Dine 200 Feet Underground at Grand Canyon Caverns

Caverns Grotto didn't exist when these guys showed up at Grand Canyon Caverns. If it did, they'd have a little more meat on their bones. | Cindy Roth

A popular tourist attraction along Historic Route 66 is opening a restaurant that's unlike any other in Arizona.

As ABC15 reported last week, Grand Canyon Caverns, located along Route 66 between Seligman and Kingman, has created Caverns Grotto, a four-table restaurant where diners can enjoy lunch or dinner in a cave 200 feet underground. There, they'll have an uninterrupted, 360-degree view of a cave that's part of the largest dry caverns in the United States, the facility said.

The restaurant, which is set to open around August 15, will be a pretty exclusive spot, with a capacity of only 16 diners at a time. Reservations are being accepted now, and if there's enough demand, the restaurant might add another table.

Caverns Grotto will offer an all-you-can-eat lunch for $49.95 and a dinner, which will include unlimited salad and dessert, for $69.95. Both include a tour of the cave, which normally costs $20. The food will be made above ground and brought down to diners via the facility's elevator and a pulley system.

This isn't the only unique thing to do at Grand Canyon Caverns; you can also spend a night in the Cavern Suite if you've got $800 to spare. More affordable motel rooms are available at ground level.

For more information about the caverns, click here.

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Fire Destroys Apache Junction's Mining Camp Restaurant

Courtesy of Mining Camp Restaurant

A Phoenix-area restaurant that's been serving up family-style ribs and other Western fare for more than a half-century burned to the ground last week.

The Mining Camp Restaurant, located just southeast of the Apache Trail (State Route 88) in Apache Junction, was destroyed early Tuesday, July 25, Valley food blog Mouth by Southwest reported.

The restaurant was built with ponderosa pine logs from the Payson area, according to its website. It opened in 1961 and was a popular tourist destination known for its family-style, all-you-can-eat dinners, which featured barbecued ribs, baked beans and other dishes served on old-fashioned tin plates.

The Mining Camp also featured dinner shows at certain times of year, and hosted weddings and other events.

Mouth by Southwest reported the cause of the fire had not been determined, but that the building appeared to be a total loss. There was no word on whether the Mining Camp's owners would rebuild the facility.

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Space Age Material Aids ADOT Bridge Repairs

Crews repair the Interstate 17 bridge over 19th Avenue using a new carbon-fiber technique. | Courtesy of Arizona Department of Transportation

Two major Interstate 17 bridges in Phoenix were recently repaired using a new carbon-fiber technique developed by a Tucson company.

The Arizona Department of Transportation says the repairs focused on bridge girders that were damaged when they were struck by over-height vehicles. Instead of a normal repair method, such as injecting epoxy to rebuild sections of the concrete girders, ADOT wrapped the girders in a strengthening material called Fiber Reinforced Polymer, or FRP — carbon-fiber strips that are coated and strengthened with a reinforcing polymer.

The bridges repaired with FRP carry I-17 over 19th Avenue and Jefferson Street in Phoenix. As a result of the repairs, the 19th Avenue bridge is no longer considered structurally deficient, ADOT says. The Jefferson Street bridge was not structurally deficient.

The FRP repair was developed by QuakeWrap Inc., a Tucson company, and was installed by construction firms from Tempe and Tucson. ADOT says the new repair technique can extend structures' life spans and can be completed in much less time than traditional repair methods.

Statewide, ADOT says, less than 2 percent of the department's bridges are listed as structurally deficient. But the department says that designation doesn't mean the bridge is unsafe to use — just that an inspection has identified certain repair needs.

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What's the Best Breakfast Spot in Arizona?

Pancakes at The Original Breakfast House | Via Facebook

The food blog Extra Crispy has released its list of the 51 best breakfast destinations in America — and a Phoenix restaurant is Arizona's representative.

