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Unknown Cache Of Letters Mailed To A Ghost Town May Rewrite History Of Big Bend National Park

Dec 26th - 11:04am | Randy Wilson

Hey Jason, my name is Randy Wilson and i graduated from Sul Ross State, located in Alpine, Tx, gateway to big bend. It was truly the best 4 years of my life. I now live in Raleigh, would love to read over your letters. you can drop by Sharky's Place, 5800 Duraleigh Rd. a sports bar that I own, or call me there at 919.783.5448 and leave a message. This is awesome stuff. rw

Dec 26th - 10:35am | David Marshall

Your comment on the "differing views and objectives, which translate into political intrigue" is what I gather from this article.  Well said.

Dec 25th - 23:28pm | Richard Wilkes

I have been to the Dorgan ruins in Castolon several times over the years.  It has been awhile but I don't remember reading about this at the historic site.  Seems like Dorgan was an active fellow.  I believe the post office is still there.

Dec 24th - 17:50pm | Doug Hay

When volunteering with BIBE interpretation in the late '90s, I.wrote a program and gave local history tours of the area between Castolon and Terlingua Abaja, which included the Dorgan homestead ruins. The comments of AW are absolutely correct.

Dec 24th - 17:40pm | James P.

I read the website.  It reminds me a lot of the Elephant Butte irrigation district scandal in New Mexico.  Fascinating stuff.

Dec 22nd - 13:24pm | Hammer

We think you know more than you may admit about this so-called conspiracy, Mr. Maxwell.

Dec 22nd - 13:05pm | Allan Maxwell

i can't wait to read the book!!!

Dec 21st - 21:50pm | J Angel

I would definitely be interested in learning more about the conspiracy part of the story.  Does the National Park Service know about this find?  

Dec 21st - 13:28pm | Jason Abrams

Can you recommend any books by any of these presses that reference this material?  Aside from the Jameson work, none of this is in print.  All of this is known (lol).  Thanks, Jason.

Dec 21st - 11:29am | AW

None of this is a secret, and no one with any knowledge of area history would call Dorgan a "farmer." He was a real estate developer who was well-known for multiple attempts to create a Disneyland-style theme park at Castolon-Santa Elena. Everything except perhaps the dirigible is already documented in various books currently available from UT Press, TAMU Press, and Texas Tech press.

Three Days At Virgin Islands National Park

Dec 24th - 22:04pm | Steve Nelson

It's a tough job, but somebody's gotta do it.

Record Visitation Strained Some National Parks This Year, Creating Concern Over What 2016 Might Bring

Dec 24th - 18:57pm | raybane

Alfred Runte's post made me recall my first full-time job with the NPS as an environmental planner.  I worked under the direction of John Kauffmann, chief planner for what was them the proposed Gates of the Arctic National Park in the central Brooks Range.  John proposed setting up a reservation system for visitors who wished to experience true wilderness in the park.

Dec 24th - 10:46am | Michael Kim

As an Arizona resident & landscape photographer, I have found the solution is to abandon going to national parks & go to national monuments & national forests instead. More breathing room, less stress, less-crowded trails, less-photographed landscapes. John Muir's suggestion for the national parks was to make them car-free & road-free zones.

Dec 23rd - 09:07am | Bernard Katz

Unfortunately, the parks in the past were thumping the drum for more visitors. More visitors seemed to mean the parks would be proving their worth. Numbers counted because it is virtually impossible to quantify the quality of a visit. Will Success Spoil the Parks? Apparently some thought is now being given to that.

Dec 22nd - 23:20pm | Richard Jones

At the conclusion of this very interesting article the writer notes some parks have seen declines in their visitation this year.  Perhaps it would help to reduce overcrowding if a list of these NPS units could be provided in a follow-up article.

Dec 21st - 13:53pm | Alfred Runte

It used to be the statistic (and probably still is) that 97% of visitors go no more thn 100 yards from their cars. Take a walk and you become the 3 percent, and suddenly every park is wilderness. The problem is: We all want to see the principal attactions, too. For that, public transportation will become the only answer, since the car demands too much.

