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1 THE IMAGINED FRONTIER: THE IMPACT OF VISUAL MEDIA ON THE PRESERATION OF THE AMERICAN WEST By JOSHUA K. BODENWEISER A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREM ENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF HISTORIC PRESERVATION UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2009
2 2009 Joshua K. Bodenweiser
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I thank my family, friend s and committee members for sticking with me throughout this process and believing that I could finish when I doubted myself.
5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ 4 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 7 LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS ................................ ................................ ............................ 9 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 10 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 12 2 PRESERVATION OF HISTORIC PLACES ................................ ............................ 17 3 THE WESTERN MYTH IN FILM AND TELEVISION ................................ .............. 19 4 CASE STUDY: THE ALAMO IN SAN ANTONIO, TX ................................ ............. 23 History of the Alamo ................................ ................................ .............................. 23 The Alamo in Film ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 28 Tourism at the Alamo ................................ ................................ ............................ 32 Managing the Alamo ................................ ................................ .............................. 32 Conclusion s ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 38 5 CASE STUDY: DODGE CITY, KS ................................ ................................ ......... 48 History of Dodge City ................................ ................................ ............................. 48 Do dge City in Film ................................ ................................ ................................ 53 Tourism in Dodge City ................................ ................................ ........................... 55 Managing Dodge City ................................ ................................ ............................ 56 Conclusions ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 59 6 CASE STUDY: THE LITTLE BIGHORN BATTLEFIELD NATIONAL MONUMENT, HARDIN, MT ................................ ................................ ................... 68 History of the Little Bighorn B attlefield National Monument ................................ .... 68 The Little Bighorn in Film ................................ ................................ ....................... 73 Tourism at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument ................................ .. 75 Managing the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument ................................ ... 77 Conclusions ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 80 7 CONCLUSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 88 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ .............................. 94
6 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ ........................... 98
7 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 4 1 Alamo Village. ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 43 4 2 The Alamo, circa 1889 1910 ................................ ................................ ............. 43 4 3 The Alamo Plaza 1919 ................................ ................................ ...................... 44 4 4 Cenotaph ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 44 4 5 Emily Morgan Hotel and the Alamo ................................ ................................ ... 45 4 6 Detail of limestone ................................ ................................ ............................. 45 4 7 Detail of limestone and wood window ................................ ................................ 46 4 8 Wall of History ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 46 4 9 Inside the Long Barrack ................................ ................................ .................... 47 4 10 Japanese Memorial ................................ ................................ ........................... 47 5 1 The Mueller Schmidt House ................................ ................................ .............. 61 5 2 Carnegie Art Center ................................ ................................ .......................... 61 5 3 Santa Fe Depot ................................ ................................ ................................ 62 5 4 Boot Hill Museum ................................ ................................ .............................. 62 5 5 1879 Victorian house ................................ ................................ ......................... 63 5 6 Front Street, South S ide ................................ ................................ .................... 63 5 7 Front Street, North S ide, circa 1880's ................................ ................................ 64 5 8 Front Street reconstruction ................................ ................................ ................ 64 5 9 Front Street with em pty store fronts ................................ ................................ ... 65 5 10 Statue of Wyatt Earp ................................ ................................ ......................... 65 5 11 Cowboy Statue ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 66 5 12 Santa Fe Trail Remains ................................ ................................ ..................... 66 5 13 Ft. Dodge, late 19 th century ................................ ................................ ............... 67
8 5 14 Ft. Dodge, 2009 ................................ ................................ ................................ 67 6 1 Map of Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. ................................ ........ 82 6 2 7th Cavalry Memorial ................................ ................................ ........................ 83 6 3 7 th Cavalry scouts on Last Stand Hill ................................ ................................ 83 6 4 Custer National Cemetery ................................ ................................ ................. 84 6 5 White Swan Memorial Library ................................ ................................ ............ 84 6 6 I nside the Visitor Center ................................ ................................ .................... 85 6 7 Spirit Gate at Indian Memorial ................................ ................................ ........... 85 6 8 Bronze war rior tracings at Indian Memorial ................................ ....................... 86 6 9 Interior wall of Indian Memorial ................................ ................................ .......... 86 6 10 Red granite marker ................................ ................................ ............................ 87
9 LIST OF ABBREVIATION S A CCEPTED HISTORY ( ACCEPTED ) H istory that is accepted to be true but may not have evidence that can either prove or disprove its factuality I DEAL HISTORY ( IDEAL ) P erceived or preconceived idea of history or image of a site based upon representations in visual media and/or general knowledge of the R EAL HISTORY ( REAL ) H istory that can be considered factual based upon archeological evidence or verifiable written accounts V ISUAL M EDIA Media such as film, television, the internet
10 Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Historic Preservation THE IMAGINED FRONTIER: THE IMPACT OF VISUAL MEDIA ON THE PRESERATION OF THE AMERICAN WEST By Joshua K. Bodenweiser December 2009 Chair: Peter E. Prugh Co chair: Sara K. Williams Major: Historic Preservation In the minds of many Americans there exists a romance with the Western fronti with false fronts on buildings, or pioneers settling the wild frontier come to mind. Much of this is attributed to the influence of film and television on developing the Americ an psyche in regards to history. The Western stories presented by visual media greatly impact how the early days of settlement in the West is interpreted. This paper examines how several sites in the American Old West have traditionally been interpreted and preserved and explores how sites of this era can use media as a means to interpret or re interpret their history, increase the awareness of historic preservation issues, and serve as an educational tool for the public in the preservation of other hist oric sites. Employing mixed methods, the research for this study involved the exploration of myth and realism as written about by various authors, and careful examination of written histories concerning the Alamo in San Antonio, TX, Dodge City, KS, and the Little
11 Bighorn Battlefield National Monument in Hardin, MT. Research also included personal visitation to said sites with video documented interviews of curators and employees as well as the viewing and critique of numerous films and television programs o n the subject. The research here illustrates the issues and challenges these three sites face in their interpretation and preservation of the various histories of events.
12 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION frontier. When one buildings, or pioneers settling the wild frontier for America may come to mind. Much of this can be attributed to the influence film and television has had on developing the American psyche in regards to history. The western stories presented in visual media have had a great impact on how the early days of settlement in the West is interpreted. Before the advent of the motion picture, newspapers and dim e novels were sensationalizing the West. It was a wild frontier with savage American Indians; a land being won and tamed by heroic pioneers, soldiers and generals, cowboys and lawmen. life in the American West. With the arrival of the motion picture came the genre of western films. The stories of western themed dime novels laid the foundation for the story plots found in many western films. The general storyline of th e western however, is not a new one. The story of the hero on a journey, facing seemingly insurmountable challenges, often returning victorious has been a part of the human fabric since the dawn of time. It is myth and legend and when applied to the right story, it becomes history. Traditionally myths were passed on orally or were written down for future generations. At the turn of the 20 th ass audiences to witness and carry on the mythic stories of heroes.
13 The film and television industries boomed in the 1940s 50s and the western was at the center of it all. Stories were being told in such a new way that those watching would not have to t hink or imagine what a place looked like; they could see it presented both on the silver screen in theaters or on television in their living room. The public was inundated with the Old West, and its image, whether real or fictional, was embedded in the Ame rican psyche. The popularity of the western genre in film elevates some historic sites in the Americ an West to mythological status. This presents a challenge to the field of historic preservation. While media can provide a boost in tourism to historic sit es of the Old West, those managing the sites must struggle with preserving the fabric and real history of a place while also engaging the tourist whose image of a site may be different than that of reality. In 1979 D.W. Meinig asked several key questions that will be applied in the symbols really like? How do actual landscapes become symbolic landscapes? How can we assess the impact, the power of the symbol? How do we de fine and assess the 177) How do you interpret a site mythologized in the American psyche? How do you preserve a site whose real image may differ from its representation i n film and television? How can the field of historic preservation use visual media (film, television, and the internet) to promote historic sites accurately? In a time when younger generations are gathering their knowledge primarily from film, television, the internet,
14 and even video games, the field of historic preservation must adapt and develop new methods to educate the public about historic sites. Historic preservation is difficult on its own in terms of research, documentation, funding, and implemen tation of treatment plans. When the public has strong opinions about a particular site, it only makes it more difficult. Managing a site that has iconic value and draws strong imagery can pose unique challenges. Perhaps more than any other site that holds such fervent imagery in the minds of Americans are those sites T hree sites were selected and researched as case studies based upon their popularity in the media, their controversial histories, and their variance of h istoric fabric. The Alamo in San Antonio, TX was chosen for the building, the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument in Hardin, MT for the physical landscape, and Dodge City KS for its reconstruction of several buildings of the era. This research ho ped to find a way for historic sites that have been mythologized in film and television to use that visual media history. What was discovered is that while the three s ites researched discuss the defined within the limits of these three sit es due to a lack of, or conflicting eye witness accounts of events that helped shape the historic relevance of the sites. Several details concerning the Battle of the Alamo as told by the surviving women differ from those recounted by the Mexican troops i nvolved as well as inconsistencies among the Mexican troops themselves. Near the turn of the Twentieth
15 century, the townspeople of Dodge City and its city fathers attempted to eradicate the dark history of Dodge, replacing its saloons and dance halls with Victorian architecture, churches, and schools while downplaying or denying the raucous stories that made Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, where for years th e details of George warriors came from US soldiers who were not present at that fight. With conflicting or missing accounts of historic events, these three sites have come to rely on archeological evidence to support or deny the theories of truth of events. This evidence combined with various written accounts leads to what can be on re al history and events and embellishes them for one reason or another. Perhaps because of the mass market of film and television and often the inability to neither prove nor disprove some of the representations of historic events in visual media and print, When visitors arrive to these historic sites they may have a general knowledge of the real and accepted history of a site but may also have preconceptions of what the site looks like based on what they have see n in film and television; constructing an The following chapters will examine the ways in which historic sites are preserved; the role visual media can have in the field of historic preservation; and how
16 several sites in the American West whose places in history are intertwined with visual media manage their image and treatments for historic pr eservation.
