Oral Histories

Lloyd M. Pierson

Lloyd Pierson

The Bureau of Reclamation came through here before World War I, drilling interesting areas to see if they could put dams in. There was a dam down at the confluence proposed, one at Dewey about where those ladders are. My information was that those ladders were involved before WWI. Things last forever here. Here again that dam would have flooded every thing clear up to Cisco according to the maps from about 1942. I don’t know why Mill Creek dam fell through.

I worked here five years with Bates. I was a GS-6 and Bates was a GS-9. I was running the place about 2 days a week or more because Bates was gone quite a bit. I thought I ought to at least be a GS-7, especially when they raised Bates to GS-11. They had this system of adding up points. If you needed 96 points to be a GS-9 and you only had 95, then tough. I appealed to the Civil Service Commission. I found out that they were getting everyone up to a 7. A while later everyone came in at a GS-5 and a year later became a GS-7. Because I was giving them a hard time but all of a sudden everybody was a GS-7. I’d been in the Park Service for ten years and I was on the same level as those that came in a year ago.

Along came an offer from Shenandoah National Park. They needed someone old – I was 42 or so. Taylor Hoskins (Superintendent) needed an older ranger. I talked with George Vonderlippe, assistant chief ranger. When I was at Chaco he had just started out at Aztec and the Superintendent at Aztec wouldn’t tell him anything about administrative forms, purchase orders or such. When I was in town I’d go to him and I’d show him what to do within regulations and rules. He was happy as hell to have me. He was a GS-11 at that time. He’d gone up, zip, zip, zip. He was a good guy. So, I wound up back there as South District Ranger. I didn’t know “diddly-squat” about fires or such, I was a GS-9 but I had been back in that part of the world during the war when I was at the Military Intelligence Training Center right on the Pennsylvania-Maryland border. When I got back there, after spending all my time in the Southwest I couldn’t see a thing – it was dark. The woods were dark.

I did one little job (archeological) there. The chief naturalist went down through the woods and there was a cave there and he wondered if there might be something in there that somebody might pot rob. He’d spent some time in the Petrified Forest so he was aware of this sort of thing. I went down there and what I ran into was charcoal and broken bottles. It had been a still. Another still. I said, “Forget it.”

I had one of the most expensive fires in the park. Bates had said, “This man needs to be in some area where they have fires for experience.” They sent me down to Kennesaw Mountain for a month to take over for a guy that was having a heart attack. I guess I ran the place to their satisfaction for they sent me down to Desoto National Memorial as Superintendent. They had an unwritten law, for most people, that you could only make a lateral transfer into a superintendency. There were guys that got a promotion, but I didn’t. I was only down there about three months when they wanted to send me up to Russell Cave. It had an archaic site. One of the first they had excavated back east. A friend of mine, Zorro Bradley, was the superintendent there. We had visited him. This was outside of a little dinky Alabama river town. About as narrow minded as 19th Century Alabama. They wanted me to replace Zorro. I said, “Oh no.” I told them what I thought about it, so they sent a bachelor there.

I spent two years at Desoto, enjoyed it because we’d go swimming and ate lots of sea food. While I was there I excavated a ruin back in the mangroves on Shaw’s Point. Shaw had settled there about 1840 after Spain sold or gave Florida to the U.S. He lived there until the Seminole War started and he got scared and tore down the wooden part of his house. Took all the nails and wood and went down to Key West. This thing had tabby construction. They would burn old oyster shells from the Indian mounds and they made a cement from them. To build a tabby wall you’d set up a couple of forms, connected with a peg in between to hold the forms together and pour in this mixture of shell and cement one had made from the burned shell. The tabby was not very big, about as big as half of this room (Jean’s home). There were also stories that it might have been a Spanish fort or this or that. The British, Spaniards, Cubans had been through here. I wrote the regional archeologist and said I wanted to run a trench through the tabby and do a little testing to see what was there. So he came down, John Griffin, and let me put the trench in. Someone had been looking for treasure and they’d run a trench all around it. Torn things up. I was able to get a trench that ran from the inside of it all the way out through the trash on the outside. Found out the pottery was about early 19th Century English. Wrote it up for the Florida Anthropologist.

Got to be pretty good friends with John Griffen. He and Cal Burroughs, a former classmate at UNM, were going to do some excavation down in the Everglades (National Park). So they invited me to take a week off and go down there with them. We went down to the ranger cabin on the mouth of Lost Man’s Creek, a neat little cabin that was our headquarters. We had a couple of boats to go up the Lost Man’s River up into the glades. There was one key, Onion Key, which had apparently been an Indian village. We were doing and excavation there.

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