Rocky Mountain National Park centennial under way
September 8, 2014
Dark storm clouds couldn't dampen spirits as tourists, locals, rangers and volunteers gathered at Holzwarth Historic Site in Rocky Mountain National Park on Thursday, Sept. 4, to commemorate the beginning of the Park's 100th anniversary.
The event featured National Park Service speakers and live music performed by Brad Fitch, a singer/songwriter and John Denver tribute artist; and local musician Peggy Mann.
Vaughn Baker, Park superintendent, spoke about ongoing conservation efforts in the Park and the tremendous contributions, including 2.13 million hours of volunteer work valued at $48 million, that has gone into preserving the Park.
"The kickoff is all about what Coloradans did to establish the park. They lobbied Congress. This is Colorado's gift to the nation. That is what we are celebrating." Baker said.
Regional Director for the Inter-Mountain Region of the National Park Service Sue Masica highlighted the importance of inter-generational stewardship of the National Parks.
"This is a great opportunity to be in the Park for the centennial," she said.
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The event drew visitors from throughout the U.S. including Jane and Ken Murach from Cleveland, Ohio. The Murachs were in Colorado for a fall vacation and during their trip planning discovered preparations for the dedication ceremony. The couple has visited over two-dozen National Parks but it was their first visit to RMNP.
A historical dedication speech was given by Kurtis Kelly performing as Enos Mills; the central figure in the effort for the establishment of the Park.
The speech used both direct quotes from Mills as well as some of Kelly's own writing and presented a message of "health and hope to all who enter here."
He finished his speech with a moving monologue.
"These are your gardens. These are your fountains of life. Kindly assist in keeping them."
Rocky Mountain National Park was dedicated on Sept. 4, 1915. President Woodrow Wilson signed the legislation officially authorizing the park on Jan. 26, 1915.
The National Park Service will continue to stage events commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Park through the rest of 2014 and onward until Sept. 4, 2015.
Find a detailed list of upcoming planned events at nps.gov/romo.