Newton Bishop Drury Oral History

Oral History Interview with
Newton Bishop Drury

Director, National Park Service, 1940-51.

Berkeley, California

University of California
University of California Bancroft Library/Berkeley
Regional Oral History Office

With Introductions by
Horace M. Albright and DeWitt Nelson

An Interview Conducted by
Amelia Roberts Fry and Susan Schrepfer

1972 by The Regents of the University of California

[Contents | Preface | Introduction by Horace M. Albright | Introduction by DeWitt Nelson | Interview History | Senate Resolution]

Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV-VI

[Notices and Restrictions | List of Subjects Discussed]

This is a transcript of a tape-recorded interview donated to the Harry S. Truman Library. The reader should remember that this is essentially a transcript of the spoken, rather than the written word, although some editing was done.

Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. [45]) within the transcript indicate the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the oral history interview.

All uses of this manuscript are covered by a legal agreement between the Regents of the University of California and Newton B. Drury, dated October 18, 1972. The manuscript is thereby made available for research purposes. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to The Bancroft Library of the University of California at Berkeley. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Director of The Bancroft Library of the University of California at Berkeley.

Requests for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the Regional Oral History Office, 486 Library, and should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user.The legal agreement with Newton B. Drury requires that he be notified of the request and allowed thirty days in which to respond.

Opened 1972
Harry S. Truman Library
Independence, Missouri


TABLE OF CONTENTS -- Newton B. Drury


INTRODUCTION By Horace M. Albright ii

INTRODUCTION By DeWitt Nelson viii





Family Tree 2
Mother, Ella Lorraine Bishop Drury 3
Father, Wells Drury 4
Early Childhood 4
From Indian Interpreter to Printer 7
Wells Drury and Other Journalists 12
Newspapermen Then Versus Now 18
Politics and Views 24

The Mobile Drurys 27
The Earthquake and Fire 29
Family Life 31
Theater and Music 34
Church 36
Schools 37
High School 39
Newspaper Work 42
Issues and. Youthful Politics 44
Alameda and Berkeley, Quiet Villages 50
Early Growth of Berkeley 51
College Days in Berkeley, 1908-1912 56
Academic Life 56
Student Activities of the Drury Brothers 60
The Illustrious Class of 1912 67
Aubrey Drury 1914-1917 74

The University 1912-1918 77
Formation of the College of Letters and Science 77
Drama and Lectures 79
Bob Sproul, Assistant Comptroller 85
Benjamin Ide Wheeler, President 86
World War I and the Balloon Corps 97


Formation of the Drury Advertising Company 102
Organizing the Save-the-Redwoods League 105
Pre-Save-the-Redwoods Conservation Efforts 110
Structure of the League 112
Men in the Early Years of the League 116
Funds for the League 119
Publicity nd Mail Campaigns 119
Personal Contact and Influence 126
Acquisition Processes and Problems; Humboldt County 133
Early Holdings 133
First Appropriation 135
Lumber Company Negotiations 137
Comments on Condemnation 143
Cruising and Appraising, Enoch Percy French 147
Aubrey Drury in the 1920’s and 1930’s 152
Metric System Campaign 153
Educational Institution Accounts 156
Conservation 158
Avocations 160

Composition of the Bond Issue Bill - A Critique by Hindsight 163
Support and Opposition in the Legislature 169
California State Parks Council 176
Campaign Techniques 176
The State Press 178
National Conference on State Parks 182
The State Park Commission 186
Its Formation 186
The First Commissioners and Governor Young 191
Political Turnover in the Commission 195
Olmsted's Survey 201
The Team 201
Problems in Maintaining Balance 203
Frederick Law Olmsted 209
Protection Through Planning 213
Pressures Against Protection 217
Commercial Pressures 217
Fires and Floods 223

Parks, Highway Development, and Planning 229
Financing the Parks 234
Park Money From Private Sources 234
Community Tax Problems 238
Decreased Taxable Land with Increased Land Values 238
In-lieu Taxes 243
Organization of Funds 245
Park Operations 249
Park Personnel 249
Ranger and Naturalist Programs 249
Civilian Conservation Corps, State Emergency Relief Agency, and Parks 255
Civil Service 261
Accommodations – Public Versus Private 264

