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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

July 18, 2006
Today in NPS History, Some July Caverns History dates

July 18, 1938--After taking off the day before from Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, New York, cleared for the West Coast, Douglas "Wrong Way" Corrigan landed his plane in Dublin, Ireland. (He blamed a faulty compass for his "mistake.") Floyd Bennett Field is now part of Gateway National Recreation Area.

July Caverns History Dates:

--Jim White born on July 11, 1882 in Mason County, Texas. I once saw a Carlsbad Caverns employee handbook from the the mid-1940's that recorded that Jim White discovered the caverns on July 11, 1901, at 1:00 o'clock in the afternoon. So how old was Jim White when he retired from his chief guide job in 1929? Think he was tired from all the trekking that he had done in the caverns? If you want to read about his unsuccessful efforts to get back into the National Park Service, read "One Man's Dream" by Ruth Caiar
--July 27, 1928 or 1929--the first Rock of Ages ceremony is conducted at Carlsbad Caverns. Renowned baritone, Cameron McClean sang "Rock of Ages" to express his feelings while visiting the cave. Will someone look this up in the Superintendent's Monthly report and let me know if it was 1928 or 1929?
--July 1929--underground lunchroom moved to present location outside the entrance to Left Hand Tunnel.
--July 1931--(From official report) "Status of authorized projects of contractors: The elevator shaft has been excavated to full size for its entire distance of 753 feet, and the walls have been gunnited the entire length. “Gunnite” is a rather dry cement mortar which is sprayed on the walls by compressed air. All steel beams have been placed, and during the coming month the vertical guides will be placed and the machinery added. It now appears that it will be September 15th before we can hope to have the elevator ready for use." (Note; Can you imagine being one of the employees who arrived on the top of that cold and blustery escarpment charged with the task of drilling an 75 story elevator shaft from top and bottom with the requirement that they meet up somewhere in the rock? First public use of the elevator was in January 1932. The first honorary "elevator boy," and apparently no one could get him to stop doing that job was Santa Fe-born and PA- educated New Mexico governor Arthur Selgiman-BH)
How the caverns was made accessible for visitors and others is a fascinating interpretive story to me.
--July 3, 1932--Tunnel between Papoose Room and Kings Palace completed and opened, thereby completing entire cave trail system.
--July 1, 1938--Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp established at Rattlesnake Springs. In operation until April 1942. Go to the CAVE web page at
to see information on the Civilian Conservation Corp.

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