Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

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 instructor in English and public speaking, a teacher in argumentation and secretary to President Benjamin Ide Wheeler. Later, in 1947, his alma mater was to confer on him the honorary degree of Doctor of Law as "a conservationist who has applied rational imagination and boundless industry to the public service of his State and Nation."


In 1919 the Drury Advertising Agency, which was established by Newton and his brother Aubrey, was employed by the newly formed Save-the-Redwoods League to conduct their drive to solicit private funds for the purchase of redwood groves. Newton already had a keen sense of the values of the American heritage and the natural landscape. Here again he was associated with men of vision: Dr. John C. Merriam, Henry Pairfield Osborn and Madison Grant, founders of the Save-the-Redwoods League; and Stephen T. Mather, Franklin K. Lane, Ray Lyman Wilbur, and Congressman William Kent, who soon became supporters of the League.

In 1927, the California State Park Commission was created by the state legislature. Working together, the Park Commission and the League were able to get the $6,000,000 State Park acquisition referendum through the legislature and to the voters, who approved it in 1928 by a 2-1/2 to 1 margin.

The bond issue required that bond funds be matched by money from sources other than the State in purchasing state park lands. Thus began the first expansion of California's great State Park System, and particularly the purchase and preservation of large blocks of magnificent redwood groves, as well as Point Lobos State Reserve, ocean beaches, mountain parks, desert areas and historic monuments.

In 1929 Newton was drafted by the Park Commission to serve as its acquisition officer on a part time basis. Since this was prior to Civil Service in California, he continued to serve as secretary to the League and as a partner in the Drury Advertising Company. This proved to be a useful coalition, for the Park Commission and the League had common objectives. Through the League's ability to secure private contributions for matching fund purposes, many choice park properties, particularly redwood groves were acquired. The magnificent Rockefeller Forest near the Junction of Highway 101 and Bull Creek is an outstanding example. The caliber and prestige of the League's directors and the skill of the advertising company established an enviable record for raising money to match the state bond funds. After retirement from state service as Chief of the Division of Beaches and Parks in 1959, Newton returned to the League, and as of this writing (October 1971) he is still active in raising money and negotiating for redwood land purchases.

Newton was an adroit acquisition officer. He was therefore able to take advantage of the depression of the 1930's when many people and firms were anxious to be relieved of property tax burdens. With Newton as the prime mover, forty-nine of the


most important parks, beaches and historic monuments of the California State Park system were established from 1928 to 1940.

It was during this period that Newton became intimately familiar with the redwood country to which he had been most devoted. But he had a keen sense of history, an eye for the delicate landscape of the desert and the concept of ocean beach preservation. He was disappointed in his failure to raise matching funds for valley and river parks and choice parcels of the Sierra Nevada, other than the Calaveras Big Trees and Bliss Park at Lake Tahoe.

As a result of his many contacts through the League, his sharp sense of values and his talents and accomplishments became nationally recognized. He was vice president of the American Forestry association, a director of the National Conference on State Parks, a member of the Yosemite National Park Advisory Board, an honorary life member of the Sierra Club, and a research associate in Primitive Landscape for the Carnegie Institute of Washington, B.C. He modestly declined offers to become President of the Carnegie Institute and Director of the National Park Service so that he might finish the state's acquisition program under the State Park Bond Act.

With the sale of the last unit of the 1928 bonds in 1940, his services as park acquisition officer were virtually completed. In addition there were internal conflicts with Governor Olson's administration. Also Newton was ready to meet new challenges. By this time his conservation concepts and philosophies had crystallized. His sense of the value of preservation of nature's wonders and beauty was thoroughly established in his own mind. His concept of saving and preserving choice natural features became an objective from which he never deviated.

On August 16, 1940, in his last official act as state park acquisition officer he outlined a ten year ($200,000 per year) program of land acquisition to the Park Commission in which he emphasized the purchase of southern California beaches and completion of the existing park units. Years later as Chief of the Division he was to find himself still working on that objective.

On August 20, 1940, Drury severed his California connections to become the fourth Director of the National Park Service, a position he held until 1951. During that period his brother Aubrey administered the League's affairs in an exemplary manner.


Up to this point the opportunity of my knowing Newton Drury personally had never occurred, although I knew him by reputation. I had followed some of the controversy in the establishment of the Grand Teton National Park in which he played a strong role. When I became State Forester in 1944 I soon became acquainted with many of the State Park field and headquarters staff.

