From my "Bob Hoff at the Carlsbad Public Library Blog" (6/18/07) at
In my opinion, this book is required reading for interpreters and other CAVE staff members who want a general overview of the early history at the caverns.--Bob Hoff
A Photographic History of Carlsbad Caverns National Park (Short Book Review)
This book by William Halliday and Robert Nymeyer is one of my favorites about the history of Carlsbad Caverns, that great national park just a short drive away from the city of Carlsbad.
Perhaps I am prejudiced because I worked at the caverns for 19 years of my 33-years + career (seven months from 1971-1972 and January 1986 - February 2005 when I retired from the National Park Service. But since it is a positive predjudice about a wonderful cave and a super organization so I make no apologies or expect to have to.
What superb historical photographs adorn this book and what fascinating historical stories populate it. The book is divided into six chapters, each titled with one or more people.
Chapter One tells the story of Abijah Long who tried running a hotel and saloon business in Carlsbad before turning to the freighting business, a job that helped him discover the bat guano inside the caverns. He placed a claim and began to mine the bat stuff to sell as a fertilizer. His involvement with the mining ended fairly early, but his involvement with the caverns story continues to today.
In Chapter Two, the life of Jim White, explorer, guide, and caverns promoter is traced, a ultimately sad story about a man who gave so much to the caverns and its visitors, then and now, and whose name is synonyous with Carlsbad Caverns for many people, including me. Even today, the unsorting of his life facts and life legends continues.
In Chapter Three, the importance of photographers George Adams and Ray V. Davis to the evolution of the caverns from a bat guano mine site to first a National Monument, then a world famous National Park (later a World Heritage Site in 1995) For me, Davis' pictures continue to delight. Certainly they are worth a close viewing by anyone interested in the caverns.
In Chapter Four, the contributions of Geologist Willis T. Lee--his 1924 six-month, day trips only, expedition financially sponsored by The National Geographic Society, his two articles published in The National Geographic Society magazine, and his support for National Monument status from the very beginning--helped bring knowledge of the underground fantasy land into homes of people across the United States and beyond. By the way, daughter Elizabeth and son Dana, played important parts in the 1924 expedition.
In Chapter Five, the stories of Superintendent Tom Boles (in charge at the caverns from 1927 - 1946) and Russell Trail Neville. Boles cared deeply for the caverns, managing them with a wise hand and a loving heart. He stood solidly behind the importance of cavern resources and of the necessity of assisting visitor in enjoying them. He also loved to promote them to people in other states as well.
Neville was a lecturer, a still photographer, and a motion picture photographer who also helped to spread the word about the incredible caverns.
In Chapter Six, the story turns to Frank Ernest Nicholson, a journalist whose planned adventures at the caverns n many cases turned into misadventures. His writing--seeking to excite readers--often drifted from reality, and in the end, his contributions to the caverns story were neglible.
This is a book you can read so that when you take friends and relatives to the caverns, you have insights and stories to share with them. Just being able to show them a picture of the famed aviatrix Amelia Earhart visiting the cavern I think makes it worthwhile to purchase, but if nothing else, check it out at the library.
The book is available at the park and at the Carlsbad Caverns town headquarters and at Carlsbad Caverns and Guadalupe Mountains Assocation. A portion of the proceeds from this book and other available products benefits Carlsbad Caverns and Guadalupe Mountains national Parks. For more about caverns history, see my blog at Bob Hoff's Caverns and NPS History Blog
We always knocked off on Sunday and when the weather was bad,-then that was the time that we explored! We had a happy-go-lucky bunch...Some of the boys used to sit around all day...Others didn't seem to get so much of a kick out of it and a few of them used to go exploring with me...We never bit off mor'n we could chaw...
(p 38--Carlsbad Caverns The Early Years )
I love that quote--"We never bit off mor'n we could chaw." I noticed that visitors enjoyed it too, back in the day, when I was an interpreter in the caverns. --Bob Hoff
© Bob Hoff, 2007