The Railroads Understood How to Monetize the National Parks. Alfred Runte, PERC Magazine.

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Author

(Photo: English: Stagecoaches departing Northern Pacific Railway station at Gardiner, Montana — enroute to Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park, 1904

Date 1904

Source Downloaded from NPS Photo Archive: http://www.nps.gov/archive/yell/slidefile/history/1872_1918/transportation/Images/02840.jpg)

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The Railroads Understood How to Monetize the National Parks. Alfred Runte, PERC Magazine.

"...The point is that the “business basis” for establishing parks well predates Mather—and its chief practitioner was the railroads. In the fall of 1871, Cooke further pursued the Yellowstone matter with Ferdinand V. Hayden, director of the U.S. Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories. Hayden had just returned from Yellowstone and would be preparing his report to Congress. Might the report include the following recommendation, Cooke asked? “Let Congress pass a bill reserving the Great Geyser Basin forever, just as it has reserved that far inferior wonder the Yosemite valley and big trees.” Of course, there was nothing inferior about Yosemite. It was just that Cooke’s railroad would not be going there.

Naturally, Cooke wanted a park of his own, as would every railroad in the West. Preservationists then saw their opportunity. “Even the soulless Southern Pacific Railroad,” John Muir informed the Sierra Club in 1895, “never counted on for anything good,” had helped “nobly” to expand Yosemite in 1890. Muir might have also mentioned Sequoia and General Grant national parks, which had actually passed Congress the week before. There again, the railroad’s chief lobbyist in Washington, D.C., had been instrumental in making the case for protecting all three California parks...."

http://www.perc.org/articles/stephen-mathers-ghost

3 months ago
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