The Rocky Mountain Wonderland Part 13

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This one peak has on its high and broken slopes a majority of the earth's climatic zones, and a numerous array of the earth's countless kinds of plant and animal life. One may in two hours go from base to summit and pa.s.s through as many life zones as though he had traveled northward into the Arctic Circle. Going from base to summit, one would start in the Upper Sonoran Zone, pa.s.s through the Transition, Canadian, and Hudsonian Zones, and enter the Arctic-Alpine Zone. The peak has a number of places which exhibit the complexity of climatic zones. In a deep canon near Minnehaha Falls, two zones may be seen side by side on opposite sides of a deep, narrow canon. The north side of the canon, exposed to the sun, has such plants as are found in the Transition Zone, while the cool south side has an Hudsonian flora.

Here is almost an actual contact of two zones that outside the mountains are separated by approximately two thousand miles.

The varied climate of this peak makes a large appeal to bird-life.

Upward of one hundred species are found here. People from every part of the Union are here often startled by the presence of birds which they thought were far away at home. At the base the melodious meadowlark sings; along the streams on the middle slopes lives the contented water-ouzel. Upon the heights are the ptarmigan and the rosy finch. Often the golden eagle casts his shadow upon all these scenes.

The robin is here, and also the bluebird, bluer, too, than you have ever seen him. The Western evening grosbeak, a bird with attractive plumage and pleasing manners, often winters here. The brilliant lazuli bunting, the Bullock oriole, the red-shafted flicker, and the dear and dainty goldfinch are present in summer, along with mockingbirds, wrens, tanagers, thrushes, and scores of other visitants.



A few migratory species winter about the foot of the peak. In summer they fly to the upper slopes and nest and raise their young in the miniature arctic prairies of the heights. With the coming of autumn all descend by easy stages to the foot. The full distance of this vertical migration could be covered in an hour's flight. Many of the north-and-south-migrating birds travel a thousand times as far as these birds of vertical migration.

The big game which formerly ranged this peak included buffalo, deer, elk, mountain sheep, the grizzly, the black bear, the mountain lion, the fox, the coyote, and the wolf. Along the descending streams, through one vertical mile of alt.i.tude, were beaver colonies, terrace upon terrace. No one knows how many varieties of wild flowers each year bloom in all the Peak's various ragged zones, but there are probably no fewer than two thousand. Along with these are a number of species of trees. Covering the lower part of the mountain are growths of cottonwood, Douglas spruce, yellow pine, white fir, silver spruce, and the Rocky Mountain birch. Among the flowering plants are the columbine, shooting-star, monkshood, yucca or Spanish bayonet, and iris. Ascending, one finds the wintergreen, a number of varieties of polemonium, the paintbrush, the Northern gentian, the Western yarrow, and the mertensia. At timber-line, at the alt.i.tude of about eleven thousand five hundred feet, are Engelmann spruce, arctic willow, mountain birch, foxtail pine, and aspen. At timber-line, too, are the columbine, the paintbrush, and a number of species of phlox. There are no trees in the zone which drapes the uppermost two thousand feet of the summit, but in this are bright flowers,--cus.h.i.+on pinks, the spring beauty, the alpine gentian, the mountain buckwheat, the white and yellow mountain avens, the arctic harebell, the marsh-marigold, the stonecrop, and the forget-me-not. One summer I found a few flowers on the summit.

Isolation probably rendered the summit of this peak less favorable for snow-acc.u.mulation during the Ice Age than the summits of unisolated peaks of equal alt.i.tude. During the last ice epoch, however, it carried glaciers, and some of these extended down the slopes three miles or farther. These degraded the upper slopes, moved this excavated material toward the bottom, and spread it in a number of places. There are five distinct cuplike hollows or depressions in this peak that were gouged by glaciers. The one lying between Cameron's Cone and the summit is known as the "Crater." A part of this is readily seen from Colorado Springs. Far up the slopes are Lake Moraine and Seven Lakes, all of glacial origin.

