August 2017 Stamps – City of Rocks, Mojave, Women’s Rights and More!

Mojave National Preserve has a new stamp this month at the Mojave River Valley Museum, which interprets the cultural history of the Mojave Desert, including the famous resort community of Zzyzx, part of which is seen here as part of Mojave National Preserve. Photo from 2007.

In a rarity, there are relatively few new stamps this month from National Heritage Areas and National Historic Trails, but instead the new stamps are mostly from full-fledged national park units.  Here they are:

Boston National Historical Park | USS Cassin Young

City of Rocks National Reserve | Almo, ID

Mojave National Preserve | Mojave River Valley Museum

Women’s Rights National Historical Park | Wesleyan Chapel

Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area | Historic Grass Lawn

City of Rocks National Reserve was a landmark for emigrants on the California Trail and gets its own cancellation this month.  Photo Credit: National Park Service

The highlight of the new additions is an updated stamp for City of Rocks National Reserve in southern Idaho.   The City of Rocks are unusual rock formations in southern Idaho that were so-named by emigrants on the California Trail to the gold fields of California.

For true Passport enthusiasts, this new stamp is an interesting case study.  City of Rocks National Reserve was added to the National Park System in 1988, two years after the Passport Program began in 1986.  Its first cancellation as similar to this one, reading “Almo, ID” on the bottom of the stamp, and was available through 1996.    When that stamp was replaced, however, it was replaced with a variation of that stamp, reading “Oregon Trail – Almo, ID” on the bottom.

This stamp, however, had a significant problem.   The Oregon and California Trails both begin in Independence, Missouri and from there, they essentially parallel each other for some 1,200 miles  across the whole of Nebraska and Wyoming and into Idaho.  Then, in central Idaho, at a place called the Raft River Crossing, the two trails part their separate ways.  The Oregon Trail heads to the north and west towards Oregon; the California Trail heads to the south and west towards Nevada and California.  City of Rocks, it turns out, is actually located to the south and to the west, along the California Trail.  This means that City of Rocks is actually not located on the Oregon Trail at all – despite the fact that for some time, the only Passport Cancellation for this Park read “Oregon Trail” on it!

This awkward situation was finally corrected in the mid-2000’s when that stamp reading “Oregon Trail – Almo, ID” on the bottom was replaced with a new stamp reading “CA Trail – Almo, ID” on the bottom.   In 2012, a second stamp was added at this park, a California National Historic Trail stamp reading “City of Rocks NR, ID” on the bottom.   Unfortunately, when the year expired on the “CA Trail – Almo, ID” stamp in 2014, that California National Historic Trail stamp became the only Passport Cancellation with an active year wheel available at the Park!  So this month’s new addition finally clears things up, and gives City of Rocks National Reserve two Passport Cancellations, one of the Park itself, and one for the California National Historic Trail.

The USS Cassin Young is the less-famous of two museum ships at the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston National Historical Park. It now joins the USS Constitution in having its own Passport Cancellation. Photo from August 2017.

At Boston National Historical Park, the USS Cassin Young is a World War II-era Fletcher-class destroyer.  It is docked as a museum ship at the Charlestown Navy Yard Unit of Boston National Historical Park, near the USS Constitution.  Although 175 Fletcher-class Destroyers were built at the Charlestown Navy Yard, the USS Cassin Young was built in California and served in the Pacfic Theater. On July 30, 1945 twenty-one members of its crew were killed in a kamikaze attack near Okinawa.  In 1952, it did receive a major overhaul at Charlestown Navy Yard, one of several visits it made there, before being decommissioned in 1960.

The Mojave River Valley Museum is located in the gateway community of Barstow, California.  Barstow is home to the Mojave National Preserve Park Headquarters, and is located at the intersection of Interstates 15 and 40, making it a convenient gateway to the Park.  Interstates 15 and 40  also form the northern and southern boundaries of the Preserve about 60 miles to the west. The Mojave River Valley Museum  back in Barstow is free to the public, and interprets the scientific, historical, and cultural heritage of the area.  A visit to the Museum is a great way to learn about the desert before heading out into the Preserve itself.

At the top of this month’s post, I include a picture of the ruins of the former Soda Springs Resort at Zzyzx, which is now part of the Mojave National Preserve, as an example of the cultural history of the Mojave Desert area.   The name, Zzyzx is pronounced to rhyme with “Isaac’s.”   The name was chosen by the resort’s founder, Curtis Springer, who wanted the name to be the “last word in the English language,” in keeping with his resort’s slogan of Zzyzx being the “last word in health.”   Springer was eventually evicted from Zzyzx for not having legitimate claim to the public land in the Mojave Desert and for making false medicinal claims.  Nevertheless, the resort had one lasting positive legacy; Springer stocked his pond (shown above) with a little fish called the Mojave tui chub.  Now endangered, the “Lake Tundae” pond is one of the last refuges of this species.  The site is now run by the California State University consortium as the Desert Studies Center.  The site doesn’t have a Passport cancellation stamp (yet) – but with a name like “Zzyzx,” Parkasaurus is certainly really hoping that it happens someday, right?