17 CHAPTER 2 PRESERVATION OF HIST ORIC PLACES When discussing historic preservation it is important to understand the treatment approaches. The National Park Service maintains the standards officially known as the ndards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. The Standards are guidelines for preserving, rehabilitating, restoring, and reconstructing historic buildings. The National Park Service defines the four treatments in hierarchical order: s the act or process of applying measures necessary to sustain the existing form, integrity and materials of an historic property. Work, including preliminary measures to protect and stabilize the property, generally focuses upon the ongoing maintenance an d repair of historic materials and features rather than extensive replacement and new construction. New exterior additions are not within the scope of this treatment; however, the limited and sensitive upgrading of mechanical, electrical and plumbing syste ms and other code required work to make properties functional is appropriate within a preservation project. Rehabilitation means the act or process of making possible an efficient compatible use for a property through repair, alterations and additions whi le preserving those portions or features that convey its historical, cultural or architectural values. Restoration means the act or process of accurately depicting the form, features and character of a property as it appeared at a particular period of tim e by means of the removal of features from other periods in its history and reconstruction of missing features from the restoration period. The limited and sensitive upgrading of mechanical,
18 electrical and plumbing systems and other code required work to m ake properties functional is appropriate within a restoration project. Reconstruction means the act or process of depicting, by means of new construction, the form, features and detailing of a non surviving site, landscape, building, structure or object f or the purpose of replicating its appearance at a specific Birnbaum, 1994, p.13 ) That said, when choosing a treatment plan, consideration of funding often plays a part in the decision making process. Even th ough a site may be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Federal funding is rarely provided. Register listing provides some protection by means of guidelines and standards and while the owner(s) of a site treatment that can be done. Tax incentives and grants are sometimes available which may allow budget room for preservation efforts, but typically funding is provided in various ways by the public. This c an come in the form of donations, fees, and tourism revenue.
19 CHAPTER 3 THE WESTERN MYTH IN FILM AND TELEVISION The Old West has come to symbolize freedom, the American spirit for perseverance, and has given us images of heroes and villains. When we thin k of the considering that westerns are the major defining genre of the American film industry. It was a western that is considered to be the first American film to have a sto ryline. The Great Train Robbery, a silent film by Edwin S. Porter made in 1903, holds this title and the western film has been a mainstay in film and television ever since. While the had their own impact on the perception of the American West, to attempt to include the western novel would reach beyond the scope of this research. The western has endured with its recognizable plots, scenery, and characters. The gunfighter must fight vil lains for some cause, sticking to his code of honor and usually coming to the rescue of a damsel in distress. The hero always had a trusty steed and was a crackshot with a gun. The good guys wear white and the bad guys wear black. The good guys always win. Over time, westerns have been re defined, re invented and expanded, dismissed, re discovered, and spoofed. This cycle of reexamining cultural myths has been happening for thousands of years. t the hero always been the prime function of mythology and rite to supply the symbols that carry the human spirit forward, in counteraction to those constant human fanta sies that tend
20 basic journey that all heroes of myth venture on. Myth does not have to mean false or fiction. Max Westbrook notes that a myth is 1985, p.19) Likewise, reality does not always equate to real. When mythic stories are used to explain even ts often they become perceived as actual, or real, history, such as the myths of King Arthur or the lost city of Atlantis. Similarly, real histories can have triumph at the Battle of Thermopylae. This is evident in nearly all western films. The commercial success of big budget movies based on historical events such The Covered Wagon a film about Westward expansion, spread the idea that the western relie d on historical fact. (Blom, 1999, p.65). However, the reality that evolved was that the western film would continue a convention of blurring fact with fiction, real with myth. One major issue with the western has always been whose myth, real or fictional is being told and by whom. Traditionally, western films have been dominated by storylines focused on the European American; often vilifying American Indians, used white w even when stories were sympathetic to American Indians, the
21 major roles were still played by white actors and the scripts were always written by European Americans; making it difficult, if not impossible, to truly tell a western story from the American I Widely considered one of the best westerns of all time, legendary film director Stagecoach helped to reinvent the western. It was a social commentary on the idea of the frontier as well as current views toward ethnicit y. The film showed that a western could be more than just the hero journey entertainment; it The Searchers again challenged the perception of the western film. He addressed racism dur ing a time in which America was wrought with it. He also introduced the anti hero into the western, breaking ground for a newer, flawed hero in movie myth telling. Just as integral to the story of the western was the landscape in which it was filmed. Early westerns were filmed mostly in Hollywood studios but when location shooting became more common, producers and directors used remote areas of states such as New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, Texas, and California. John Ford began using landscapes as more than jus t a background; they became characters themselves. more character driven and complex type of western. Those familiar with Monument Valley associate the park with wes terns. Those familiar with westerns associate Monument Valley with John Ford; he used the setting in nine of his westerns. Association of historic sites and landscapes with film and television ming from the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind or the Alamo Mission site in San Antonio, TX, from
22 the films about the Battle of the Alamo. If some historic places and landscapes are made famous in film and television, how is their interpretation eff ected and can such sites harness visual media to be used in their preservation?
23 CHAPTER 4 CASE STUDY: THE ALAM O IN SAN ANTONIO, TX Perhaps one of the most powerfully symbolic sites in America lies in San Antonio, TX: the Alamo. It will forever be rememb ered in American history, but how did it come to achieve such symbolic status and how does it deal with the dichotomy landscapes which have served as the basis for these symbols the Alamo, without embellishment, must be understood. History of the Alamo The Alamo mission compound began in 1718 as an adobe structure known as Mission San Antonio de Valero located near the San Antonio River. The mission moved to its present location in 1724; expanding over the next few decades to cover 3 acres. The mission served as home to missionaries and their American Indian converts for nearly seventy years. (DRT, 1997.) The first permanent building was likely the tw o story, L shaped stone residence for the priests, now known as the Long Barrack. The building formed the west and part of the south edges of an inner courtyard, known as Convento Courtyard. Constructed of limestone blocks, the Long Barrack is one of the f ew existing structures remaining today. Up to 30 adobe buildings were constructed to serve as workrooms, storerooms, and homes for the American Indian residents, however none of these have survived. The most recognizable structure on the compound is the c hurch, now known as The Shrine. Construction of the church began in 1758. It is located at the south end of Convento Courtyard. Constructed of 4 feet thick limestone blocks, it was intended to be three stories high, topped by a dome, with bell towers on ei ther side. Its shape is a
24 traditional cross, with a long nave and short transept. Although the first two levels were completed, the bell towers and third story were never begun. Four stone arches were erected to support the planned dome, but the dome itsel f was never built. (Thompson, 2005, p.18.) Niches were carved on either side of the door to hold statues. The lower level niches displayed Saint Francis and Saint Dominic, while the second level niches contained statues of Saint Clare and Saint Margaret of Cortona. Carvings were also completed around the chapel's door. (Thompson, 2005, p.18.) In 1793, Spanish officials secularized Mission San Antonio de Valero and the mission was soon abandoned. Ten years later the Second Flying Company of San Carlos de Par ras, a Spanish military unit from Alamo de Parras in Coahuila, occupied the compound. The mission may have derived its new name from the grove of nearby cottonwood trees, known in Spanish as lamo or by the name given to the company, Alamo Company. (Thomps recorded hospital in Texas in the Long Barrack. (DRT, 1997.) The buildings were transferred from Spanish to Mexican control after the Mexican War of Independence (1810 1821). During the Mexican oc cupation, the soldiers likely demolished the four stone arches and used the debris to build a ramp to the rear of the church where three cannon were placed. Additional fortifications included a palisade joining the church with the South Wall where Crockett held his position during the Battle of the Alamo. (Thompson, 2005, p.20.) At the time, Texas was still part of Mexico but the Mexican government wanted Americans to settle in the area, hoping they would convert to Catholicism and abolish slavery. The sett lers included both
25 Americans and Mexicans known as Tejanos. The settlers would neither convert nor give up slavery. Dr. Bruce Winders, curator and Alamo museum historian, stated in an interview that o ne of the reasons the Texians, as the white settlers cal led themselves, fought for independence w as for the right to own slaves. ( Personal communication with Dr. Bruce Winders 28 January 20 09). In 1835, Mexican President and General, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna disbanded the democratic Congress that had been f ormed in 1824, amending the Mexican Constitution and creating a centralized government. The Texians organized their own provisional government in opposition to the Centralists. An uprising ensued, and the settlers began the seizure of the Alamo from Mexica n troops. In December of 1835, Ben Milam led Texian and Tejano volunteers against Mexican troops quartered in the city. After five days of fighting, they forced General Martin Perfecto de Cos and his soldiers to surrender. The volunteers then occupied the fortified Alamo and strengthened its defenses. In January of 1836, 300 of the approximately 400 volunteers were led away to engage in an attack elsewhere, leaving only 100 soldiers to guard the post. Additional men were requested but rather than send rein forcements, General Sam Houston sent Colonel James Bowie and 35 50 men to help move the artillery and destroy the Alamo. Rather than destroy the Alamo and abandon the town of San Antonio, the soldiers made the decision to stay and hold the Alamo. In early February the governor of Texas sent Colonel William B. Travis and 100 men to reinforce the Alamo. Several days later, the famed politician from Tennessee, Colonel David Crockett joined the Texians.