The mountain ma.s.s which culminates in Pike's Peak probably originated as a vast uplift. Internal forces appear to have severed this ma.s.s from its surroundings and slowly upraised it seven thousand or more feet. The slow uprising probably ended thousands of years ago. Since that time, disintegration, frost, air, and stream erosion have combined to sculpture this great peak. Pike's Peak might well be made a National Park.

The Conservation of Scenery

The Conservation of Scenery

The comparative merits of the Alps and the Rocky Mountains for recreation purposes are frequently discussed. Roosevelt and others have spoken of the Colorado Rockies as "The Nation's Playground." This Colorado region really is one vast natural park. The area of it is three times that of the Alps. The scenery of these Colorado Rocky Mountains, though unlike that of the Alps, is equally attractive and more varied. Being almost free from snow, the entire region is easily enjoyed; a novice may scale the peaks without the ice and snow that hamper and endanger even the expert climbers in the icy Alps. The Alps wear a perpetual ice-cap down to nine thousand feet. The inhabited zone in Colorado is seven thousand feet higher than that zone in Switzerland. At ten thousand feet and even higher, in Colorado, one finds railroads, wagon-roads, and hotels. In Switzerland there are but few hotels above five thousand feet, and most people live below the three-thousand-foot mark. Timber-line in Colorado is five thousand feet farther up the heights than in Switzerland. The Centennial State offers a more numerous and attractive array of wild flowers, birds, animals, and mineral springs than the land of William Tell. The Rocky Mountain sheep is as interesting and audacious as the chamois; the fair phlox dares greater heights than the famed edelweiss. The climate of the Rocky Mountains is more cheerful than that of the Alps; there are more sunny days, and while the skies are as blue as in Switzerland, the air is drier and more energizing.

[Ill.u.s.tration: THE CONTINENTAL DIVIDE NEAR ESTES PARK]

But the attractions in the Alps are being preserved, while the Rocky Mountains are being stripped of their scenery. Yet in the Rocky Mountains there are many areas rich in perishable attractions which might well be reserved as parks so that their natural beauties could be kept unmarred. It is to be hoped that the growing interest in American scenery will bring this about before these wild mountain gardens are shorn of their loveliness.[1]

[1] Since this was put into type, the Rocky Mountain National Park, after a campaign of six years, has been established, and campaigns have started to make National Parks of Mount Evans and Pike's Peak. And the Secretary of the Interior has appointed a Superintendent of National Parks and called attention to the great need of legislation for these Parks.

The United States is behind most nations in making profitable use of scenery. Alpine scenery annually produces upward of ten thousand dollars to the square mile, while the Rocky Mountains are being despoiled by cattle and sawmills for a few dollars a square mile.

Though Switzerland has already accomplished much along scenic conservation lines, it is working for still better results. It is constructing modern hotels throughout the Alps and is exploiting the winter as well as the summer use of these. The Canadian Government has done and is doing extensive development work in its national parks. It is preparing a welcome for mult.i.tudes of travelers; travelers are responding in numbers.

The unfortunate fact is that our scenery has never had a standing. To date, it has been an outcast. Often lauded as akin to the fine arts, or something sacred, commonly it is destroyed or put to base uses.

Parks should no longer be used as pigpens and pastures. These base uses prevent the parks from paying dividends in humanity.

There is in this country a splendid array of Nature's masterpieces to lure and reward the traveler. In mountain-peaks there are Grand Teton, Long's Peak, Mt. Whitney, and Mt. Rainier; in canons, the vast Grand Canon and the brilliantly colored Yellowstone; in trees, the unrivaled sequoias and many matchless primeval forests; in rivers, few on earth are enriched with scenes equal to those between which rolls the Columbia; in petrified forests, those in Arizona and the Yellowstone are unsurpa.s.sed; in natural bridges, those in Utah easily arch above the other great ones of the earth; in desert attractions, Death Valley offers a rare display of colors, strangeness, silences, and mirages; in waterfalls, we have Niagara, Yellowstone, and Yosemite; in glaciers, there are those of the Glacier and Mount Rainier National Parks and of Alaska; in medicinal springs, there is an array of flowing, life-extending fountains; in wild flowers, the mountain wild flowers in the West are lovely with the loveliest anywhere; in wild animals of interest and influence, we have the grizzly bear, the beaver, and the mountain sheep; in bird music, that which is sung by the thrushes, the canon wren, and the solitaire silences with melodious sweetness the other best bird-songs of the earth. In these varied attractions of our many natural parks we have ample playgrounds for all the world and the opportunity for a travel industry many times as productive as our gold and silver mines--and more lasting, too, than they. When these scenes are ready for the traveler we shall not need to nag Americans to see America first; and Europeans, too, might start a continuous procession to these wonderlands.