Mrs. Parkasaurus is holding one of babies on a rainy day in front of the Wesleyan Chapel at Women’s Rights National Historical Park where the Declaration of Sentiments was signed.  Photo from 2014.

The somewhat restored remains of the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, New York was the site of  the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention.  Women’s Rights National Historical Park commemorates the events of the 1848 women’s rights convention, and its main visitor center is located immediately adjacent to the Wesleyan Chapel.

In July, Women’s Rights National Historical Park announced that the the Stanton House in Seneca Falls and the M’Clintock House in nearby Waterloo have been recently outfitted with period furniture and reopened to the public.  The Stanton House was the home of the famed women’s rights leader, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, for 15 years.  The M’Clintock House is where the attendees drafted the famous “Declaration of Sentiments” that was later adopted by Convention attendees meeting in the Wesleyan Chapel  The M’Clintock House has had a cancellation since 2010.  The Stanton House does not yet have a cancellation, but would be a logical candidate to receive one in the future.

There is actually a fifth location that comprises Women’s Rights National Historical Park, the Hunt House, also in Seneca Falls.   It was at a meeting in the Hunt House that the plans for a women’s rights convention were conceived.  The National Park Service acquired the Hunt House in 2000, but it is not yet open to the public, and so no cancellation just yet.

Finally, the Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area adds one more Passport stamp this month, after adding nearly two dozen last month.  Historic Grass Lawn is a replica of the antebellum Milner House in Gulfport, Mississippi, which was destroyed in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina.  The replica building was dedicated in 2012 and is used as a reception hall for events.

The final shot this month is of nightfall at Mojave National Preserve in California. Photo from 2007.

 

 

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July 2017 Stamps – Mississippi Gulf Coast NHA Expands Their Passport Program

The LaPointe-Krebs House, also known as the Old Spanish Fort is one of many new stamps this month for the Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area. Photo Credit: Chris Pruitt, 2012, (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The new stamps this month are dominated by the Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area, which I’ll divide up into two groups for reaons I’ll explain in a moment:

Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area |

  • Dizzy Dean Welcome Center
  • Headquarters
  • Fly GPT
  • Lucedale – George Co. Library
  • Hancock Co. Welcome Center
  • Jackson County Chamber
  • Jackson Co. Welcome Center
  • Pearl River Co. Welcome Center
  • Stone County
  • Visit MS Gulf Coast
  • Charnley Norwood House
  • DeSoto National Forest
  • Gulf Islands NS Davis Bayou
  • INFINITY Science Center
  • LaPointe – Krebs Museum
  • Lynn Meadows Discovery Center
  • Pascagoula River Audubon Center
  • Walter Anderson Museum of Art
  • Waveland Ground Zero Hurricane Museum

There are just three other new stamps to list:

Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail | Lake Perris SRA

Ohio & Erie National Heritage Canalway | Mustill Store Museum, Akron, OH

National Parks of New York Harbor | Northeast Regional

 

A map of the six counties in the Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area, as provided by Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, which is the managing partner association for the Heritage Area.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area includes the six southern-most counties in Mississippi that comprise the “foot” of the State of Mississippi.   This Heritage Area joined the Passport Program in 2011 with an initial allocation of 20 cancellations.  This month, they have ordered replacement stamps for each of those 20 original cancellations, along with the 19 brand new cancellations listed above.

I’ve broken up the new cancellations into two groups for convenience.  The first group are stamps for locations providing general tourist information.   There are cancellations located at the headquarters offices of the Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area, as well as the offices of the Gulf Coast Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau (Vist MS Gulf Coast.)   Both of these are located in Biloxi in the heart of the Heritage Area in Harrison County.  In addition, there are new cancellations for each of the five surrounding counties, including two for Jackson County.  There are also two new cancellations for welcoming visitors entering the Heritage Area, including one at the Biloxi-Gulfport Airport, and another at the Dizzy Dean Welcome Center located on US Route 49, the primary route for travelers heading into the area from the north.