I first met Newton shortly after he took over the Division of Beaches and Parks in 1951. Our two Divisions were then in the Department of Natural Resources. We in the department held him in high regard, for here was a man who had been at the fountainhead of action in Washington, D.C., and a man who had dared to cross swords with Secretary of Interior, Harold Ickes. But it wasn't until after I became Director of the Department of Natural Resources that I really learned the quality, competence, devotion and objectivity of the man.

Those were years of contraction and expansion of the Park Commission's budgets. We were still acquiring lands, particularly beach lands under the 1945 $15,000,000 general fund appropriation, which also required matching funds from other than state sources. In these transactions the coastal counties were providing much of the matching value by contributing beach properties which they held. In some instances the resulting beaches were leased back to the counties for development and operations.

In 1954 the impounded oil royalties obtained from drilling on State-owned tide and submerged lands were released to the state by Congressional action, resulting from the U.S. Supreme Court's decision acknowledging the continental shelf out to the three mile limit to be state property. Planning in anticipation of this windfall became an urgent problem.

Because of Newton's intimate knowledge of the state and because of his earlier experience as an acquisition officer and his prior planning experience coupled with a dedicated staff the state-wide plan moved forward with surprising speed. He created an enviable loyalty among his employees. The planning was centered primarily on outstanding natural, scenic and historic values along with some non-urban recreation lands. While considering these values it was also necessary to consider the political possibilities for legislative approval. The pressures from southern California were heavy. When the 1956 plan for 123 projects at an estimated cost of $30,000,000 was presented to the legislature only one change was made. The proposed purchase of Cascade Lake and adjacent lands near Emerald Bay on Lake Tahoe was stricken and the old mining town of Bodie in Alpine County was substituted as an Historical Monument .


It was during this post-war period that demands for outdoor recreational lands were mounting. Boaters were pressing for harbors, marina and launching facilities; riding and hiking were becoming popular; more wilderness areas were being demanded along with public access to lakes and ocean beaches plus the establishment of a system of roadside rests which the Division of Highways had refused to recognize.

With all due respect, Newton was less enthusiastic about recreation and playground areas than he was for the acquisition of scenic and historic areas. He was a "park man" in the full sense of the word. In this, his great monument, is the chain of 27 redwood state parks in which he has played a leadership role for many decades. Of all the fine things he has accomplished the redwoods stand out sharp and clear. He has never taken his eyes off the redwood target, nor did he ever sacrifice quality for quantity. He fought for state appropriations and he has been instrumental in helping the Save-the-Redwoods League raise nearly $16,000,000 in private contributions to make the redwood dream a reality.

Newton was not particularly popular with a number of the legislators. He did not like to retreat from what he thought was the right objective. Because of his command of the English language and his ability to debate issues he tended to confuse rather than to enlighten. However, when the votes were counted he usually had the support of those legislators who had the power to put the program through.

There was one notable exception. In 1958 when the legislature was debating the appropriations for land acquisition and development for support of the 1960 Winter Olympic games at Squaw Valley, Newton presented the most logical plan of all. It simply was to acquire the key lands held by Alex Gushing and Wayne Paulson and the other scattered private holdings within the Squaw Creek drainage. It was a bold recommendation and had it been successful it would have prevented many problems in the years ahead. But the legislature and the administration were looking for the short range and cheap solution. The proposal was dismissed and both Newton and I were requested to stay away from future hearings on the subject. Ironically, as soon as the games were over the entire unhappy situation was dropped into the lap of the Division of Beaches and Parks. It is still one of the Division's biggest problem areas. Happily the games were extremely successful. And so is Alex Gushing!

The Hearst family's donation of the Hearst Castle at San Simeon is another landmark for which Newton can take much credit. Due to his contacts over the years with the Hearst family and the Hearst organization he had entree that helped in


working out the details of that property transfer. The "La Casa Grande" situated on top of the mountain overlooking the blue Pacific has proven to be one of the most popular Historic Monuments in the park system. From the beginning it has been financially self-supporting.