In the nature of things, the United States should have a travel industry of vast economic importance. The people of the United States are great travelers, and we have numerous and extensive scenic areas of unexcelled attractiveness, together with many of the world's greatest natural wonders and wonderlands which every one wants to see.

All these scenes, too, repose in a climate that is hospitable and refres.h.i.+ng. They should attract travelers from abroad as well as our own people. The traveler brings ideas as well as gold. He comes with the ideals of other lands and helps promote international friends.h.i.+p.

Then, too, he is an excellent counter-irritant to prevent that self-satisfied att.i.tude, that deadening provincialism, which always seems to afflict successful people. Develop our parks by making them ready for the traveler, and they will become continuously productive, both commercially and spiritually.

Our established scenic reservations, or those which may be hereafter set aside, are destined to become the basis of our large scenic industry. The present reservations embrace fourteen National Parks and twenty-eight National Monuments. Each Park and Monument was reserved because of its scenic wonders, to be a recreation place for the people. The name Monument might well be changed to Park. The Monuments were set aside by executive orders of the President; the Parks were created by acts of Congress. Each Park or Monument is a wonderland in itself. All these together contain some of the strangest, sublimest scenes on the globe. Each reservation is different from every other, and in all of them a traveler could spend a lifetime without exhausting their wonders.

I suppose that in order to lead Americans to see America first, or to see it at all, and also to win travel from Europe, it is absolutely necessary to get America ready for the traveler. Only a small part of American scenery is ready for the traveler. The traveler's ultimatum contains four main propositions. These are grand scenery, excellent climate, good entertainment, and swift, comfortable transportation.

When all of these demands are supplied with a generous horn of plenty, then, but not until then, will mult.i.tudes travel in America.

Parks now have a large and important place in the general welfare, and the nation that neglects its parks will suffer a general decline. The people of the United States greatly need more parks, and these are needed at once. I do not know of any city that has park room extensive enough to refresh its own inhabitants. Is there a State in the Union that has developed park areas that are large enough for the people of the State? With present development, our National Parks cannot entertain one fifth of the number of Americans who annually go abroad.

As a matter of fact, the entertainment facilities in our National Parks are already doing a capacity business. How, then, can our Parks be seen by additional travelers?

For a travel industry, the present needs in America are for cities at once to acquire and develop into parks all near-by scenery; for each State to develop its best scenic places as State Parks; and for the nation to make a number of new National Parks and at once make these scenic reservations ready for the traveler. Systems of good roads and trails are necessary. In addition to these, the Parks, Monuments, and Reservations need the whole and special attention of a department of their own.

A park requires eternal vigilance. The better half of our scenic attractions are the perishable ones. The forests and the flowers, the birds and the animals, the luxuriant growths in the primeval wild gardens, are the poetry, the inspiration, of outdoors. Without these, how dead and desolate the mountain, the meadow, and the lake! If a park is to be kept permanently productive, its alluring features must be maintained. If the beaver ceases to build his picturesque home, if the deer vanishes, if the mountain sheep no longer poses on the crags, if the columbine no longer opens its "bannered" bosom to the sun, if the solitaire no longer sings,--without these poetic and primeval charms, marred nature will not attract nor refresh. People often feel the call of the wild, and they want the wild world beautiful. They need the temples of the G.o.ds, the forest primeval, and the pure and flower-fringed brooks.