Early morning fog on the Davis Bayou at Gulf Islands National Seashore,, another of the many new stamp additions for the Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area. Photo Credit: Fsendek1904 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The second group of stamps represent  highlight destinations within the Heritage Area itself.  Gulf Islands National Seashore includes parts of coastal Mississippi and Florida (but alas, does not include any part of Alabama in between.)   The Davis Bayou protects the natural coastal environment near the main visitor center for the Mississippi portion of the park in Ocean Springs.  Also protecting the natural environment of the Mississippi Gulf Coast and nearby environs are DeSoto National Forest and the Pascagoula River Audubon Center.

Two historic houses are also among the new locations.  The LaPointe-Krebs House in Pascagoula dates back to 1757, and is the oldest building in the entire Mississippi River Valley.  The Charnley-Norwood House in Ocean Springs “only” dates back to 1890, and was designed by architecht Louis Sullivan, who may have had a helping hand from a young draftsman in his office, Frank Lloyd Wright.

The INFINITY Science Center on the Mississippi-Louisiana border opened in 2012 and serves as the visitor center for NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center.   The Stennis Center is NASA’s largest rocket engine testing facility.

The Walter Anderson Museum of Art is located in Ocean Springs, and is dedicated to the art of the namesake artist.   Walter Ingliss Anderson was active in the early-to-mid 20th Century, and is known for his depictions of life on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.   The Lynn Meadows Discovery Center is a children’s museum located in Gulfport, Mississippi.

Finally, the Waveland Ground Zero Hurricane Museum is dedicated to more-recent history.  The museum tells the story of the landfall of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 in Waveland, Mississippi.

As mentioned before, these 19 new additions join 20 earlier cancellations.  Of those, 12 were also at local chambers of commerce, city halls, or visitor centers.  The other eight sites include:

An aerial view of Lake Perris State Recreation Area in California, the newest Passport location for the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail. Photo Credit: Doc Searls [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The Lake Perris State Recreation Area is located in southern California and has a new cancellation this month for the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail.  A wayside exhibit at the southern end of the lake marks the approximate spot of the de Anza Expedition’s 58th encampment out of some 100 encampments on their way to San Francisco Bay.  Shortly after passing by this area, the Expedition would cross what is now Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, which is also a passport location for the trail.  While crossing that area on December 30, 1775, a member of the expedition became the first person European descent to give birth in present-day California.

The stamp for the Mustill Store in Akron is a replacement for a previous stamp that simply read “Akron, OH” on the bottom.  The historic building is now operated as a visitor center for Canal Locks Park and the Ohio & Erie Canalway Towpath.

The National Parks of New York Harbor is a National Park Service management unit overseeing all the National Parks in New York City and the immediately-adjacent areas.  The new stamp for Amtrak’s Northeast Regional Train is for use in the Trails and Rails Program providing information on national parks to Amtrak passengers.

Finally, a special stamp was discovered this month at the National Park Service outreach tent at the Boy Scouts of America’s National Jamboree.  This is the second quadrennial National Jamboree held at the Boy Scouts of America’s new Summit Bechtel Family Scout Reserve facility, located adjacent to the New River Gorge National River in southern West Virginia.   Although it doesn’t appear that there was a Passport cancellation available at the 2013 Jamboree, a special cancellation marking the 100th Anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America was available at the 2009 National Jamboree, which was the eighth and final jamboree held at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia.  As of this writing, that stamp can still be obtained, upon request, at the Fredericksburg Battlefield Bookstore at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County Battlefields Memorial National Military Park.

With these new additions there are now  2,200 regular Passport Cancellations available!  Including stamps for special events and programs, like the Scout Jamboree and Trails Rails, that total rises to 2,428.  Happy stamping!

The scenery of the New River Gorge National River provides a scenic backdrop to the Boy Scouts of America’s new Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve. Photo from 2006.
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June 2017 New Stamps – Reconstruction Era NM Expands Their Passport Program and More Trail Stamps

The Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail continues to add cancellations around the Chesapeake Bay. This photo is from a new cancellation in Chestertown, MD.

 

Blue Ridge Parkway | Doughton Park Visitor Center

Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail | C&O Canal NHP HQ

Reconstruction Era National Monument |

        • Port Royal
        • St. Helena Island

San Juan Island NHP | Friday Harbor, WA

California National Historic Trail | Martin’s Cove, WY

Oregon National Historic Trail | Martin’s Cove, WY

El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail | NM Public Lands Info Ctr.

Santa Fe National Historic Trail | NM Public Lands Info Ctr.

Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail | Roving Ranger

Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail | Historic Nauvoo

Old Spanish National Historic Trail  | Kelso Depot

Trail of Tears National Historic Trail | Trail of Tears Assoc., OK

Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail |

        • Columbia, PA
        • Chestertown, MD
        • Great Falls, MD
        • Sandy Point State Park, MD
        • Gloucester, VA
        • Warsaw, VA
The Rappahannock River National Wildlife Refuge in Warsaw, Virginia is also a new cancellation location this month for the Captain John Smith Chesapeake NHT.