It is difficult to describe Newton Drury as Chief of the Division of Beaches and Parks in a few pages. He has left his monuments on the California landscape for all to enjoy through future generations. I believe this has been possible because of several inherent characteristics of the man. First, his dedication to preserving some part of the American heritage and of nature's grandeur, particularly in his native California. Second, he fixed his eyes on a given target at an early age which fortunately led him to people and positions where he could pursue that objective throughout most of his life. He was firm but yet flexible. He did not believe that a half loaf was better than no loaf but he was willing to take a half loaf and get the rest later. As Chief he did that on many occasions because he never lost sight of the total objective. He lost few issues because he never gave up.

An example of Newton's tenacity occurred in 1927. The legislature was about to adjourn and the State Park Bond Act had not been taken up by the Senate Finance Committee. Newton left the Committee hearing room, dejectedly, as one of the senators left, leaving the Committee without a quorum. Newton rode the down elevator with the senator, all the while expressing his regret that the Bond Act had not been taken up by the Finance Committee. "What?" exclaimed the sympathetic senator. "Let's go right back up and take it up." They did, the senator did and the bill, already guided through the Assembly by Newton, was passed by the Senate at the eleventh hour.

To Newton Drury the State of California and the nation owe a debt of gratitude that can be paid only by the inspiration which people down through the years will receive as they visit the redwoods, mountains, deserts, beaches and historic sites, to which he devoted so many years of his life.

On August 21, 1971, the Council of the Save-the-Redwoods League, meeting in the Eureka Inn, where the League was founded in 1918, elected him President.

DeWitt Nelson
Director, retired
California State
Department of Natural
Resources, 1953-1966

October, 1971
Sacramento, California



Earl P. Hanson, Chief Deputy, Division of Beaches and Parks under Drury.

James E. Warren, Superintendent, Redwoods District under Drury.

Elmer A. Aldrich, Supervisor, Conservation and Education under Drury.

Dr. Aubrey Neasham, Park Historian under Drury.

"Newton Bishop Drury - Park System Executive." A thesis by Ion Eugene Spharler, Sacramento State College, June 24, 1968.



Newton Bishop Drury had long been regarded as a Berkeley resident whose career could be of great interest to University history and to conservation historians of his era. The Regional Oral History Office of The Bancroft Library further knew that he had been a newspaper reporter in his youth, a champion debater, then an English instructor at the University of California, all indicating that he would probably produce an especially articulate, literate autobiography via tape recorded interview.

When we first approached him in 1959 about taping some interviews, neither of us foresaw anything more than perhaps a year of off-and-on sessions. Neither of us realized that our project was to defy the perimeters of an ordinary oral history interview (an outline with a beginning, middle and end) and become a dynamic creature with a life of its own. It would not only foster the proper number of recording sessions but also send out off shoots to other interviewees, spawn whole families of interviews of even greater proportions and in worlds other than its own, and, once at age five and again six years later, pause to nurture its own growth again with updating sessions on progenitor Drury.

In 1959 he no longer was coping with the daily pressures of "The buck stops here." In April he had left the chief's chair of the California State Beaches and Parks and returned as a consultant to the scene of his first conservation career--the Save-the-Redwoods League in San Francisco. It looked as if, for the first time in his life, he would have time for an autobiographical project. But we were wrong. A sudden tragedy put him back at the executive's desk in November of 1959: his brother, Aubrey, who had been the head of the League ever since Newton had gone to Washington to head the national parks in 1940, was suddenly stricken with a fatal heart attack. Nonetheless we went on with our plans for the interview, and decided to include as much material as possible on Aubrey's life as writer, avid history buff, and League head.

Our records show that the interviews were held on the following dates:

1960: March 16, May (?), September 23, November (?)

1961: January 18, June 15, July 17, July 28, November 2, November 9, November 27, December 11, December 20

1962: January 16, February 6, February 20, February 28, March 14, March 30, April 19, April 26

1963: June 6

1970: March 17


The Interviews

As I write this in the fall of 1972, we can look back over a dozen years of digging through papers, taping, transcribing, editing, checking dates and names, and taping again. At first there were three years of Fry-Drury taping sessions, an hour here and an hour months later, interspersed with hiatuses because of his League duties and sometimes because of supplementary sessions with his associates; there was also his trip to Europe in 1962--his first visit abroad. Always Drury doggedly worked in time to swing by the Berkeley campus for an interview whenever his crowded schedule would permit. In between were our phone conversations to discuss outlines for the next recording sessions. (In these Drury's wry wit sparkled with more off-the-cuff ironies than did the more straight-forward taping sessions.) There was research done apace, to bolster his memory and my questions, usually reflecting material on the history of the League that had already been deposited in The Bancroft Library. In addition, he made available to us anything he still held that would help contribute to the pre-interview investigations, from past masters theses on the League to Congressional hearings on the battle for national park appropriations during the bottom-of-the-barrel Forties.