The Original Breakfast House, located at 13623 N. 32nd Street, made the blog's ranking, which was published last month. The restaurant specializes in "unique and original twists on classic diner food," and breakfast selections include the El Paso omelet (which includes chorizo, green chiles and black beans), pancakes (made with a hint of lemon) and egg scrambles with Cheddar cheese and various meats.

Extra Crispy lauded the restaurant's "meaty eggs and omelets decked with linguica, Arizona beef, chicken-fried steak, ham, Spam, carnitas, or chili, as well as lovingly prepped pancakes and French toast with a bounty of fruity and sweet fillings and toppings."

"If you can't find your dream breakfast here, you just aren't trying hard enough," the site added.

The OBH has been in business since 2013 and also features a lunch menu. Its owner, John Stidham, had owned several restaurants in Northern California before retiring to the Valley in 2011.

Like any list of this nature, Extra Crispy's ranking is completely subjective. So, you tell us: What's the best place to get breakfast in Arizona? (A few of our favorites: Matt's Big Breakfast in Phoenix and Tempe, the Waffle Iron in Prescott and MartAnne's in Flagstaff.)

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The Sedona McDonald's: An Arizona Oddity

The McDonald's in Sedona is believed to be the only one in the world with a turquoise logo. | Doug Kerr (via Flickr)

At last count, there were more than 36,000 McDonald's restaurants in the world. But the McDonald's in Sedona is one of a kind.

There's perhaps no more recognizable brand than the McDonald's "Golden Arches." At the Sedona McDonald's, those arches are turquoise (or teal green, or jade, depending on whom you ask).

And while this deviation from the norm has spurred all sorts of theories about building codes and city ordinances, the truth is a little less exciting, according to a news report from a few years back.

It's hard to imagine today, but Sedona wasn't even incorporated as a city until 1988. The McDonald's franchise came along a few years later, when the city was still firming up its building and signage restrictions. The franchise owner worked with the city on the look of the restaurant; since the shopping center next to it featured turquoise signage, the color was a natural fit for the McDonald's.

The fast-food stop opened in May 1993 and has become a minor tourist attraction, with visitors posting photos of "the world's only Turquoise Arches" to social media. And you have to admit, turquoise goes a lot better with Sedona's stunning red-rock views than yellow would.

You can see the unique McDonald's for yourself at 2380 W. State Route 89A in Sedona. And while most of us at Arizona Highways enjoy a Big Mac every now and then, we'd recommend Elote Café, Red Rock Café or one of Sedona's other great local restaurants first.

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Cave Creek's Historic Buffalo Chip Returns After Fire

Buffalo Chip Saloon and Steakhouse owner Larry Wendt displays some of the Cave Creek restaurant's Western memorabilia, including a photo of Tom Mix. | Kirsten Kraklio

On Thanksgiving Day in 2015, Larry Wendt watched as the restaurant he took over in 1998, Buffalo Chip Saloon and Steakhouse, burned to the ground.

The fire, started by an arsonist, destroyed more than 60 years of Cave Creek history, leaving behind just two charred statues as a reminder. “The building was full of old relics and things from the past from the Buffalo Chip and Cave Creek locals,” Wendt said.

A year and a few months later, the Buffalo Chip is in a brand-new facility and offering the Western charm regular customers have grown to love. But it almost didn’t.

“At first, I didn’t intend to rebuild,” Wendt said. “Then there was such an outpouring from the community and the Town Council and all of our old customers and everything. I decided to rebuild, but we knew it was going to take a year or longer.”

Wendt said the community rallied to support him and his staff. “This community — it’s not a large community, it’s only about 3,000 people — they raised $55,000 for my staff. It was right during the holidays, from Thanksgiving through Christmas, and 121 people were out of work,” he said.

Once construction began, it took about four months to complete the new facility. During the rebuilding process, the Buffalo Chip was able to serve customers out of its outdoor bull-riding venue, which was unscathed in the fire. It wasn’t fancy or big, but it allowed Wendt to keep his staff taken care of.

