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National Park Quiz 40: Mission 66

Do you recognize this recently renovated Mission 66 visitor center? Photo by SSpencer Art and World via Flickr.

1. True or false? Mission 66 was given that particular name because the program’s main goal was to construct 66 new visitor centers in national parks throughout America.

2. True or false? More than three-quarters of the national parks then in existence had Mission 66-funded construction projects.

3. True or false? The Horace M. Albright Training Center and the Stephen T. Mather Training Center, two of the National Park Service’s major training facilities, were created as Mission 66 projects.

4. True or false? Mission 66 initiatives included a transition to more ecologically sound management of predators and wildfires in the national parks.

5. True or false? To facilitate upgrading and replacement, Congress banned the listing of Mission 66 visitor centers in the National Register of Historic Places.

6. All of the following are distinguishing characteristics of the Mission 66 visitor centers EXCEPT: (Choose the one that “does not belong.”)
a. an abundance of open interior space
b. an exterior that blends with natural surroundings
c. a prominent site on a major entry road
d. windows offering views of nearby scenery

7. The ______, which was recently replaced with a new structure with the same name, was constructed as a Mission 66 project.
a. Dante Fascell Visitor Center at Biscayne National Park
b. Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center at Mount Rainier National Park
c. Jedediah Smith Visitor Center at Redwood National Park
d. Kilauea Visitor Center at Hawaii Volcanoes national Park

8. Mission 66 funding provided the money needed to complete the
a. El Tovar Lodge at Grand Canyon National Park
b. Linn Cove Viaduct on the Blue Ridge Parkway
c. Gateway Arch at Jefferson National Expansion Memorial
d. Glen Canyon Dam at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

9. Which of the following Mission 66 facilities has been scheduled for demolition?
a. the Wright Brothers National Memorial visitor center
b. the Sugarlands visitor center at Great Smoky Mts. National Park
c. the Beaver Meadows visitor center at Rocky Mountain National Park
d. Richard Neutra's Cyclorama Building at Gettysburg National Military Park

10. Mission 66 was mostly the brainchild of National Park Service Director
a. Conrad L. Wirth
b. Newton B. Drury
c. Arno B. Cammerer
d. George B. Hartzog, Jr.

Extra Credit Question:

11. The Mission 66 visitor center shown in the accompanying photo is located in
a. Biscayne National Park
b. Cape Cod National Seashore
c. Golden Gate National Recreation Area
d. Petrified Forest National Park

Super Bonus Question:

12. During the ten years encompassed by the Mission 66 program, ______ national parks were added to the National Park System.
a. 29
b. 44
c. nearly 80
d. more than 100


1. False. Mission 66 was so-named because it was a ten-year program to upgrade facilities, staffing, and resource management throughout the Park System by the 50th anniversary of the National Park Service in 1966. Construction and major renovation projects yielded about 110 Mission 66 visitor centers.

2. True.  Nearly all of the national parks then in existence received Mission 66 funding for one of more construction projects.

3. True.  The Horace M. Albright Training Center at Grand Canyon and the Stephen T. Mather Training Center at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia were both opened in 1963.

4. True.  As a result of these changes in natural resource management policies, predators were no longer routinely killed in the national parks and many wildfires were allowed to burn instead of being automatically targeted for suppression.

5. False.  The National Register of Historic Places recognizes Mission 66 visitor centers as significant historic structures and as important representatives of a new building type – specifically, a building designed to incorporate national park visitor facilities, interpretive programs, and administrative offices into a single structure. A number of Mission 66 visitor centers have been designated National Historic Landmarks.

6.  b -– The Mission 66 visitor centers were boldly contemporary. This conspicuously modern “clean and simple” design was meant to reduce construction costs, promote instant recognition, and symbolize the dawn of a new era for the National Park Service.

7.  b -– The new Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center was opened at Mount Rainier National Park in October 2008. The Mission 66 visitor center it replaced has been demolished.

8.  c -– The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial’s famed Gateway Arch was authorized in 1954 and completed with Mission 66 funds in 1965.

9.  d -– Richard Neutra's now-disused Cyclorama Building is inappropriately situated on Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg National Military Park. Legal proceedings may yet save the structure so it can be moved to another site, but the building is presently scheduled for demolition. The ground and adjacent parking lots are slated to be partially restored to their 1863 appearance.

10.  a -– Conrad “Connie” Wirth, NPS Director from December 9, 1951, to January 7, 1964, was the principle initiator and driving force for Mission 66. Though George B. Hartzog, Jr. replaced him in 1964, Hartzog’s main contribution to Mission 66 was to follow through on various projects and programs begun during Wirth’s tenure.

11.  b -- This building is the Salt Pond Visitor Center at Cape Cod National Seashore, a Mission 66 structure that was recently renovated to correct health and safety problems and to provide improved services, including wheelchair accessible restroom facilities. An alteration that closed a through-the-wall opening left a patch that’s visible in the brick wall behind the two people walking at the left.

12.   c -- The Park System acquired 78 additional park units under the Mission 66 program. This was an almost 40% increase over the 180 parks held in 1956.

Grading: 9 or 10 correct, rest on your laurels; 7 or 8 correct, pretty darn good; 6 correct, passable fair; 5 or fewer correct, nothing to brag about.


Wow, Bob, that was a tough quiz. I only got 6 right. I may have to enroll.

As an aside, I lived in several houses constructed during the Mission 66 program. It was easy to move from one place to the other as they were almost identical--the basic had 3 bedrooms, 1 1/2 baths. Most every NPS employee of my generation who lived in a park--many of us were required occupants-- spent at least some time in a Mission 66 house. Those whose jobs involved required occupancy provided essential emergency services such as law enforcement, EMS, SAR, fire protection and water and sewage treatment within the park.

Rick Smith

FYI - The old "spaceship" Henry M. Jackson visitor center at Mt. Rainier has already been demolished. Contractors got a head start on the project since the park was in a dry spell this fall. All that was left prior to the snow falling was the rock wall base and a big hole in the ground. The actual "ball dropping" was very uneventful!

[Ed: Thanx for the update.]

With regard to #9 and the Cyclorama Center, it should be noted that the NPS is not going to remove all of the parking lots from Cemetery Ridge as originally promised. It seems like their stated plan of returning the site to its 1864 appearance was just a ploy to demolish the Cyclorama Center. There were no parking lots there in 1864....

Great quiz on Mission 66! If anyone out there would like to see more photographs of the buildings from this period, you can visit my website at, which I started in 1996 and still maintain today. I also maintain a page on Gettysburg at

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