Arthur C. Pillsbury Foundation

Protecting and Preserving All Life -- By Extending Human Vision

Mark Roy Daniels
Appointed Superintendent for Yosemite​​

Mark Daniels was interviewed by the Oakland Tribute, the story appearing in print on October 2, 1915. The subject was the future management of Yosemite National Park.  Into this interview I place links to other materials which provide an interesting insights into what Mark is saying.   When Stephen Mather died he left Horace Mather in charge of the cover-up of his felonies.  These illegal acts, carried out to cover for Mather, continue today.  In his book, Creating the Park Service:  The Missing Years, Albright admits to knowing Mather was engaging in multiple felonies, including self-dealing.  Albright, an attorney, covered for him.  Albright asked that publication be delayed until ten years after his death.  


Mark Daniels "Gives' Blustering Interview, in Which He Threatens to Close Yosemite Park to the Public 
Source for the article , Oakland Tribune October 2, 1915

Mark Roy Daniels

Stephen T. Mather, assistant secretary of the interior in charge of national parks, is on his way to Washington, D. C., to have an iron clad contract drawn up by me Attorney-General giving the Desmond Park Service Company an exclusive hotel privilege in Yosemite for twenty years, with a possible codicil giving the. company supremacy power over all the concessions in the park. David C. Curry, proprietor for the past 17 years of Camp Curry, in Yosemite. has also left rt Kan Francisco for Washington to make a fight against the contract being entered into and to lay his case before Secretary of the Interior, Franklin K. Lane. Captain Curry fears that he is about to be put out of 'business, and he is ready to lake his fight to congress or to the courts. if he learns there is any redress to be had from either of these sources. Mark Daniels, superintendent and landscape 'engineer of national parks, stated today that he thinks It will require 60 or 90 days before the contract can be formally entered into, and in the meanwhile Curry prosecute his fight with the assistance of a large army of friends whom, he has interested in his cause.
The threat is made that. if Curry occasions too much trouble by stirring antagonisms and controversies, Yosemite will be closed by Secretary Lane to all hotels and camp concessionaires and only camping parties will be permitted. This would mean that the no one, of moderate means could visit the park next year.


Whatever happens, a great change is. due in the management of affairs at Yosemite Valley, and the old "go-as-you- please days" will be no more.  Curry and his. friends. believe that the result will be an air-tight monopoly for the benefit of D. J. Desmond, head of the Desmond Park Service Company. and the catering of exclusive tourist trade in the valley. He even goes so far as to intimate that Desmond, assistant secretary Mather and Superintendent Daniels have been governed by selflish, personal motives in. negotiating for the closing the 20-year hotel privilege contract.   
Curry and Desmond came to blows over the matter last Saturday, and the feeling between Curry and Daniels not particularly amicable.   Daniels Declares. however, that he gets along with Curry better than any previous park superintendent.  “When I know Curry is wrong and that he knows it too." said Daniels. "I tell him he's a d-- n liar without mincing any words.”
Daniels admitted that a plan had been under consideration to place all of the camps and concessions under the direction of Desmond, with the arrangement by which Desmond should pay 50 percent net to the government while each subordinate concession which must pay Desmond 50 percent net for the superintendence performed by him.   The plan was abandoned when it was shown that this would make it possible for Desmond to run his own place at a loss while making his subordinate concessionaires pay the difference.  Daniels stated that some form of organization, bringing the concessionaires under one tent, would have to be worked out or the concession privileges in the valley might be dispensed with altogether.   
Daniels frankly admits that the plan of handling the park, in future, if he has his way, is to be along the lines of a governmentally controlled monopoly.  Desmond is to have the monopoly.
Desmond has no permit at present.  He is in possession of a letter from Secretary Lane in which the specific promise is made and he will be given this 20-year concession as soon as the details of the contract can be definitely agreed upon and the contract drawn up. 
“Is this an exclusive privilege for a hotel in Yosemite Valley?” Superintendent Daniels was asked. 
“No, it is not an exclusive privilege,” answered Daniels
“Then if another company applied for a permit to conduct a hotel then that would be granted?”
“No,” answered Daniels.  “We believe that one hotel is enough in Yosemite Valley.”
Then it is a practical monopoly?”
“Yes.  The tendency toward publicly owned property is toward governmentally controlled monopoly,” Said Daniels.  That is the policy along which state owned railroads commission is working.  It has been found to give the best results in service to the public.”
“The government regulates the rates and the conditions of service and that brings about a condition in which the company holding the franchise or permit gains a fair return on their investment, but no more than a fair return.
“The trouble with Curry is that if he had to be cut down to a fair return, he would lose half of his profits.”
“What is the method of getting competition in the letting of such a contract as this for a 20-year exclusive privilege?  Did you call for bids?”