Now, Wendt considers the fire to be a blessing. “We had a very loyal following, but it really taxed the infrastructure of the building,” he said. “The restrooms were small; the kitchen was small.”

“Other than the fact that I didn’t insure it very well, this is a blessing, actually, because everything’s new and updated,” he added.

The new building’s restrooms and kitchen are bigger, and it includes a second floor. But not everything is new. The rustic look is authentic, with antique wood used throughout the restaurant. “When we rebuilt, we could have built out of all new material and made it look like every other place,” Wendt said, “but we were determined to buy all antique lumber — a whole sawmill — and build it back like it would have been in the '50s. I’m proud of it.”

The traditions have stayed the same, too. Visitors can still find boots hanging from the ceiling above the packed dance floor, autographed Western photos on the walls and, of course, the Green Bay Packers memorabilia — in honor of original Buffalo Chip owner Max McGee, the hero of the Packers’ win in Super Bowl I.

“[The Packers] support us unbelievably,” Wendt said. “The third call that I got Thanksgiving morning when I was watching my place burn down — the first one was from my wife, the second was from a neighbor who saw the smoke — the third one was from the governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, who said, ‘I’m seeing your place is on fire.’ They’ve just been a tremendous support. I couldn’t ask for a better family away from the Buffalo Chip. The Packers and Wisconsin have been wonderful.”

And, yes, it was a large but sad crowd at the Chip on January 22 for the NFC Championship Game. “We ran into that steamroller, the [Atlanta] Falcons, and they just ate our lunch,” Wendt said.

The disappointing outcome aside, fans of the Buffalo Chip continue to come out and show their support, in part, Wendt says, because of the friendly staff. “You can go any place in Cave Creek and get a hamburger or some barbecue and a longneck beer and a friendly bartender that might say, ‘Hey, how are you doing,’ but the only thing that really sets any place apart is how you treat the customer,” Wendt said.

— Kirsten Kraklio

Buffalo Chip Saloon and Steakhouse is located at 6823 E. Cave Creek Road in Cave Creek. For more information, call 480-488-9118 or visit www.buffalochipsaloon.com.

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Matt's Big Breakfast Adds Tempe Location

Waffles and bacon make an enticing pair at Matt's Big Breakfast. | Courtesy of Matt's Big Breakfast

Many of us at Arizona Highways love bacon, so it should come as no surprise that we love Matt's Big Breakfast, which has grown from humble beginnings in downtown Phoenix to become one of the hottest breakfast joints in town. The bacon there is great, and so is everything else on the menu.

From its initial restaurant downtown, Matt's has expanded to locations in the Biltmore area and at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. And now, Matt's is making its first foray out of Phoenix, setting up shop in Tempe along the shore of Tempe Town Lake.

The new location, at 400 E. Rio Salado Parkway, is in the new Marina Heights development north of Arizona State University. Like the other (non-airport) locations, it's open daily from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

According to a release from the Tempe Tourism Office, the new spot is much bigger than the downtown location, but the menu is the same: fluffy pancakes, omelets, hash browns and savory thick-cut bacon. For lunch, Matt's also offers burgers, BLTs, chili and other options.

Matt's Big Breakfast has been featured in Arizona Highways, and its recipes appear in Arizona's Best Recipes, our cookbook featuring selections from some of the best restaurants in Arizona.

To learn more about Matt's Big Breakfast, visit its website.

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Arizona's Best Burgers: The Chuckbox in Tempe

The Chuckbox's mesquite charcoal grill is as legendary as the burgers that come off it. | Via Facebook

The world seems to have woken up to what Arizona State University students have known for decades: The Chuckbox in Tempe has been rated the best burger joint in Arizona.

That's according to First We Feast, a popular food blog that recently listed the best burger spot for all 50 states in the country. As the blog states: "On the search for great burgers, you should always consider the joints close to large colleges. The Chuckbox sits in the bosom of ASU and cranks out a ton of burgers for hungry students, all of them cooked on an open pit fire fed by charcoal and mesquite."

