This is a copy of the letter, written by Shep Husted to President Taft, in support of making the area near Estes Park a National Park, and showing Shep's naturalist side.
25 July 1914 – Headline: The Rocky Mountain National Park. The following letter, written by Mr. Shep Husted to President Taft in February 1912, is published with the consent of the writer, not only because its statements bearing on the [proposed] Rocky Mountain National Park are as pertinent now as when written, but because of the fullness and accuracy of its presentation of the beauties of the Estes Park region, concerning which no one is better qualified to speak than Mr. Husted:
Estes Park, Colorado, 20 February 1912. Hon. William H. Taft, President United States, Washington, D.C. My Dear Sir:– Having seen a number of articles, both for and against creating a national park in this locality, I have long desired to write you a few facts regarding it. I am a native of the Buckeye State, the same as yourself, and my people, who still reside there, are acquainted with you, having met you some years ago. I, myself, came to Colorado when a boy, and have lived here for 25 years. My vocation, that of guiding for sightseers, scientific men studying moraines, extinct volcanoes, glaciers, etc., in fact, all kinds of guiding except that of hunting game, has taken me to every part of this state, as well as Wyoming, so I feel that I am well qualified to express an opinion in regard to not only the beauties, but the advantages as well, of this proposed national park. And this opinion is not only mine, but the opinion of a number of noted and scientific men for whom I have guided, among them Professor Barth of St. Louis, Missouri, Professor Sheppard of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Professor Baker of Ames, Iowa, Professor Orton, who was state geologist from the state of Ohio, and who has made several trips here for the purpose of study, and Professor Kellogg, cousin of the deceased Professor Englemann, one of our most noted scientists and botanists, for whom the Engelmann tree is named. Professor Kellogg came here to make a special study of this tree which was named for his cousin. The largest portion of this proposed national park area is already included in the Colorado National Forest and Arapahoe National Forest, and we all know, that for some reason or other, the forest service objects to having this national park created, and thus taking out a small portion of their reserve. But there would be only about 20,000,000 feet B.M. of matured timber, approximately value to the government $40,000, in this small proposed area, which is decidedly a small amount when weighed against the damage which would be done were this timber allowed to be cut. For instance, on this side of the Continental Divide, we have the headwaters of the North Platte, Big Laramie, Cache la Poudre, Big Thompson, Fall, and St. Vrain Rivers, with their tributaries, and all these rivers head within a few miles of each other, right on the Continental Divide, and in this proposed area. This timber is all situated along the headwaters of these streams, and, if allowed to be cut, would do almost inestimable damage to the agricultural districts in this part of Colorado. The timber holds and stores the winter snow, and regulates the flow of the streams which is depended on so much by the ranchers for their regular supply of water for irrigation. In my estimation, it is very poor policy to cut any timber on the eastern slope of the Continental Divide in Colorado, and more especially in this part of the state, just on account of the many irrigation projects which are doing so much good for the west. So much for the timber question, and now I want to say a word for the flowers. We have thousands of varieties here, scattered all along the streams and mountains, growing even at an altitude of 14,000 feet, but these have practically all been destroyed in our “front yards” by overgrazing, and having the forage crop eaten down too closely, so we are anxious to save those remaining in our “back yards” by having a national park created, and thus being assured of better regulations in regard to the protection of the forage crop, which is the life of the flowers. In regard to the beauties of the area, too much cannot be said. There is absolutely nothing in the Rocky Mountains that can compare with it. I have been out with numberless people who have been to all points of interest in the Alps, and all agree that there is nothing there to compare with this in point of grandeur, wildness, and beauty. We have four glaciers in this area, numerous lateral and terminal moraines, 15 different species of trees, grand waterfalls, picturesque rock formations of all kinds, and, what is still more rare, three extinct volcanoes. One of these is claimed by scientists and geologists to be comparatively recently extinct. The crater of this volcano, from the rim down, contains 120 acres, and is a most interesting place to visit. In going down into it, you sink into ashes a foot or more, and after getting onto the more solid part, it all seems to give, and sounds hollow beneath your feet. The water coming from this crater is very salty, and if held in the mouth becomes thick and looks like albumen. Towering above are the masses of black volcanic glass. The geodes in and around the crater are, of course, rare, and are rapidly being carried away, so there will soon be none there to preserve, which will be a pity, as they are something which the majority of American people have never seen. These geodes are very hard and covered with small nodules, and when broken open the cavities contain crystals, ribbon agates, and rare specimens of all colors. If this area is made into a national park and a bureau of national parks established, so that this, as well as all other United States national parks could be properly looked after, this one in particular could, in two years time of less, be made self-supporting. There is already an enormous amount of travel this way, and thousands of tourists visit here during the spring, summer, and fall, but it could be made a winter resort as well by building a road of 14 miles across the Continental Divide through Piltz Pass and Milner Pass to join the road to Grand Lake, thus making one of the finest roads for sleighing in the United States. Sleighing is something of a novelty in Colorado, because the wind always blows the snow off, except in the heavy timber, but on these passes the snow always lies, and the beauty and novelty of this road would bring hundreds of winter tourists here for this pleasure alone. Skiing would also be one of the great attractions. Automobiles can come and go from Denver and the valley towns to Estes Park and vicinity all winter long. There would, of course, need to be wayside inns and stopping places of different kinds to accommodate these tourists, and the rental from these places would go a long, long way toward supporting the national park. Every little nook here has its especial attraction, so these little inns and the innumerable special privileges that could be granted without in any way proving detrimental to the national park would bring in revenue enough to make it self-supporting in a short time. I have tried to present a few of the most important points favoring the creation of the national park, and will add that fully 90% of the people in this immediate vicinity are of the same opinion as myself. All of the old timers here who have seriously considered the question and know how much of the wild game and how many of the natural beauties of the place are being yearly destroyed, hope with me that you will give this subject your most serious consideration. Your obedient servant, Shep N. Husted. [William H. Taft and family visited Estes Park in the summer of 1921.]