The highlight of this month’s new stamps come from the newly designated Reconstruction Era National Monument in South Carolina.   The initial stamp for this new national park was released just a couple months ago in April 2017.   That first stamp was for historic Beaufort, South Carolina, which was captured by Union forces in the early days of the Civil War in 1861, and so was one of the places where the process of reconstruction in the south began.  Beaufort was also the birthplace of Robert Smalls, who was born into slavery in 1839.  During the Civil War, in 1862, Smalls made a daring escape from nearby Charleston, taking the helm of the confederate ship CSS Planter, slipping it past the guns of Fort Sumter, and taking it out to sea where he could surrender to Union forces.  In an amazing and ironic historic twist, Robert Smalls would later use the prize money he was awarded for the capture of the Confederate ship to later purchase a home in Beaufort that had actually been owned by the very family that had once owned him.

Port Royal is located just to the south of Beaufort proper.  Port Royal was the site of Camp Saxton, where Union forces recruited the 1st South Carolina Volunteer Regiment from among the enslaved black population of the area.

Also in the same year of  Robert Smalls’ daring escape in 1862, even as the Civil War was still crescendoing to its full peak,  two women from Pennsylvania arrived in the area to begin providing an education to the freed blacks.   They soon moved their school into an old brick church on St. Helena Island, just to the east of Beaufort proper, which is the third passport location for this park.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is adding a new cancellation this month for the new Doughton Park Visitor Center. Photo from 2016.

The Blue Ridge Parkway has added a 19th visitor center and passport location this month, with the addition of the Doughton Park Visitor Center.  Located at milepost 241, it fills a gap between the Blue Ridge Music Center at milepost 213 and the Cone Memorial Park Visitor Center at milepost 294.  Interestingly, there was previously a cancellation for the Cumberland Knob Visitor Center at milepost 219, but that location is now closed with the opening of the nearby Blue Ridge Music Center in 2006, and that cancellation is now in the history books.

According to a report in the Wautauga (NC) Democrat, this location was previously operated by a concessionaire as Bluff’s Lodge and Coffee Shop, but has been closed since 2010.  A partnership effort was organized, seeded by an anonymous donation to restore the property, which had deteriorated.  This year it is reopening as the Doughton Park Visitor Center and will be managed by Eastern National, which also runs the Parks Passport Program. Interestingly, the visitor center is only Phase 1 of the restoration of the project.  Phase 2 will include restoring the Coffee Shop – which will be welcome news for many travelers.  Restoration of the lodging is also in the plans as well.

The new Doughton Park Visitor Center is located just 22 miles from the now-closed visitor center at Cumberland Knob. Photo from 2010.

The new stamp for the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail located at the C&O Canal National Historical Park in Hagerstown, Maryland is simply an updated replacement for previous stamps at this location.  Although the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail runs along the entire length of the C&O Canal towpath, the park Headquarters Building is located in Hagerstown proper, so Passport enthusiasts will have to make a brief detour from the Trail to get this cancellation.

Similarly, the new addition for San Juan Island National Historical Park is for the Park Headquarters in the resort town of Friday Harbor on San Juan Island.  Visitors to the Park can also collect cancellations at the American Camp and the English Camp on either end of the island.   The American Camp marks where US soldiers established themselves in 1859 and began a face-off with a British warship, as a dispute about a pig uprooting a garden nearly escalated a simple border dispute into an international war. The English Camp marks where British soldiers landed and encamped in 1860 as part of a temporary settlement for “joint occupation” of the island until a permanent settlement could be reached – something that would not occur until nearly a decade later, when arbitrators appointed by the German kaiser awarded San Juan Island to the United States.

The Mormon Handcart Historical Site in Martin’s Cove, Wyoming has two new cancellations this month.     Photo Mplark (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The Mormon Handcart Site in Martin’s Cove, WY is operated by the Church of Latter-day Saints.  It marks the site where a party of Mormon emigrants pulling hand carts  and departing late in the season in 1859 became stranded for several days due to an early blizzard.  The site provides interpretation of the events at the site, as well as the rigors of pulling hand carts on the migration west.  The site previously has had cancellations for the Mormon Pioneer and Pony Express National Historic Trails.   The route used by the Mormon emigrants was the same route also used by settlers and gold rushers travelling on the Oregon and California National Historic Trails, respectively.  So this site now has a full compliment of four cancellations for the four Emigrant Trails across the west.

The Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail does get one new cancellation this month, this one for the starting point of the trail in Nauvoo, Illinois.  This new stamp is located at the Historic Nauvoo Visitor Center, which is also operated by the LDS Church.   This new stamp is somewhat paired with the new stamp for Nauvoo, Illinois under the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area that was released in January 2017. That stamp has been located at the Joseph Smith Historic Site in Nauvoo, which preserves a historic home of the man who was the founder of the LDS Church and also the former mayor of Nauvoo for two years up until his murder by an angry mob in nearby Carthage, Illinois in 1844.  The Joseph Smith Historic Site is operated by the Community of Christ, which was formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and which split from the larger LDS Church in 1860.  The Nauvoo Historic District represented by this month’s new cancellation  includes many other historic structures in Nauvoo, including the former home of Brigham Young who was the second President of the LDS Church, and who led the journey west to Utah.

The New Mexico Public Lands Information Center, operated by the Bureau of Land Management in Santa Fe, New Mexico has already had cancellations for the  Old Spanish, Santa Fe, and El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trails.   The new stamps for the last two trails are simply subbing out previous stamps that read “Santa Fe, NM” on the bottom with stamps that now read “NM Public Lands Info Ctr.” on the bottom.  The Old Spanish Trail had actually made a similar switch back in 2012.  Interestingly, I can’t help but note that the street address for the New Mexico Public Lands Information Center is 301 Dinosaur Trail in Santa Fe!

The Roving Ranger Program at Golden Gate National Recreation Area helps connect people in the Bay Area to extraordinary locations like this one. Photo from 2015.

The new stamp for the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail will presumably be included as part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area‘s Roving Ranger program.  The Roving Ranger truck takes the National Park Service’s outreach out into the communities of the San Francisco Bay Area to promote the National Park Service location that is right in their own backyard.   Meanwhile, the new stamp for the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail simply reflects the move of the Trail’s headquarters offices from Little Rock, Arkansas to Webbers Falls, Oklahoma.

The new stamp for the Old Spanish National Historic Trail is actually the third iteration of a stamp at the historic Kelso Depot in Mojave National Preserve.  Previous iterations read “Kelso, CA” and “Mojave National Preserve, CA” on the bottom.

The Great Falls of the Potomac are one of several locations with a new Captain John Smith Chesapeake NHT stamp this month.

Finally, the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail continues its rapid expansion of Passport cancellations this month.   The six new additions this month give it a grand total of 41 Passport cancellations.  That total is good for 5th place in the National Park System, behind only the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area with a whopping 71, the Old Spanish National Historic Trail with 50, the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail with 47, and the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail with 44.   Each of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake cancellation locations appears to come with a wayside exhibit, providing interpretive about John Smith’s voyages of exploration from the Jamestowne Colony up through the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries in the early 1600’s.

The two new locations in Virginia include the Rappahannock River National Wildlife Refuge near Warsaw, Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay community of Gloucester on Virginia’s Middle Peninsula, between the Rappahannock and York Rivers.   In 2003, archeologists working near Gloucester discovered the site of Werowocomoco, which was the capital of the Powhatan Confederacy of some thirty Indian tribes in the area, and which traded and interacted with Captain John Smith and the Jamestowne Colony.

In Maryland, the new locations include Great Falls Park, which is managed by the George Washington Memorial Parkway.  The Great Falls of the Potomac River formed a natural barrier to Captain John Smith’s upstream explorations of the Potomac River.   Other locations include Sandy Point State Park near Annapolis, Maryland and the Sultana Education Foundation in Chestertown, Maryland on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay.  The Sultana Education Fuondation operates a replica of an 18th Century vessel, the Sultana, that was used for collecting tea taxes in the Chesapeake Bay.  It also conducts a number of environmental education programs for children, and promotes the newly-developed water trail on the Chester River.

The final new stamp will be located at the Columbia Crossing River Trails Center in Columbia, Pennsylvania, where US Route 30 crosses the Susquehanna River.   Captain John Smith never made it this far north on his voyages, as he was stopped by the great falls of the Susquehanna further south in Maryland.  However, the Susquehannock American Indians in this area used the Susquehanna River as part of a trading route network that stretched as far as New York State.  Thus, Congress has included the full length of the Susquehanna River as part of this National Historic Trail, in part for its historic significance to the American Indians, but also to use the National Historic Trail program to spread awareness of the extensive watershed for the Chesapeake Bay.

With this month’s new additions, the total number of active cancellations in the Passport Program is now 1,179.   Happy stamping!

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May 2017 Stamps – Desert Views & a Canalway Headquarters

The Desert View Watchtower in Grand Canyon National Park highlights this month’s new cancellations. Photo from 2009.

