Capturing the Beauty of America’s National Parks: National Park Service Master Plan Covers

August 25th marks the birthday of the National Park Service, which was established on that date in 1916. Over the course of the last 100 plus years, the National Park Service has grown, and now includes over 400 parks, representing America’s vast array of natural wonders and significant historic sites.

The Cartographic Branch holds a number of records related to the National Park Service. Among these holdings is a series of Master Plans for various national parks, monuments, and historic sites. Dating from the 1930s to the early 1940s, these plans have a unique history and important role in park planning and development. This history  is highlighted in our previous blog post, Planning America’s Best Idea: Master Plans for National Parks and also in a video created by the National Archives about the plans:

In this post, we are featuring a selection of covers of National Park Service Master Plans, which are the most distinctive part of the Master Plans. The covers are often elaborately decorated, hand colored, and very beautiful. The plans, including the covers, were created by the National Park Service employees of the Branch of Plans and Design. While some of the pages featuring architectural or landscape drawings are signed, the majority of the creators of these plans are unidentified. The beautifully illustrated covers are also unsigned, so the artists of these beautiful works of art unfortunately remain unknown to us today.

We hope you enjoy these covers from some of America’s favorite and some of its less well-known parks!

RG79_NPSMasterPlans_GrandCanyon_Cover
RG 79, Master Plans of Parks and Monuments, Master Plan Cover for Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona), 1938 edition.
RG79_NPSMasterPlans_LassenVolcanic_undated(2)
RG 79, Master Plans of Parks and Monuments, Master Plan Cover for Lassen Volcanic National Park (California), undated edition.
RG79_NPSMasterPlans_AbrahamLincoln_1937(2)_cropped
RG 79, Master Plans of Parks and Monuments, Master Plan Cover for Abraham Lincoln National Park (Kentucky), 1937 edition. Now Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park.
RG79_NPSMasterPlans_ColoradoNM_1940_cropped
RG 79, Master Plans of Parks and Monuments, Master Plan Cover for Colorado National Monument (Colorado), 1940 edition.
RG79_NPSMasterPlans_Sequoia_1936_cropped
RG 79, Master Plans of Parks and Monuments, Master Plan Cover for Sequoia National Park (California), 1936 edition.
RG79_NPSMasterPlanCover_RockyMountain
RG 79, Master Plans of Parks and Monuments, Master Plan Cover for Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado), 1932 edition.
RG79_NPSMasterPlans_CraterLake_Cover
RG 79, Master Plans of Parks and Monuments, Master Plan Cover for Crater Lake National Park (Oregon), 1933 edition.
RG79_NPSMasterPlans_MountRainier_1933cover
RG 79, Master Plans for Parks and Monuments, Master Plan Cover for Mount Rainier National Park (Washington), 1933 edition.
RG79_NPSMasterPlans_MuirWoods_cover
RG 79, Master Plans of Parks and Monuments, Master Plan Cover for Muir Woods National Monument (California), 1938 edition.
RG79_NPSMaster Plans_PetrifiedForest_1937
RG 79, Master Plans for Parks and Monuments, Master Plan Cover for Petrified Forest National Monument (Arizona), 1937 edition.
RG79_NPSMasterPlans_Dinasaur_cover1939
RG 79, Master Plans for Parks and Monuments, Master Plan Cover for Dinosaur National Monument (Colorado and Utah), 1939 edition.

 

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