26 On February 23, 1836, the Mexican army, under the comman d of General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, arrived in San Antonio and began the siege of the Alamo in an effort to retake the fort following the defeat of his predecessor, General Cos. The defenders held out for 13 days against Santa Anna's army. Colonel Tr avis sent out couriers carrying pleas for reinforcements. Eight days into the siege, a band of 32 volunteers from Gonzales arrived, but it was far less than hoped for and needed. The Alamo garrison believed the Mission was a key element in the defense of T exas, and they were ready lay down their lives in its defense. (DRT, 1997.) On the morning of March 6, 1836, the Mexican army began what would be the final assault of the Alamo. Cannon and small arms fire from inside the Alamo beat back the first two attac ks but succumbed to the third. The Mexicans scaled the walls and rushed into the compound. Most of the Texians retreated to the Long Barrack or the church. The Mexican soldiers captured a cannon and turned it on the Long Barrack and church, blasting open t he barricaded doors. The Texians held out as long as they could but they were outnumbered. It is believed that only two defenders, aside from women and children, survived; one because he was a slave, and another because he claimed he was being held prisone r. colonists. On April 21, 1836 the Texian army, under command of General Sam Houston attacked General Santa Anna and his army in the Battle of San Jacinto. It is this battle that Santa Anna was defeated and his troops were forced from Texas. Following the Battle of San Jacinto, the Mexican soldiers stationed at the Alamo
27 spiked the cannons, tore down many of the Ala mo walls, and set fires throughout the complex before abandoning the compound. Very few of the buildings survived. The chapel was left in ruins, most of the Long Barrack was still standing, the well in Convento Courtyard lay untouched, and the building tha t had contained the south wall gate and several rooms was mostly intact. (Thompson, 2005, p.20.) In the 1840s debris from the Alamo compound was sold to tourists and by the end of the decade even the four statues on the front wall of the church were remov ed. When the U.S. military occupied the Alamo in the 1850s, they rebuilt the church and mission walls, adding a roof to the church as well as the now famous bell shaped 4 1 and 4 2.) In 1876 the army abandoned the Alamo and the Catholic Church sold the Long Barrack, known also as the convent, and courtyard. A two story wooden building was added to the complex around this time and the convent and new building functioned as a mercantile gro cery store operated by the Hugo and Schmeltzer Co. (Figure 4 2 ). Hugo and Schmeltzer sold the convent and courtyard in 1903 to the newly established Daughters of the Republic of Texas, or DRT. In 1883 the Church sold the chapel to the State of Texas and in 1905 the State named the DRT official custodians o f the Alamo church and convent. Shortly after acquiring the property, the DRT had the Hugo and Schmeltzer Co. addition removed. (Figure 4 3). The state purchased the land between the Alamo church and Crock ett Street in the 1930s and in 1950 the DRT opened the Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library in a building located directly east of the church. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the battle, the state of Texas erected
28 a large cenotaph carved wit h the likenesses of several of the defenders as well as all of the names of the Texians known to have fought and died inscribed on its base. The cenotaph was placed in the center of Alamo Plaza, in the approximate center of the original Alamo compound. (Fi gure 4 4). That same year saw the construction of the Sales Museum, also known as the gift shop. It is the primary source of income for the Alamo. The Alamo was designated a National Historic Landmark on December 19, 1960 and in 1968, the Long Barrack was roofed and turned into a museum. Few structural changes have taken place since then. The Alamo is now a 4.2 acre complex though it is dwarfed by its surroundings. The original site has largely been replaced by shops, hotels, restaurants, and other tourist oriented businesses. Where the West Wall, or Alamo headquarters, once stood there is now a Guinness World Records Museum, the Riverwalk, an outdoor mall of sorts with resta urants and tourist oriented shops selling coonskin caps and other Alamo related items. The North Wall has been replaced by a Federal Building while the skyline around the Alamo reveals skyscraping hotels and a multi story shopping mall. (Figure 4 5). The A lamo in Film How do actual landscapes become symbolic landscapes? For the Alamo, its status as a symbolic landscape comes from its numerous incarnations in film and television. According to the Internet Movie Database, as of 2008, thirty four films and tel evision programs have been made about the Alamo (www.imdb.com/keyword/alamo); the first of which, The Immortal Alamo appeared in 1911, only 75 years after the actual
29 re The Alamo and the 2004 film of the same name starring Billy Bob Thornton. Given the dramatic storyline of brave men fighting to the death against overwhelming odds, and the participatio n of such legendary figures as Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, and Sam Houston, it's no surprise that the Alamo has intrigued Hollywood since before there Through its numerous de pictions, the Alamo has come to symbolize courage and sacrifice for freedom. The church at the Alamo has come to be one of the most recognizable buildings in American history. Because of its importance in the Texas Revolution, almost immediately after the battle, stories of mythic proportion were being told. A number of myths and misconceptions that people accept as fact exist in large part because of various re tellings of the story in books and visual media. Many films and television programs took to this these stories that most people remember and expect to be validated when visiting the site. However, since the battle, evidence has surfaced that contradicts a number of the popular myths and misconcept ions, but with so few Texian survivors of the battle, it can be argued that the myths may in fact be reality. The most controversial Alamo mystery involves the death of the battle's most famous participant: David Crockett, the former U.S. congressman from Tennessee. He was a writer whose exploits on the frontier, many of them fabricated for the sake of entertainment, had already made him a major celebrity in North America. In most film ing of the Wild
30 he is finally killed. The truth may have been a bit different. In 1955, a diary surfaced, supposedly written by one of Santa Anna's officers at the siege, Jos Enrique de la Pena. In it, de la Pena reported that Crockett and several other Alamo defenders survived the battle and were taken before Santa Anna, who had them executed immediately. (Long, 1990, p.258). The idea that Crockett survived the fighting is not revisionist history. The notion that Crockett was captured and executed was accepted as doctrine for years after the battle. The 1915 D.W. Griffith film, Martyrs of the Alamo depicts several survivors being better story if the hero dies in action. Consequently this is not seen in film again for over eighty years. Several boo in support of the de la Pena diaries, others contesting the authenticity of the diaries and contending that Crockett died fighting. Colonel William Barrett Travis likely did not draw a line in the sand with his sword while asking the Alamo defenders to choose between surrendering, attempting to escape or fighting to the last man. Again, this makes for a great Hollywood scene, but there is no evidence to support this action. It is not true that there were no male survivors among the Alamo defenders. At possibly because he was assumed to have been a non combatant or to serve as witness and warning to all Texa n rebels. (Long, 1990, p.264) Another survivor, Brigado Guerrero, a former Mexican soldier, belonged to Captain Juan Seguin's unit serving
31 under Travis. He escaped death by claiming to have been held prisoner by the Texian eported to have survived but his role in the battle is unknown. Henry Warnell, managed to reach Dimmits Landing, where he died of wounds suffered either before or during his escape. (Long, 1990, p.254 256). A fifth man, Louis Moses Rose, has the most contr oversial story. He is believed to have been the only until thirty five years after the fall of the Alamo and it was penned by a reporter who admitted to the embellishme nt of some of his other articles. (Long, 1990, p.232 234). Nevertheless, Moses Rose appears in nearly all of the films about the Alamo. Finally, 8,000 Mexican soldiers did not attack the Alamo or suffer casualties of 1,500 to 6,000 men. Those numbers are closer to 1,800 total soldiers, of which approximately 600 were casualties. What is missing from every Alamo film is the history of the Alamo itself. Every film centers around the battle, and understandably so. What often goes overlooked are the details and history of the Alamo Mission compound. Several films depict the Alamo Martyrs of the Alamo claimin g to be the most accurate to that date, has the Alamo facing a different direction and situated near the Rio Grande rather than the San Antonio River. There are captions typically at the beginning of each Alamo film telling a brief history of the site prio r to the Texas Revolution, but unless it is a modern day film, such as claims that the Alamo has a basement.
32 Despite the various myths and mi sconceptions, or perhaps because of them, people come in masses to visit the immortal Alamo. Many arrive with preconceived notions of what the Alamo will look like and may have a general idea of the history of the battle that occurred there. Still others w and the Alamo is a must see attraction. Whatever the case may be, millions people visit the Alamo annually, leaving an impact on the site and the city of San Antonio. Tourism at the Alamo How can we assess the impact, the power of the symbol? The simplest way is to look at the site in terms of tourism. The Office of the Governor, Economic Development and Tourism reports the Alamo as the number one attraction in the state of Texas. San Antonio has five of the to p ten destinations in the state and reports over 21 million visitors each year and an annual economic impact of tourism over 8.7 billion dollars. (www.sanantoniotourism.com). While there is no charge to visit the Alamo, it is safe to say that the number on e attraction in the state plays a significant role in the economic impact of tourism. The impact of the symbol cannot be measured in tourism revenue alone. This is where the power of the symbol enters a grey area. How exactly can you measure the impact a performed on visitors to the Alamo inquiring what they associate with the site, what they know of its history, and how they learned the history. Managing the Alamo How do we define and assess the significance of the difference between the ideal and the real? Although the State of Texas holds the deed to the buildings, the
33 Alamo has been under the cus todianship of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas to the Alamo Defenders. The Daughters of the Republic of Texas is committed to the conservation of the historic groun mission statement) How though does the DRT manage to preserve a site that is so iconic; whose faces in its preservatio n and interpretation of events at the Alamo. The first is the most basic: which Alamo do they preserve; the Alamo that is in the imagination of many Americans or the realistic Alamo that is a battered building in the middle of downtown San Antonio? The DR T has chosen a combination of both the real and the ideal in the preservation of the Alamo. The site is treated both as a museum, and a shrine. Men must remove their hats before entering, loud noise is not permitted, and photography is not allowed in the S hrine. T he DRT has long since turned down efforts to reconstruct the Alamo as it was before the battle. They want to leave it as close to it was when the battle was over. ( Personal communication with Dr. Bruce Winders, 28 January 2009 ). The historic preser vation treatment method they have employed would be test of time. However, it is at risk from environmental and human factors. The limestone used to construct the bui ldings was taken from the banks of the San Antonio River. Over the years, a combination of moisture infiltration and the severe temperatures of Texas are eroding the limestone and many of the carved details on the walls. In addition
34 to this, for many years visitors were allowed to touch the walls, some visitors even graffitied sections where some soldiers had etched their names in the 19th century. Due to the number of people making contact with the walls, oil built up and a black film developed on the lim estone. (Figures 4 6 and 4 7). The management has undertaken cleaning efforts to remove the film using non abrasive techniques such as poulticing, but some of the details, including the etched names, are still being lost. ( Personal communication with Dr. B ruce Winders, 28 January 2009 ). In continuing with the treatment as a sacred memorial, there is no charge to visit the Alamo. All money used in preservation efforts comes from donations and sales in the Alamo Gift Museum. Visitors coming to the Alamo are often a little disappointed with the site, but not for any lack of quality. Dr. Bruce Winders, historian and curator of the Alamo, states that was in the middle of d owntown, surrounded by skyscrapers with an outdoor mall across the street. ( Personal communication with Dr. Bruce Winders, 28 January 2009 ). The Alamo is rarely depicted in visual media in its modern day context. In a matter of scale, the Alamo Mission is dwarfed by its surroundings. Multistory shops, hotels, and businesses obstruct any view of the Alamo for a visitor unless they happen to be standing in the Alamo Plaza. For those seeking to find the experience of the ideal Alamo depicted in films and telev ision programs, they will have to venture outside of the city to the Alamo Village in Brackettville, TX. It is a reconstruction of the Alamo built for documentaries on the sub ject of the Alamo. (Figure 4 1 ). It celebrated its fiftieth
35 anniversary in 2009, making it technically eligible to be the second Alamo on the National Register of Historic Places. Another key issue in the interpretation of the Alamo is the sequence of vis itation. When visiting the Alamo, it is difficult to gauge where to begin a tour of the site. There are several entrances to the complex, and while Dr. Bruce Winders states that the tour should culminate with a tour of the church, or Shrine as it is now ca lled, most visitors choose to begin their tour here. ( Personal communication with Dr. Bruce Winders, 28 January 2009 ). Inside are artifacts associated with the heroes of the battle and the serene feeling of a battleground. Exiting the Shrine, one will find the Alamo Gardens with their carefully manicured lawns and flower beds and the Wall of History, an outdoor diorama spanning the 300 years of Alamo history. (Figure 4 8 ). In the middle is Convento Courtyard, where every half an hour you can hear a live his tory talk of the battle. To the west of the Wall of History and across the Courtyard is the Long Barrack Museum. Opened in 1968, the museum contains the Clara Driscoll Theater where visitors may view a seventeen minute film on the Alamo, a film produced by The History Channel exclusively for the site. The Long Barrack Museum also houses exhibits on the Alamo that explain its evolution from mission to fortress and finally to Shrine. (Figure 4 9 ). Directly across from the Shrine exit is the Alamo Gift Museum. Built in 1936, the building contains exhibits on the Alamo and Texas History. For further history of Texas and all things associated with the Alamo, study visits can be made to the DRT library located in a building on the eastern side of the church. All throughout the Alamo complex are plaques and small monuments dedicated to those who fought and died during the battle as well as to those who fought for the