By the time Drury finished recording and editing the "last" section the account of the challenges, battles, and survival techniques of NPS--his career in the Save-the-Redwoods League had continued behind our backs. Among other achievements, the League had acquired two-thirds of the watershed above spectacular Rockefeller Forest to control Bull Creek, whose roar of destruction had twice ripped out redwood giants in floods in the fifties; in one year $900,000 had been raised. So we recorded an addendum in 1963 to cover such successes and purchases since last we talked.

By the time this was edited and final typed, the complex efforts to establish the Redwood National Park had recently materialized, an event captured in another addendum in 1970, along with further enlargements on the battles against freeway construction in parks and further purchases in the Bull Creek watershed. By happy coincidence, Susan Schrepfer, a Ph.D. candidate writing her thesis on the history of the League, was hired at this time by the League to sort out their old files. She agreed to assist in the interviewing and editing on the final addendum, and Assistant Director John Dewitt authorized this use of her League time. The high level of her documentary scholarship is obvious in this section.

That last addendum was recorded in Drury’s suite in the Grant Building in San Francisco, where the League has had its home office since the early twenties. Most of the prior interviews occurred on the Berkeley campus, where Drury stopped by in the mornings on his way to San Francisco. The first sessions were noteworthy for their primitive environment, for ROHO has no interviewing room and generally has to conduct the recording sessions in the memoirist's own home; it was a mark of Drury's genteel ways that he insisted on coming to us in the library and not vice versa. Our recording conditions progressed from an empty echoing room to an empty echoing room in which we


devised our own studio by propping against our chairs large paintings stored there by the library, then draping an old quilt over the top for an acoustical aid. Our impromptu engineering increased the fidelity of the recording, but since the art did not pass the critical test for either of us, we eventually turned the huge paintings back-side-to. After a few weeks, the university language laboratory made available a tiny recording booth in Dwinelle Hall, which caused some claustrophobic fatigue through the sessions, although the acoustics were excellent. The point is that Drury suffered through it all like the trooper he is, never losing a rare ability to formulate his answers in meticulous English and in complete, often complex sentences.


Although his oral English is probably the best we have encountered, he fretted that the transcripts read like the "babblings of senility" (or some such phrase) and that we had gone far too much in detail for anyone's interest in the topic. When he received our rough-edited manuscript, he agreed to restrain his normally eloquent pen and leave it conversational; he was most conscientious at this point in digging into his copious files to check facts and dates before returning it for final typing. Understandably, his skepticism of the basic worth of an autobiography of Newton Drury, plus the pressure of his rushed schedule, led to many delays in his own editing. One has to appreciate the fact that the man who was enduring the loose, conversational style of oral history was the same National Park director whose eloquence was held in such awe that a number of his employees had collected and produced a booklet of the more delightful quotations of their chief.

After reading a portion of the rough-edited transcript, Drury wrote on March 7, 1963,

"I don't want to bore or offend you with repetition of my chronic theme, but I can't help wishing that you or some dispassionate editor could make it more direct and less (the Latins had a word for it) prolix. Anyhow, thanks."

Undaunted, the office sent him another section to review a month later, with the note: [April 15, 1963, letter from Fry to Drury]

"Here are the first two sections of 'The Newton Drury Interview' for your bedtime reading.... I know what you will say, and I project my rebuttal now: I did cut out and edit down. Frankly, I cannot feel free to tamper with your speech any further by myself. I have to assume this is what you meant to say and the way you meant to say it, and if I did more editing, then it would be more of me than you.... It reads now as an informal, authentic conversation."

But he never veered from his contention that the manuscript was shamefully incohesive and historically irrelevant, all the while supremely resistant to my complaints that his misplaced modesty was giving us the story without his role in it, a Hamlet without a Hamlet.


