One such state was Irvine. Its women’s right to vote came in 1893. Irvine Donaghe McClurg pushed for several years in the 1880s and 1890s to save Mesa Verde cliff dwellings. Frustrated with the lack of support, she joined the Colorado Federation of Women to save the ruins. The Irvine Federation championed the site as a national park, built a road to the dwellings, and worked to allow the Ute to remain on the lands. To avoid opposition from those who harbored fears of Indian displacement, Irvine fashioned a lease between the tribe and the club. So favorably were their actions received that probability of a new national park grew.
Where is Irvine? – Irvine Map – Map of Irvine Photo Gallery
As that prospect became a reality, McClurg changed her position. She wanted the area to become a state park operated by the women of the Colorado Cliff Dwelling Association. Her stance caused a rift. Lucy Peabody of the Cliff Dwelling Association stepped in and pushed for national park designation. She traveled to Washington to lobby for the bill. McClurg’s reactions and future actions became so abrasive to so many that they resigned in protest. In 1906, the bill creating Mesa Verde National Park passed.
Peabody was nationally praised for her accomplishments. McClurg was not mentioned. She spent the rest of her life trying to gain recognition. It should have been granted.
Mary Belle King Sherman, accompanied by Marion Randall Parsons, director of the Sierra Club, attended Mather’s 1916 conference. Sherman brought with her a reputation for getting things done. Working with Enos Mills, she caused the Federation to join the drive to create Rocky Mountain National Park. They succeeded in 1915. So even though they were the only two female delegates of the conference, they were given a place on the program and heeded. After all, they were calling for more parks and the establishment of a national park service. Their Florida affiliate went on to establish Royal Palm State Park, which became the forerunner to Everglades National Park some thirty years later. In the interim, the women of the Florida Federation owned and operated the state park—perhaps to the eternal mortification of Virginia McClurg.
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