36 preservation of the site. In addition to that are plaques and three dimensional maps displaying the history of the site from its beginning to its present status. For an in depth tour, a visitor can either rent or purchase an audio tour produced by Discovery. The DRT and Discovery partnered in 2008 to create an audio experience that includes narration by historians and auditory re enactments of key moments of the battle all cued to small numbered markers placed throughout the complex. Dr. Winders stated that the Alamo staff would love to be able to update the short History Channel film shown in the Long Barrack but they lack the funding to do so. Currently it is formatted in video and the quality is slowly being lost. The staff would also like to have interactive displays but cite again the lack of funding and space is already limited in the Long Barrack. Another issue the staff sees is that the Alamo is not trademarked. In San Antonio hundreds of businesses use the image and name of the Alamo to the point when a new staff member mentions that they work at the Alamo, people ask which one. ( Personal communi cation with Dr. Bruce Winders, 28 January 2009 ). Perhaps the largest issue at the Alamo is that of whose story is being told. Over the years several different groups have challenged the state of Texas as to who should have custodianship of the Alamo. In he Alamo Batt Brundage, ed., 2000, p.299 317) Holly Beachley Brear discusses the various issues raised against the DRT and their management practices. She claims that the DRT are holding on to the mandate given charge to the State, as a sacred memorial to the heroes who immolated themselves
37 ses the issue of the representation at the complex and in festivities held there throughout the year. The DRT, as explained by DR. Bruce Winders, maintains that the site is a monument and The complex is not just a memorial to the Anglo Americans who fought, but also to the black slaves and Tejano men who fought alongside the Anglo Texians. The tours given at the Alamo attempt to tell both the Texian rebel side and the Mexican side of the battle in a non biased way. The DRT attempts to present the history as the traditional story and place it in context with the events that were occurring locally regionally between Texas/ U.S. and Mexico, and internationally with what was going on in the world at that time. Dr. Winders compares the issue of representation and memorials to that of the Battle of Chapultepec during the Mexican American War. The Chapu ltepec Park has a monument dedicated to the Nins Heroes who fought and died for their country while it lacks a monument to the Americans. The Nins Heroes, or Child Heroes, were six Mexican military cadets who fought to their death rather than retreat fro m an invading United States military. In the same way, the Alamo serves as a physical memorial to the members of the garrison while remembering all those involved through oral interpretation. The Alamo story reaches beyond borders in that people all over t he world can relate to the simple story of a small number of men facing insurmountable odds giving their lives for what they believe. It is because of this story of courage, devotion to duty, and self sacrifice that the site has grown to mythological statu s. Over the years the
38 Battle has been likened to that of Thermopylae and the garrison soldiers have been Personal communication with Dr. Bruce Winders, 28 January 2009 ). An example of this far reaching story is the oldest mo nument at the Alamo. (Figure 4 10 ). It was given to the Alamo in 1914 by a professor from Waseda University in Japan, Shiga Shigetaka. It serves as testament to the fact that the story of the Alamo and its defenders was known around the world long before F ess Parker and John Wayne. The professor likened the Battle of the Alamo to that of the Battle of Nagashino in 1575. Similarly, the battle at Nagashino featured a small contingent of men holding out in a castle being sieged by overwhelming odds. (Japanese Monument placard, 2009). The irony of this now is that an argument could be made that many people in the present day may only know of Thermopylae from film and television and the Battle of Nagashino from film and video games. Conclusions The popularity of the Alamo films and the mass audiences these films have reached continue to introduce more people to the events and history that occurred over 175 years ago. The DRT is not doing a bad job in its preservation and interpretation of the site, but they can d o more. According to Dr. Winders, the DRT has recently received a sizeable donation to the preservation of the Alamo. It is partly because of this donation that the management is able to afford the limestone cleaning that is underway. The management would like to purchase their own scaffolding and conduct inspections and cleaning on a regular basis. ( Personal communication with Dr. Bruce Winders, 28 January 2009 ). If the DRT is to ensure the preservation of the Alamo for future generations, a routine mainte nance program would have to be implemented with an
39 allocated budget set annually. Whether the funds come from donations such as the one recently received or allotted from the annual budget, the maintenance has to be made a necessity more than something on a wish list. When it comes to the notion of which Alamo the DRT is preserving, the historic Alamo or the mythologized Alamo, the interpretation can get a bit complicated. The reality is that the Alamo Mission site contained barracks and an unfinished chu rch. By taking those two buildings and rehabilitating them as a museum and shrine, the DRT has helped to perpetuate the idealized and mythologized stories associated with the site estore the church to the 1836 appearance, no one would recognize the Alamo. It would not have its famous faade or a roof and the church would be further exposed to the elements and deterioration. The Long Barrack would likely suffer the same fate. The dec ision to rehabilitate rather than restore is likely the reason that the Alamo Mission has survived. When visitors come to the Alamo, many expect to see the bell shaped faade and may assume that the church is all there is to the Alamo. Dr. Winders states t hat one of the main topics the guides discuss in their tours is the explanation that the Alamo Mission was much more than one building. ( Personal communication with Dr. Bruce Winders, 28 January 2009 ). This may be an uphill battle as the image of the Alamo is repeatedly depicted only as the church. shaped faade is seen in the logos of numerous businesses, all claiming the Alamo as part of their name. There are auto dealerships and car rental companies, c ar washes, cafes, insurance companies, hotels; the list goes on. The Alamo Mission suffers from a branding issue.
40 Unfortunately, it is not likely that the Alamo Mission will ever be able to copyright its name and image. The image of the church does however open up an educational window to teach visitors about the original size of the Mission and the scope of the battle. The men who fought and died in the defense of the Alamo are highly revered in the United States and more so in the state of Texas. In reha bilitating the church as a shrine to the members of the defending garrison, the DRT has helped to elevate the men to a god like status. Dr. Bruce Winders, states that David Crockett, James Bowie, and William B. Travis are even referred to as a Holy Trinity by Alamo scholars. ( Personal communication with Dr. Bruce Winders, 28 January 2009 ). When such a status is bestowed upon these men, it becomes difficult to interpret their involvement as anything less than a mythologized account of history. Visual media h as played into this mythology. Only recently with the 2004 film, The Alamo has there been a real attempt to portray the Alamo defenders with a more realistic or mortal approach. By that time, however, the mythic image of the defenders had already been cas t. One way that the Alamo can capitalize on its image and the mythological status applied to it is to use the very media that has perpetuated this ideal image and history. The Alamo Mission lacks the space for any interactive displays, as the sheer volum e of visitors would likely render any such display ineffective. The DRT could instead set certain nights for public viewings of films about the Alamo, followed by discussions of the portrayed events versus the real history. Each Spring the city of San Anto nio conducts Fiesta, an eleven day celebration honoring the heroes from the battles of the Alamo and San Jacinto. This would be an opportune time to showcase the films and
41 educate some of the 3 million visitors who participate in the events of the festival Another issue that the DRT faces is the sequence of visitation. Dr. Winders feels that the visitation should conclude with the tour of the Shrine, but as the church is the primary reason visitors come to the Alamo, it is typically the first stop on thei r tour. There are several entrances into the Mission and maps are available, but the only prescribed sequence of visit is through the rental or purchase of the Discovery Audio Tour. The audio tour offers a more in depth history of the Alamo and the battle, however, it does require a fee and even the audio tour makes an early visit to the Shrine. If the DRT implemented a system for a prescribed sequence, it would have to be different from the numbering system used for the audio tour, but to do so would inevi tably cause confusion. One area that could be addressed is the lack of signage noting where the original boundaries of the Mission are located. There are a few small scale models of what the site originally looked like but there is only one display in the Long Barrack museum that shows a pictorial overlay of the original Mission on the current city of San Antonio. Simple street markers could note where the various walls and buildings stood. This would give interested visitors a physical idea of the size and scope of the Alamo Mission while also increasing the probability that the visitors would explore the surrounding shops and attractions. Finally, the issue of whose story is being told can be addressed in a similar manner as the forum for showcasing films about the Alamo. The Alamo Mission is by as a memorial to the members of the garrison who
42 While there may not ever be an additional memorial to the Mexican soldiers who gave their lives for their country during this battle, there can be better interpretation of their role and view of the battle. An opportunity t o explore the Mexican side of the battle during the annual Fiesta celebration could go a long way in appeasing a portion of the events.
43 Figure 4 1 Alamo Village, Bracketville, TX. Church seen on right without the bell Figure 4 2 The Alamo, circa 1889 1910. Church seen with addition of the bell shaped fa background. (photo courtesy of the DRT, 2009. Photographer unknown)
44 Figure 4 3 The Alamo Plaza 1919 after Hugo and Schmeltzer Co. had been removed. (phot o courtesy of the DRT, 2009. Photographer unknown) Figure 4 4 Cenotaph (photo: J.Bodenweiser, 2009)
45 Figure 4 5. Emily Morgan Hotel in background. Shrine and Long Barrack can be seen in foreground. (photo: J.Bodenweiser, 2009) Figure 4 6. Detail of limestone: upper niche, front of Shrine, contains biological growth. (photo: J.Bodenweiser, 2009)
46 Figure 4 7. Detail of limestone and wood window, Long Barrack. (photo: J.Bodenweiser, 2009) Figure 4 8. Wall of His tory. (photo: J.Bodenweiser, 2009)
47 Figure 4 9. Inside the Long Barrack. (photo: J.Bodenweiser, 2009) Figure 4 10. Japanese Memorial. (photo: J.Bodenweiser, 2009)
48 CHAPTER 5 CASE STUDY: DODGE CI TY, KS Perhaps there is no town in America that bette r embodies the mythic West than Dodge City. Its history helped shape the way western stories are told and in a turn of events, the mythic West has shaped the enduring history of Dodge City. History of Dodge City The opening of the Santa Fe Trail in 1821 b rought settlers to the west in search of fortune and land claims. The Trail became a great commercial route stretching from Franklin, Missouri to Santa Fe, New Mexico. In 1865, the U.S. military opened Fort Dodge in Kansas on the north bank of the Arkansas River. The fort was to provide protection for wagon trains, the U.S. postal service, and to serve as a supply base for troops engaged in the American Indian wars. (Faulk, 1977, p.25). In 1866 Richard M. Wright secured a contract to supply firewood to th e fort and modern day convenience store. There Wright sold to the soldiers among other things, whiskey. Colonel Richard I. Dodge assumed command of Fort Dodge in the sp ring of 1872 and found his enlisted men and officers drunk on duty. Shortly thereafter he ordered an end to the sale of alcohol to his soldiers. With buffalo hunting centered around the area, soldiers with money to spend, traffic from the Santa Fe Trail, a nd the coming of a railroad, Wright and several other business men looked to form a township 43). A few buildings had already been erected west of the fort, the first of which was a three room sod dug out house erected by rancher Henry L. Sitler in 1871. His home became a frequent stopping place for buffalo hunters and traders. In the spring of 1872
49 George M. Hoover began the first bar in this new location when he drove his wagon load of whiskey five mi les west of the fort and out of jurisdiction. There he erected a tent around two posts of sod where he laid a board as a bar and sold whiskey by the shot. Others, including Wright, soon followed; setting up a general merchandise store, a barber shop, resta urant, and dance hall, all operating out of tents. (Dodge City CVB, 2009). Wood framed buildings began to spring up and by the time the new Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroad drew near in 1872, a new town was waiting. Originally named Buffalo City, du e to the booming buffalo trade, it was forced to change its name because there was already a Buffalo, KS. Residents agreed that Dodge City would be an appropriate choice for a town near Fort Dodge and commanded by Colonel Dodge. Many businesses sought to m ake their fortune by catering to the baser needs of the hunters and soldiers. Drinking, gambling, and prostitution were allowed and the buffalo hunters spent their money as soon as they earned it. Buffalo were hunted and slaughtered at a horrendous pace. Unfortunately the buffalo were being killed so rapidly that by 1880 they were nearly extinct. By 1876 the town needed a new source of income. Texas cattlemen driving a new breed of cattle, the Texas Longhorn, north along the Chisholm Trail needed a place t o feed the cattle before shipping them off to market. Dodge City promoted itself as a place where the cowboys and all their vices would be tolerated. The town quickly gained a reputation as a lawless, anything goes, gun slinging town with the center of cor ruption on Front Street. (Vestal, 1972, p.89) Front Street was split over the railroad tracks. The north side was respectable while the south side contained every type of debauchery, leading the city to be called
50 hard M. Wright, one of the founders of the city had its share of reputable men and women and that any who wished to cause trouble were promptly dealt with. Peace in the tow n was kept by several now famous lawmen and gunfighters such as Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Bill Tilghman, Ben Thompson, Luke Short and Bat, Ed and Jim Masterson. There was a substantial amount of sin occurring in the city but not as much as east coast newsp apers wrote about. (Wright, 1975, p.139). Newspapers wrote of gunfights, gambling, loose women, and Boot Hill, the infamous cemetery on the hill northwest of Front Street. Here is where many gunfighters slightly slower on the draw were interred. They died with their boots on and buried just as they were, giving rise to the name. Other towns may have their own Boot Hill but Dodge City had the first. (Vestal, 1972, p.16). Boot Hill was used until 1878 when the real estate was deemed too valuable to be used as a cemetery and it was sold. The bodies were removed from Boot Hill by the following year and were re interred in the new Prairie Grove Cemetery northeast of town. (Faulk, 1977, p.151). The town continued to grow and prosper and Front Street came to repre sent all that was the Wild West. It had its balloon framed buildings with false fronts, dusty streets roamed by gunfighters and cowboys, gamblers, and women of ill repute. It was more than the wickedest city in America; it was the Cowboy Capital and the Qu een of the Cowtowns, and its tenure was brief. In 1885 two fires ravaged Front Street, destroying several blocks; rumored to have been the work of town prohibitionists. As the second fire burned, a signal flag used by the local weather bureau forecasted a blizzard.