The blog's authors further recommend the Chuckbox's Tijuana Torpedo, topped with pepper jack cheese and mild green chiles.

This ranking comes as no surprise to many on the Arizona Highways staff, who will happily drive 30 minutes from the magazine's headquarters in Central Phoenix and stand in a long line at the Chuckbox for lunch.

The restaurant has been cranking out burgers since 1972 at its rustic location just north of ASU's Tempe campus, and its owners claim they've won so many "Best Of" awards, they've stopped counting. Well, here's one more for the pile.

The Chuckbox is located at 202 E. University Drive in Tempe. For more information, call 480-968-4712, visit www.thechuckbox.com or follow the restaurant on Facebook.

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Adrian's in Mesa Is Arizona's Best Restaurant, Yelpers Say

Adrian's, a Mexican restaurant in Mesa, is being touted as the state's best eatery. | Yelp user John G.

Agreeing on which of Arizona's restaurants is the best is a fool's errand. There are literally thousands of them all over the state, and everyone has different tastes. But the folks at USA Today gave it a shot this month after combing through ratings and reviews on Yelp, the online review site.

Based on that data, the newspaper declared Adrian's, which serves Mexican food at 1011 W. Main Street in downtown Mesa, to be Arizona's best eatery. As of this writing, the restaurant has an average rating of a perfect five stars, and more than 130 reviews.

Adrian's reviewers rave about the "hole in the wall" spot, which has just five tables, and its prices, which many say are lower than at other Mexican restaurants in the Valley. The restaurant, touted as being family-owned since 1996, is open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. To learn more about Adrian's, call the restaurant at 480-610-1231.

USA Today excluded chain restaurants from its findings. The full list of the "best" places to eat in all 50 states is available online. But we're well aware that everyone has their own favorite, so tell us: What's the best restaurant in Arizona? (To see some of our favorites, check out the Dining section of our website.)

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Happy 100th, National Park Service

Canyon de Chelly National Monument is one of 22 Arizona sites administered by the National Park Service. | Klaus Priebe

The following essay appeared in the March 1969 issue of Arizona Highways, to mark the 50th birthday of Grand Canyon National Park. We’re reproducing it today, on the 100th birthday of the National Park Service.

A Tribute to the National Park Service
By Edward H. Peplow, Jr.

Not only the early autumn chill made the men sit close about the campfire. Their voices were hushed as they tried somehow to put into words the feelings of awe, of wonder and delight, they sought to express.

The silence of the ages filled the voids in the conversation, accented by the fluid murmuring of a nearby stream and the occasional soft rustle of a night creature in the great forest. Overhead the inky, vaulted dome was alive with stars a man could almost touch, and from every vantage point could be seen silhouettes of majestic mountains rising up as though to lead the thoughts of men to higher things.

U.S. Cavalry sentinels kept an alert vigil around the camp, for a party of a hundred or more Crow warriors had been spotted watching them that day, September 19, 1870. But Nathaniel P. Langford, Cornelius Hedges and Gen. Henry Washburn, leaders of the exploration party, were preoccupied with matters far headier than their personal safety.

It was with unabashed reverence these three rugged and sophisticated gentlemen and their ten companions discussed the incredible natural wonders they had traveled through since leaving Helena, Montana, August 17. Today had brought the climax, a geyser which spouted a jet of steam and water scores of feet into the air on a schedule so regular Hedges had been prompted to call it Old Faithful.

Langford repeated to his companions his story about old Jim Bridger. Bridger, back before 1820, had heard of John Colter’s tales of the wonders of the country where the Yellowstone, the Wind and the Snake rivers rise; Mountainman Colter had penetrated that vastness in ’06, and Bridger had followed suit in the early ‘20s.

