AUGUST 14, 1954
HYDE PARK, Friday—I have just heard that there is great pressure on the National Park Service to install a tramway on Mount Rainier. Somehow it seems a great mistake to spoil the beauty of a wonderful mountain in this way.
When the Congress wrote the act creating the National Park Service, they spelled out in that act and in subsequent laws a kind of basic philosophy in regard to these parks. The natural beauty was to be preserved as far as possible. It was to be made possible for people to camp and to have access to the beauty spots, but wildlife as a whole was to be as undisturbed as possible and was to continue in as natural an environment as these tracts of public land could provide.
If we start putting a tramway up Mt. Rainier, then build an aerial tramway, as has been suggested, from the rim of Crater Lake to the shore of the lake, and then put a chair lift in the Hidden Valley of the Rocky Mountain National Park, we will begin to make a rather strange environment for wildlife. The basic concept of the national parks will be greatly altered.
One of the things that many campers in Yosemite Park and Yellowstone Park will remember is how they learned to put their supplies out of reach of the bears that come around the back doors of a camp at night.
I well remember putting my sleeping bag out under the stars, 10,000 feet up in Yosemite Park, and then waking suddenly to the realization that something was sniffing around my feet. I tried to remember what I had been told was the proper thing to do if a bear came that close to you. And then, in the moonlight, I realized that my inquisitive visitor was the head ranger's dog!
It certainly would have destroyed my visualization of the kind of country that our forefathers had had to subdue if I had wakened in the morning to the sound of a tram car's bell and to the influx of people that would have come with it. I hope there is enough interest in this country in real preservation of the parks for the purposes for which they were originally intended to prevent these changes.
A tow rope would do quite as well as a chair lift for skiers and would be much less visible in the landscape. And half the fun of a visit to Crater Lake is the climb down from the rim to the shore and back again. It is neither hard to go down nor hard to go up. As you grow older, you may walk it more slowly but I think you could still walk it, even at my advanced age.
I wish everyone in this country would become conservation-minded. We need to preserve our natural resources, and we also need to preserve the beauties that are a part of these resources.