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Friday, January 14, 2011

Caverns History, 1960 - 1969


  January    Regional Director Allen and Assistant Regional Director Miller made their first official visit to the park on January 28 and 29 since assuming their present duties.

  May        On May 29 the nine-millionth visitor was welcomed to the park.

Roger E. Reisch (who would become a long-time employee of Guadalupe Mountains NP and known as “Mr. Guadalupe Mountains”) received a career-conditional appointment as a GS-4 Tour Leader on May 2.

  June    One 15-acre fire was started by lightning June 4 midway between Big Canyon and McKittrick Canyon.

  July        Elevator message repeaters were received and functioned nicely.

  September    Winter schedule of trips started September 6 with four complete tours and four Big Room tours, plus a photographic and a Scenic Room tour daily.

  October    Bobby L. Crisman transferred to Montezuma Castle October 17. Mr. Crisman spent 25 years of his 40 + years NPS career at the caverns. He had several long acting assignments as Superintendent here and retired as the Management Assistant in 1996. Besides his many other duties at the caverns, he took a strong and active interest in preserving and protecting caverns historical artifacts and records.

  November    The crew and cast of the TV series “Route 66" spent several days filming in the cavern entrance and in the King’s Palace for an episode called “A Fury-Slinging Flame”.

  December    Superintendent Carlson and Miss Dorothy Swigart were married on Tuesday, December 27, in Carlsbad.

One-third interest in Section 14, Block 65, Township 1 South, T&P Railway Survey of Wallace Pratt’s donation in McKittrick Canyon, was accepted by the NPS on December 28.


  January    Chief Ranger Tom Ela transferred to Great Smoky Mountains NP January 22.

The deed conveying the remaining 2/3 interest in Section 14, McKittrick Canyon, from Wallace Pratt to the United States, was recorded in Culberson County, Texas, January 31.

The annual Audubon Christmas bird count on January 2 totaled 55 species.

  February    Ert Haney, Foreman I - Janitor, retired February 28 after thirty years in the maintenance division of the park.

  March    John M. Broadbent transferred from Crater Lake on March 5 as the new Chief Ranger.

  April    Former Director Horace M. Albright visited the park April 11.

  May        Thomas C. Miller, Assistant Superintendent, retired May 1.

  June    The summer schedule of eight complete tours and two photographic tours began June 4.

  July        Karl T. Gilbert transferred from Blue Ridge Parkway July 16 as Assistant Superintendent.

Horse corral and fences were built at Rattlesnake Springs.

  September    Peggy L. Justice entered on duty September 21 as a GS-3 Clerk-Typist (Cashier).  (Many years in the future, Peggy would become the Personnel Management Specialist for both Carlsbad Caverns and Guadalupe Mountains National Parks; after her retirement, she served as a Volunteer-in-the Parks volunteer assisting Park Historian Bob Hoff (me) with researching and typing. In 1998, she organized and “pulled off” a very successful Caverns Employees Reunion.

Seven archeological sites and two caves were added to the park survey.

  October    Guano mining equipment was removed from Bat Cave for exhibit use.

Eight archeological sites were added to the survey during the month including a pictograph site second only to Painted Grotto.

  November    The ten millionth visitor arrived on November 24.

  December    The detonation of the Project Gnome nuclear device occurred December 10.  The five kiloton device was detonated 34 airline miles from the caverns at 12 Noon.  The blast was recorded by seismograph in the underground lunchroom; however, it was not felt or heard in the caverns proper.

The annual Christmas bird count on December 26 recorded 63 species.

On December 12, E. W. (Yo) Hodnett, Manager of the Cavern Supply Company, collapsed in his office at the Visitor Center.  Oxygen was administered and he was rushed to the hospital in Carlsbad, but was dead on arrival.


  March    Cavern Supply Company selected Mr. L. A. May as the new manager of their operation in the park.

Chief Park Naturalist Paul Spangle transferred to the Western Museum Laboratory March 25.

Position classification standards were received for the Guide Series, GS-090.

  April    Mr. Esmerjildo Godina, powderman’s helper, was killed in a blasting accident on the Walnut Canyon Entrance Road Project on April 19.

