On This Day, Aug. 25, 1916 – Congress Establishes the National Park Service


1916 – The National Park Service was established as part of the Department of the Interior.

By 1916, the Interior Department was responsible for 14 national parks and 21 national monuments but had no organization to manage them. Interior secretaries had asked the Army to detail troops to Yellowstone and the California parks for this purpose. Three military engineers and cavalrymen developed park roads and buildings, enforced regulations against hunting, grazing, timber cutting, and vandalism, and did their best to serve the visiting public. Civilian appointees superintended the other parks, while the monuments received minimal custody.

Hetch Hetchy highlighted the institutional weakness of the park movement. While utilitarian conservation had become well represented in government by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Forest and Reclamation services, no comparable bureau spoke for park preservation in Washington.

Crusading for a national parks bureau, Chicago businessman Stephen T. Mather and Horace M. Albright effectively blurred the distinction between utilitarian conservation and preservation by emphasizing the economic value of parks as tourist meccas. A vigorous public relations campaign led to supportive articles in National Geographic, The Saturday Evening Post, and other popular magazines. Mather hired his own publicist and obtained funds from 17 western railroads to produce The National Parks Portfolio, a lavishly illustrated publication sent to congressmen and other influential citizens.

Congress responded as desired, and on August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson approved legislation creating the National Park Service within the Interior Department. The act made the bureau responsible for Interior’s national parks and monuments, Hot Springs Reservation in Arkansas (made a national park in 1921), and “such other national parks and reservations of like character as may be hereafter created by Congress.” In managing these areas, the Park Service was directed “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”

1718 – Hundreds of colonists from France arrived in Louisiana. Some settled in present-day New Orleans.

1814 – The Library of Congress was destroyed by British forces.

1825 – Uruguay declared independence from Brazil.

1875 – Captain Matthew Webb swam from Dover, England, to Calais, France making him the first person to swim the English Channel. The feat took about 22 hours.

1902 – “Al-Hoda” began publication in New York City making it the first Arabic daily newspaper in the U.S.

1920 – Ethelda Bleibtrey won the 100-meter freestyle swimming competition in Antwerp, Belgium. She was the first woman to win an Olympic competition for the U.S.

1941 – Allied forces invaded Iran. Within four days the Soviet Union and England controlled Iran.

1941President Franklin Roosevelt signed the bill appropriating funds for construction of the Pentagon.

1944 – Paris, France, was liberated by Allied forces, ending four years of German occupation.

1944 – Romania declared war on Germany.

1946 – Ben Hogan won the PGA in Portland, OR. It was his first major golf title.

1949 – NBC Radio debuted “Father Knows Best.” The show went to TV in 1954.

1950President Harry Truman ordered the seizure of the railroads to avert a strike.

1970 – Elton John made his first live appearance in the U.S. He opened for David Ackles at “The Troubadour” in Los Angeles, CA

1972 – In Great Britain, computerized axial tomography (CAT scan) was introduced.

1978 – The Turin shroud believed to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ went on display for the first time in 45 years.

1981 – The Voyager 2 probe sent back pictures and data about Saturn. The craft came within 63,000 miles of the planet.

1983 – The U.S. and the Soviet Union signed a $10 billion grain pact.

1991 – Byelorussia declared independence from the Soviet Union.

1992 – It was reported by researchers that cigarette smoking significantly increased the risk of developing cataracts.

1995 – Harry Wu, human rights activist, returned to the United States. He said the spying case against him in China was “all lies.”

1997 – The tobacco industry agreed to an $11.3 billion settlement with the state of Florida.

1998 – A survey released said that 1/3 of Americans use the Internet.


Source: On-This-Day.com; cr.nps.gov