Tuesday, August 25, 2015

100th Anniversary of the National Parks

President Theodore Roosevelt went West and wanted to preserve what he saw. Maybe seeing how the Niagara Falls in New York had been exploited. He wanted to preserve nature. Keep it unchanged.

So on the 100th anniversary of the National Parks I think of Edward Abbey who wrote Desert Solitaire about working at the Arches National Park and how happy he felt that few people came to visit. Let nature stay the way it is. Abbey thought the National Park Service should preserve and that meant fewer people. Dirt roads, two-lane roads, no electricity, just let things be the way they are.

Colorado view from I-25 of  E. Spanish Peak by JGDomke

Texas scene at Enchanted Rock near Fredericksburg, TX by JG Domke
There are lots of other great views, so why bring people to the National Parks, make roads, pave trails, restrooms, and trash. Shouldn't they be closed off instead and preserved?

With the coming 100th anniversary in 2016, CBS highlighted federal parks with a profile on a Colorado photographer, John Fielder, who came out with a collection of photos duplicating scenes taken in in the 19th century by W. H. Jackson.
Having been raised in Colorado I took the Rockies for granted. I liked camping, but saw the damage mining had done and was outraged by the growing cloud of pollution rising over Denver. 

Agreeing with James Michener in his Centenial novel in 1976 concluded that Colorado had too little water, so the state needed to limit their population.

Colorado is a nice place to visit, but there is more water in Texas and I moved out of Colorado to save it.

Growing up in Colorado made me love the west, nature and be an environmentalist. I remember driving around Leadville, Colo., in the Fifties and seeing all the abandon mining equipment. The dredge sitting in the creek where they had crushed all the rocks looking for gold. It was an industrial construction site. NOT BEAUTIFUL. 

Returning today it is amazing how they have restored, the stream, Landscaped it to look natural. Thanks to tourists and skiers. They removed the rotting mining equipment. I was amazed how Colorado is focused on restricting the size of buildings, limiting their size and trying to keep the 100 year old shops that are now gift shops and boutiques. 

Too bad in Texas that the boom towns for drilling haven't become tourist locations. Chico the birthplace of the Hilton hotel chain, seems like a ghost town with huge buildings sitting empty. An early Hilton hotel in Marlin, Texas, was where Texans vacationed in the Twenties and Thirties. They came for the spring water. Business tried to profit from it. Today, nobody even knows it exists. They go to Colorado.
Leadville? No Thurber Texas
It was a rush for gold and silver in Colorado, but in Texas it was cattle and oil. Thurber alongside I-20 has a museum telling how it was the largest town west of Fort Worth and the first to have electric lights, an Opera House, etc. But it was a company town and the union shut it down. They wee making more money from oil in Ranger, it was cheaper not to give in to the union and close the coal mine down, and shut down the brick factory. Roads didn't need to be paved in brick. 

Old mining towns in Colorado now offer boutique beer, gourmet restaurants, craftsmen, and artist boutiques, along with great scenery. Do we thank National Parks?

All photos by J.G. Domke, photojournalist, covering life in America. www.jimdomke.com