Like Colter, Bridger was not one to talk much. It was too easy for a man to get the reputation of telling windies, and then nobody took any stock in whatever he said. But a few men, like Langford, had more vision than most and could be trusted. Langford had come to the Montana Territory from Minnesota in ’62 and had quickly distinguished himself and had been named Collector of Internal Revenue for the Territory. He didn’t laugh at Bridger.

Neither did David Folsom and two companions who had heard some of the tales. In 1869 they had armed themselves well and gone into the Yellowstone country. But when they returned they refused to talk for fear their compatriots in Helena would laugh at them.

Thus on that fateful night in 1870 the Langford party had much to discuss. Should they tell of the forests, the mountains, the game, the rivers and lush valleys, the verdant meadows, the great waterfalls, and the hot springs and spouting system they had seen? Should they try to describe the grandeur, the majesty and the awesome splendor of the scene?

Why not? They were thirteen prominent, reputable, sober men, and they had a military escort under Lt. Gustavus Doane to corroborate their testimony.

Then the talk turned to more vital matters. What steps should they take to claim the land and its wonders? One suggestion was that each man claim to an individual, equal acreage of such size that the whole would encompass the principal marvels of the area around Old Faithful.

Another, more acceptable suggestion was that the entire party lay claim to the whole area, that ownership be communal with each man owning an equal interest in the whole so that no one man could claim personally a more desirable site.

But Hedges, with Langford’s and Gen. Washburn’s support and prompting, held that such wonders should not be privately owned by either an individual or a group. They should belong to the nation. And gradually, around that campfire in the heart of one of the world’s grandest wildernesses, the concept of a national park was born.
When at last, exhausted but exhilarated, the men stretched out to sleep, only one in the thirteen still favored private exploitation. Surely that was a night when morning stars sang together.

Back in Helena the men faced two problems. The first was to convince their friends and the man in the street of the wonders they had seen. It took a while, but their reputations, the size of their party and their persuasive abilities were all in their favor. William Clagett, congressman from Montana, became an important ally.

So effective were their efforts that in 1871 two reconnaissance parties entered the Yellowstone country, one a military expedition and the other a geological survey under Dr. F.V. Hayden. Both of these came out with not only verbal confirmation of the Langford-Hedges reports but with many photographs as well. The day was virtually won.

In December of 1871, a bill creating Yellowstone National Park was presented in the U.S. Senate and passed within six weeks. Four weeks later the House of Representatives followed suit, and on March 1, 1872, President William Howard Taft signed the measure which brought into being the world’s first national park. [EDITOR’S NOTE: Actually, it was President Ulysses S. Grant. Taft didn’t serve until the early 1900s.]

The act “dedicated and set apart as a public park or pleasuring ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people” nearly 1,100 square miles of some of the world’s most awe-inspiring scenic wonders. Nat Langford’s role in the process was recognized by his appointment as the first superintendent of Yellowstone National Park, a post he filled for five years without either pay or funds to run the park.

For years thereafter Langford, Hedges, Gen. Washburn and those who had worked so diligently to help create the park must have suffered bitter disappointment. Poachers hunted the area indiscriminately; entrepreneurs promoted one illegal scheme after another to exploit the geological and other natural resources of the park. A welter of laws were passed in the cause of “controlling” what went on in the park, then were repealed.

The whole problem became so confused that what few funds finally were allocated for running the park were withdrawn, and the Army was called upon to take over. The Department of Agriculture at times shared responsibility with the Department of the Interior (which had original jurisdiction) and the Army. The national park idea seemed to be in deep trouble.

Great ideas, however, die hard. Inspired by the idea of Yellowstone, people elsewhere pressed for the creation of other national parks to protect the wonders in their sections of the country. In 1890 three national parks were established in California: General Grant (now part of Kings Canyon) to protect the General Grant Tree and other huge trees; Sequoia, including Mt. Whitney, Kern River Canyon and trees 20-30 feet thick; and Yosemite, with its beautiful valley, high cliffs, spectacular waterfalls and its giant trees.