Just a few new stamps for the month of May:

Grand Canyon National Park | Desert View Watchtower

Lake Mead National Recreation Area |

  • Boulder Beach
  • Calville Bay

Erie Canal National Heritage Corridor | New York State

A view of the Grand Canyon from the Desert View Watchtower. Photo from 2009.

The Desert View Watchtower is a landmark on the south rim of  Grand Canyon National Park.  It was originally built in the 1930’s, and was designed by female architect Mary Colter.  In recent years, the Watchtower had been used as a gift shop by a Park concessionaire, up until the National Park Service taking back management of the building in 2015.  In 2016, the Watchtower was reopened after being restored to visitor uses closer to Mary Colter’s original vision of the space.  Additionally, the National Park Service has partnered with area American Indian Tribes to include artwork by tribal artists on the site.   The stamp this month is a replacement for an existing stamp that had either worn out, or its date had expired.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area is something of a sister park for Grand Canyon, encompassing the lands surrounding the Colorado River in Nevada and Arizona.  The park stretches from the point on the Colorado River where Grand Canyon National Park ends the  downstream through Lake Mead above the Hoover Dam and Lake Mohave above the the Davis Dam, north of Bullhead City in Arizona.

Prior to this month, there were  9 stamps available for Lake Mead NRA.  One is for the main visitor center, located just outside of Boulder City, Nevada.  The other eight were for various ranger stations and entrance stations located around the park’s 1.5 million acres.   The Boulder Beach and Colville Bay Ranger Stations are both located on the north shore of Lake Mead, relatively near the most-visited section of the park near Boulder City and Las Vegas.   With these additions, Lake Mead NRA now has 11 available cancellations.   The only remaining Ranger Stations in Lake Mead NRA without their own cancellations are the entrance station at the junction of Lakeshore Road, Northshore Road, and the Lake Mead Parkway and also the remote Meadview Ranger Station in the far eastern portion of the park on the Arizona side of Lake Mead.   Perhaps these will be sites for future cancellations?

Lake Mead National Recreation Area is known for its red rock formations. This photo was taken along the Northshore Road, not far from Calville Bay Ranger Station, which has a new cancellation this month. Photo from 2007.

Finally, the new stamp for the Erie Canalway National Heritage Area, with the generic text “New York State” on the bottom, will be located at the Canalway Headquarters at Peebles Island State Park in Waterford, New York where it will presumably be a replacement for an existing stamp.  In an e-mail, the National Park Service staff advises stampers to call ahead before attempting to collect this stamp, as occasionally the staff at the office may be called away to various projects or events on the Canalway.

With this month’s new additions there are now 2,184 active Passport Cancellations, or 2,072 if you exclude the various anniversary and special event cancellations available.

The final shot this month is a view of the Grand Canyon from the Desert View Watchtower. Photo from 2009.
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April 2017 New Stamps from Puerto Rico to the Arctic Circle and Places In-Between

San Juan National Historic Site in Puerto Rico has one brand-new stamp this month and one replacement stamp.

Here are the new stamps for the month of April:

Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument | Birmingham, AL

Freedom Riders National Monument | Anniston, AL

Reconstruction Era National Monument | Beaufort, SC

Harriet Tubman National Historical Park | Auburn, NY

Antietam National Battlefield | Pry House Field Hospital Museum

Noatak National Preserve | Bettles, AK

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park | Outdoor Recreation Information Center

Gulf Islands National Seashore |

      • Advanced Redoubt
      • Okaloosa Area

San Juan National Historic Site |

      • Castillo San Felipe del Morro
      • San Antonio Guardhouse, El Morro

Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area |

      • Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
      • Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum
      • Lincoln Depot
      • Lincoln Law Office
      • Lincoln Tomb
      • Old State Capitol
      • Springfield, IL
      • Carthage, IL
      • Clinton, IL
      • Homer, IL
      • Mahomet, IL
      • Quincy, IL
      • Vandalia, IL
The Pry House at Antietam National Battlefield has an updated cancellation this month. Photo credit: National Park Service

Most notable this month are stamps for four new additions to the National Park System, which recently brought the total number of Nationa Park Units up to a total of 417.  Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument, Freedom Riders National Monument, and Reconstruction Era National Monument were all added in January by way of declarations made by President Obama under the Antiquities Act.  Harriet Tubman National Historical Park in Upstate New York (not to be confused with Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park in southern Maryland)  was added following land acquisition that was authorized the 2015 Defense Authorization Act.  I recently wrote about the important history behind the first two civil rights-related national monuments.  Reconstruction Era National Monument preserves four properties associated the building of post-slavery lives for African-Americans in the South.  Union forces captured the area around Beaufort, South Carolina in 1861, in the early days of the Civil War, so in many respects, this part of South Carolina is where the Reconstruction Era began.  Some of the places in the new national monument include areas where reconstruction was being implemented, even as the Civil War raged around them.  This includes sites associated with old Camp Sherman, where a regiment of African-American troops for the Union Army was recruited.