51 Day 1886 with a second storm hitting January 13 th An estimated half to three quarters of the cattle in the county died and the winter of 1886 1887 was even worse When spring came, cattlemen decided to head elsewhere and with many ranchers and businesses bankrupt, the town became farm country. (Faulk, 1977, p.187 189). The farmers were not patronizing the saloons and dance halls and so Dodge City became like so ma ny other Kansas towns, surviving off of wheat and trying to hide its sordid past. In the years to follow and into the 20 th century, books and magazines were printing stories about the Wild West, particularly stories about Dodge City. The town and the city fathers were busy trying to eradicate all that was the wickedest city, constructing a mixture of buildings of various architectural styles. The oldest building still on its original site is the Mueller Schmidt House, also known as the Home of Stone, dating to 1881. Constructed of native limestone quarried north of Dodge City, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and is home to the Ford County Historical Society. (Figure 5 1). Dodge City currently has eleven sites listed on the N ational Register, most dating from the end of the 19 th century post pre Depression era. Buildings such as the Carnegie Center for the Arts built in 1907, a classical style building incorporating a tiered dome center and the origin al home of the Dodge City Library, served to establish the town as a respectable community, safe for families and travelers. (Figure 5 2).To welcome visitors to Dodge, the city constructed a new depot in 1897, complete with a hotel and restaurant, to repla ce the original 1873 depot lacking in resources and a reminder of the wild past. (Figure 5 3). The years following the Great Depression breathed new life into Dodge. Motion pictures and the western movie brought about a renewed interest in Dodge City. A to wn
52 that had spent the last several decades trying to erase its past was now quickly Flynn and Olivia de Havilland brought 50,000 fans to the city when it premiered in Dodge with its stars in attendance. Several other films soon followed and the town was cashing in. A new museum was built at the Boot Hill site in 1947 containing pioneer artifacts and western memorabilia as well as a rebuilt cemetery with catchy epitaphs. An a nnual Boot Hill festival celebrating the history of the town was begun shortly thereafter. (Faulk, 1977, p.197). Then Gunsmoke arrived in 1952. It ran on as a radio broadcast show from 1952 to 1961 and on television from 1955 to 1975. Set In Dodge City in centered on the adventures of United States Marshal Matt Dillon, his friend and town Tourists flocked to the city to see the Old West where Matt Dillon laid d own the law. In 1958 a three quarter scale replica of one section of Front Street was added to the Boot Hill Museum. (Figure 5 s a gunfight or ride in a stagecoach. 1970 brought promise and change to the city. As tourism boomed, Dodge City fell prey to urban renewal in an effort to expand its downtown and build a convention center and motel. In the process, the city tore down sev eral blocks of Front Street, demolishing the Victorian style brick buildings constructed after the fires of 1885. The convention center was never built. Instead, the space created was filled by fast food restaurants and souvenir shops.
53 Little has changed since then. The replicated Front Street is still there alongside dedicated to Gunsmoke The museum has moved an 1879 two story Victorian house to the property as well as a re stored 19 th century one room school house. (Figure 5 5). While the museum does pay homage to its various film and television incarnations, its main focus is the factual history of Dodge City; with exhibits ranging from the Plains Indians, the cowboy era an d Victorian Kansas. Dodge City does the best that it can with what it has. The south side of Front Street is now industrial business while much of the historic fabric of the rest of town has been destroyed. (Figure 5 processing an average of 10,000 cattle a day; making Dodge the number one beef processing city in the world. ( Personal interview with Bob Lancaster, 2 Feb ruary 2009 ). What historic buildings remain are cared for and showcased and the reconstruction of Front Street can be just as valuable to the historic preservation and interpretation efforts of Dodge as the authentic fabric. In this case, since many of the original buildings are no longer present, the reconstructed Front Street can provide visitors an idea of what the area may have looked like in the Old West as well as providing a contextual contrast to the present Front Street and the city of Dodge. (Figu res 5 7, 5 8, and 5 9). Dodge City in Film How did Dodge City become a symbolic landscape? Through film, television, and print the Wild West came alive and was embodied in Dodge. According to the Internet Movie Database, as of 2008, at least fourteen film s and television programs have been made about Dodge City ( www.imdb.com/keyword/dodge city kansas ), the most
54 recognizable ones being the 1939 Errol Flynn film Dodge City and the radio and televisi on program Gunsmoke Other films and programs have featured storylines with Wyatt Earp or Bat Masterson as the lawmen of Dodge but none of these received more acclaim or brought more visitors to Dodge City than the aforementioned titles. Both Dodge City an d Gunsmoke follow the adventures of a fictional lawman, or good guy, who battles a criminal(s), or bad guy. Dodge City locomotive and a stagecoach, a cattle drive and stampede, gunfights, fi stfights, and barroom brawls, barroom ladies and can can girls, a beautiful heroine and a shady lady as a counter, and of course, a good guy wearing a white hat and a bad guy wearing black. The film blended facts with fiction, incorporating a plausible fic tional storyline into actual historic events occurring in and around Dodge City circa mid Gay Saloon, the actual film was shot in California with a landscape far different than that of the flat plains of Kansas. Gunsmoke featured many of the same western elements and similar storylines. Gunsmoke was also filmed in California and featured the Long Branch Saloon. Historically, the Long Branch, while it did feature singing and piano, did not feature dancing or a stage. The Long Branch Saloon in the reconstructed Dodge City resembles a saloon more similar to that of the television show than the Long Branch of factual Dodge. In reality, the Long Branch was on the respectable north side of Front Street whereas the dancing girls could be found on the south side in the Lady Gay. (Faulk, 1977, p.96).
55 Aside from minor discrepancies like this, the films and television programs give a fairly accurate portrayal of th for visitors. But what visitors want when they do go to an Old West town like Dodge City is not authe ntic either. The stories written in newspapers and dime novel books taken to be history were often exaggerated for danger and excitement. Odie B. Faulk states it well when he wrote: want even need to believe that such a place existed and that by visiting the site they can touch that less complicated era when a man met an insult, real or fancied, with fist and gun. Old Town at the west side of Dodge City satisfies a need. Boot Hi ll Cemetery with its fake gravestones satisfies a need. In a commercial society the tourist pays for this Tourism in Dodge City Can the impact of the mythologized Dodge City be measured in tourism revenue? In the mid 20 th century during the heyday of the western, it would have been easier. During that time, visitors were flowing into Dodge to see Matt Dillon, Miss Kitty, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and the Masterson brothers lived. The combination of Interstate 70 replac ing Highway 50 in 1970 and Gunsmoke ending its twenty year run in 1975 led to a drop off in tourism to Dodge City. Whereas 70,000 people may have shown up to the world premiere of Dodge City in 1939, today the city may get 70,000 visitors all year. The eco nomic impact is low, with most of the money being continually recycled by the residents. ( Personal interview with Bob Lancaster, 2 February 2009 ).
