On May 19, 1924, prominent Bowling Green banker Max B. Nahm attended a meeting of citizens interested in the creation of a national park at Mammoth Cave. Within a year, the Mammoth Cave National Park Association had been formed to raise money, lobby the U.S. Congress for enabling legislation, and negotiate purchase options from private owners of the proposed park lands. Max Nahm became the Association’s president.
A collection of Max Nahm’s papers at WKU’s Special Collections Library documents his key executive role, over the next two decades, in the creation of the park. As Association president and chairman of the Kentucky National Park Commission, Nahm was involved in all aspects of the project: assembling land; securing private, state and federal funding (which became increasingly difficult during the Depression); defending the project from public criticism; developing roads and hotels to serve tourists; managing cutthroat competition from private owners of surrounding caves; completing the controversial process of removing residents; and fulfilling all the conditions under which the National Park Service would assume responsibility for the park.