« PreviousContinue »
The small amount of money hitherto appropriated for work in the Park and the extensive project adopted have necessarily caused the work to be done in a manner which the engineer in charge would probably not have approved if he had had adequate means at his disposal.
In his report for the year ending June 30, 1889, Lieutenant Craighill thus refers to the matter:
"When the road was built between Mammoth Hot Springs and the Gibbon Canyon, on account of scarcity of funds it was deemed best in several places for short distances not to follow the best route, which was also the most expensive. In each of these cases the road goes over the hill at a steep grade where it might go around it almost on the level."
The same remark, with slight modification, applies to all the roads hitherto built in the Park except the lower half of the Gibbon Canyon road.
However steep a hill may be the route over it almost always varies less from a right line to the other side than the route around it. Economy of construction would, therefore, indicate the former as most desirable. But this consideration should no longer prevail. All principal objects of interest in the Park are now accessible by wagon. Hence the aim of road work need no longer be to construct the greatest possible length of road with a given amount of money, but rather to see that the road actually constructed conforms strictly to the conditions of good work.
The selection of roads in the National Park should obviously proceed on different principles than obtain in the selection of roads for ordinary traffic. The former are emphatically park roads. Their use is principally for tourist traffic, secondarily only for the hauling of freight. As recommended by Major Allen in his report for 1889. "all roads in the Park should be well constructed not only with a view to permanency but also to appearance." In their selection the shortest distance between the terminal points should not be the object of first importance. While the road ought not to be unnecessarily lengthened, it should be selected with a view of securing easy grades and proximity to as many as possible of the features of interest near which it passes. In short, everything should be done to reduce to a minimum the irksomeness of the long drives that separate the principal points of interest in the Park. A prominent example of the absence of these essentials is seen in the road between Norris and the Yellowstone River. The roadbed is here as good as any in the Park, and yet the road is the subject of constant criticism on the part of tourists. The reason is that there are many miles where the road follows nearly a straight line with little attempt to avoid the hills, and where the view ahead is one continuous succession of ups and downs visible along the narrow roadway cut through the woods. As soon as the farthest eminence is passed another interminable succession of hills comes into view, producing a sense of monotony equaled only by that experienced in riding over the featureless prairie. It goes without saying that if this road had been made more winding, following the valleys and avoiding the hills, thus by its short views ahead giving the tourist a continual sense of expectancy, instead of treating him to the long perspective of a monotonous roadway ahead of him, the whole effect would have been better. The importance of securing these features may not be very apparent at the time the road is being built, but it is fully appreciated by those who subsequently use it.
The proper location of a road through a country like that in the Park is often exceedingly difficult. Very much of the country is densely wooded. It is often impossible to get an idea of the ground beyond a radius of 300 or 400 feet. A great amount of careful examination is necessary before an engineer can feel satisfied that he has secured the best location. Moreover, even in an open country, the selection of the best line over ground as rough and broken as many tracts in the Park should receive a great deal of skillful attention to secure a line which shall pass subsequent inspection as the best one that could be found. So obvious a requirement would not be suggested if the work of the past summer, a portion of which, owing to the lateness of the season was commenced without a preliminary survey or even a reconnaissance, had not shown how easily a good road might have been made a very bad one by simple ignorance of the nature of the country through which it was to pass. In my opinion no future road should be built in the Park until a careful instrumental survey has located and marked the entire line, and fully made known the nature of the work to be performed.
There is another consideration of importance in this connection. A satisfactory system of roads for the Park will ultimately include not less than 300 miles. The country roads of the United States being almost entirely under the care of local authorities, the park system is unquestionably the most important example of strictly Government roads in the country. These roads, owing to the widespread interest in the National Park are the subject of inspection and criticism, not only of Americans but of people trom every part of the civilized world. The standard of this work
should, therefore, not be that of our country roads, generally nothing but mere wagon trails, but that of the best roads in this country or in Europe.
The foregoing criticisms upon work in the Park are not at all intended as a criticism on the execution of that work. At the time it was done it was impossible, owing to the small amount of funds available, to do better.
The yearly appropriations now are greater than those of three or four years combined in the early history of the work.
The object of first importance then was to render points of interest accessible even by inferior roads rather than to secure the best standard of work. Even in the prepparation of estimates, the course adopted was doubtless wiser than to have presented at first an estimate based upon a complete system of macadamized roads. The Park was still to some extent an experiment. Congress had been led to believe in creating it that the revenue from leases and similar sources would suffice for the necessary work of improvement. The principal promoter of the project at the time it was under the consideration of Congress says, "Had not Congress been assured that no demands would be made upon them for annual appropriations, it is very doubtful whether the bill would have ever become a law." But all this is now changed. The wisdom of the act creating the National Park is universally admitted. The argument for improving and protecting it grows stronger every year, and it can safely be assumed that the time has arrived for such a revision of project and estimates as shall place that work upon a basis commensurate with its importance. It is for this reason that I have gone into the matter somewhat extensively.