  June    Bids were opened on June 21 for construction of twelve employee residences with related utilities and roads.  Low bid in amount of $310,485.65 was sub-mitted by Cee Bee Construction of Carlsbad.

Mary Ellen Jennings transferred from Shenandoah NP to become the new Personnel Clerk on July 22.

  July        A local cloudburst, centered over the eastern portion of Upper Dog Canyon between the Texas-New Mexico state line and Devils Den Canyon, brought flood water to North McKittrick and Big Canyons.  Water flowed three feet deep at the first road crossing below the mouth of McKittrick Canyon.  In North McKittrick Canyon, at the north boundary line, water reached a depth of 14 feet because of a constriction in the canyon at this point.

Low bid for construction of the utility building went to Cillessen Bros. of Albuquerque in amount of $91,723.

  September    A severe electrical storm on September 10 killed 23 goats on the J. C. Hunter ranch.

Harry P. Linder, Administrative Assistant, transferred to Tuzigoot NM as Superintendent September 23.

Roderick J. Krause transferred from Bandelier NM September 23 to take Harry Linder’s place.

The winter schedule of four complete tours daily went into effect September 4.

  October    Superintendent Oscar Carlson retired October 15.

  November    Henry R. During transferred from Jefferson National Expansion Memorial to become the new park Superintendent November 26.

  December    The successful bidder for the 1,000,000 gallon steel water storage reservoir was Eidson Metal Products of Albuquerque in amount of $61,682.00 with beginning date of December 21 and completion date of May 19, 1963.

Roy L. Parr, Elevator Mechanic, retired December 31 after more than 36 years of service at Carlsbad Caverns.

The annual employee Christmas party was held in the VC December 15 with over 125 persons attending.  Frank Kindel, President of the Natural History Association, acted as Santa.


  January    David O. Karraker, the new Chief Park Naturalist, entered on duty January 13; he transferred from Everglades NP.

Final inspection of twelve new employee residences and the utility building was held and the projects accepted, pending corrections of a few punch line items.  The contract for a 1,000,000 steel water reservoir was 35% complete.

  February    The underground lunchroom was designated a “Fallout Shelter” and two signs were installed denoting this, one in the lunchroom and the other in the out-elevator lobby.

  March    The summer tour schedule was revised from eight complete tours a day to ten complete tours a day effective June 8 through Labor Day.

The new 1,000,000 gallon water reservoir was put in use.

  April    Civil Defense supplies, including food, water, and medical supplies, were stored near the underground lunchroom on April 3.

  May        Mr. and Mrs. Walt Disney, their daughter and son-in-law visited May 16.

Karl T. Gilbert, Assistant Superintendent, transferred to Natchez Trace Parkway effective May 5.

  June    Bids for the Natural Entrance Amphitheater were opened June 12, and the successful bidder was Elmer C. Starr of Albuquerque in amount of $42,258.

Bids for drilling a water well at Rattlesnake Springs were opened June 28 and the successful bidder was Burgett Drilling Company of Carlsbad in amount of $4640.25.

  July        Female employees of Cavern Supply Company began wearing uniforms.

The old ticket office building by the natural entrance was removed to begin the Natural Entrance Amphitheater project.

The water well at Rattlesnake Springs was unsuccessful.  A second hole was drilled and abandoned.  Plans were made to drill another well.

  August    In the early morning hours of August 31, 3.62" of precipitation fell, resulting in a flash flood in Walnut Canyon which caused considerable road damage.  The road was closed all day for cleanup and emergency repairs.

The 11 millionth visitor was welcomed to the park on August 14.

Harold A. Snegosky entered on duty August 25 as Assistant Superintendent.

  September    The winter schedule went into effect September 3: four complete tours, five Big Room tours, one Photo tour, and one tour of the Scenic Rooms daily.

  October    Director Conrad Wirth and members of the NPS Advisory Board visited October 29.

The project to seal and fence three guano mine shafts was completed.

  November    The NPS Advisory Board recommended the establishment of Guadalupe Mountains National Park, and Senator Ralph Yarbrough of Texas introduced a bill to establish the park.


January    David O. Karraker, Chief Park Naturalist, transferred to Horace T. Albright Training Center, and James K. Baker, Park Naturalist, transferred to Padre Island NS January 5.

