Great Crowd At Park Dedication


Tremendous Gathering Assembles Today At Big Meadows

BIG MEADOWS, VA, July 3--(AP)--Into a natural amphitheater flanked by jagged peaks of the Blue Ridge, thousands of persons converged today to hear President Roosevelt's dedication of the 180,000 acre Shenandoah National Park.

At Washington the Chief Executive stowed a picnic lunch in his car to travel over the 100-mile route into the heart of the picturesque mountain country and over the Skyline Drive, a highway running along the mountain tops.

With Mr. Roosevelt's dedication at 2:30pm (EST) the great tract of wild wooded country, including the Rapidan Camp of former President Hoover, becomes a part of the vast Eastern Park system which eventually will stretch from the Shenandoah to the Great Smokies in Southern Tennessee.

Two cabinet members, Secretary Ickes, whose Department embraces the National Park Service, and Postmaster General Farley, were in the Presidential party.

Marine Band Plays

The Marine Band also was directed to journey from the capital to take part in the ceremonies which officials here estimated would be witnessed by possibly 50,000 persons, aside from those listening to the broadcasts over nationwide hookups.

The program called for arrival of the President a few minutes before the speech. Governor Peery, the Rt. Rev. Dr. H. St. George Tucker; Episcopal Bishop of Virginia, and Rt. Rev. Peter L. Ireton, Bishop coadjutor of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, were in a welcoming party.

The speaker's stand, on a site 3,500 feet above sea level, was decorated with the national colors, with a huge eagle on the front. An awning was ready in case of rain.

In addition to the seating space for more than 20,000 on chairs, benches, and logs cut by workers of the Civilian Conservation Corps, there was standing room for an unlimited number in surrounding meadow land.

Besides President Roosevelt Secretary Ickes also was on the speaking program.

Heads to Farmington

After the addresses Mr. Roosevelt planned to go on to Charlottesville, where he will spend the night in a former slave's house which is now a part of the Farmington Country Club, on a hill commanding a broad view of the Blue Ridge.

He will proceed tomorrow along a winding road past Patrick Henry's early home, to Monticello, the home Thomas Jefferson spent much of his life-time building and re-building. There he will deliver his Independence Day address.

At Richmond, the President will board the yacht, "Potomac," for a cruise down the James River to Jamestown, where he will anchor for the night. Early Sunday he will inspect the Jamestown burying ground where a number of "First Americans" are buried, and then will visit the battlefield at Yorktown and Williamsburg, the Colonial Capital of Virginia which has been restored by the Rockefellers to its original condition.

At the old Ruxton church, a worshipping place of the Washingtons, the Pages, the Lees, and many other famous Virginia families, the President will attend church. Again boarding the "Potomac," he will return to Washington Monday.

As eager thousands came to this land of the sky to witness the dedication, traffic was made one way from North and South entrances of the sixty-five mile Skyline Drive atop Virginia's famed Blue ridge into Big Meadows from 7 a.m. until the hour of the dedication at 2:30 p.m. Room and parking space was arranged for 50,000 visitors and 20,000 automobiles.

Setting Is Colorful

The speakers' stand, from which President Roosevelt will deliver the address dedicating this area of mountain peaks, tumbling water courses, trout filled pools and broad table lands to enjoyment of this and future generations was gaily decorated in National colors.

It faced a natural amphitheater of vast proportions in which seats were provided for 10,000. Outside of the reserved and bench seat section, CCC workers had placed hundreds of logs out from the spectre like forest of dead chestnut trees which once flourished in the Appalachians before destructive blight left them gigantic ghosts of the past. Another ten thousand could find seats on these logs.

Six CCC Camp boys with perfect records from the large number in the Shenandoah National Park to occupy seats on the platform with the President. They are Fred Helsley, Edinburg, from Big Meadows Camp, Gilbert Meomaw, of Mountain Lake Park, Md, Walter Lunsford of Raphine, from Camp 10; Dewey Haney, of Camp NIRA, Elmer Batman of Kimball, from Camp No 2; and R. Hensley, of Elkton, from Camp No. 5.

Dedication of the Park today came ten years after Congress passed the act for this and the Great Smokies National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee, and its inception as a dream of a number of Virginia residents goes back much further.

There are hundreds of miles of trails leading from the drive for horseback riders and pedestrians. They lead to many hidden beauty spots, especially in gorges with beautiful waterfalls and cascades.

Soon the 447-mile parkway which with scenic easements will have an 800-foot right of way, will connect the Shenandoah Park with the Great Smokies and provide one of America's most interesting drives.

It has been authorized and the Administration and the Administration placed in the hands of the National Park Service.