Until I began watching Ken Burns’ extraordinary series on the National Parks, I had never heard of Horace Albright. He was the first Deputy Director of the National Park Service, and together with the first Director, Stephen Mather, they laid out the foundations of our National Park system. Together, these men sought out pristine areas of our country that were worth saving for future generations.
What’s a bit hard to believe is that all the land for our National Parks up to the 1940’s was donated by private citizens. This photo of me, my brother Don, and sister Jody, standing in front of the Grand Tetons, was taken several years back and would not have been possible had it not been for a little drive taken one afternoon by Stephen Mather and Horace Albright. I had never heard of the Teton Range before we came upon it that day. It was one of the most beautiful places I have seen, and the memory of that day will forever be etched in my mind. How could I have never heard of this place?
The story goes that Mather and Albright were on their way from Yellowstone to Jackson Hole. As far as I can tell from the dvd, both had never seen the Grand Tetons, and they stood in awe, at just about the same spot as we did in the photo above. They scrambled to find someone to purchase the land that would include the Grand Tetons.
Enter John D. Rockefeller Jr.. Mr. Albright took a drive with Mr. and Mrs. Rockefeller to show them the Tetons. Mrs. Rockefeller was concerned about all the saloons and run down shacks that stood in the valley below the majestic mountain range. Well, to make a long story short, when Rockefeller returned home to New York, he established the Snake River Land Co., and began buying up all the land surrounding the Grand Tetons. He spent millions in order to preserve the land that we had the blessing the stand on that spring day years ago.
Yesterday, I wrote about the butterfly effect, and how our decisions today can affect many, many generations of people. To think that this spectacular National Park exists because of the efforts of just a few people, men including Horace Albright, is a bit hard to take. But it happened, and I’m so grateful it did.
If you have ever stood and looked across to Cascade Canyon weaving it sinuous way towards the summit of the Tetons, you will know the joy of being in a sacred place, designed by God, to be protected forever.