Over the course of the next thirty years other wonder areas were brought under the protection of the national park status. These included Mt. Rainier (1899), the Platt (1902), Crater Lake (1902), Wind Cave (1903), Mesa Verde (1906), Glacier (1910), Rocky Mountain (1915), Lassen Volcanic (1916), Hawaii (1916), and Mt. McKinley (1917). Not until 1919, however, did Acadia, in southeastern Maine, Zion, in southwestern Utah, and the Grand Canyon, in northern Arizona, make the list.

By the time Grand Canyon National Park was created there was a duly constituted agency of the Federal Government to administer to administer the national parks, a clearly enunciated policy to follow, and the recognition of Congress that the agency needed funds to perform the duties with which it was charged.

The National Park Service, however, had many troubles aborning, while Grand Canyon National Park seemed at times destined not to be born at all, as chronicled elsewhere in this issue.

The idea of creating a National Park Service might not have succeeded for many years had it not been for John (“John of the Mountains”) Muir, the father of Yosemite, and Teddy Roosevelt, the father of American conservationism. Roosevelt described a visit to the wilderness of the Sierras in 1903 with Muir as “the grandest day of my life.” It was followed by more than two weeks in Yellowstone in the company of John Burroughs, the eminent naturalist.

Roosevelt brought the power of the presidency to bear and stumped for measures to provide adequate and efficient administrative controls for the natural, scenic, scientific and historical wonders of the nation. His first success came in 1906 with the enactment of Iowa Congressman John Lacey’s “Act for the Preservation of American Antiquities.” This enabled the President to establish by proclamation national monuments to protect and preserve scientific and historic landmarks on the public lands, and Roosevelt, of course, was prompt to use the power.

The Antiquities Act, however, did nothing toward alleviating the problems of administration and its financing of the national parks and monuments. The Departments of War, Agriculture and Interior still shared piecemeal jurisdiction and responsibility, and all three lacked funds and authority.

Interior, created in 1849 largely for the purpose of administering the growing riches created by the settlement and exploration of the West, seemed the logical home for a National Park Service. In 1912 President Taft began a campaign to bring such an agency into being within Interior, and his Secretary of Interior, Franklin K. Lane, helped. The authorization of a water storage reservoir and hydroelectric plant in Yellowstone’s Hetch Hetchy Valley despite the bitter opposition of such conservationists as John Muir and the Sierra Club, served national notice of the seriousness of the need. [EDITOR’S NOTE: The Hetch Hetchy Valley is actually in Yosemite National Park.]

Finally the advent of war in Europe in 1914 obviated American travel to the continent and turned the eyes of Americans to their home land. It was to this newly interested audience that Lane preached his gospel that, “If the railroads were conducted in the same manner as the national parks, no man would be brave enough to ride from Washington to Baltimore.”

It was at this juncture that Steven t. Mather came on the scene. Mather was a restless, energetic, 47-year-old alumnus of the University of California (as was Lane) who had made a fortune from his “20-Mule-Team” brand of borax. He wrote lane criticizing the manner in which the national parks were administered, and Lane replied, in effect, if you don’t like it, come to Washington and try doing it yourself.

Mather did. He proceeded on the thesis that Congress responds to public pressure. But the public was not going to press for a National Park Service until the public knew the parks and what they were all about. The public, however, couldn’t get to know the parks unless the parks were accessible by the now popular automobile and, especially, until a segment of the public sufficiently large to make itself heard in Washington knew about the parks’ plight and demanded an improvement in conditions.

Accordingly, Lane undertook — despite some serious opposition — a program of road building and promotion. He organized automobile caravans to visit the parks on guided tours and camping trips. He held conferences and seminars in various parts of the country. He enlisted the help of influential editors in his publicity efforts. He generated reams of space in national publications by taking the padlocks off automobiles.