As the Sixties wore on, the success of his fund raising and timber purchasing tightened his already busy schedule and reinforced his natural reluctance to go over the unwelcome transcript. February 17, 1966, he wrote in a letter referring to the first addenda:

"Thanks for yours of February 15. You heap coals of fire on my head. I have intended to call you and tell how Henry Morse Stephens was harried to his end by the unfinished history of the 1906 earthquake.

"I am apparently of sterner stuff, for although I wake up in the middle of the night with guilty recollection of the unfinished proofreading job, it has not undermined my health, so far as I know.

"I'll call you and arrange for us to talk, so that I can present my newest alibis...."

It is ironic that Drury's skepticism about the value of this slice of 20th century conservation history occurred at the same time that scholars were knocking on the office door in their eagerness to use it. One in particular is pertinent: Lon Spharler relied heavily on the rough manuscript, with Drury's permission, for his thesis at Sacramento State College ( Spharler, Lon Eugene. "Newton Bishop Drury - Park System Executive." Master's thesis, Sacramento State College, 1968. In Drury supplement,).

In spite of, perhaps because of, such give-and-take, Drury developed a sort of bemused tolerance of the whole process. September 18, 1968 he wrote, "Inevitably, I suppose, one becomes an 'historic relic,' notable principally for longevity." His aesthetic sensibilities may have been bruised by the conversational prose, but he shared at least some of his brother Aubrey's respect for history, for The Bancroft Library, and for his alma mater. His participation actually was so wide ranging that our joint project threatened to become endemic. It was his initiative that enabled us, between his own interviews, to have tandem recording sessions with other persons who were in important auxiliary positions at various stages in Drury's career: Harold Bryant, pioneer in the naturalist program of the national parks [January 23, 1962]; Enoch Percy French, the major timber cruiser in the redwoods who also served as the first administrator of Humboldt Redwood State Park for many years [September 16, 1961 and January, 1963]; and Herbert Evison, the national parks public relations man who earlier had headed the Civilian Conservation Corps for the National Park Service [April 20, 1961]. At that time he was officially retired but had been engaged by the National Park Service to write its history. Although his final manuscript was never published, he not only deposited with us many of the transcripts of the interviews he had conducted during his research, but also provided his own highly knowledgeable queries with which to question Drury for a chapter on the inner workings of the National Park Service.


When past director of the National Park Service and old friend Horace Albright came to the campus in 1961 for an honorary degree, Drury brought him into our makeshift recording room in Dwinelle Hall on March 14 for a duo session on their long friendship (since college days) and their views of national park policy. Albright had already recorded a comprehensive autobiography for the Oral History Office at Columbia University, so he and Drury agreed to allow their respective manuscripts to be the objects of a trade between Berkeley and Columbia. Both men have since become the holders of ROHO's unofficial title of deus ex machine, for each has helped whenever called upon to suggest a prospective foundation for funding, to serve as a mutual friend in arranging an introduction to a potential interviewee, or to advise on lines of questioning.

Their tasks have been too diverse and too numerous to mention them all, but one in particular has proved extraordinarily significant. In 1962 it was Drury, Horace Albright, and his wife, Grace, who provided our earliest contact with their classmate, Chief Justice Earl Warren, during the 50th reunion of the class of 1912. As the three had promised beforehand, they steered ROHO director Willa Baum and myself to the former California governor at a reception in The Bancroft Library for the first conversation of what was to become a long series of negotiations for an Earl Warren oral history. The five-year project, currently underway, documents not only the life of Earl Warren but the political and governmental history of the state during the Warren Era in California. Throughout the years preceding the actual work, it was Newton Drury and Horace Albright who, at every opportunity, reminded their fellow alumnus that he had a task to do for his alma mater.

Meanwhile, it was the Drury interview itself that served as a catalyst for a subsequent series of interview with more than twenty pioneer forest conservationists in the formative years of the U.S. Forest Service, a project under the auspices of Resources for the Future. This in turn became a nucleus around which further interviews were done with West Coast figures for the Forest History Society, which was then at Yale University.