The Oil Royalties 269
General Financial Picture 269
Royalties and the 1955 Legislature 272
Planned versus unplanned Distribution of Funds 272
Administration of Parks by Legislative Action 277
Individual Legislators 288
Acquisitions: Case Histories 292
Policy Questions 292
Transfers and Trades 295
Installment Buying 298
Butano Redwoods 300
Santa Cruz Redwoods and Point Lobos 302
Calaveras Sequoias 307
The North Grove 308
The South Grove 309
Corridor Land 313
Pueblo de Los Angeles 318
Hearst Castle 319
Comments 321
Angel Island 321
Golden Gate Headlands 322
Monterey Sites 323
Emerald Bay 324
Men and Parks 326

“The Team” – Aubrey and Newton 338
Wife, Elizabeth Frances Schilling, and Family 343



The Initiation 349
The Appointment 349
Working Conditions of the Job 355
Policy 358
Wildlife 361
Plants 366
Related Activities 369
Organization 377
Parks and Monuments 378
Historical Areas 382
Parkways and Local Parks 386
Program 389
Planning 389
Problems: Artificial Lakes, Inholdings 393

Budget Requests 401
Deferred Maintenance 402
Land Acquisition Funds 407
Pork Barrels 410
Internal Division of National Park Service Budget 413
National Redwood Park Proposals 416
Congressional Committees and Hearings 421
Congressmen 438
Bureau of Budget 442

Fire 445
Insects and Disease 450
Public Use and Park Interpretation 455
Ranger Naturalist Program 457
Vandalism 463
Inholdings 465
Fee Structure 467
Segregation 469

Advisory Committee 472
Government-owned Plant, with OperationsContracted 477
Changes in Demands of Public 485

Jackson Hole 488
Grazing 507
Dams 511
Bureau of Reclamation 511
Archeological Preservation 518

The Rise of the Assistant Secretaries 521
Drury's Resignation and Secretary Chapman 522


John Ise's National Park Policy 528
Herbert Evison's Manuscript in Preparation 534
Albright-Drury Interview 534


First World Conference on National Parks 536
Trip Abroad 540
Recent Activity of the Save-the-Redwoods League 547




Fund Raising 569
Acquisitions: General 572
Prairie Creek Park Additions 577


Douglas Bill 583
Grants-In-Aid 586
Jedediah Smith State Park (Mill Greek) 588
Revival of the Redwood National Park Project in 1960’s 590

Position of the National Park Service 593
The Sierra Club and the League 595
Alignment of Forces (Governmental and Conservation Groups) 604


Four Washington, D. C. Conferences 608
June 25, 1964 White House Meeting 608
December 15-17, 1965, Meeting with Foundation Representatives 609
Meeting of Sierra Club and League 612
Senate Committee Hearing, Subcommittee on Parks and Recreation, April 17, 1967 613
Bill in Conference Committee (Conference Report H. Rept. 1890 for S 2515, September 11, 1968 6l4
U.S. Forest Service; Redwood Exchange Unit 616
Congressman Wayne Aspinall 618

Economic Problem; Del Norte County 619
Residential Opposition to Park Acquisitions 622
Miller-Rellim Lumber Company 627
Redwood Lumbermen: United or Divided 632

Rounding Out the Watersheds 635
Transfer of State Parks to Federal Government 643
Future: Save-the-Redwoods League 650
Conclusion: Was the National Park Worthwhile? 650



The following Oral History memoir with Newton Bishop Drury was begun in 1959 in order to document Mr. Drury's long career in conservation as Director of the National Park Service, Chief of California State Beaches and Parks, and Secretary of the Save-the-Redwoods League. It took more than a dozen years to complete the memoir, in large part because Mr. Drury continued to make history, and his continuing achievements required further tape recording. The memoir is now completed, not because its subject has retired, but because it has reached maximum size for two volumes, and researchers are waiting to use it.

