Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Parks Become Popular

Last night's episode of The National Parks: America's Best Idea largely focused on the increasing popularity of the National Parks. This was due to two factors: the rise of the automobile and Stephen Mather's realization that he must make the parks car-friendly to attract more people which would then encourage Congress to authorize more parks. Mather was a practical man. His PR man Robert Sterling Yard was an idealist and thought Mather was ruining the parks. He founded the National Parks Association (now the National Parks Conservation Association) and co-founded the Wilderness Society.

One of the highlight for me was following the Gehrtz family as they visited as many National Parks as they could. It reminded me of The War, where we followed certain soldiers through their experiences. The other highlight was the beginning of the National Park rangers, trained professionals who replaced inept political appointees. If I were a bit younger and didn't care much about salary, being a ranger would be my dream job.

The main parks in this episode were Grand Canyon and Great Smoky Mountains. The park service finally got rid of all private claims in the former and the latter was authorized and realized. Also in this episode, John Rockefeller Jr. began secretly buying up land in Jackson Hole for addition to Grand Teton NP. Tonight's episode should be interesting when the cattlemen find out. Also in tonight's episode will be the CCC, in my opinion Roosevelt's greatest idea.

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