National Geographic : 1958 May
John Kauffmann Raccoon Visitor Checks In at Sequoia National Park Rangers Cahoon, Laws, Robinson, and Jacobs will not be pleased that I have men tioned their names. Rangers are modest. Hundreds of brave deeds are not known to us in Washington because the rangers who perform them don't bother to report them. Billy and the King of the Belgians Many of our first rangers were simple out doorsmen without much formal education. Some, like Billy Nelson of Yosemite, would be called "characters" today. He had King Albert of the Belgians out 602 on a pack trip. Billy was cooking under the giant se quoias of the Mariposa Grove. "Hey, King," he sud denly shouted over the crackle of the campfire, "shoot me that side of bacon, will you?" Members of the royal party and the Yosemite superintendent blanched. But the King gleefully threw Billy the bacon. From then on it was "King" and "Billy" in con versation between the two men. School for Rangers Present-day rangers are college men and have more polish, but are just as good in the wilds as their prede cessors. Last fall, further more, we started a special school for new rangers in Yosemite (page 617). When they graduate, after three months of inten sive training, they know Park Service regulations, traditions, and objectives, how to look after a horse and their own smart olive green uniforms, how to fight forest fires and hunt for lost people, and how diplomati cally to keep visitors from picking the flowers. They also learn the history of the National Park System. It is the history of an idea that came to fruition at a campfire in Yellow stone on the night of September 19, 1870. I had long known the story, of course, but it came really alive for me last fall, when I saw the scene re-enacted by park personnel and students of Montana State University on the original spot (page 592). The boys looked authentic in their period costumes, and the horses and pack mules were genuine down to their whinnyings at sight of the audience assembled on a grassy meadow. So were the natural noises real-quavery voices of owls on the steep wooded slope of (Continued on page 611) FOLLOWING PAGES FOLD OUT.