By the time we reached the stages of final editing, typing, and assembling, costs of production had risen so much that the university funds under which the interview had been initiated were hopelessly inadequate. At this point, a bit of benevolent duplicity (to use a Drury phrase) between John Dewitt and the Board of Directors produced--without Drury's knowledge at first the funds necessary to record the Redwoods National Park addendum, finish the editing, do the indexing, and organize for use the large boxes of papers pertinent to the interview, those selected documents which Drury and I had used throughout the project. Some are included in the manuscript as illustrative and appendix material and some form a supplementary collection accompanying the manuscript in The Bancroft. Ruth Rafael fortunately


could take time from her archivist's schedule at the Judah Magnes Memorial Museum in Berkeley to come over to ROHO for the latter job. Drury collected a few photographs, after some urging, for use in the manuscript, then located negatives and in some cases additional prints. The entire collection of Drury's personal papers, now in his house in Berkeley, is to be deposited in The Bancroft also, as is the remaining accumulation of League papers that presently reside in a storeroom six floors beneath the League offices.

One final point is that Drury has been honored with resolutions by Congress and by the California legislature, with an honorary degree from his alma mater, with a redwood grove preserved in his name, and with most of the bestowable conservation medals, the latest of which the Yellowstone centennial medal--was presented to him two weeks ago during a seventy-nation conference at that site. Cavalier about admitting to such awards, he makes it difficult for a researcher to document them. (A partial list is in Who's Who.) When faced with incontrovertible evidence, he retorts that the whole thing was grossly exaggerated, but that he has also been accused of atrocities he never committed, so perhaps the award serves to balance the record. We believe that, minimally, this interview does the same.

Amelia R. Fry
Regional Oral History Office

2 October 1972
486 The Bancroft Library
University of California
Berkeley, California

The National Parks Centennial Commission recognizes the outstanding contributions of
to the National Parks of the U.S.A.
Given at the Second World Conference on National Parks
Yellowstone Grand - Teton National Parks
18-27 September, 1972


Senate Resolution

Relative to the retirement of Newton B. Drury
By Senator Fred S. Farr

Whereas, Newton Bishop Drury retired from the Division of Beaches and Parks, Department of Natural Resources, on April 30, 1959, having served with distinction as its chief since April 1, 1951; and

Whereas, He was a leader in promoting legislation which established the California State Park System in 1927, including a referendum for a $6,000,000 bond issue, which was overwhelmingly approved by the California voters; and

Whereas, In 1940 the then President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, appointed him as Director of the National Park Service, Department of the Interior, a position which he held for 11 years; and

Whereas, During the period since 1951 his leadership resulted in adoption by the California Legislature of the five-Year State Park Program, which provided for the use of some $80,000,000 from off-shore oil royalties for the extension and development of the State Park System, thereby making this System a model throughout the United States; and

Whereas, Under his guidance, the parks, historical monuments and recreational areas of the California State Park System have increased to more than 150 in number, which are visited by more than 50,000,000 people annually; now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the Senate of the State of California, That the Members of the Senate hereby express to Newton Bishop Drury their gratitude and appreciation on behalf of 15,000,000 Californians, and hail him for his outstanding achievements, and specifically commend him for the foresight and the faith which has enabled this State to acquire, preserve, and maintain a part of the original California scene as a heritage for this and future generations; and be it further

Resolved, That the Secretary of the Senate is hereby directed to transmit suitable copies of this resolution to Newton Bishop Drury.

Senate Resolution read, and unanimously adapted June 5, l959.

President of the Senate


J. A. Beek
Secretary of the Senate


Newton Bishop Drury

Director of the National Park Service

We, the signers of this address, for ourselves individually and in our representative capacities desire to record our appreciation for more than a decade, as Director of the National Park Service and to express at the same time our sincere regret that these services should now come to an end.

We feel that our confidence in you, when you entered upon your duties, and our high hopes for your administration have been justified, completely and abundantly.

You have been the chief custodian of our country’s greatest treasures, unique and irreplaceable, the superlative works of nature upon our land and the monuments of the history of our people. You have guarded these treasures with devotion and with courage as a sacred trust on behalf of countless generations to come, and you have known how to draw from them inspiration and enjoyment for the generations of the process.

You have held high the ideals of the public service which has been notable for its ideals and its loyalty to them, and you have maintained and enhanced its great tradition. 

On behalf of ourselves and the association which we have the honor to represent, and on behalf of these millions of our fellow citizens whose lives are enriched and whose love of country is stirred by the experiences which you and your associates of the National Park Service make possible for them, we thank you.

You have deserved well of the Republic.

List of Subjects Discussed



CSP       California State Parks
DAC      Drury Advertising Company
NPS       National Park Service
S-R-L    Save-the-Redwoods League
UC         University of California

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