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A guano bucket, gasoline lanterns, and more. Stephen Mather at Carlsbad Caverns and a remembrance.

The National Park Service’s history of Carlsbad Caverns includes these two entries…


1924 – March 20 to September 15, Dr. Willis T. Lee, sponsored by National Geographic Society and assisted by Jim White, extensively explores cavern.

NPS Director Mather visits in April.


1925 – Staircase from natural entrance to Bat Cave installed, eliminating use                  of guano bucket to enter cave. Donated by Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce.


In a 1929 letter written on La Caverna Hotel stationery, Vernon Bailey writes to Stephen Mather.   He writes in part…


          “…I couldn’t help thinking of the time you and Dr. Lee and I went through

 it four years ago and wishing you could see it again as it is today…

…electric lights have been placed so the great rooms can be seen and their… beauty brought out as no gasoline lanterns could show it…

…We miss you at Washington but the great Park System you have

 built up is going on in a way to be proud of…”



An American naturalist who specialized in mammalogy. He was employed by the Bureau of Biological Survey, United States Department of Agriculture.  His contributions to the Bureau of Biological Survey numbered roughly 13,000 specimens including many new species. Bailey published 244 monographs and articles during his career with the USDA.


CARLSBAD CAVERNS NATIONAL PARK.   Carlsbad Cave National Monument was created in 1923.  In 1930, four months after Stephen Mather’s death, it became a National Park.   In June

1959, portions of the movie, Journey to The Center of the Earth, were filmed in the caverns. The NPS estimates that from 1924-2019 the Caverns have had more than 44,000,000 visitors. 

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