Dec 21st - 11:08am | raybane

Often it is not the park as a whole that is overwhelmed by growing visitation but rather relatively small areas of the park where visitors congregate.  Obviously, Old Faithful in Yellowstone and the Bright Angel Trail in Grand Canyon get heavy use pressures.  The same is true even of some of the less accessable parks such as Katmai and Denali in Alaska.

Dec 20th - 12:01pm | Acadia on my mind

In Acadia National Park, it hasn't been only the increased cruise ship traffic that has added to the 2.7 million visitors in 2015, the most since 1997.

Dec 19th - 16:23pm | Steve Nelson

Speaking as someone who rides light rail 5 days a week, I don't think we will ever have the overhead wires, street cars and car barns/railyards like we see in big cities, and you would need each of those things in any system in a national park.

Dec 19th - 14:28pm | Alfred Runte

But Steve, There is already heavy rail at Grand Canyon--restored after an absence of 21 years (1968-1989). A light-rail system connected to that would be a breeze. Instead, we get swath after swath of new asphalt. Why? Because that is what Industrial Tourism wants. At the same time, government lectures us about CO2 and a carbon-neutral existence.

UPDATED: While Some Rangers Head To Greener Pastures, Their Horses Aren’t So Lucky

Dec 24th - 18:04pm | Joyce Eikenberry

It was once the same with military dogs:  they were "excess equipment" and were abandoned among the enemy.  In this case, the kill buyers are the enemy. 

Dec 24th - 09:44am | Barbara Moritsch

It has come to my attention that Yosemite National Park does have a retirement plan in place for equines.  I hope that YOSE's plan can be used as a starting point (and strengthened, if necessary) for a national policy that is applicable to all NPS units.

Dec 24th - 08:03am | Kurt Repanshek

Here's a photo of one horse, "Fern," with its NPS brand showing. It was taken at a feedlot.

Dec 24th - 07:29am | JD - Pendergrass GA

Words are cheap and easy. It's actions that are hard and make the dfference What will you do to make a change? Write your congressman, get a sponsor for a bill, contact horsewear/equipment manufacturers, QH congress and Breed associations to band together to facilitate change. It's not only NPS but th eslaughter industry itself is a problem.

Dec 24th - 00:56am | Susan Humphrey

What sort of brand or tatoo does a NPS horse have that identifies them as having been in the serivice of the NPS? I can see the black horse in the phot has a BLM brand, but don't see and have never heard of a NPS horse being branded or identified as such. 

Dec 24th - 00:27am | Becky

So sad, the same thing happens to horses at kids camps every fall. They get rid of them at auctions, and the next spring they replace them with new horses. I guess these horses are considered disposable, instead of paying for winter upkeep, it's cheaper and easier to dump them like a piece of trash.  

Dec 23rd - 19:42pm | Deborah

It's about time people should step up and make sure that these animals are well taken care of instead of being slaughtered by these monstrous persons.  Don't I humans have a heart and soul not to make them suffer these atrocities.

Dec 23rd - 19:28pm | sueb

If you want people to respect the parks than the NPS needs to respect them to and that means the animals that are in  these parks  there is no reason for this to be going on maybe it time for different people to start running these parks in a respectful manner  I am truely ashamed of the NPS I thought you were better than that  let make 2016 a wonderful  year for all li

Dec 23rd - 17:52pm | Rick B.

This is indeed sad. I'd been told, anecdotally, that the NPS horses and mules were retired and that there were people waiting to adopt them. Similar to retired military and police working dogs, I woiuld like to think that our NPS working horses and mules were taken care of.

Dec 23rd - 14:39pm | Ann foreman

I believe all animals should find a loving home and if not they should be put to a painless end and that's not the way the kilt pins are

“Pop-Up” National Park And NPS Centennial Set For 2016 Rose Parade

Dec 24th - 09:43am | David Crowl

Thanks for the heads up on the Parade. I will set the DVR. I look forward to your follow up story, with pictures, after the Parade.

Photography In The National Parks: Your Armchair Guide To Mesa Verde National Park

Dec 23rd - 06:33am | Clay Palmer

Why did the peoples here live in the cliiffs and not on the mesa'a. Seems like it was harder to build and get to so many of the dwellings tucked into the cliffs?