56 In the next few years, Dodge City hopes to change that. Bob Lancaster, arts and tourism coordinator for the city, explained in a 2009 interview that the city is opening a casino and hotel near Boot Hill. The first phase is set to open in December 2009 with phase two opening in 2011. The casino will be the only one in the state and will have an Old West theme. Th e city hopes to draw more visitation, and given its proximity to downtown Dodge, provide more of an economic impact in the years to come. ( Personal interview with Bob Lancaster, 2 February 2009 ). In the meantime, Cathy Bell, assistant curator at the Boot Hill Museum stated that now that the western has faded from its glory days, she finds that more visitors are coming for the history of Dodge rather than for its place in Hollywood. Gunsmoke however, is in syndication, becoming popular among international tourists who still come to see the Wild West. ( Personal interview with Cathy Bell, 2 February 2009 ). The comment made most often by new visitors to Dodge is that they thought there would be mountains and hills like in the movies. Locals have to then explai n that the films and programs made about Dodge City were filmed in California. ( Personal interview with Bob Lancaster, 2 February 2009 ). This often leads to discussions on real history versus Hollywood history, a topic most locals are well versed in. Mana ging Dodge City How do we define and assess the significance of the difference between the ideal and the real? This has been at the heart of discussion in Dodge City since the advent of the western story. Most of the authentic historic properties in Dodge City have been destroyed, whether by the fires of 1885 or the urban renewal that took place in the does have. With tourism numbers steadily declining since the end of Gun smoke in 1975
57 and the current recession the city struggles to find money for site management. Many of the historic properties are owned or operated by the city and with funding in short supply; it is hard to make Dodge City an attractive place to visit. Th e Santa Fe Depot has recently been restored to its beauty of 1897 but is not open to the public except by advance appointment. Such is the case with many of the historic buildings in Dodge. The only way to see the historic Dodge is by taking the walking to ur. guided tour map with an accompanied audio CD available for rent or purchase. The city also has the Trail of Fame, a walking tour of the historic district marked with bronze medallions in the sidewalk s dedicated to the various citizens of Dodge, real or fictional, as well as several sculptures and statues. (Figures 5 10 and 5 1 1). While the audio tour does a fine job of giving a brief history of the city and the stops along the way, it is not enough to distract a visitor from the lack of sites along the way to the next destination. Downtown Dodge is plagued by empty storefronts and buildings and not enough attention paid to attractions other than Boot Hill Museum. Nine miles west of Dodge is a historic marker for the Santa Fe Trail Remains. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1966, visitors can see the remains of the wagon trail that was used from 1821 to 1872. (Figure 5 1 2). It is owned and managed by the Boot Hill Museum. East of town, visitors can see Fort Dodge. Serving as the Kansas State Soldiers Home, several original buildings still post hospital. (Figures 5 1 3 and 5 1 4). Unfortunately, none of t he original buildings are open for viewing.
58 Boot Hill Museum remains the top attraction in Dodge, offering a variety show museum struggles with funding. The museum cannot a fford to staff year round entertainment or living history personnel and the three quarter scale replica of Front Street is over fifty years old and needs continual maintenance. The museum is restoring a 19 th century one room school house but lacks the addi tional funding needed to properly maintain the 1879 Victorian house located in the back corner of the property. Ongoing maintenance such as painting and repair to walls and doors is relatively inexpensive but the museum has a small staff and general mainte nance can be time consuming. Aside from that, the commercial development over the years has detracted restaurant chains, and the open concrete parking lot in front of the museum p rovides the sights and sounds of the highway; reminding visitors of the disparity that is Dodge at Western Hotel that is the gift shop and entrance. The traffic flow throughout the museum is also unclear. There are painted footsteps that lead from the gift shop to the cemetery and museum but these can be missed because as the visitor exits the gift s hop, the eye is immediately drawn to the replicated Front Street. The overall experience at the museum, however, can be pleasant. The exhibits are well organized, though some in need of updates, and most visitors will not know that the Long Branch Saloon more of the Long Branch from Gunsmoke and is oriented with the bar on the opposite
59 its challenges and must f ind ways to address them. The city and museum staffs hope that the future casino and hotel will draw visitors and improve the economic impact, providing much needed fu nds for preservation projects. ( Personal interviews with Bob Lancaster and Cathy Bell 2 February 2009 ). Conclusion s Dodge City reflects a fascination with the Old West and represents a town finding a balance between myth and reality. Boot Hill continues to be the main attraction of the city but Dodge needs to draw more attention and visitatio n to the other sites the city has to offer. Despite the fact that much of the historic fabric has been destroyed and replaced with modern additions, a valuable and rich history can be told. Like the Alamo, Dodge City has an opportunity to make use of the visual media Every summer the city celebrates its history with Dodge City Days, a ten day festival that features events such as concerts, a rodeo, parades, and staged g unfights. During this time, the Boot Hill Museum and the Convention and Visitors Bureau could screen films about Dodge City and conduct forums discussing the differences and similarities of The challenge with this is that there is little tangible authentic history left in Dodge City. To showcase a film fabric. In the same respect, the city could turn t hat into a teachable moment about the importance of historic preservation. As it stands, Dodge City is an interesting mixture of preservation and
60 Old West while the past. The irony of the Trail of Fame is that there are more inductees from film and television than there are real persons who lived in Dodge. The Boot Hill Museum includes a reconstruction of a portion of Front Street whose interiors bear a resemblance to those seen in Gunsmoke as well as an authentic 19 th century Victorian home. While the home did not originally exist on Front Street, the museum should be commended for the effort to preserve the structure for interpretive use. Dodge City seems to celebrate and promote more of an idealized history than a real history. For Dodge, the ideal, or mythological image is its history. Early on, Dodge City was written about in a larger than life image and film and television perpetuated the ideas. Dodge City is somewhat unique in that its old history inspired a mythic perception of its past. Dodge City looks for ward to the construction and operation of the Boot Hill Casino and Resort. It is expected to increase visitation and provide a sizable economic Visitors may come to the casino for the gambling and entertainment but if Dodge City cannot provide the history of the Old West, the casino may suffer the same fate as the empty stores that populate downtown Dodge. This is not to say that Dodge City should create an entertainment atmosphere at the expense of its preservation and education. Rather, the city should find ways to make its preservation, interpretation, and education more entertaining. Tapping into the film and television industries to do so would be a logical step.
61 Figure 5 1. The Mueller Schmidt House, aka the Home of Stone. Home to the Ford County Historical Society. (photo: J.Bodenweiser, 2009) Figure 5 2. Carnegie Art Center, formerly Dodge City Library (photo: J.Bodenweiser, 2009)
62 Figure 5 3. Santa Fe Depot. (photo: J.Bodenweiser, 2009) Figure 5 4. Boot Hill Museum, Front Street replica in background. (photo: J.Bodenweiser, 2009)
63 Figure 5 5. 1879 Victorian house. (photo: J.Bodenweiser, 2009) Figure 5 6. Front Street, south side. (photo: J. Bodenweiser, 2009)
64 Figure 5 7. Front Street, north side, circa 1880's. (photo courtesy of the Boot Hill Museum, 2009. Photographer unknown). Figure 5 8. Front Street reconstruction, north side. (photo: J.Bodenweiser, 2009)
65 Figure 5 9. Front St reet with Pizza Hut and empty store fronts. (photo: J.Bodenweiser, 2009) Figure 5 10. Statue of Wyatt Earp on the Trail of Fame. (photo: J. Bodenweiser, 2009)
66 Figure 5 11. Cowboy Statue outside of Old Municipal Building. (photo: J. Bodenweiser, 20 09) Figure 5 12. Santa Fe Trail Remains (photo: J.Bodenweiser, 2009)
67 Figure 5 13. th century. (photo from placard in front of building, 2009) Figure 5 14. Dodge, 2009. (photo: J. Bodenweiser, 2009)
68 CHAPTER 6 CASE STUDY: THE LITT LE BIGHORN BATTLEFIE LD NATIONAL MONUMENT HARDIN, MT The Battle of the Little Bighorn is perhaps the most renowned fight in the white e of great contention and myth. Hollywood has made numerous films about the battle and Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer and thousands of books have been written on the subject. To attempt to detail the battle and the misconceptions and controversies wou ld be a large undertaking of similar fashion. What is important is the influence film and television has had on the site and its preservation. History of the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument Gold was discovered in the Black Hills of South Dak ota in 1861, creating an influx of prospectors and settlers to the area considered sacred by the Lakota (or Sioux) Indians. In an effort to cease hostility towards pioneers and people building the railroads, the U.S. government signed the Fort Laramie Trea ty with the Lakota in 1868. This treaty granted the land west of the Missouri River to the Lakota and prohibited settlers and miners from entering the Hills without authorization. (Hatch, 1997, p.73). Settlers continued to enter the area and reports of gol d circulated. Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer was commander of the United States Indian Wars. Victorious in an 1868 campaign to establish a supply camp in American Indian territory known as the controversial Battle of Washita River, Custer was sent to the Black Hills in 1874 to find a suitable location for a fort. Along with him in this expedition were a sizable outfit of geologists and miners. (Hatch, 1997, p.18 21). Custe r announced the presence of gold and by 1876, reports estimated approximately 10,000
69 people were settling in the Hills. In 1875 the federal government attempted to purchase the Black Hills; if the tribes refused, rations and provisions at the reservations would be terminated. Unsurprisingly, the Lakota tribes refused. Whether in an attempt to gain control of the land or to protect settlers, an ultimatum was issued by the United States ordering all Lakota and Northern Cheyenne people to report to reservation s by January 31, 1876. The Great Sioux War of 1876 1877 had begun. (Hatch, 1997, p.16 18). Located on federal land near Crow Agency, Montana, the Little Bighorn River and the lands surrounding is the site of one of the most famous battles in American histo ry. (Figure 6 1 ). In June 1876, the U.S. Army was dispatched to force those American Indians who ignored, or were unaware of the order, onto reservations. The ensuing Battle of the Little Bighorn and defeat and death of Custer and his five companies proved ownership of the Black Hills. This remains the most controversial issue for the Plains Indians. explains: it would have been an expected part of the pacification campaign. And if Custer had split his forces in that scenario and won, he probably would have been called a geniu s. But in real life he split his command and lost. Consequently, he is vilified for not following orders because he did not wait for General Terry, for attacking prematurely, became an opportunity to win public support. Now the government had to subjugate the Lakota
70 became something of a holy war because American blood had been spilled in th e cause of Manifest Destiny. Uncivilized minions had blasphemed civilization. There was nothing On June 28, 1876, the bodies of Custer and his command were buried at or near where they fell Just weeks after the battle, plans were being made for a memorial to Custer and his men. Newspapers circulated stories about half buried bodies; so the public and Army lobbied Congress for a cemetery. One year after the battle, Company I of the Seventh C avalry returned to the site to exhume the bodies of the officers for burial elsewhere and the proper burial of the enlisted soldiers where they had fallen. U.S. Military Academy at West Point, NY. On Au gust 1, 1879 Custer Battlefield National Cemetery was established. On Custer Hill, now named Last Stand Hill, a log memorial was erected and individual graves were marked with wooden stakes. Two years later the log memorial was replaced with a white granit e obelisk bearing the names of the soldiers, scouts, and were reinterred in a single mass grave near the monument. (Figure 6 2 ). In 1890 the Army erected 249 granite h eadstone markers across the battlefield denoting where (Figure 6 3 ). (NPS, 2007). The involvement of the American Indians in the Battle of the Little Bighorn has been the most contentious issue in the interpretation and management of the battlefield site. An 1886 order by President Cleveland defined and set aside an area for military
71 was later shortened to Custer National Cemetery; the first chang e in a process of controversial re namings. The cemetery contains the remains of nearly 5,000 veterans from the American Indian Wars to Vietnam. (Figure 6 4 ). Notable veterans interred are including Curly, White Man Runs Him, and Goes Ahead. The first building erected on the site was the two story stone cottage, known as the Stone House. (Figure 6 5 ). When the first superintendent, Andrew N. Grover, arrived in 1893, construction b egan on a home for him and his family. Today it functions as the White Swan Memorial Library, country, including the Smithsonian. ( Personal interview with Ken Woody, Chief of Interpretation at LBHBNM, 5 February 20 09). In 1930 the Reno Benteen Defense Site was added, expanding the battlefield to just over 765 federal acres. The site consists of two parcels: the main parcel containing the ridge where Custer made his last stand (Last Stand Hill), and the second parcel containing the site of the Reno Benteen defense perimeter. The two parcels are connected by a 4.1 mile national monument road. In 1940 the United States War Department transferred jurisdiction of the battlefield to the National Park Service. In 1946 the site was renamed Custer Battlefield National Monument. It was renamed once again in 1991 by an act of Congress to Little Bighorn National Monument in order to recognize the participation of the American Indian in the battle. The same act ordered the construction of an American Indian Memorial. ( Personal interview with Ken Woody, 5 February 20 09).