The project hitherto adopted for the improvement of the Yellowstone National Park requires some modification and enlargement to meet the existing demands of the work. Captain Kingman, in 1887, prepared the following project, which has been followed to the present time (Report of Chief of Engineers, 1887, page 3134).
(1) A road from Mammoth Hot Springs to the boundary of the Park toward the terminus of the Park Branch of the Northern Pacific Railroad (about)....... (2) A road from Mammoth Hot Springs to the Firehole Basin (about). (3) A road from the Firehole Basin to the Upper Geyser Basin (about) (4) A road from the Firehole Basin to the Canyon and Falls of the Yellowstone River (about)..
(5) A branch from this road to the outlet of the Yellowstone Lake (about). (6) A road from Mammoth Hot Springs to Yanceys (about).
(7) A road from Yellowstone Falls over the shoulder of Mount Washburn to Yanceys (about)
(8) A road from Upper Geyser Basin via Shoshone Lake and the thumb of the Yellowstone Lake to the outlet (about).
(9) A road from Norris Geyser eastward to connect with the road to the Yellowstone Falls (about).
(10) A road from the Firehole Basin westward via the Madison Canyon to the boundary of the Park (about)
(11) A road from Yanceys via Soda Butte to the boundary of the Park towards the Clarks Forks mines (about)
In all (about)......
For paragraph 2 should be substituted "A road from Mammoth Hot Springs via Norris Geyser Basin to Fountain Geyser Basin."
For paragraph 3 the following: "A road from Fountain Geyser Basin to Upper
The road mentioned in paragraph 4 should, I think, be dropped from the project. It will not in ordinary circumstances be used as a tourist route, and, for such occasional traffic as may pass over it, inexpensive repairs on the present road will suffice. The Park association omit this line in their advertised route.
Paragraph 5 should be stricken out and for it substituted "A road from the Grand Canyon to the outlet of Yellowstone Lake."
The location of the road mentioned in paragraph 8 has been changed by the act of Congress of March 3, 1891, so that it is now extremely improbable that it will ever be built as originally intended. I, therefore, suggest the following instead of paragraph 8: "A road from the Fountain Geyser Basin via the shortest practicable route to the West Thumb of the Yellowstone Lake and thence via the lake shore to the lake outlet."
Paragraph 10 should be changed to "A road from the west boundary of the Park
via the Madison Canyon by the shortest practicable route to the road from Norris to the Fountain Geyser Basin."
To which should now be added (12) "A road from Upper Geyser Basin to the south boundary of the Park."
In suggesting the above change in nomenclature, viz: "Fountain Geyser Basin" for "Lower Firehole Basin” and “Grand Canyon" for "Yellowstone Falls" I have followed what has already become an established usage in the Park.
The time has now arrived when the question of opening up important points of interest off the main line of travel should receive attention. Captain Sears in 1887 recommended that, "In addition to the main thoroughfares, good branch roads and trails should be made to the many minor objects of interest off the main line of travel." For example, the Great Fountain Geyser, incomparably the finest formation in the Park and excelled only by the Excelsior Geyser in the magnificence of its eruptions, is at present inaccessible except on foot or horseback. In that vicinity are also many of the finest quiescent springs in the Park. A road should soon be built making a drive of three or four miles so as to include all these points of interest.
Near Mammoth Hot Springs are the Canyon and Falls of the Middle Gardiner River, which come next to the Grand Canyon and Falls of the Yellowstone in grandeur and beauty. A road could be constructed from the Springs passing through this Canyon, around Bunsens Peak, back through Golden Gate Canyon, through the "Hoodoo" formation under the picturesque palisades of Terrace Mountains, returning in rear of the Hot Springs formation to the hotel at Mammoth Hot Springs. This could not fail to be a very popular drive.