The Regional Oral History Office wishes to express thanks to the Board of Directors of Save-the-Redwoods League and especially to Assistant Secretary John B. DeWitt for engineering, unbeknownst to Mr. Drury, the donation of sufficient funds to bring to completion the memoir. Thanks are also extended to the two men who wrote introductions for this memoir: DeWitt Nelson, Drury's successor as Chief of California State Beaches and Parks, who comments on Drury's role in the state; and Horace Albright, Drury's predecessor as Director of the National Park Service, who comments on his role as a conservationist.

Willa K. Baum
Department Head

30 October 1972
Regional Oral History Office
486 The Bancroft Library
University of California at Berkeley



by Horace M. Albright

(An address given on June 16, 1968, at a dinner in Eureka, California, commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Founding of the Save-the-Redwoods League.)

Mrs. Albright and I are grateful for the privilege of attending the ceremonies commemorating the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Save-the-Redwoods League. We were especially excited and thrilled by the dedication of a grove of majestic redwoods to Newton B. Drury, recognizing his forty-eight years of unselfish, patient, courageous devotion to the cause of saving California's heritage of coast redwoods--the sequoia sempervirens.

I am grateful for the opportunity to speak in tribute to Newton Drury. When I speak of his extraordinary achievements in preserving groves of these magnificent trees, I do not forget or overlook the devotion to this noble cause by his late brilliant brother, Aubrey, who managed the Save-the-Redwoods League while Newton administered first the National Park Service, and then the Division of State Parks and Beaches of California. Newton was always available to Aubrey for advice and assistance, although the very able and skillful Aubrey, as the partner of his older brother, performed with gratifying success in Newton's absence.

The dedication of a handsome grove in honor of Tom Greig, of course, was another feature of the program yesterday, and that immensely pleased all of us who are familiar with the enormously successful work accomplished by him here in this redwood country, Tom's home land.

I would like to pay more tribute to Tom Greig and Aubrey Drury too, but my assignment is, for a brief part in this evening's program, to review my long association with Newton Drury and express, also briefly, my appraisal of him and his works. So, while I hold Tom in highest esteem, and revere and pay heartfelt respect to Aubrey, I will talk about Newton. My time is short, and you will understand why I will not review what you already know about his part in raising nearly $14,000,000 which was matched by the State and devoted to acquiring redwood-bearing lands now worth a quarter of a billion dollars.


I have known Newton Drury for sixty years. We entered the University of California in August, 1908, as freshmen members of the Class of 1912. And here let me add that Mrs. Albright, then Grace Noble, lays claim to a longer friendship, for she and Newton were in the same class in the Berkeley High School, as was also Elizabeth Drury’s sister, Elsa Schilling. Both girls went on to the University just as we boys did.

It was not long after matriculation at Berkeley, when Newt and I met as classmates, and we have been friends ever since. It did not take us long to review family history and find out that our mothers were in private school together in Reno, Nevada, in the late 1870's; that our fathers were both in Virginia City in the boom days of the famous Comstock Lode; and that later both were members of the Nevada Legislature in the lower house, the Assembly, of which Newton's father was the Speaker. While we seldom found ourselves in the same courses in the University, there were class and other social affairs where we were together until we both entered the School of Jurisprudence as juniors in 1911.

Newton was in extra-curricular activities. He was the outstanding debating champion of the class and of the University, the year he won the coveted Carnot Medal in the intercollegiate debate with Stanford University. In his senior year, he was the president of the entire student body, then called the Associated Students of the University of California--the A.S.U.C. Since students in our day did not engage in rioting nor otherwise disturb the tranquility of the University or the city of Berkeley, Associated Student Body President Newton Drury was not sought after by the current news media to express views on dissatisfaction with the administration of the University. Of course, had there been television in those days, that medium might have been attracted to him because he was a handsome fellow. Nevertheless, Newton often spoke to and for the student body and made his influence for good felt in University affairs.

After college days, he was Secretary to the President of the University, the great Benjamin Ide Wheeler; he also taught classes in public speaking, and then was in partnership with his brother, Aubrey, in a public relations firm which was successful from its beginning. Then there was World War I when both Newton and Aubrey were in the Army. It was just at the end of the war that the Save-the-Redwoods League was founded.

