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Death Valley National Park

A History

Hal Rothman, Char Miller

Publication Year: 2013

The story of how this extraordinary desert became one of America’s greatest national parks 

Published by: University of Nevada Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 1-6


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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xii

Death Valley National Park is one of the most complex and intriguing of all desert national parks in the United States. Located in the heart of the Mojave Desert, the park’s 3.3 million acres of staggering dimension and arid beauty epitomize the concept of desert preservation. ...

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pp. 1-7

Not far from the small outpost of Death Valley Junction near the Nevada state line, California Highway 190 quickly drops in elevation. The above-sea-level landscape seamlessly changes as the miles pass, becoming more colorful, more jagged, more ornate, and more spectacular as the descent continues. ...

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1. Before the Monument

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pp. 8-27

The land that in 1933 became Death Valley National Monument had a long human history that preceded the arrival of the first Europeans in the New World. In that lengthy story, the environment’s fundamental characteristics determined the fate not only of pre-Columbian peoples but also of each of the cultures that succeeded them. ...

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2. On the Periphery

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pp. 28-45

At its establishment in 1933, Death Valley National Monument was an anomaly among US national park areas, an enormous reserve in a region that many Americans did not regard as special. Most Americans thought of the national parks as places of monumental scenic grandeur, and many still treated the nation’s desert areas as wasteland, ...

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3. Changing the Meaning of Desert

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pp. 46-68

The 1960s were a heady time for the National Park Service. Mission 66 had finally given the agency the facilities to accommodate the tremendous growth in tourism that followed World War II. Because of a divergent set of forces, the National Park Service began to move in new management directions. ...

Image Plates

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pp. 85-96

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4. Native Americans and the Park

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pp. 69-96

Death Valley National Monument was established in the heart of the homeland of the Panamint Shoshones, whose descendants later were called “Timbisha.” Federal officials drew up the monument’s boundaries with scant regard for the region’s prior inhabitants and with even less recognition of their historic status and position. ...

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5. Managing Death Valley

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pp. 97-130

Throughout its history, Death Valley National Monument, and its successor, Death Valley National Park, has struggled within the national park system. The unique characteristics of desert management required greater creativity and broader thinking than those needed at most national parks. ...

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6. Death Valley in the Twenty-First Century

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pp. 131-150

At the dawn of the twenty-first century, Death Valley National Park’s prospects had improved, for it had addressed many of the issues that had vexed its managers since 1933. Between the 1980s and late 1990s, Death Valley had completed the transition to national park status, added an enormous wilderness area, ...


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pp. 151-178


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pp. 179-186

E-ISBN-13: 9780874179262
Print-ISBN-13: 9780874179255

Page Count: 216
Illustrations: 13 photographs, 2 maps
Publication Year: 2013