Mission 66 era accomplishments and design were highlighted by a special program at the park last month in observance of the 50th anniversary of the visitor center dedication.
On September 18, 1960, over 500 visitors witnessed U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater, Sr., cut a ribbon officially opening the new visitor center, designed and constructed with Mission 66 funding. A half century later, park ranger John Reid delivered an overview of the ten-year initiative from 1956 to 1966. He was followed by Randall Skeirik of the NPS Vanishing Treasures program, outlining the many accomplishments of that program and linking current projects with successful preservation initiatives of the past.
Park guide Penny Wagner presented an overview of modernism and its influence on architecture, followed by Thomas Patin, Jr., director of Northern Arizona University’s School of Art. Dr. Patin elaborated on unique design elements of Mission 66 architecture, illustrating form and function through simpler lines, less embellishment and heavier reliance of glass to better view the trails and parklands outside.
Barry Goldwater, Jr., recalled his father’s passion for Southwest history and weekend camping excursions with the family as they toured parks and monuments in the 1950s. He added that Senator Goldwater captured over 15,000 photographic images of people and places from around the Southwest, including views of many remote national parks and monuments before new highways made travel more accessible.