National Geographic : 1966 Jul
monsters lie embedded; you see technicians at work, uncovering fossils (pages 26-7). Visitor centers can tell you what there is to learn about a park, and how best to enjoy it. Or-as at Cape Cod National Seashore and many of the 99 other centers built by Mission 66-they can offer you comfortable theater seats from which to watch slides and movies or listen to a ranger's lecture. But nothing takes the place of getting out into the park yourself. Go, as I have, to Yavapai Point above the Grand Canyon and watch the sunrise, for example. Dawn bathes the heights with rose, leaving night's blue haze caught in the canyon clefts. The sun bursting over the chasm rim lavishes gold over pinnacle and butte. Then, climbing higher, it begins its long day's task of finger painting with touches of light and shadow. Funds First, Then a Park I mentioned Cape Cod National Seashore. Here Mission 66 tried a brand-new idea. For the first time, Congress appropriated funds to buy land to create a national park. Before, parks had been formed from federal lands or from lands donated by states or individuals; funds voted for land purchase usually were for specific plots needed to round out a park boundary. President John F. Kennedy signed the bill authorizing the national sea shore on August 7, 1961. The proposal had brought storms of protest, though it also had many friends on the Cape. Homes stood on this sandy tip of Mas sachusetts' hook, where wild beach and wind-blown dunes join a dramatic meeting of sea and sky. People feared an influx of honky-tonk developments, ugly campgrounds, hordes of visitors. But patient explanation of Park Service plans made before church cir cles, civic groups, garden clubs-any place we could find an audience eased alarm and won understanding. I can't forget one long and stormy town meeting I addressed. As the eve ning wore on, one persistent Cape Lifesaving ranger team inches down a cliff during a practice rescue in Oregon's Crater Lake National Park. Blanket imi tates a body in the litter; canvas prevents ropes from chafing. Rangers may fight fire one day, lead a bird-watcher tour the next. Codder asked question after question. Finally he rose determinedly to his feet. "It's 12:30 a.m.," he snapped. "I've heard enough and I'm going home. But I'll tell you this, young man. What you say makes sense to me. Come around and I'll be the first to sell." I don't know which pleased me more: win ning a friend for the park, or having this gray head of mine called "young." Today Cape Cod National Seashore still is acquiring friends-and land. Several former opponents now serve on its citizens' advisory commission. The area's 44,600 acres include ground where Champlain trod, spots where exploring Pilgrims came ashore after their KODACHROMEBY WALTERMEAYERSEDWARDS(5) N.G.S.