Thursday, April 21, 2016
On The Bridge
On the surface, this seems like a rather ordinary image. A man in a uniform, and there are a lot of those floating around, standing on a bridge, a stream, trees, and rock in the background. While I don't know where this picture was taken, it reminds me of places like the Virgin River in Zion National Park or Yosemite Valley. It's also a reminder that we could have lost the national park system in World War 2.
I didn't take long, after Pearl Harbor, for members of Congress, the Pentagon, and big business to argue that the parks should be opened for timbering and mining. The military also lobbied to use parks for training and bombing ranges. Thanks to push back from the Roosevelt administration, by and large, that didn't happen.
Of course, the parks were affected by the war. The men of the CCC, the men who built so many of the trails, campgrounds , and roads that we're still using today, went off to war. And some parks did get used for training. The 10th Mountain Division trained on the slopes of Mt. Rainier, and tank troops rolled across parts of Joshua Tree National Monument, now a national park. Go to some of the more remote parts of Joshua Tree, and tank tracks can still be seen on the desert floor. And, with the general public unable to travel because of gas rationing, the parks were, more often than not, a rest area for returned troops.