The Christmas bird count was conducted January 1 and sixty-seven species were sighted.

  February    Philip F. Van Cleave transferred from Petrified Forest NP to become the new Chief Park Naturalist effective February 16.

Robert D. Barbee, Park Guide, transferred to Yosemite NP February 16.  Bob would have a long and illustrious career with the NPS.

  March    The natural entrance amphitheater was complete with the exception of some walls suggested by the Superintendent.

  April    A golden eagle nestling was banded on April 29, the second eagle banding recorded for this part of the country.

  May        Frank Kindel, charter member of the Carlsbad Caverns Natural History Association, was killed May 31 in the crash of his private plane in the Guadalupe mountains.  Park employees considered him a personal friend and looked forward each Sunday to seeing him fly over the area and drop newspapers for them.  He was associated with Cavern Supply Company in its early days as concessioner for the park.

  July        John T. Baird, Foreman III-Maintenance, retired July 6 after thirty-six years of government service.  John had worked at the park since 1939.

Supplementary water system and ditch liners project at Rattlesnake Springs was completed.

  August    James Chilcoat arrived from Bandelier and entered on duty August 30 as the new Foreman III-Maintenance.

Harold Snegosky, Assistant Superintendent, transferred to WASO August 30.

  September    No more than nine bats were collected from the vicinity of the cavern entrance during the summer.  This lack of “die-off”, in contrast to recent years, may relate to the fact that there was no reported crop spraying in the vicinity during the summer.

  October    Mrs. Fannie Hill White died October 26.  Concession Permit Number I-6np-30 issued in 1948 for twenty years or for Mrs. White’s lifetime, was automatically terminated with her death.  In November, Jim White Jr. applied for a new concession permit for exclusive sale of Jim White’s book.

  November    On November 1 a special ceremony was held in the underground lunchroom to honor Colonel Tom Boles, former Superintendent.  “Tom Boles Day” drew a large attendance of leading citizens from Carlsbad and surrounding area.  Former Director Horace M. Albright addressed the group and related stories of the “old days” at Carlsbad Caverns.  The ceremony concluded with a special tour of the Big Room where Colonel Boles delivered his famous “Rock of Ages” talk in his inimitable style.

The wooden ladders in Lower Cave and Queen’s Chamber were replaced with metal ladders.

  December    Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall visited the park December 12.  Following an aerial survey of the Guadalupe and Park area and the more scenic areas of the Caverns, Mr. Udall walked several miles in McKittrick Canyon inspecting the area.


January    Special Use Permit 14-10-0333-1181 was issued to Carlsbad Cavern Coaches to furnish passenger motor bus transportation from points originating outside the park for calendar year 1965 at a fee of $200, replacing Permit 14-10-0333-948 which expired December 31, 1964.

Personnel specialist Mary Ellen Jennings transferred to the budget section of the Washington Office January 30.

The annual Audubon Society’s New Year’s Day bird count resulted in a total of 625 birds observed and 40 species, which was a relatively poor showing as compared to former counts in this area.

  February    Park Ranger Phil Martin died in a boating accident at Glen Canyon NRA on February 21.  He was a former Park Guide at Carlsbad Caverns and the brother of Park Guide Jim Martin.

  March    The U. S. Bureau of Sports Fisheries reported the nesting pair of golden eagles had a set of two eggs as of March 15, at the same nesting site as last spring, but possibly a different nest. (One of the eggs was successfully hatched and the chick banded at about two weeks of age on April 17, marking the second successive year of banding eaglets from this nesting pair of golden eagles.)

  April    Superintendent Henry During transferred to the Superintendent position at  Curecanti NRA, Black Canyon and Colorado National Monuments effective April 11.

Assistant Chief Ranger William J. Gray transferred to Catoctin Mountain Park as Supervisory Park Ranger effective April 25.

  May        Superintendent Paul L. Webb entered on duty May 23, transferring to the park from Catoctin Mountain Park.

Heavy rainfall on the evening of May 30 caused flood conditions in Walnut Canyon.  The entrance road was closed for more than seven hours and 347 visitors were stranded in the park from 5 P.M. to midnight.

