Rulers of our National Parks
12" Wooden Ruler made in U.S.A. of American-grown basswood.
We took a slightly different approach when putting this ruler together, and the result is an extremely interesting list! Instead of starting with a list of people that we wanted to consider, we chose to start with the National Parks that we wanted to highlight, and then found people who were significantly affiliated with that park.
For example, it was Ferdinand Hayden’s geological survey of 1871 that was instrumental in convincing Congress to establish Yellowstone as the first National Park in the following year. James Longmire built a hotel on the slopes of Mount Rainier in Washington. His property became part of the National Park when it was established in 1899. Journalist William Gladstone Steele campaigned for 17 years to have Oregon’s Crater Lake designated a National Park. He succeeded in 1902. Harvard-educated anthropologist Jesse Walter Fewkes’ work for the Smithsonian Institution included the 1907-8 excavation and repair of major sites at the newly-established Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado.
Certainly the best-known American preservationist was Scottish-born John Muir, co-founder of the Sierra Club, who lived in a cabin at Yosemite in California for three years. The so-called Father of American Conservation and student of Native-American life George Bird Grinnell, among many other things worked on legislation to preserve the American bison.
Extraordinary photographer Ansel Adams is better-known for his work at Yosemite, but in 1936, commissioned by the National Park Service, he photographed King’s Canyon in California when the park was being proposed.
African-Americans on the ruler include Army colonel Charles Young, who as superintendent of California’s Sequoia National Park greatly improved the roads and infrastructure, allowing more visitors to the park. Stephen Bishop was enslaved by the Kentucky owner of Mammoth Cave. In 1838 he became one of the site’s lead explorers and guides, and drew the first map of the cave.
Women on the ruler include Marjory Stoneman Douglas, whose name you might recognize from the Parkland, Florida high school named after her. She was a journalist who staunchly defended the Everglades against efforts to drain it and reclaim land for development. Minerva Hoyt worked throughout the 1930’s to create additional National Parks in California. Joshua Tree became a National Monument in 1936, and a National Park in 1994. Margaret Thomas “Mardy” Murie helped pass the 1964 Wilderness Act and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998.
The dates listed are the year in which each National Park was established, and the order of entries is by that year.
The “head” image is that of president Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, often called the conservationist president, who during his presidency created the United States Forest Service and established 5 National Parks, 18 National Monuments, 150 National Forests, the first 51 federal bird reserves, and 4 national game preserves.
If you like this ruler, you might also be interested in United States Rulers, Native American Rulers, or Rulers and Patriots.