Superintendent Garrison and other officials of the National Park Service look upon the earthquake as a costly natural disturbance, but one not without its blessings. "After a careful appraisal we have placed the damage to roads, buildings and other man-made installations in the park at $2,700,000," Garrison said. "We don't want to put it too high because we are taxpayers, too. The public apprehension resulting from the quake and some erroneous reports that came out at first have cost us about 200,000 visitors who would have come to the park if the earthquake had not occurred. On the other hand, it is the purpose of our national parks to interpret nature to the public. The results of this earthquake give us plenty of opportunities to interpret nature in one of its most violent moods."
Rockslides have been cleared from the roads and highway changes are being made in the interests of safety, but beside the roads fresh scars have been left untouched so that next summer's visitors may study the effects of an earthquake at first hand. McIntyre is in charge of a team of ranger naturalists who will work as far into the winter as possible on a survey of the changes in thermal activity. Many of these changes will be subjects for interpretive lectures by ranger naturalists.
As a result of the thermal studies some new walks for visitors have been installed and the locations of others are being staked out at safe distances from the enlarged geysers. In some instances the walks cannot be located until next spring, when the geysers involved have ceased their erratic behavior and settled down into a new spouting routine.
An astonishing amount of road clearing and repair already has been done. This was possible because, in addition to their regular equipment, park repairmen were able to draft a lot of other machines working on Mission 66 projects. Mission 66 is a 10-year program for the entire National Park System designed to provide adequate facilities for 80 million visitors a year by 1966.
All park facilities are now closed for the winter. Soon the heavy snows will set in to cover the scars left by the shifting earth. Next May, when the park reopens, the buildings will have been repaired, the walks through the thermal areas will have been rearranged and the park will be ready for business—with added attractions.
Next year's visitors, as well as all those who wrote and telephoned to ask after the welfare of Old Faithful, will find it still in operation at the same old stand. Park Naturalist Marler says Old Faithful's imperviousness results from the fact that it is a self-contained unit with its own private fissure reaching down into the earth. In any case, those who are worried about the nation's favorite geyser may turn the page to see how it looked last week—faithful as always.