  June    The final field work in the excavation of Pratt Cave in McKittrick Canyon was accomplished on the morning of June 1.

    The exchange for the Mayes property in Rattlesnake Canyon was completed.  The 320 acres owned by Ed Jordan in the southwest corner of the park remains the only inholding.

  September    Park Ranger William C. Birdsell transferred to Gettysburg NMP.  (Bill would have an illustrious NPS career.)

There were phenomenal bat flights the last half of the month.  Flight time was extraordinarily variable ranging from as late as 6:30 p.m. to as early as 3:56 p.m.  Albino bats were in evidence; there was no record of any albinos in 1964.  It was felt that the hordes must have numbered in the neighborhood of one million individuals.  Density of flights had been unequalled in recent years past.

  October    Administrative Assistant Roderick Krause transferred to Cape Hatteras as Administrative Assistant effective October 24.  John Powers entered on duty in December as his replacement.


  January    William O. Justice, Associate Justice U. S. Supreme Court, visited January 7-9.

The annual bird count included 53 species and 1,044 birds.

  February    Chief Ranger John Broadbent transferred to Tonto NM as Superintendent effective February 13, and Roby “Slim” Mabery entered on duty the same day to take his place.  “Slim” had been a Supervisory Park Ranger at Arches NM.

Research Biologist Walter Kittams transferred from the Midwest Region to be duty stationed at Carlsbad Caverns

  March    James Chilcoat, Maintenance Foreman, transferred to Joshua Tree NM March 27.  Wayne Corbit, Glen Canyon NRA was selected to take his place and entered on duty July 17.

During an inspection trip into the Bowl on March 24, a wrecked plane was discovered.  It had been missing and the object of a search since February 22.  It was located in the mouth of Pine Springs Canyon about a mile from U. S. 62-180.  The two occupants were still strapped in their seats.

  April    Several employees accompanied the Superintendent to Fort Davis NHS on April 2 and 3 to assist with dedication ceremonies.

  May        Maintenance Foreman Lynn Mowry passed away suddenly on May 2 from a heart attack.

Peter Sanchez, Naturalist, transferred to Mount McKinley NP as Supervisory Park Naturalist effective May 8.  John Barnett, Bryce Canyon NP, was selected to take his place and entered on duty July 31.

  June    James Johnson, Joshua Tree NM, entered on duty June 5 as Foreman II B&U.

Ben Billings, seasonal Park Guide, terminated with the expiration of his employment June 20, but stayed on to pursue his exploratory work in Carlsbad Caverns until Monday, July 4, the day before his induction into the Air Force in El Paso.  Ben was leader of a series of evening exploratory trips into the “Sand Room Complex” discovered May 22.  Crews of National Speleology Society members were continuing their work of mapping the passages in the Sand Room Complex on the night of June 26 when Ben Billings chanced upon the “Guadalupe Room”.

  July        Dana Lee, son of Willis T. Lee, visited the park July 11 and left several photos to be copied for the park.  Park Naturalist John Barnett made 106 copies of the photographs which were taken when Willis Lee surveyed the caverns for the National Geographic Society.  Dana Lee was rodman for the survey party and kept a diary of activities and events during this period.  The photographs and diary were added to the bibliography of the CACA research plan.

  August    Superintendent Paul Webb died of an apparent heart attack Wednesday evening, August 3, after working a normal day in the park.

Flood conditions on August 22 and 23 closed the park entrance road.  All facilities in the park were closed on August 23 when high water over Walnut Canyon road prevented travel to the park.

The 50th Anniversary of the National Park Service was observed with a “Governor’s Day” ceremony on August 28.  Several dignitaries were in attendance.

  September    Luther T. Peterson arrived September 29 as the new Superintendent.

On September 6 the winter schedule of four complete tours, five Big Room tours, one photographic tour, and one Scenic Rooms tour daily went into effect.

  October    Former Director and Mrs. Horace Albright visited the park October 13.

A bill authorizing the establishment of Guadalupe Mountains National Park was approved by the President on October 15.

  December    Paul Revere and the Raiders, TV and recording artists, visited the park on December 1.

Mr. and Mrs. Wallace Pratt of Tucson, Arizona, visited McKittrick Canyon and Carlsbad Caverns December 14 and 15.  Mr. Pratt is the donor of the 5600-acre tract in McKittrick Canyon to the National Park Service.

