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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/535

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THE NATIONAL PARKS

THE NATIONAL PARKS FROM THE SCIENTIFIC AND EDUCATIONAL SIDE
By LAURENCE F. SCHMECKEBIER

WASHINGTON, D. C.

THE passage of the act of Congress creating the first national park—the Yellowstone—was due in large measure to the interest and activity of the chief geologist of the Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories, Dr. F. V. Hayden, and in the forty years that have elapsed since the creation of that great reservation the wonders of the national parks have claimed the attention of workers in every branch of science. As might naturally be expected, the more extensive scientific work in the parks has been in the field of geology and its allied sciences, because the wonderful forms of nature which have been the main factors in inducing congress to create these parks are the result of forces whose study falls particularly within the realm of geology. In the Yellowstone Park the geysers, the hot springs, the terraces, the fossil forests and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River present absorbing and instructive geologic problems; in the Mount Rainier National Park is one of the largest glacial systems known to radiate from a single peak; in the Crater Lake National Park is the only lake in the United States that is situated in the caldera of an extinct volcano; in the Yosemite National Park the great gorge of Yosemite Valley presents perplexing problems to the student of physiography and widely divergent theories have been advanced regarding its origin; in the Glacier National Park are over 80 glaciers varying from a few yards to five acres in extent that have received practically no attention from the student of glaciology. But geology can not lay claim to the entire field. At the Hot Springs Reservation of Arkansas the healing waters are of great interest to the chemist and physician as well as to the geologist, and in the Mesa Verde National Park the remains of the vanished race of cliff dwellers offer a prolific field to the ethnologist and anthropologist. In the Yellowstone, Mount Rainier, Crater, Yosemite, Sequoia and General Grant Parks there is a prolific flora of native trees, flowers and grasses such as can be seen in few places in the west. In all the parks the protection of the game affords opportunity for the study of many faunal species that have been almost exterminated except in these reservations.

The scientific bureaus of the government and various learned societies have issued publications on the parks that are accessible to the