. This was the rosy picture in February 1956.

Roy E. Appleman
January 7, 1958