Park Naturalist John Barnett resigned December 17.

John Watson, Vice President of the Cavern Supply Company, died suddenly on December 14.


  March    The 13 millionth visitor arrived March 24.

John Barnett was reinstated as Park Naturalist March 26.

  June    The summer schedule was inaugurated June 4.  The schedule included 11 walk-in tours and continuous opening of the Big Room on a semi-self-guided basis.

  July        Superintendent Peterson transferred to Big Bend NP July 2.



July        Chief Park Naturalist Phil Van Cleave was Acting Superintendent from July 5 to July 20 when Superintendent Neal Guse entered on duty from Haleakala National Park and replaced Superintendent Luther Peterson who transferred to Big Bend National Park.

Mr. J. D. “Deb” Hubbard, President of Cavern Supply Company,  passed away in Stockton, California on July 29.

Employment at the end of the month was 100.

September    USPHS reported bat mortality not due to disease - rabies tests negative.

December    The park entrance road was closed at 10:45 a.m. because of hazardous driving  conditions caused by snowstorm on December 14.


April    Easter Sunrise Services were held at the park amphitheater April 14 (2132 persons attended).

June        The summer cavern trip schedule of 13 complete tours (two more than last summer) and semi-guided Big Room tours (began last summer) began June 9; the winter tour schedule began September 3.

 July        On July 1 the park was reorganized to an I&RM organizational pattern.  The Interpretation and Ranger Services (now called Resources Management) divisions were combined and three branches established therein:

Chief, Interpretation & Resource Management (Ch Nat Van Cleave)

Branch of Interpretation (Park Naturalist Neal Bullington)

Branch of Visitor Services (Chief Park Guide C. Fernandez)

(Cavern Operations)

Branch of Resources Management (Chief Park Ranger O’Neal)

A new staff position of Management Assistant was established and former Chief Ranger Mabery was assigned to it.  Administration and maintenance divisions were not affected by the reorganization.

16.26 inches of rain in McKittrick Canyon fell from July 2 to July 6.  Roadways were washed out and the area closed to visitors.

Flood waters caused closing of the park entrance road from 9 p.m. on July 5 to 2:00 a.m. on July 6.  Approximately 300 visitors remained in the Visitor Center during this period.

August    The 14 millionth visitor arrived on August 4.

The park participated in the “Christian Ministry in the National Parks” for the first time the summer of 1968 with Sunday services at the tennis court.

Park Naturalist Neal Bullington and seasonal Park Guide Dwight Pitcaithley discovered a new room in Lower Cave on August 12.

Approximately 300 persons attended the Bat Flight Breakfast on August 14.

A bat die-off from August 31 - September 5.

  October    Mr. L. A. May, President of Cavern Supply Company, died October 10.  Dick Wilson was named President after Mr. May’s death.

 December    Cutback program of 2-day closure each week became effective December 3, but a 7-day per week operation was resumed December 25.  ($3200 donated by Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce.)  The park was closed seven days: December 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, 18, and 24. City of Carlsbad assists in returning caverns to a 7 days a week operation after “cutback” of two days per week.


January    The Special Use Permit issued to the city of Carlsbad on April 15, 1966 for a 20-year period was revoked on January 1.  The permit provided for use of the former Superintendent’s residence at 202 West Church Street (near present day Albertsons) as a public Historical Museum and/or Art Gallery.  It was revoked because no rehabilitation, repairs or maintenance were performed by the city, as specified in the permit, and the building was not being used for the purpose intended.

Mr. George Crump was employed as Manager of Cavern Supply Company.

March    The park was closed due to snow on March 15.

April    Easter Sunrise Service was held on April 6 with approximately 1000 attending.

 May        Dana and Margaret Lee, son and daughter respectively of Dr. Willis T. Lee, visited May 2.

July        July 21 was declared a holiday - moon landing.

August    Severe flooding in McKittrick on August 29 (6.18" in 10 hours); roads washed out.  A party of three hikers was forced to remain overnight in Hunter’s Lodge.

 November    A Masonic Lodge Convocation was held in the Caverns with 811 in attendance.


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