It would be well to save at once in parks and reservations the better of all remaining unspoiled scenic sections of the country,--the lake-sh.o.r.es and the seash.o.r.e, the stream-side, the forests primeval, and the Rocky Mountains. There is a great and ragged scenic border of varying width that extends entirely around the United States. This includes the Great Lake region and the splendid Olympic Mountains at the northwest corner of the country. Inside of this border are other localities richly dowered with natural beauty and dowered, too, with hospitable climate. The Rocky Mountain region is one splendid recreation-ground. There are many beauty-spots in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri and Arkansas, and there are scenic regions in New York, Pennsylvania, and western North Carolina, and the State of Idaho embraces many scenic empires. These contain scores of park areas that will early be needed.

[Ill.u.s.tration: LONG'S PEAK FROM LOCH VALE]

Every park is a place of refuge, a place wherein wild life thrives and multiplies. As hunters are perpetually excluded from all parks, these places will thus become sanctuaries for our vanis.h.i.+ng wild life. All wild life quickly loses its fear and allows itself to be readily seen in protected localities. Wild life in parks thus affords enjoyment by being readily seen, and from now on this life will become a factor in education. Children who go into parks will be pleasantly compelled to observe, delightfully incited to think, and will thus become alert and interested,--will have the very foundation of education. Perhaps it is safe to predict that from now on the tendency will be to multiply the number of parks and decrease the number of zoological gardens.

Scenic places, if used for parks, will pay larger returns than by any other use that can be made of their territory. Parks, then, are not a luxury but a profitable investment. Switzerland is supporting about half of her population through the use of her mountain scenery for recreation purposes. Although parks pay large dividends, they also have a higher, n.o.bler use. They help make better men and women.

Outdoor life is educational. It develops the seeing eye, supplies information, gives material for reflection, and compels thinking, which is one of the greatest of accomplishments. Exercise in the pure air of parks means health, which is the greatest of personal resources, and this in turn makes for efficiency, kindness, hopefulness, and high ideals. Recreation in parks tends to prevent wasted life by preventing disease and wrong-doing. The conservation of scenery, the use of scenic places for public recreation parks, is conservation in the highest sense, for parks make the best economic use of the territory and they also pay large dividends in humanity.

The travel industry is a large and direct contributor to many industries and their laborers. It helps the railroads, automobile-makers, hotels, guides, and the manufacturers of the clothing, books, souvenirs, and other articles purchased by travelers.

Perhaps the farmer is the one most benefited; he furnishes the beef, fruit, b.u.t.ter, chickens, and in fact all the food consumed by the traveling mult.i.tude. A large travel industry means enlarging the home market to gigantic proportions.

The courts have recently expressed definite and advanced views concerning scenic beauty. In Colorado, where water has a high economic value, a United States Circuit Court recently decided that the beneficial use of a stream was not necessarily an agricultural, industrial, or commercial use, and that, as a part of the scenery, it was being beneficially used for the general welfare. The question was whether the waters of a stream, which in the way of a lakelet and a waterfall were among the attractions of a summer resort, could be diverted to the detriment of the falls and used for power. The judge said "No," because the waters as used, were contributing toward the promotion of the public health, rest, and recreation; and that as an object of beauty--"just to be looked at"--they were not running to waste but were in beneficial use. He held that objects of beauty have an important place in our lives and that these objects should not be destroyed because they are without a.s.sessable value. The judge, Robert E. Lewis, said in part:--

"It is a beneficial use to the weary that they, ailing and feeble, can have the wild beauties of Nature placed at their convenient disposal.

Is a piece of canvas valuable only for a tentfly, but worthless as a painting? Is a block of stone beneficially used when put into the walls of a dam, and not beneficially used when carved into a piece of statuary? Is the test dollars, or has beauty of scenery, rest, recreation, health and enjoyment something to do with it? Is there no beneficial use except that which is purely commercial?" This decision is epoch-marking.

Taken as a whole, our National Parks and Monuments and our unreserved scenic places may be described as an undeveloped scenic resource of enormous potential value. These places should be developed as parks and their resources used exclusively for recreation purposes. Thus used, they would help all interests and reach all people. South America, Switzerland, Canada, and other countries are making intensified and splendid use of their parks by reserving that wild scenic beauty which appeals to all the world.