72 The park opened a Visitor Center and interpretive museum in 1952. The museum features U.S. military and American Indian arti facts, dioramas depicting the battle, artwork, documents, photographs, and maps. (Figure 6 6 ). Inside the Visitor Center is a bookstore selling a wide array of printed material on the subject of the battle. Here visitors pay the park fee to tour the battle ground and in the summer time, listen to a ranger talk about the battle. In 1966 the site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. For years the site remained a memorial only to the U.S. soldiers. A fire in August of 1983 scorched the battl efield; in the process unearthing new artifacts that revealed new information concerning the events that happened in 1876. Archeological surveys began the following summer and continued in 1985, 1989, 1991, 1994, and 1999. (NPS trail marker). This new evid ence confirmed early American Indian reports of the battle, including details of where skirmishes occurred and where soldiers fell. These findings helped lead to the advocacy of the construction of an American Indian memorial and acknowledgment of their ve rsion of events. came an order to erect an American Indian memorial near the 7 th Cavalry memorial on Last Stand Hill. A design was selected in 1997 and the memorial was dedicated on June 25, 2003. Selected for the enclosure with three large scale bronze tracings, representing Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapahoe warriors. A spirit gate opens on an axis connecting and revealing the 7 th Cava lry monument. (Figures 6 7, 6 8, and 6 9 ). Texts, narratives, quotes, crafts, artifacts, offerings, petroglyphs and pictographs cover the interior walls of the enclosure.
73 In 1999 the National Park Service began erecting red granite markers where Cheyenne and Lakota warriors are known to have fallen. (Figure 6 10 ). Some white markers were placed for the Arikara Indians, enemies of the Cheyenne and Lakota, who fought on the side of the U.S. Army. There are currently eighteen red granite markers; so few becau removed and given tribal burials. Because of this, there is no known definite number of American Indian warriors who died at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. The Little Bighorn in Film How did the Little Bighorn become a symbolic site, what is it symbolic of, and how has it reached mythic proportions? The first and third parts of that can be answered by the influence of media. George Armstrong Custer was a self promoter and one who enjo yed not only fame, but the fight of battle. He gained notoriety for his success in the Civil War and his campaigns against the American Indians in the West. Custer had more pictures taken of him than Abraham Lincoln and was considered a national figure, mu ch like a movie star of today. ( Personal interview with Ken Woody, 5 February 20 09). Little Bighorn was destined for the history books and film regardless of the o utcome. The battle has reached mythic proportions due to the inconsistency of the many recounts of the battle and the animosity felt towards the American Indian people since the early days of Manifest Destiny. News media and Hollywood have provided a pla tform for the various sentiments of the battle over the years. Soon after the battle, Anheuser Busch, a St. Louis, Missouri beer brewing company, commissioned a painting of "Custer's Last Stand" distributing a print of it to saloons all over America. The p ainting itself was so common that it became
74 a cultural icon itself. It can be seen in the Custer Battlefield Museum in nearby Garryowen, MT, with reprints available for purchase. Some prints are believed to still be found in some bars. The painting has bee the American Indians were for a long time ignored, or misinterpreted by the media of the time. Any reports made by U.S. sold iers were speculation as they would have arrived after the battle. It should come as no surprise then that Hollywood has been enamored with the myths surrounding Custer since the advent of the motion picture. The first film on the subject was On the Litt in1909. It was a silent film directed by Francis Boggs that featured three Sioux who were present at the battle. The film no longer exists. Several more films were made about Custer over the next few decades; most notably They Died With Their Boots On The 1941 film starred Errol Flynn as Custer and Olivia de Havilland as his wife, Elizabeth. The film had its share of inaccuracies, but it was made during WW II at a time when Custer was still a national hero. The film is cle arly a call to arms for Americans to support the war, going so far as Custer and the battle t Little Big Man While the film is about the life of fictional Jack Crabb, a white man raised mad man chan ged the public perception of Custer and the events of the battle. Like the 1941 epic film, Little Big Man was filmed during war time. The Vietnam War had been
75 going on for several years and Little Big Man served as a social commentary on the war; comparing the Battle of the Washita River to the raiding of Vietnamese villages and killing of women and children by U.S. soldiers. While many of the details surrounding Custer and the Battle of the Little Bighorn were erroneous, Little Big Man is one of the few fi lms actually filmed on the Crow Agency Reservation. Most of the films prior to this, including They Died With Their Boots On were filmed in California; giving visitors to the battlefield a false sense of place. Son of the Morning Star in 1991 was filmed primarily in South Dakota and is generally lauded as the best interpretation of the characters and events of the Battle of the Little Bighorn. It presents both the U.S. version of events in an unbiased and historicall of Custer is neither the perfect American hero nor a raving lunatic, but a well balanced and complex character whose actions that day in June 1876 will never be fully understood. Tourism at the Little Bighorn Battl efield National Monument It was not long after the battle that visitors began coming to the site. Ken Woody, Chief of Interpretation at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument stated in an interview that at least once a year the surviving U.S. so ldiers and American Indian warriors would return to the site, paying respect to those who died and retelling the events of the battle. ( Personal interview with Ken Woody, 5 February 20 09). A Burial of the Hatchet ceremony took place in 1926 during the fift ieth anniversary of the battle just south of the Little Bighorn Monument in the town of Garryowen, site of the first skirmish of the battle. The event occurred in front of 50,000 observers, white and American Indian alike.
76 Ken Woody explains that the Nat ional Park Service has attendance records dating back to around 1900 and that a graph has been developed showing the visitation trends. He has noticed the fluctuation positively and negatively during the times of war and various economic crisis, and sharp increases occurring shortly after the release of a film about the battle or the area. A dramatic increase took place after the release of Dances with Wolves in 1990 and Son of the Morning Star in 1991. ( Personal interview with Ken Woody, 5 February 20 09). The National Park Service maintains park statistics on their website (2008) and v isitation from people traveling to the Glacier, Yellowstone, and/or Black Hills National Parks. ( Personal interview with Ken Woody, 5 February 20 09). However, upon further on a steady decline, the other parks in the vicinity have maintained a relatively steady number of visitations; all significantly higher than the Little Bighorn. (NPS, 2009). One in Montana, there is little development in the area surrounding the Little Bighorn. Its remoteness may add to the reverent feel of the site but it may also detract visitors who wish for more activities. The numbers show positive fluctuation concurrent wi th the release of films about the area, prompting Ken Woody and the staff at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument to have a running joke that they need another good western movie to be distributed. Woody hopes that the Ken Burns miniseries The
77 Best Idea broadcasting on PBS at the end of September 2009 will increase attendance. ( Personal interview with Ken Woody, 5 February 20 09). If the PBS miniseries does happen to increase visitation, a proper study of the impact of f ilm and television on attendance at historic landmarks could be warranted. Managing the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument preserve and protect the historic and natural resources pertaining to the Battle of the Little Bighorn and to provide visitors with a greater understanding of those events which lead up to the battle, the encounter itself, and the various effects the encounter had on and Co., 1995, p.3). Managing the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument has had its share of issues over the years since its inception, the largest of which is the memorialization of American Indian tribes involved in the battle. Initially set as ide as a monument to Custer and the fallen U.S. soldiers, little to no regard was given to the American Indian side of events. Well into the latter half of the 20 th century, Custer and his command were given the hero treatment while American Indians were o ften vilified. Not until the American Indian Movement (AIM) was founded in 1968 did American Indians truly begin to receive recognition for their role in the battle. ( Personal interview with Ken Woody, 5 February 20 09). Still, it took 115 years after the b attle and an act of Congress to change the name from Custer Battlefield National Monument to its more inclusive present name and the order to erect an American Indian Memorial in proximity of the 7 th acknowle dge the American Indian perspective and to recognize and honor Native Americans who struggled and died to preserve and defend their homeland and
78 58). It took an additional twelve years to see the implement ation and completion of the new monument. Over its 133 year history many ideas and interpretations of what actually happened during the Battle of the Little Bighorn have surfaced and played out, often in Hollywood films. The National Park Service has had to find a balance of realism versus myth in its interpretation of events. Ken Woody, Chief of Interpretation at the site, admits that the NPS has not always done a good job of that. Many former park rangers were of the mindset that Custer was a true Americ an hero and faultless in his role in history. Whether the early park rangers intended to or not, they often tainted the image of the American Indian in the history of the battle. As Hollywood changed and the AIM became more involved in the site, the Park S ervice began to take a more unbiased approach in its interpretations. ( Personal interview with Ken Woody, 5 February 20 09). Still the challenge of breaking myths supported by Hollywood is presented on a daily basis. After all, the site is a run by the Nati onal Park Service and the rangers have to be mindful of how they present the facts. Ken Woody states that the occasional visitor gets distraught over the way the history is presented. Some have strong opinions about Custer and/or the treatment of the Ameri sometimes hurt in the process. casings as souvenirs to visitors, simply because there were so many to be had. ( Personal interview with Ken Woody, 5 February 20 09). Management of archeological artifacts and evidence is better cared for today, especially since the fire in 1983 that unearthed artifacts that supported the American Indian perspective of the battle.