That’s right. Padlocks! At Yosemite the visitor had to allow his automobile to be chained to giant logs and padlocked, with the key left at headquarters. At Yellowstone cars were banned from the park completely. Mather realized such practices were not only anathema to the American spirit but that they excluded from the enjoyment of the wonders all but the rugged individuals who could stand the rigors of prolonged hikes.

Mather’s efforts captured the audience he needed. Despite a plethora of political obstacles, Mather succeeded in getting a bill creating a National Park Service as an agency of the Department of the Interior introduced into Congress. An issue of the National Geographic Magazine devoted largely to the wonders of the national parks was published during the hearings, and even the tortuous mazes of Congress could no longer perpetuate the confusion. President Woodrow Wilson signed the bill into law on August 25, 1916.

It had taken more than 44 years since the creation of Yellowstone, the first national park, for the country to provide adequate means for the accomplishment of the goals for which Yellowstone and other parks and monuments were established.

Incidentally, the difference between a National Park and a National Monument is, basically, two-fold: the Congress must create a park, but a monument may be created by executive proclamation; and a park usually is a spacious area, essentially primitive or wilderness in character, with great scenic and natural wonders which require protection for their preservation for the benefit and enjoyment of all the people, while a monument is made of an area the principal attraction of which is an object of historical, prehistorical or scientific interest.

The act establishing the National Park Service directs that the Service “shall promote and regulate the use of the … national parks, monuments, and reservations … by such means and measures as conform to the fundamental purposes of the said parks … which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the same wildlife therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”

This is remarkably close to what Langford, Hedges and Washburn and company had had in mind that night in 1870 around the campfire. But neither they nor the authors of the bill could have foreseen the magnitude of the challenge their idea presented. If they had, they probably would not have been brash enough to promulgate it.

Today, more than 200 areas around the country come under the administrative supervision of the National Park Service, including national parks, monuments, memorials, and historical and military parks and sites. Each is staffed by personnel who must be among the most dedicated in the world. (If they weren’t, they’d get some less nerve-wracking employment, like steeple-jacking, deep-sea diving, or lion taming!)

A quick survey of the hats a typical ranger in the National Park Service must be prepared to wear if he expects to rise to supervisorial status is appalling. First, obviously, he must be a great outdoorsman. He must understand both wildlife and people — of which the latter is by far the more difficult. He must be prepared at a moment’s notice to switch from the role of accomplished greeter and host to that of daredevil to rescue the foolhardy or fight a blazing forest fire.

When occasion arises he must be able to shoot a marauding bear with a tranquilizing gun or to soothe with words an irate member of the public — and he must stoutly resist the temptation to use the former means on the latter. He must be lawman and hotelman, forester and restaurateur, teacher and servant, philosopher and administrator, diplomat and guide.

The ranger must have at least a smattering of a number of disciplines and real expertise in at least one or more. These include geology, zoology, botany, archaeology, anthropology, ecology, entomology, forestry, nature education, nature recreation, physical geology, wildlife management and resource conservation.

He must keep current in the thinking and techniques of the Service by undergoing periodic intensive training at the Horace M. Albright Training Center at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. And he must keep his communications skills polished by attending the Stephen T. Mather Interpretive Training and Research Center, Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.

In the course of the 53 years since the National Park Service was established many important landmarks have been brought under its aegis, and there is almost universal agreement that the Service has done a remarkable job of accomplishing the difficult assignment given it by Congress. But its greatest accomplishment has been its recruitment of the dedicated, highly educated and unbelievably patient personnel essential to fulfill the Service’s two obligations toward the areas it administers: provide for their use by the public but at the same time preserve them for future generations.

Messrs. Langford, Hedges and Washburn, along with Franklin Lane, Steve Mather and Teddy Roosevelt, no doubt are looking down on their handiwork well pleased that in today’s complex and highly commercial world the backing for the idea of the National Park Service is even stronger than it was the first night in 1870 around the campfire when twelve out of thirteen Americans enthusiastically endorsed it.

Today, thanks to their vision and dedicated effort there still are in America many places where the morning stars sing together and men can shout for joy.

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