Dec 22nd - 13:19pm | Mike Painter

Wonderful pictures, as always, Rebecca! Thanks.

Moose-Wilson Road Corridor Carrying Capacity: 550 People

Dec 22nd - 20:12pm | Fred Swanson

 Dr. Runte's earlier comment cited Joseph Wood Krutch, which put me in mind of another quotation from that fine writer: "What our national parks and forests really need are not more good roads but more bad roads. . . . There's nothing like a good bad dirt road to screen out the faintly interested and invite in the genuinely interested."

Dec 22nd - 11:19am | Alfred Runte

An excellent post, Fred. Once again, history proves to be the teacher. On these pages a few weeks ago, I was observed to be overly supportive of railroads, which were developers, too, my critics claimed. Consistently, history proves the biggest developer to be the National Park Service itself. Look at all of the books written by Frome, Lien, Runte, et al.

Dec 22nd - 09:02am | Fred Swanson


Dec 22nd - 08:31am | ecbuck

Political pressure to turn the Moose- Wilson Road into a turnpike has been terrific for a long time.  

Dec 21st - 21:41pm | Lee Dalton

Ed Abbey had it right when he opined that the Park Service never has enough money to find good solutions for problems, but always has money for more asphalt.

Dec 21st - 14:22pm | Alfred Runte

"Through better designed parking areas, paving an unpaved section of the road, designated pullouts, and reduced speed limits park officials believe the current peak capacity of 550 people in the corridor can be handled without impacting the resources in the area."

Dec 21st - 10:47am | Gila Monster

More (paved) roads usually create more traffic, better designed (=bigger?) parking areas do the same - while speed limits are mostly ignored. Sounds like a bad plan for me.

Dec 21st - 09:17am | ecbuck

Yup.  But there's a big difference between use and ABuse. Agreed.  Use does not equal abuse  the environmental motto is "Multiply, multiply and pillage the earth." Really, can you show us where that motto is published and who created it?

Dec 21st - 08:50am | Lee Dalton

Yup.  But there's a big difference between use and ABuse. In Utah -- and several other western states -- the environmental motto is "Multiply, multiply and pillage the earth." This is a step toward helping to at least slow that goal a bit.

Dec 21st - 08:38am | ecbuck

 After all, aren't humans here to USE the earth? Yep, and as this example shows, with a little ingenuity and planning it can be done "without impacting the resources in the area."  Shutting down access isn't the only alternative.  

Dec 20th - 20:42pm | Lee Dalton

This kind of idea sounds encouraging.  I hope it passes muster and sets an example for other parks. The idea of "carrying capacity" is a new concept to many Americans and the idea that there might actually be a limit based upon HUMAN carrying capacity may be an especially shocking idea to some.  After all, aren't humans here to USE the earth?

Grand Canyon's El Tovar Hotel To Close For Three-And-A-Half Months In 2017

Dec 22nd - 12:54pm | Kurt Repanshek

Good catch, Bruce. Now that we've corrected that, we'll get back to improving our math skills.

Dec 22nd - 12:43pm | Bruce Brossman

Actually only 3.5 months, not 4.5 months. We look forward to reopening with a refreshed and improved El Tovar April 14, 2017.

Running With The Bighorn Sheep In Yosemite National Park

Dec 20th - 17:29pm | Amber Kemble

i hope to see a sheep in Yosemite in my lifetime!  Great effort at correcting the mistakes from many years ago.  

"Martin's Boat," A Film By Pete McBride

Dec 20th - 14:46pm | Connie Flateboe

A Great Man.

Grizzly Bear Shot and Killed By Hikers In Denali National Park and Preserve

Dec 19th - 19:18pm | Gordon

If you are carring a firearm while hiking then hopefully you have experience with it. What goes along with that is the hope that you can make a judgement as to if you or your partner have in a very short blink of the eye been able to consider if this bear is going to keep charging and do you harm or will stop, turn, and walk away.

Mount Rainier National Park Ready For Winter Operations

Dec 19th - 02:16am | Rob

Doesn't sound too inviting, was hoping to stop in 12 /19 but maybe the Olympics?  

National Parks Traveler's Essential Park Guide

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