79 Arch eological surveys were since conducted and are slated to continue, with the uncovered artifacts often gaining placement in the interpretive museum inside the Visitor Center. Museum entrance is free with paid entrance to the battlefield. As there is very little development at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, the cost of maintenance at the site is kept fairly low. Occasionally the marble markers in the field, headstones in the cemetery, and memorials have to be cleaned using non toxic, non abrasive cleaners. The road connecting the two parcels of the site has to be snow plowed in winter and cracks in the road and sidewalks have to be repaired each spring. Signage has to be checked and repaired as necessary but that occurs less frequently. T he cemetery grounds are kept mowed and clean while the battlefield is allowed to grow. The fire of 1983 has lead to the practice of the occasional prescribed burning to promote new growth and the prevention of future fires. Since the site is a part of the National Park Service, it is subject to federal funding. Proceeds from the bookstore and visitation are given to the Park Service, with funding then allotted to the site for maintenance. ( Personal interview with Ken Woody, 5 February 20 09). With visitatio n number low over the past several years, the park has had to change some of the ways it manages its tours. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, visitors can take part in live ranger programs and talks as well as the fee required Little Bighorn College Apsa alooke Native American guided bus tour. Given the lower attendance, the park ranger tours are less frequent and cover less material. The park does offer year round self guided tours with pamphlets as well as an audio tour available for an additional fee. T hroughout the park are signs with text and pictures
80 explaining how and where the battle was fought with comparative maps highlighting the physical landscape. The preferred flow of the tour suggests the visitor start with an eighteen minute video in the Vi sitor Center that gives a brief overview of the battle. This should be followed by a ranger talk and then the tour of the battlefield beginning at the Reno site and culminating at the 7 th Cavalry and American Indian Memorials. After this, visitors are enco uraged to browse the museum and visit the Custer National Cemetery. Conclusions The biggest issue that the National Park Service traditionally faces in its preservation and interpretation of the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument is that of whose story is being told. In the years since the battle, the interpretations have grown more inclusive of the American Indians. The perception of Custer as a faultless hero and the American Indians as horrible villains has changed. Films and television program s have evolved their interpretations of the history of the battle as have the NPS. Since the park is run by a governmental institution, it is not likely that the site would have showings of the various film and television depictions of the Little Bighorn. The park rangers could however hold discussions on the evolving interpretations of events at the site as seen in visual media and at the site itself. Another outlet to conduct this could be through websites such as www.friendslittlebighorn.com operated by The is the official National Park Service cooperating association affiliated with the Little Bighorn Battlefield N ational Monument. The website details the known and accepted history of events as well as maintaining current and historic photos of the battlefield and articles about Custer and the American Indians.
81 Aside from the day to day operation and management, t he park rangers also face the challenge of attracting visitation. As mentioned, some of the park rangers feel the need for another western film to be distributed in order to increase visitation. The problem with this is that it becomes a cycle. The rangers daily face the issue of having to dispel the myths perpetuated in film and television, yet they feel the way to create buzz and visitation is by having more films released. Visual media may impact the visitation to an extent, but the NPS and park rangers cannot count on it. The state of Montana does a great job of advertising the site in various tourist magazines that are available for free at any Montana rest area. The NPS can capitalize on this idea and advertise the Little Bighorn in the other NPS parks in Montana and surrounding states. Yellowstone National Park attracts millions of visitors each year and is located just over 230 miles west of the Little Bighorn. The distance may seem great but there are several sites and attractions one hour away in Bi llings, MT. Further research would have to be conducted to develop an idea of what percentage of visitors to Yellowstone goes on to visit the Little Bighorn. If the Little Bighorn can attract a fair amount of Yellowstone visitors, they may be able to budge t for an increase in frequency of ranger talks and develop more interpretive programs.
82 Figure 6 1. Map of Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. The cemetery is to the left of the Visitor Center, 2007. (reproduced fro m NPS map received upon visitation of site, 2009)
83 Figure 6 2. 7th Cavalry Memorial, 1881 (photo: David F. Barry, 1881, reprinted from postcard, 2009) Figure 6 3. 7th Cavalry scouts on Last Stand Hill, 1913. L R: White Man Runs Him, Hairy Moccasin Curly, and Goes Ahead. (photo: Rodman Wanamaker, 1913, reprinted from postcard, 2009)
84 Figure 6 4. Custer National Cemetery. (photo: J.Bodenweiser, 2009) Figure 6 5. Custer National Cemetery with White Swan Memorial Library in background. (photo: NPS photo, date unknown, reprinted 2009)
85 Figure 6 6. Museum displays inside the Visitor Center. (photo: J.Bodenweiser, 2009) Figure 6 7. 7th C avalry Memorial viewed through Spirit Gate at Indian Memorial. (photo: J.Bodenweiser, 2009)
86 Figure 6 8. Bronze warrior tracings at Indian Memorial. (photo: J.Bodenweiser, 2009) Figure 6 9. Interior wall of Indian Memorial showing ledger drawings b y White Swan. (photo: J. Bodenweiser, 2009)
87 Figure 6 10. Red granite marker for American Indian warrior, map marker in foreground. (photo: J.Bodenweiser, 2009)
88 CHAPTER 7 CONCLUSION Frederick Jackson Turner, an Americ an historian in the late 19 th and early 20 th describes how the frontier shaped the American spirit and how westward expansion realm of film and television. The western is such a part of our film history that often when one thinks of an historic event or site of that era, images from films and television are what people recall as representative of true history. Odie B. Faulk wrote: Americans today believe in the myth of West to them was a place where bad guys rode black horses and wore black hats: cattle rustlers, horse thieves, whiskey peddlers, gun runners, unscrupulous American Indian agents, train robbers, Army deserters. The good guys rode white horses and wore white hats: sheriffs, deputies, town marshals, train detectives, cattle association agents, Wells Fargo men, Pinkerton operatives, U.S. Marshals. The two sides each had their own following in the form of gang and p osse, and they clashed in gunfights at high restless, brawling, fighting, eye gouging, ear biting land, every man carrying a gun low on his hip, holster tied securely to thigh, re ady to draw and fire with incredible speed Americans, and to an extent the world, want to believe in such a West and feel that by visiting an Old West site they can experience a part of its history. The prob lem
89 that occurs, as Harold P. Simonson stated in 1989, is that too often there lies the tendency to over symbolize, or mythologize a place to the extent that the actual place, people, and history is eclipsed by myth. (p.170). This is evident in the cases o f the Alamo in San Antonio, TX, the city of Dodge City, KS, and the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument in Hardin, MT. All three sites struggle with trying to balance the popular image of the site versus unique, but given the blurring and sometimes overlapping mythologies developed in Hollywood films, the line between myth and realism is confused. The public may be aware of the names of each of these sites and associate images of the Old West with them but it is likely that few people could positively explain why each site is important. To briefly summarize, the Alamo Mission was nearly completely destroyed after the Battle of the Alamo in 1836, but due in large part to the efforts made by the Daughters o f the Republic of Texas, the site has been preserved and rehabilitated as a museum and shrine. Its role in film and television has often been incorrect; its story subject to speculation due to the lack of survivors. Due to the fires in 1885 and the urban renewal that swept the city in 1970, little tries to play up the myths that fill its history. The city highlights its role in film and television with the successes of Dodge City and Gunsmoke While the city as a whole acknowledges the inaccuracies of each, it recognizes the need of visual media to attract visitation.
90 The Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument is one of the most controversial battlefields in the United States, in turn garnering much attention throughout American Indian people for years, who until recently did not have any memorial of their own at the site. The site s have their varied issues with preservation techniques, funding, and history is re imagined in Hollywood, often erroneously, and therefore the respective management must spend time exposing myths in its own interpretation at the site. So how can these sites and other historic sites with similar issues harness the attention given by Hollywood and use media to encourage visitation, educate visitors, and encourage preservatio n of the sites? One way, as discussed earlier, is to showcase the films and television shows that depict the sites, followed by a discussion of the differences and similarities of the portrayed histories in media and the presented histories of the site. The three sites researched are all currently using media by offering short, historically accurate videos on site as well as self guided audio tours. All three sites acknowledge their place in Hollywood history whether by signage or personal talks with tour guides and park rangers. However, with the ever evolving advances in technology it is becoming easier to offer more visual media to a mass audience while keeping costs down. Most cell phones can now record video and handheld camcorders are becoming sma ller, lighter, cheaper, and easier to use. It may be safe to say that most visitors to a historic site have, on hand, the capability to record video images of their visit to a site
91 and upload these videos to the internet with little turnaround time. For ju st a few dollars a month, the management of a historic site can host a website where these videos can be posted. A forum like this can offer unique perspectives and variable viewpoints of a sight. The research for this thesis involved personal visits to each site, interviews with the curators, and documentation of it all on a high definition hand held camcorder, digital voice recorder, and digital camera. Even after reading extensively on each of the three sites, preconceived notions of what each site wou ld look like abounded. The real history of the site was known, and what was not certain truth was made acceptable truth. The number of men killed and the more notable names of those involved in the events were known. That was real history. The notions that David Crockett did not surrender and Custer died with his boots on were acceptable histories. But despite knowing for certain that Dodge City does not have mountains, an idealized image of the city based on Gunsmoke Looking at these sites through the viewfinder of a camera became an experience in its own right. Examining a site through a video camcorder and then editing the footage into a finished product creates a hierarchy of events. Films and television shows hav e done this for years and certain historic events may have become more important than they really were simply because they were depicted in film. There is little question of the importance of the Battle of the Alamo and its involvement in the Texas Revolut ion. Its significance in American history has been the subject of many films and television programs. Is the story of the USS Maine, a battleship whose explosion and subsequent
92 sinking helped provoke the Spanish American War, any less significant simply be cause it has not been depicted in a major film or television show? history of a site? The majority of what is accepted as true history is based upon evidence that can be verifie d with written or oral accounts of events. In the cases studied, the histories of the sites are not entirely known. There were few survivors of the Texian garrison, a denial and possible exaggeration of events that occurred in Dodge City, and no United Sta tes survivors of the combat involving Custer and his men. Because of the lack of evidence, it became easy to elaborate and elevate the events to the point where they have been mythologized. Some history, like that of the Little Bighorn Battlefield Nationa l Monument has changed dramatically over the years. For nearly one hundred years after the battle, Custer was depicted as a nearly faultless hero and the American Indian was seen as a villain. This was accepted as true history; no evidence suggested otherw ise. As time waged on, other viewpoints, particularly those of the American Indians involved in the battle, began to surface. Archeological evidence and corroborating accounts of events history of the battle changed. American Indians were no longer vilified and their place in not any less brave, but shown to have faults. So much lik history is only true until evidence suggests otherwise. Claude Levi some extent between mythology and history can probably be breached by studying
93 histories which are conceived as not at all separated from but as a continuation of frontier whose borders may be physically closed but whose imagined presence lives on in perpetuity create our history. Our interpretation of history evolves as our understanding of our various cultures continually reimagine how multiple cultures should coexist, how humans should interact with nature, what we should think and how we should feel about our history and our futu dates the major event(s) just as it has a post history. The preservation of a site, that is the physical treatment, is part of this history and should be interpreted as such. The three si tes studied and any historic site preparing its interpretation should be willing to include multiple versions of history. Not all versions will be the same or even legitimate. Each visitor will bring their own preconceived ideas of a site and what it shoul d look like. Therefore the challenge for those managing the site is to undertake the seemingly impossible task of presenting an unbiased and true history, with the understanding that
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98 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Josh Bodenweiser received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2003 from New York University wher e he majored in theatre. Since then he has traveled throughout the United States for various film and music projects. He has always held a passion for history and historic preservation. When his wife, Crystal, decided to enroll in a graduate program at the University of Florida, Josh followed suit and enrolled in the Master of Historic Preservation program in the College of Design, Construction, and Planning at UF. He hopes to one day be able to combine his degrees and create films about historic preservati on.