On This Day: Dedication of Everglades National Park, 1947

On this day in 1947—one month after Marjorie Stoneman Douglas’ landmark book The Everglades: River of Grass was published—Everglades National Park was dedicated by President Harry Truman. Douglas, known as “the Grand Dame of the Everglades,” would go on to be remembered for her staunch advocacy which convinced Floridians that the glades were more than “just a swamp.

The Tropical Everglades National Park Commission was established by the Florida state legislature to study the creation of a protected area in response to Floridians’ desire to see at least part of the everglades protected. The U.S. House of Representatives authorized its creation on May 30, 1934, with the caveat that no money would be spent on the site for five years (the country was still reeling from the Great Depression).

President Truman speaks at the dedication ceremony. Also pictured (left to right): Admiral Leahy, Secretary of the Interior J.A. Krug, Senator Claude Pepper, Mrs. Jennings, and August Burghard (Florida Memory).

The final park boundaries were negotiated with the help of Ernest F. Coe and U.S. Senator Spessard Holland. Miami Herald editor John Pennekamp was instrumental in pushing the state legislature to raise $2 million for the additional purchase of private land within the park boundary.

Map showing proposed park boundaries, 1947 (Florida Memory).

Everglades National Park remains the largest tropical wilderness in the United States, the largest wilderness of any kind east of the Mississippi River, the third largest National Park, and one of only three places worldwide to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and a Ramsar Convention Wetland of International Importance.

William McKinley Osceola presenting President Truman with a Seminole Indian shirt. Also pictured: Admiral Leahy and U.S. Senator Spessard Holland (Florida Memory).