This post is a Many Moons Ago Monday — which means the events that we are presenting here today are not current, they actually happened many moons ago. In this post we pick up after we left Borrego Springs in March of 2017, 18 full moons ago…
March 9 – 12, 2017.
Many, many, many moons ago, in August 1934, it was crunch time for Minerva. She had already accomplished a lot, but this was important. And Harold had to understand how important.
A few months earlier she had failed to convince the National Park Service to obtain the acreage needed to create a Joshua Tree preserve. Back then she had tried to sway Yellowstone’s superintendent Roger Toll. He traveled each winter to evaluate potential parks. He rejected most candidates, and found her proposed site “lacking in any distinctive, superlative, outstanding feature that would give it sufficient importance”. He was highly respected, and his opinion carried weight. But she felt strongly about this.
She called in favors and lobbied for another chance. Inundated with letters from congressmen, businessmen, scientists and garden club members, the park service was sending Head of Research, Harold Bryant, to do another survey. Maybe he could be convinced.
He was persuaded, of course, and now we can all visit Joshua Tree National Park. It’s easy today to assume that people always thought national treasures like this should be protected. But without the fighting spirits of people like Minerva Hamilton Hoyt we might have no parks to appreciate.
Minerva Hamilton Hoyt
- Daughter of a plantation owner, born Minerva Hamilton in Durant, MS in 1866
- Married Dr. Albert Hoyt from NY, and moved to Pasedena, CA.
- Became a socialite, presiding over Boy’s and Girl’s Clubs and Philharmonic.
- In 1918-19 lost her infant son, husband, and father.
- Spent much of 1920s exploring desert lands and learning about desert wildlife. During this time cacti in nearby Devil’s Garden were pirated for people’s yards, leaving the area bare. Joshua Tree cacti were used for lumber, and set on fire for fun.
- In 1928 flew cacti to exhibits in Garden Club of America in NY, and also to England. Successfully lobbied for land preservation in Anzo-Borrego and Death Valley.
- In 1930 founded International Desert Conservation League.
- In 1931 got Mexico’s President Rubio to establish desert park near Tehuacan. He dubbed her “Apostle of the Cacti”.
- Highly instrumental in getting nearly one million acres preserved for Joshua Tree in 1936.
- As Superintendent of Yellowstone (1929-36) established a winter base office in Denver, CO. From there visited and evaluated 129 candidate sites for NPS.
- In Jan 1934 toured Big Bend in TX, recommending it become a park. In March visited Joshua Tree.
- In Feb 1936 visited Big Bend again to explore joint efforts with Mexico. Killed in an auto accident on his return trip to Denver.
- Was convinced in 1934 visit that a large park was needed for Joshua Tree cacti.
- Had a distinguished career with the Park Service. But was proudest of his efforts to establish ranger-led outdoor activities.
* All pics are click to enlarge.