My long association with Newton Drury has been in resource conservation to which both of us have devoted much of our active lives; Newton more than I.


We are now near the scenes of Newton's great achievement as the Secretary of the Save-the-Redwoods League. He has been engaged in saving redwoods since 1920. As I have already mentioned, even during the years when he was directing the affairs of national and state park agencies, he was closely following the League's progress under Aubrey's management. After his brother's untimely death, Newton, deciding to go it alone, resumed the administration of the League as its Executive Secretary.

Newton Drury's first venture into the national conservation field was in the late 1930's when he was appointed to a special, non-paid, committee to advise on the protection of Yosemite Valley. This committee was composed of the late William E. Colby, long an associate of John Muir and a distinguished lawyer specializing in the law of mines and water; Frederick Law Olmsted, the famous landscape architect; John P. Buwalda, Professor of Geology at the California Institute of Technology; and Newton B. Drury, Secretary of the Save-the-Redwoods League.

Before undertaking this assignment, and while engaged in it, Newton devoted much time to planning a California state park system, and when legislation was enacted authorizing the design of such a program, on Newton's advice, Mr. Olmsted was employed as the director of the planning stage. Newton's advice and assistance was enormously important in the assembling of information and consulting on the proposed state park system; also in the review of the master plan report, which is a classic document in the outlining of criteria for selection of worthy parks, their establishment and management policies. The report also identified many scenic, historical, and recreational areas suitable for addition to the few state parks already created, such as the Big Basin Redwood Park. The Legislature authorized a State Park Commission, which was first headed by William E. Colby. Newton Drury, out of the abundance of his experience and thought on park policy, was a wise counsel for the Commission, and his advice guided its members as it did Mr. Olmsted's pioneer work.

Then came the National Park years. In 1940, Newton B. Drury became the Director of the National Park Service, the fourth man to head this bureau, created in 1916 to administer the national parks, national monuments and historic areas of the United States. For more than ten years, he was the chief executive officer of this great national park system. In his first years of leadership, he suffered a misfortune and severe handicap: the United States entered World War II, and to make room for war agencies many government bureaus and offices were moved to Chicago for the duration of the conflict. The National Park Service was one of these agencies. Only a liaison man, a budget officer, and


necessary clerical and secretarial help were left in Washington for contact with the Secretary of the Interior and with the Congress.

While having several hundred miles between himself and the irascible Ickes might seem to have been a blessing, operation of a large government bureau under such an extraordinary handicap was indeed Director Drury’s idea of a burden that he would gladly have foregone. He had no fear of the Old Curmudgeon, as Secretary Ickes called himself, so absence from Washington had no advantages. Newton and his Bureau were in Chicago five years of his more than ten years as Director. Many of the highest and most experienced executives and technicians went into the armed services, appropriations were seriously reduced, legislation and other vital affairs were delayed or defeated. Projects were advanced to invade the national parks for utilization of their resources of minerals, timber, and pasturage for livestock. The military establishments sought permission to install communication and other equipment on mountain tops, and in areas where impairment or destruction of natural features could result. All these invading forces, except in a few cases where the nation's safety was involved, were successfully met and defeated by the strong, clear-thinking, really tough Director Drury. Thus he carried his great federal agency through World War II just as had the first director of the National Park Service, Stephen T. Mather, one of the founders of the Save-the-Redwoods League, in World War I. Our magnificent national parks emerged with no permanent scars or precedents to plague future generations.

Time does not permit enumeration of Director Drury's positive and constructive achievements in developing new projects and new policies, promoting long-range planning for the future, and other courses of action of vital importance. However, I cannot refrain from mentioning one project that Newton Drury had to face after his return to Washington from Chicago. It was a Reclamation Service plan for a dam on the Green River below the Junction of the Yampa River with the Green in the Dinosaur National Monument in Utah. The Secretary of the Interior, apparently without due consideration of all factors involved, at least partially committed himself to the project which if carried out would have ruined the scenic and recreational values of the area and created a precedent of such magnitude as to endanger outstanding natural features of the whole national park system. Realizing that the Secretary would be embarrassed, Director Drury rejected this Echo Park project, and his opposition defeated the legislation in Congress. It was brought up again in a later Congress and again defeated, this time for keeps.