The Pry House served as General McClellan’s headquarters at Antietam National Battlefield.  Although it is within the Park boundaries, it is operated in partnership with the National Park Service as an outpost of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, and has several exhibits on how medical needs were handled during the battle.  This site previously had an official stamp from 2006 to 2011 – the new stamp replaces an unofficial stamp that the site had been using for the last five years.

The Ranger Station in Bettles, Alaska is one of the most-remote corners of the National Park System. Photo credit: Bruce Johnson, 2007

There are two new additions in the Pacific Northwest this month.  The remote village of Bettles in northern Alaska is most-famously a gateway community for Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve.  A second stamp is added this month at the joint National Park Service – US Fish and Wildlife Service Ranger Station in the village for adventurers taking a longer flight to the remote rivers located in Noatak National Preserve.   In testament to the size of Alaska, Bettles is itself some 600 miles (a 14.5 hour drive according to Google Maps) from Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city.   Even so, it is approximately another 150 miles as the bush plane flies to get to Noatak National Preserve from Bettles, a remote national park with no on-site visitor facilities whatsoever.

In Seattle, Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park has added a stamp for the inter-agency information station at the REI Flagship Store in Seattle, which provides information about parks and other public lands throughout western Washington.

Gulf Islands National Seashore has added two stamps for the Florida section of the park.  The Okaloosa Area is the easternmost section of the National Seashore, located just east of the town of Fort Walton Beach, and preserves the beaches on the barrier island.  The Advanced Redoubt is located in the Fort Barrancas Unit of the Park, on the grounds of the Pensacola Naval Air Station.  The Advanced Redoubt and Fort Barrancas were both built in the mid-19th Century to protect the Pensacola Navy Yard.

The San Antonio Guardhouse, located in the foreground (with El Morro in the background) is a new cancellation location this month for San Juan National Historic Site.  Photo from 2011

San Juan National Historic Site in Puerto Rico is comprised of two old Spanish fortifications, the Castillo San Marcos and the Castillo San Felipe del Morro.  The latter received a new stamp this month, replacing an older stamp that referred to the location by its nickname, “El Morro.”   There is also a brand new stamp this month for the San Antonio Guardhouse, which is located just outside the fortifications of El Morro. This gives the site three total Passport locations.

Finally, the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area has added to the 15 stamps it introduced in January of this year.  The additions this month include 7 additional Lincoln sites in and around Springfield, Illinois, which join the long-standing cancellation for this Heritage Area at Lincoln Home National Historic Site, which is also in Springfield.

The other additions this month appear to primarily have local connections or secondary interest to the life of Abraham Lincoln.  The two most notable are the additions for Mahomet, Illinois and Vandalia, Illinois. The Museum of the Grand Prairie is operated by Champaign County in Mahomet. Lincoln visited the area in and around Mahomet during his time as a lawyer on the 8th Judicial Circuit and the museum includes exhibits on this stage of Lincoln’s life.  The Vandalia Statehouse State Historic Site preserves the old state capitol in Vandalia, Illinois where Lincoln worked as a state legislator from his election in 1834 up until the capitol being moved in 1839.  The stamps for Carthage, IllinoisClinton, Illinois; and Quincy, Illinois  are each at local historical society museums.    The stamp for Homer, Illinois is at the local nature center.

Together with the existing stamps for this heritage area, there are now 29 stamps for the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area located across central Illinois.  Prior to 2015 there were just 17 on-location* stamps in the entire state of Illinois, including a single stamp for the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, one for the Chicago Portage National Historic Site Affiliated Area, two for the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail,  10 for the Illinois & Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor, and 3 for the Lincoln Home National Historic Site (including one for the Heritage Area and one for the Underground Railroad Freedom Network, both located at the main visitor center on the site).  2015 brought the addition for three more stamps for the brand-new Pullman National Monument in Chicago.  Now the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area has single-handedly more the doubled the statewide cancellation total for the state of Illinois, with now at least 50 stamps being available in that state. That will be enough to keep Passport enthusiasts from the Midwest busy for quite a while, and is continued testament to how National Heritage Areas have really fueled the growth of the Passport Program in recent years.

The final shot this month is of Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve, on a flight from Bettles to Noatak National Preserve. Photo credit: Bruce Johnson, 2007

* – This count of 17 stamps does not include stamps for the Amtrak Trails and Rails Partnership program, a couple of which pass through the state of Illinois.