“The government has found it is inadvisable to call for bids of this kind,” Daniels replied.  The highest bidder for such a privilege might be the last man who the government would wish to let the contract to.”
“I received bids from three persons.   We investigated them thoroughly as to their ability to carry out the plans of this department, as to their financial responsibility and as to their general standing.  All three were satisfactory.  He was not, however, the one I recommended.”
“Was Curry asked to present a proposal?”
“Curry was not invited to make a proposal,” Daniels explained.  “This work is beyond his capacity.  He is a good man in his line   He has done much for Yosemite Valley.  He has advertised it well.  But he has his limitations and they unfit him for a proposition of this character.  In some ways he has done more harm to the valley than good.  He is a fighter, and he is always stirring things up. That sort of thing does harm.  He makes people go away dissatisfied. These men must get together and cooperate or nothing will be accomplished.“
“Who were the other two bidders?”
“I would prefer not to give their names,” Daniels answered.  “They are men of excellent standing in the community and it might be considered to reflect in some way upon them that they were not given the privilege.”
“Only one man could get it,” is was suggested, “and you say that Desmond offered the best percentage. If I understand you, it was because Desmond made the best offer that he was successful. He thought he could make a profit while offering the government a better percentage, while the others possibly figured more conservatively.”


“That is the case,” said Daniels.  “But I did not want there to be any misunderstanding.  Desmond offered to the government 50 percent of his net profits.  One of the others offered 33 percent and the other only 25.
The two others who submitted proposals, which are in letters submitted to the secretary, were Harris Weinstock and () S C. A. Hawkins, chairman of the finance committee of the Merchants National Bank.
“Curry intimates that mere is something wrong in this contract to be entered into with Desmond, that the secretary,' his assistant, Mr. Mather, and you might have ulterior' motives in the matter of favoring Desmond. How about that?"
"That is nonsensical," Daniels declared. "In the first place. Mr. Mather is a man of national reputation. He has contributed his services to the public in many ways. He worked out the solution to the faction problem for the city of Chicago doing pioneer work in presenting an intelligent plan for granting a franchise whereby the municipality would earn an adequate return. His standing would make such a suggestion absurd.
I’m losing money on this job.
"But even more than that, the control will be one of such a character that the government will retain absolute control. Let me explain to you the general terms of the contract.
 'Desmond agrees to pay the government 50 per cent net, but. this is based on the returns after writing off depreciations. maintenance, and 'operating expense and interest on the investment. The manner in which these items are to be established will be specifically set forth in the contract so that the holder of the privilege will not be able to pad his payroll, make an unjust allowance for depreciation, or reduce net showing in any other illegitimate manner."


"The government reserves the exclusive right to regulate all prices charged at the hotel for, all classes of service from year to year. The books, by the terms of the agreement, may be kept by a government expert, or may be kept by the company, if the secretary of the interior so decides, but must be open to inspection at all times. "With these facts in the possession of the government, and the right to fix rates for service, we can reduce the rates to the public to the minimum which will give the concessionaire a fair return upon his investment.
"I told Desmond that we shall expect him to get the rate down to two figures.  He has promised that if it is physically possible this will be done. It may be that to do it he will have to fix it at 98 cents. "This will of course affect these other Yosemite, and to give good accommodations? Desmond is the man who can do it.' He has an interest in some ten hotels. He is one of the most experienced man in catering for great crowds In the United States. He organized the feeding of the fire and earthquake refugees and was highly complimented for his work, and he handled the catering for the force on Los Angeles aqueduct.  If any man can give service and get the rates down, he can.


That the people of; the East have deliberately avoided the Yosemite because of Inadequate and antiquated hotel accommodations, and that this state has been the loser by from five to ten-million dollars annually as a result, is the declaration of Daniels. It Is Daniels' opinion that 200,000 people would be led to view j the wonders of Yosemite every year could they be assured of the luxuries of a modern hotel during their stay in the valley.
The old Sentinel hotel, which, was formerly a government barn, is to be torn down after the present season closes, and the new hostelry will be erected just across the river.   Whether or not the various camps now operated under grants from from year to year will be allowed to remain in the valley has not been definitely determined, according to Daniels. 
“California has lost millions of dollars and we have been deprived of hundreds of thousands of tourists ln the Yosemite by the lack of a proper hotel,” declared Daniels today.   “Californians do not mind sleeping in a tent or outing up with poor attendance when they go seeking a vacation. The easterners feel different. They are not always willing to 'rough, it,' and the report has gone abroad that that just what they will have to do if, they visit the Yosemite valley. This is the only reason we have not been getting the crowds. Montana, with its comparatively small population, drew more people to Glacier National park last year than we had at Yosemite, and a greater number, entered one gate at Yellowstone this Exposition year, than visited our own great valley. The Sentinel hotel is a barn. It was pressed into service when the old hotel burned. It will be destroyed. The new hotel, which it is now proposed to build, will be constructed either of stone or plaster with the latest improvements.  It will be essentially fire-proof. The building 1s to contain from 100 to 125 rooms. The plans have already been submitted but must finally be passed upon by the secretary."

- END-

Nothing Daniels or Mather claimed would be done soon ever happened.  D. J. Desmond, unable to cope with the constant demands the impossible be done immediately to meet the flamboyant claims of either Daniels or Mather.  Desmond was enticed into standing in for Mather, who actually owned and controlled Desmond Park Service Company.  At Mather's death in 1930 Albright inherited stock in YP&CC.  The merger was carried out, forced on the Curry family through lies and guile, to cover-up the financial insolvency caused by Mather's insistance on a buildout which sent costs through the roof.  

Mather was never a success in business, having made his fortune stealing clients from the company for which he worked, Pacific Borax, owned by Borax Smith in Chicago, and sending these to his partner in crime, formerly employed by Pacific Borax, Thorkildsen.  

This matter is still to be litigated.