Leaving the National Park Service voluntarily in 1951 to accept Governor Earl Warren's appointment to the office of Chief of the Office of State Parks and Beaches in California, Newton spent nearly ten years in the administration of this fine system, rendering conspicuous service that brought him acclaim from all parts of the State and Nation. Of course, he had many kinds of state parks to supervise: scenic areas in mountains; forests; and along the sea, beaches; deserts with their native flora and fauna; and recreation attractions. Among these were the giant trees of the North Calaveras Grove. The even finer South Calaveras Grove was still in private hands and in grave danger of being destroyed in logging operations in the broad watershed of which its limited valley was a part. After long and difficult negotiations, Chief Drury, with the aid of the Governor, the Save-the-Redwoods League, and Mr. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., at a total cost of $2,800,000 acquired this South Calaveras Grove for the California Park System and with the untouched Beaver Creek's almost pure stand of sugar pine timber. Again I have to avoid attempting to list Newton's achievements in the broad field of his State Park jurisdiction.

The year 1959 was his last as Chief of the Division of State Parks and Beaches. The time had come for his retirement from public service. It was then that he returned to his old field of activity, doubtless his first love, the Save-the-Redwoods League, resuming the office of Executive Secretary left vacant by Aubrey's death.

He has constantly been successful in raising funds for cooperation with the State for buying mature redwood groves, securing them directly with League funds, and subsequently donating them to the State, or with matching funds securing them for the State Park System, and always moving forward to the completion of the League's program. Moreover, he has taken an active part in the movement to secure the authorization from Congress for the Redwood National Park, testifying before Congressional committees in Washington and up here in the redwood country. He is a little discouraged at the moment because of the delays in Washington, and for other reasons, but I think he will get his national park.

This is a brief account of the achievements of a great conservationist in all parts of the nation, and especially in California. Newton B. Drury is indeed one of the outstanding conservationists of all time. While he has not written essays or books as did Henry D. Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, or John Burroughs, and other naturalists, he is a naturalist in every fiber of his body. He could have written extensively, but he dedicated his life to saving and protecting segments of America's


heritage of primitive and unspoiled features of our natural environment, not by words alone but by deeds. He belongs to the rare species of preservationists, a group considerably higher than the resource conservationists.

So here is Newton B. Drury, a calm, diplomatic, dedicated, leader, distinguished protector and conservator of the finest natural features of America; honored by his University, by societies and associations devoted to scenic and historic preservation, admired and respected by thousands who know of the magnitude of his accomplishments and beloved by his friends who are legion. My thanks to all of you.

Horace M. Albright
Director, National Park
Service, 1929-1933



by DeWitt Nelson

The story of Newton B. Drury, as Chief of the California Division of Beaches and Parks from 1951 to 1959 can be made more revealing by summarizing his background and motivations. What influenced his early life and the intervening years before he was appointed Chief?

He had a rich cultural background in family and home. He was born in San Francisco in 1889, the elder son of the pioneer editor, Wells Drury, renowned for his writings about the Comstock Lode. He had a generous education in liberal arts and law. He was an aggressive debater both in high school and in college. He had worked as a reporter for an Oakland news paper, which later became the Oakland Tribune and was purchased and published by his friend and colleague, the Honorable Joseph R. Knowland, whose term as Chairman of the California State Park Commission under three Republican and one Democratic Governors resulted in an effective working partnership between the two men.

Newton graduated from the University of California with the famous class of 1912, which included such leaders of the future as: Earl Warren, Governor of California whose third term was foreshortened by his appointment as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States; Robert Gordon Sproul, destined to become President of the University of California; Horace Albright, who followed Stephen Mather as the second Director of the National Park Service; and others of the class of 1912 who became prominent in their special fields and with whom Newton continued friendship.

After graduation, Newton spent the next six years, except for war service as an observer in the Balloon Corps, at the University, where he was an instructo