Devils Tower is an astonishing geological feature in the Black Hills. Created by igneous intrusion into the surrounding sedimentary rock, it rises almost vertically some 1267 feet to a summit plateau and completely dominates the surrounding landscape. Though considered sacred by the Northern Plains Indians, it has become a prime tourist attraction, the setting of the climactic scene of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and a major destination for rock climbers.
The circular includes the text of the proclamation, signed in type by Roosevelt and Acting Secretary of State Alvey Aldee, along with a tipped-in map of the newly-created monument. The map features range and township lines along with hachuring to indicate terrain features, both characteristic of the maps of the U.S. Geological Survey. Such circulars, sometimes (though not here) accompanied by a cover letter from the Secretary of State, were the State Department’s standard format for distributing presidential proclamations to elected leaders and the diplomatic corps. As such they appear to represent the first official printings for distribution of these important presidential actions, preceding any appearance in registers compiling the actions of the Federal Government.
An ardent conservationist, Roosevelt left behind an extraordinary legacy of public lands protected under his authority. This included Devils Tower and 17 other “national monuments” in the West and Southwest, all established under the Antiquities Act of 1906, which gave Presidents authority to protect areas of natural or cultural significance by executive action. Monuments created by Roosevelt included among others Devils Tower, the Gila Cliff Dwellings (New Mexico), Jewel Cave (South Dakota) and a large section of the Grand Canyon (Arizona). Originally run by the Agriculture Department, oversight of the monuments was later transferred to the National Park Service. Roosevelt also established five national parks, 51 federal bird reserves, 4 national game preserves, and no fewer than 150 national forests encompassing some 150 million acres.
In this circular format these proclamations are extremely rare. As of February 2021 OCLC records but a single example at the New York Public Library.