Sunday, April 11, 2010

Horace Albright: 2nd Director of NPS

Salt Tram history is rapidly disappearing, and we are striving to rediscover the efforts of our forefathers in order to give proper recognition to their hopes, dreams and abundant sweat from an era that is rapidly fading from our memories. We are actively seeking out information about the mining of Salt in Saline Valley between 1903 and the 1950's, including: documents, photos, articles, stories, artifacts, etc. If you can help us out, please email us at the address above - Thank-you! --Tim and Brian Waag, the Waag brothers (aka E. Clampus Waagus).
Caution (PLEASE READ): Climbing around on the tramway is dangerous because its really old and defnitely unsafe, so don't even think about it. Shoot, just getting to it requires some perilous hiking, and if you don't believe me, just take a look at the Zig Zag Access Trail (or what's left of it). Plus, climbing on it weakens it and endangers your life. Also, the Saline Valley Salt Tram is on the National Register of Historic Places and should be treated with the respect that it deserves. What little remains is of great historic value, and should not be disturbed in any way. Heck, its probably against the law to move parts of the tram around, and certainly a crime to take home some of the few bits of it that remain (though you'd have to ask your friendly local BLM agent for details). So please treat it with the respect it deserves, so that future generations can enjoy whats left, without you messing it up. Really. Please. You can see its listing on the National Register of Historic Places at these web links:
National Register of Historic Places 1          National Register of Historic Places 2

QUESTION1: Find the diary entry of Henry Clifton Patterson that mentions an "Albright" who came to visit Cliff. Done!

QUESTION2: Did Horace M. Albright, second director of the National Park Service (starting in 1929) work at the Salt Tram (at the age of 22) or even visit the tramway, or was it his father and miner George Albright? I've heard rumors that Horace worked on the Salt Tram, but have not been able to substantiate that one yet.

Introduction: Horace M. Albright was the second director of the National Park Service, starting in 1929, succeeding Stephen Mather. To answer these Albright - Salt Tram questions, I acquired the book: "Creating the National Park Service: The Missing Years" by Horace M. Albright and Marian Albright Schenck, which I have NOT had a chance to read (yet), but have skimmed a bit to look for some quick answers (off topic book review will appear here after I have completed reading it - not for a while!).

Horace was definitely born in Bishop, and his Dad, George Albright appears prominently as a leading citizen there, as described in the Inyo Register during the Salt Tram years. The Horace A. autobiography has a chapter on page 3 entitled "Boyhood Days in the Owens Valley 1890-1908" which definitely indicates that Horace (quote from the book) "finished high school in Bishop in 1908, and ... I always remembered that last lovely days as a resident of Bishop, Inyo County, California ... I never came home [to Bishop] again ... except as a visitor". To me, that indicates that Horace never worked at the Salt Tram, yet the Cliff Patterson diary mentions an "Albright" that visited him, so I need to find that in the Patterson diary. In all liklihood, the "Albright" referenced in the Salt Tram diary was Horace's Dad George. 

I found the Patterson diary entry mentioning Albright (click to enlarge):
I highlighted the word Albright in purple to make it easier to find.

The transcription of the Saturday, August 24, 1912 diary entry is as follows:

"Reset stakes in Station 11, and layed out Station 12. White, Wickham, Albright and Dan's kid came from Saline."

"White" is White Smith, President of the Saline Valley Salt Co. and Bishop Attorney.

"Wickham" is Wickham, C. W. – Engineer of the Trenton Iron Works (6/23/1911 Inyo Independent), Field Engineer of Trenton Iron Co. (Doc02: ASCE 1917), One of the most prominent engineers of the Iron Works of Trenton, New Jersey, and an authority on tram ways (4/21/1911 Inyo Independent), Known as the best “posted” man on tramway construction in the US (4/21/1911 Inyo Independent).

"Albright" could be George Albright, Bishop miner and father of Horace Albright, or it could be Horace himself, home for the summer after graduating from UC Berkeley in June of 1912?

"Dan's kid" could be the son of Kuhnle, Daniel – Superintendent of the Saline Valley Salt Company (Doc02: ASCE 1917), the only Dan or Daniel listed in my Salt Tram people names database (the database is soon to be expanded, however).

An interesting note in this diary entry is that the group of White - Wickham - Albright - Dan's kid all came up from Saline Valley to where Clifford Patterson was working at Station 11 and Station 12, which are located just down from Control Station 2 on the east side of the tram, along what we call the Escape Trail! Anyways, its quite a journey from Saline Valley to Station 11 and 12 (trust me on this one) - it would take a determined and strong hiker one extra long day to get from Saline to Station 11 and 12, especially in late August, when its about 115 degrees down in the bottom of Saline Valley! I assume they either rode burros or horses to get from Saline to the Stations, though it would be a tough trip for the pack animals as well. Wonder where they spent the night? The 3 tent cabins at Control Station 2 may not have been there at that time, although we have found 3 other Salt Tram camp sites in the vicinity of Control Station 2. Remember, the Salt Tram would not be completed and start running for another year after this diary entry.

Wanna see what Station 11 and 12 look like? Here they are (I love Salt Tram photos):

Station 11 (click to enlarge); This station is what is called a "breakover" station, and was located as the first Station on the North side of Daisy Canyon, where the tram crosses the 1,000 foot deep chasm, so wonder that it is in the pitiful broken down shape that you see in the photo:

Station 12 (click to enlarge):

Great view from Station 11 of the Zig Zag Trail - contemporary photo with trail in pink; note that the trail NO LONGER EXISTS and that there is nothing but a STEEP, DANGEROUS, CLIFF-LIKE CHUTE; the pink line was drawn in photoshop to show where the trail was once located back in the 1920's before rock slides eliminated almost all traces of it! Can you spot tram Station 10 in the photo? (click to enlarge):

***************************************************************************************** provides some background information on Horace at (click on link) Horace Albright. Some of that information is provided below:

Horace Marden Albright was born on January 6, 1890 in Bishop, Calif. the son of George Albright, a miner, and died on March 28, 1987 in Van Nuys, Calif.

He left Bishop in 1908 for the University of California, Berkeley, and graduated from there in 1912 , later earning his law degree from Georgetown University. Albright married his college classmate Grace Noble and they had two children.

After graduation he worked for the Department of Interior in Washington, D.C. Albright became a legal assistant to Stephen Mather when Mather became Assistant Secretary in charge of National Parks, and later assisted Mather when the National Park Service (NPS) was established in 1916. As legal assistant he helped acquire land for several new national parks in the east. When Mather became ill, Albright managed the NPS as acting director. He later served as superintendent of Yellowstone National Park and, for a short time, Yosemite National Park.

On January 12, 1929 Albright succeeded Mather as the second director of the NPS and held the post until August 9, 1933. In 1933 Albright resigned to work for the U. S. Potash Corporation and U. S. Borax and Chemical Corporation, serving variously as director, Vice President, and General Manager. During this time they lived in New Rochelle, New York.

The nation's highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, was awarded to Mr. Albright by President Jimmy Carter on the 64th Anniversary of the National Park Service. President Carter announced the award in August of 1980, and the medal was presented on December 8 by Assistant Secretary of the Interior, Robert L. Herbst, in a ceremony at Van Nuys, California.

 Let's Visit the Inyo Register!

In the August 10, 1911 Midsummer Special edition of the Inyo Register, we find George Albright's profile as an outstanding citizen of the Owens Valley Community (click to enlarge):

I found a few other references to George Albright in the Inyo Register that indicate that he worked on building the Salt Tram, and when I find them, I'll post them here.


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