Saturday, August 30, 2008

Tonto National Monument

My first assignment as an administrative assistant was at Tonto National Monument in central Arizona. Tonto was set aside to preserve the ruins of the Indian cliff dwellings found there.

There was a "huge" staff at Tonto: the Superintendent, Park Ranger, Maintenance man, and myself. But we also hired a couple of seasonal employees in the summer.

During the year I worked there, a new visitor center was built (see picture above), and we had a brush fire started by a thunderstorm that burned off almost half of the monument acreage. When the fire was out, I was sent up in a helicopter (first time and scared to death) to take record photographs of the burned areas. The black and white photo in this group of the upper ruins was taken on that airborne journey. I was using a 4 x5 Speed Graflex camera.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

So Long to Carlsbad Caverns

Moving On!

Once again, it became time for a change. At Carlsbad, I realized I really wasn't cut out for "ranger" work particularly the police aspect. And this was in the days well before rangers had to carry guns and to attend special Federal Law Enforcement Training schools to do their jobs.

But while I was at Carlsbad, I learned that each park had an Administrative Officer position responsible for personnel, procurement, the park finances, property management, park housing, and other fun stuff. He/she also sat at the right hand of god - The Park Superintendent -- and as such was a principle adviser.

So, I took the Federal Entrance Exam again, and this time I passed! As a result, lo and behold, an offer came along asking if I wanted to transfer to Tonto National Monument in Arizona as the Administrative Assistant (officer). The answer of "yes" is now part of history as I remained an administrative officer living in eight different parks for the remainder of my 30 year career in the National Park Service.

Please enjoy some final black and white Cavern photographs.

The Guides at Carlsbad Caverns - 1963

What a group! (This photo was taken a few months after I left to my next assignment). Some of these people went on to full Park Service careers while others went off into other "endeavors".

Bob Kaune (far right in the middle row) left the NPS after a several years, and started his own business selling antique tools. With the arrival of digital cameras, he took up fine art photography as well (See Websites and Blogs section on left hand side of this page).

Bob Barbee (second from the right in the top row) went on to spend his entire career in the National Park Service, and ultimately retired from the position of the NPS Alaska Regional Director.

The three ladies pictured were local town of Carlsbad folks who stayed in the NPS but choose to remain guides at the Caverns. Also pictured is Harry During, the Park Superintendent at the time (second from the left in the front row).

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Photography at Carlsbad Caverns

Back in the "good" old days of film, cave photography was a challenge. The rooms in Carlsbad are so hugh that a flash was useless.

For color photography, you had to use a special film made to produce the correct colors when shot in artificial light. If I recall correctly, even that film had a problem with long exposures. But here are a couple of color photos taken up close with a flashgun.

Primarily I took photographs with black and white film with the camera mounted on a tripod using the artificial lights installed to illuminate the Caverns for the park visitors. Guides were able to go into the Caverns after tour hours, so long exposures were possible.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

I worked at Carlsbad for a year, and figured I walked 1,500 miles on tours of the cave. Guides had other duties as well such as parking lot control, information desk person, and of all things, digging out irrigation ditches on land owned by the park as part of a water rights dispute (I wonder if that issue was ever settled).

Note: I scanned these photographs from old black and white prints which I took of these formations while I was working at the park.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The National Park Service

While living and working in Yosemite, I decided I wasn't cut out for the hotel business (who likes working a 60 hour work week -- not me), but I realized there was another group of people who lived in the park who worked for the National Park Service. By then, I was also taken with the whole idea of National Parks and all the reasons to preserve and protect them. I could become a Park Ranger!

So, in 1958, I took the Federal Service Entrance Exam and flunked. (Even if I had passed, there were very few openings available, and they were being filled by veterans who receive preference in the Federal hiring system.) However, I soon discovered there was a "back door" to getting into the NPS -- start as a Park Guide at Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico. So, I then took what amounted to a minor in geology at SF State to help me qualify for a guide position.

It wasn't until the spring of 1962 before the guide test was even given, but hurrah, I passed this time (actually a really easy test). And by then, I was known by certain NPS people in Yosemite who recommended me for employment, so much to my delight and happiness, I received my first National Park Service position at Carlsbad, and reported there on June 10, 1962.