Parks are dedicated to the highest uses. They are worthy of our greatest attentions. It is of utmost importance that the management of Forest Reserves and the National Parks be separate. In 1897 the National Academy of Sciences in submitting a plan for the management of the Forest Reserves recommended that places specially scenic be separated from the Forest Reserves and set aside as Parks and given the separate and special administration which parks need. If scenery is to be saved, it must be saved for its own sake, on its own merits; it cannot be saved as something incidental.

Mult.i.tudes will annually visit these places, provided they be developed as parks and used for people and for nothing else. Grazing, lumbering, shooting, and other commercial, conflicting, and disfiguring uses should be rigidly prohibited. Scenery, like beauty, has superior merit, and its supreme use is by people for rest and recreation purposes.

Switzerland after long experience is establis.h.i.+ng National Parks and giving these a separate and distinct management from her forest reserves. For a time Canadian National Parks were managed by the Forest Service. Recently, however, the parks were withdrawn from the Forest Service and placed in a Park Department. This was a most beneficial change. Forestry is commercial, radically utilitarian. The forester is a man with an axe. Trees to the forester mean what cattle do to the butcher. Lumber is his product and to recite "Woodman, Spare that Tree!" to a forester would be like asking the butcher to spare the ox. The forester is a scientific slaughterer of the forest; he must keep trees falling in order to supply lumber. A forester is not concerned with the conservation of scenery. Then, too, a forester builds his roads to facilitate logging and lumbering. The Park man builds roads that are scenic highways, places for people.

We need the forest reserve, and we need the National Park. Each of these serves in a distinct way, and it is of utmost importance that each be in charge of its specialist. The forester is always the lumberman, the park man is a practical poet; the forester thinks ever of lumber, the park man always of landscapes. The forester must cut trees before they are over-ripe or his crop will waste, while the park man wants the groves to become aged and picturesque. The forester pastures cattle in his meadows, while the park man has only people and romping children among his wild flowers. The park needs the charm of primeval nature, and should be free from ugliness, artificiality, and commercialism. For the perpetuation of scenery, a landscape artist is absolutely necessary. It would be folly to put a park man in charge of a forest reserve, a lumbering proposition. On the other hand, what a blunder to put a tree-cutting forester in charge of a park! We need both these men; each is important in his place; but it would be a double misfortune to put one in charge of the work of the other. A National Park service is greatly needed.

Apparently William Penn was the first to honor our scenery, and Bryant, with poetry, won a literary standing for it. Official recognition came later, but the establishment of the Yellowstone National Park was a great incident in the scenic history of America--and in that of the world. For the first time, a scenic wonderland was dedicated as "a public park or pleasure ground for the benefit and enjoyment of all the people." The Yellowstone stands a high tribute to the statesmans.h.i.+p, the public spirit, and the energy of F. V. Hayden and the few men who won it for us.

During the last few years the nation, as well as the courts, has put itself on record concerning the higher worth of scenery. The White House conference of governors recommended that "the beauty ... of our country should be preserved and increased"; and the first National Conservation Commission thought that "public lands more valuable for conserving ... natural beauties and wonders than for agriculture should be held for the use of the people."

The travel industry benefits both parties,--the entertained as well as the entertainer. Investments in outdoor vacations give large returns; from an outing one returns with life lengthened, in livelier spirits, more efficient, with new ideas and a broader outlook, and more hopeful and kind. Hence parks and outdoor recreation places are mighty factors for the general welfare; they a.s.sist in making better men and women. A park offers the first aid and often the only cure for the sick and the overworked. Looking upon our sublime scenes arouses a love for our native land and promotes a fellow feeling. Nature is more democratic even than death; and when people mingle amid primeval scenes they become fraternal. Saving our best scenes is the saving of manhood.

These places encourage every one to do his best and help all to live comfortably in a beautiful world. Scenery is our n.o.blest resource. No nation has ever fallen from having too much scenery.

The Rocky Mountain National Park

The Rocky Mountain Wonderland Part 13

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The Rocky Mountain Wonderland Part 13 summary

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