A letter was addressed to me early this season by the manager of the Yellowstone Park Association suggesting the construction of a foot and bridle bridge across the Yellowstone River above the falls. At present there is no bridge across that river within the boundaries of the Park except that in the vicinity of Yanceys. It is said by those who have seen the canyon and falls of the Yellowstone from the right bank of the river that the view even excels that from Lookout and Inspiration points. I think the project should include a bridge across the river at this point and a road down the river sufficiently far to take in the most interesting portions of the canyon. To temporarily meet the needs of tourists I would suggest the construction of a bridle bridge across the river just above the Upper Falls. The river here has a clear width of only 70 feet, and a span of 80 feet will give ample room for a safe support. This point is a very interesting one, being in the midst of the heavy rapids of the river and immediately above the brink of the Upper Falls. When a permanent bridge is built there it should be of a style and character in keeping with the magnificence of the surroundings. It has been suggested that a single arch of stone be thrown across the river at this point; and if not too expensive it would certainly be more appropriate than any other form of structure could be. It is highly probable that tourist traffic between the lake outlet and the West Thumb will in the future be by boat. So much interest is taken in the lake on the part of tourists that to gratify it the transportation people will doubtless find it necessary to place a boat upon the lake. It is probable, in fact, that it will be found to their advantage to carry tourists by water rather than by coach over the long distance of 18.6 miles. The trip by boat consumes about 14 hours. An arrangement of this kind may be regarded as a certainty in the near future.
In connection with the navigation of the lake the subject has been much discussed of continuing the boat route down the river nearly to the falls. This would certainly be very desirable, if practicable. But it is doubtful if the Yellowstone River can be made easily navigable at any ordinary outlay of money. Captain Kingman says in his report for 1883, "I am of the opinion that they (the rapids) could only be surmounted by the aid of canals and locks or else by locks and dams, either of which, owing to the character of the river and the nature of the bottom and banks, would be very expensive." To enable a boat of sufficient draft for safety on the lake in heavy weather to pass down the river would require a channel from 4 to 6 feet deep. To improve the river so as to secure such a channel would certainly be a heavy and expensive undertaking. But it might be practicable to have a line of boats made especially for the river, flat-bottomed and of only 2 or 3 feet draft, which would materially simplify the problem. The lake boats could then be built on the model of deep-water boats and a transfer be made near the lake outlet to the river boats. There are two serious rapids on the Yellowstone River between the falls and the lake. One of these occurs at Mud Geyser and the other about 3 miles above. The stream is shallow and swift over the entire distance between these points. A project for improvement would require the thorough canalization of the river for a distance of 4 or 5 mlies, including the rapids. Above and below this stretch a moderate amount of dredging and removing of bowlders would, I think, be sufficient. The river falls from the middle of June (its highest stage) to the end of September between 3 and 4 feet, but owing to the vast reservoir formed by the lake the rise and fall are very gradual, while floods are made impossible. A measurement of the river current at the lowest stage
during the past season indicates a discharge of 1,600 cubic feet per second. I have not given the matter sufficient consideration to be able to submit an estimate of the probable cost of such an improvement.
The subject of the "completion of existing roads" may be considered in connection with the proposed modification in the present project. Along with the execution of annual repairs should be carried on a systematic completion of the present roads, with such alterations of location as may be necessary to rectify their grades and otherwise improve them. The importance of this will be manifest from an examination of the accompanying plots showing the gain in distance and grade by going around Norris Hill, and the gain in grade around Virginia Cascade. There are many other places where changes may be made nearly as beneficial as the above. Along the entire line of road there is need of rectifying grades, constructing ditches, graveling miry places, and rounding up the road surface to facilitate drainage.
NEXT SEASON'S WORK.
In the event of a new appropriation in time for use next season the following works should first receive attention:
(1) The completion of the system of roads near the Fountain Hotel.
(2) Completion of old road from Upper Basin to beginning of new road at mouth of Spring Creek.
(3) Completion of new road on Mountain division on west slope of Heron Creek Valley.
(4) Completion of new road on Lake Shore division from West Thumb to east end of sandy beach, mentioned in previous portion of report.
(5) Completion of new road at various points on River division.
(6) Construction of new road from lower end of section 4, River division, to the bridge at the head of Grand Canyon.
(7) Construction of a new road from the Canyon Hotel to Inspiration Point.
(8) Construction of a new road from end of present road in Gibbon Canyon to Fountain Hotel.
(9) Construction of a new road around Norris Hill.
(10) If there are sufficient funds over what is necessary to execute the above works it would be well to open a wagon trail along the proposed line from the canyon to Yanceys, so as to make it possible to pass that way during the season of 1893. The full completion of the road from Grand Canyon via Mount Washburn and Yanceys to Mammoth Hot Springs would be a matter of two or three seasons' work, as it will, on the whole, be the most difficult and expensive piece of work in the Park.
The view from the summit of Mount Washburn being one of the finest features of the Park, it is my opinion that the road should be built along the general line of the west trail from the Canyon to Yanceys.
