National Parks: Soap Salesman to the Rescue

One takeaway from Ken Burns' National Parks...

While National Parks existed prior to 1900, it was Stephen Mather, whose name adorns numerous facilities associated with Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and other parks who invented the business model, so to speak, that attracted additional speculative funding enabling the development of the traditional features in the parks that are known today, such as the tradition of grand lodges (Yellowstone, Yosemite, Crater Lake, Glacier, Grand Canyon, and Death Valley) coupled with the ethos of preservation.

By partnering with vested interests such as the railroads and creating attractions, Mather achieved his other goal - maintaining vast tracts of land in an undisturbed state through an intelligent compromise.

Mather wasn't afraid to use his own money when necessary - he had cut his teeth as a soap marketer, developing the brand name "Twenty Mule Team" and creating demand for Borax, extensively mined at Death Valley and other adjacent lowland valley locations. The trademark is now owned by the Dial Corporation...

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