Promoter brought Craters to public's attention

Idaho StatesmanNovember 21, 2006 

One of Idaho's greatest promoters Robert Limbert hiked the entire length of the Great Rift and published an article in National Geographic Magazine on the area in 1924.

IDAHO STATESMAN FILE PHOTO

Robert Limbert was a one-man Idaho promotional machine whose love for Craters of the Moon helped transform the place into a national monument in 1924.

Limbert, perhaps best known for helping build Redfish Lake Lodge in the Sawtooths, packed a bulky Graflex camera into Craters to photograph the strange land.

Those pictures made their way to President Calvin Coolidge and helped persuade him to set aside Craters of the Moon for protection and preservation, said Todd Shallat, a Boise State University history professor who brought together the Limbert collection of writings, paintings and photos at BSU.

One of Limbert’s written accounts of his adventures at Craters of the Moon wasn’t quite so well received. He wrote an article detailing his expeditions that appeared in National Geographic in March 1924.

“West of the crater beside Bubble Basin we saw channels winding through the lava flat just as meandering brooks might cross a level meadow,” Limbert wrote. “Here plastic lava had flowed downgrade assuming all the shapes of a mountain stream. It was in waves, roles, twists and levels.”

Magazine editors, however, were skeptical and delayed publishing the article.

“They didn’t believe the wild stuff he was writing,” said Ted Stout, Craters chief of interpretation.

Limbert named many of the features at Craters, such as the Blue Dragon Flow.

But he didn’t come up with Craters’ final name. Limbert referred to it as “Valley of the Moon.”

National Geographic editors changed it to Craters of the Moon.

“The name stuck,” Stout said.

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