One of the first needs of the improvement work in the Park is that of adequate buildings for office, storehouse, quarters, and stable. The effort of last year to secure these buildings fell through on account of the unexpectedly high figure of the bids submitted. This matter is one of immediate and pressing importance. For several years the engineer office in the Park has been in a disgraceful little shanty, affording neither room nor shelter. The storehouse is scarcely any protection at all to the material. Moreover, it is wholly inadequate as to space. The tents and other articles of this season's work had to be stored in the office. The necessary buildings ought to be constructed under the next appropriation.
I would suggest that steps be taken to secure the astronomical determination, by the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, of the position of some convenient point within the limits of the Park. No such determination now exists. I am informed by the Superintendent of the Coast Survey that he will be glad to coöperate with us for that purpose during the coming season. Some point on the shore of Yellowstone Lake near the outlet seems to me preferable. It is a central location and reduces to a minimum the triangulation necessary to determine the positions of the most eastern and most southern points of the lake on which the location of the east and south boundaries depends.
The day before leaving St. Paul for the Park last spring I hastily collected, by your direction, such data as I could obtain in the short time available bearing on the ques
tion of sprinkling the Park roads. As you had indicated an intention of adopting some project for the above purpose, I gave considerable attention to the matter while in the Park during the past season, and since my return to this office I have collected as definite information as possible, in the absence of any direct experiment, as to the cost and practicability of the undertaking.
The results at which I have arrived are as follows:
I have assumed that any plan which may be offered will be expected to apply to the entire system of roads now open to travel. The system at present includes about 120 miles of road. The following data, supplied through the courtesy of Mr. George L. Wilson, assistant city engineer, and Mr. W. S. Young, sprinkling inspector, both of this city, furnish as close a criterion as can be readily obtained for our work:
One sprinkler travels in a day about 35,000 feet, or approximately 7 miles. The actual length of street sprinkled depends, of course, upon its width and the number of times it is sprinkled.
A 600-gallon tank, covering 16 feet of roadway, travels, according to the condition of the street, 1,200 to 1,500 feet without refilling.
Streets are springled in hot weather from three to five times per day.
Paved streets are sprinkled oftener than dirt streets.
Where the former are sprinkled four or five times per day, the latter are sprinkled three or four times.
Streets with steep grades require on an average one more sprinkling per day than streets approximately level.
The number of sprinklings also depends on the location of a street with reference to tall buildings, which may shut off the sunlight.
Sprinklers when full of water weigh about 8,000 pounds.
One team per sprinkler on paved streets is generally sufficient.
These data applied to roads of the Yellowstone National Park would be modified about as follows:
The length of roadway covered by a single sprinkler would probably fall considerably under the above figure (1) on account of steep grades and soft roads, and (2) on account of the greatly increased amount of time lost in filling sprinklers. I have assumed that the sprinklers will be restricted to twice per day. This, however, might prove quite insufficient. The nearest comparative data that I have been able to obtain is the amount of sprinkling required in the city of Helena, Mont. The average amount of water per square foot per day required there is one-half gallon. Two sprinklings per day, as above proposed, will give only about .06 gallons per square foot.
The width of roadway sprinkled will probably be reduced to about 8 feet.
A 600 gallon sprinkler will, therefore, cover one-half mile or less of road without refilling.
The number of horses required to pull a sprinkler full of water will be from four to eight, according to grade and quality of road.
From two-thirds to three-fourths of the total length of roadway is subject to the action of the sun during the entire day. The remainder of the road lies through forest or canyon, and may be compared to streets in thickly populated portions of a city.
A great portion of the Park roads are hilly, some of the hills being very steep. Storage tanks must be located at least every half mile, with a strong probability, based upon the foregoing data, that they will be required as often as every third of a mile.
In a large proportion of cases the tanks will rest on the ground or be set in the ground on account of the difficulty of getting sufficient fall to fill an elevated tank. The filling of the sprinklers will, therefore, have to be accomplished in many cases by means of pumps, which will require the sprinklers to be equipped for that purpose. The filling in such cases will consume from one-half hour to one hour.
The facilities for filling storage tanks are not such as one would infer from general distribution of water in the Park. A careful consideration of the whole line of road indicates that for only about one-third of the distance can water be obtained for filling elevated tanks if it is not brought a greater average distance than 500 feet. Another third of the distance will supply water for surface tanks. The remaining third of the distance gives no indication, so far as I can remember, of any water supply whatever.
To properly sprinkle the roads twice per day will, therefore, require at least 40 sprinklers and 250 storage tanks.
To operate this plant will require one overseer, about 10 foremen, 40 drivers, and 100 teams, together with some provision for executing repairs. It may be found necessary to add laborers to assist in filling the sprinklers when this is done by means of pumps.
The plant should be throughout of the most thorough construction, for the service will be very severe.