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February and March 2017 New Stamps

Antietam National Battlefield is one of the sites with a new cancellation this month. Photo from 2015.

There were only two new stamps in February 2017, so as I get caught up, I’m going to combine them with the much more extensive list for March 2017.

Antietam National Battlefield:
Antietam National Cemetery | 150th Anniversary 1867-2007

Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail | VA, TN, NC, SC

Katmai National Park & Preserve | Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes

Big Cypress National Preserve | Swamp Welcome Center

Sequoia National Park |

      • Foothills Visitor Center
      • Lodgepole Visitor Center
      • Giant Forest Museum

Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park | Church Creek, MD

Civil War Defense of Washington | Fort Stevens

Rock Creek Park:
Rock Creek Nature Center & Planetarium | Washington, DC

MotorCities National Heritage Area | Greenfield Village

Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail |

      • Great Falls, MT
      • Travelers Rest
Antietam National Battlefield marks the 150th Anniversary of the dedication of its National Cemetery with a new cancellation this month. Photo credit: National Parks Service, 2013

The one-day battle of Antietam is famously the single-deadliest day in US history.  Total dead, wounded, and missing among both the Union and Confederate forces was nearly 23,000.  Of those, some 3,600 died on the day of the battle, and another 4,000 died of their wounds shortly thereafter or else were confirmed as dead after initially being listed as missing.   These casualties were out of a total US population of 31.4 million in the 1860 Census just before the Civil War.  By comparison,  the current US population of 318 million is some ten times larger, and average daily deaths in the United States are approximately 6,700.

In the immediate aftermath of the battle, many of the casualties were buried in mass graves, or in inadequately shallow graves.  President Andrew Johnson visited Antietam for the dedication of the cemetery on the 5th anniversary of the battle on September 17, 1867.  The cemetery commemorates its 150th Anniversary this year.

The Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail marks the journey of some several hundred “overmountain men” to confront a force of British-commanded loyalist militia in South Carolina in 1780.  The men gathered at Abingdon, Virginia on September 23, 1780, and a day later at Sycamore Shoals, Tennessee before marching to confront the British-loyalists at the Battle of Kings Mountain on October 7th, 1780.  This new stamp replaces an existing Overmountain Victory Trail at Cowpens National Battlefield.  The Battle of Cowpens was a coda to the Overmountain Campaign, being fought three months later on January 17, 1781.  In this battle, a force of American regular soldiers and militia defeated a force of largely British regulars.  Although a few of the overmountain men also participated in this battle, many had returned home after the Battle of Kings Mountain, and one contingent of them arrived a day after the decisive victory for the Americans.

Although Katmai National Park & Preserve in Alaska is world-famous for viewing grizzly bears catching salmon near the waterfalls at Brooks Camp, the park was actually originally established in 1918 to protect the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes.   The Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes was actually created only 6 years earlier during the simultaneous volcanic eruptions of the Mt. Katmai and Novarupta volcanoes.   When explorer Robert Griggs from the National Geographic Society reached the valley in 1916, it was still filled with fumaroles, or openings, in the volcanic ash releasing steam.  Although most of the fumaroles have stopped steaming, the volcanic landscape remains a popular attraction within the park; bus tours are offered regularly from Brooks Camp.

The Foothills Visitor Center for Sequoia National Park in Three Rivers, California is one of several locations with an updated cancellation. Photo credit: Bruce Johnson, 2009

The new stamp for Big Cypress National Preserve reflects the rebranding of the Ochopee Welcome Center, near the town of the same name on the west side of the park, to the Swamp Welcome Center.  Likewise, Sequoia National Park is simply replacing three of its existing stamps from being location-based to structure based.  Thus, the existing stamp for “Three Rivers, CA” is being replaced by one for the “Foothills Visitor Center.”   At Parkasaurus, we always prefer the location-based stamps to the structure-based stamps, so this is a disappointing move.

Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park is a relatively new addition to the National Park System, and is celebrating the grand opening of its new visitor center in partnership with the Maryland State Park Service.  The new facility is in the hamlet of Church Creek.

The Civil War Defenses of Washington is a partnership program that connects related sites around the greater Washington, DC area that are variously under the jurisdiction of the superintendents of National Capital Parks, Rock Creek Park, or the George Washington Memorial Parkway.  Fort Stevens Park is located just a half mile from Rock Creek Park in the northern portions of the District of Columbia, and so is managed by the Superintendent of Rock Creek Park.  Fort Stevens is notable because during Confederate General Jubal Early’s 1864 raid on Washington, it became the only time in history than an American President came under enemy fire while in his role as Commander-in-Chief.  This stamp will be kept at the Rock Creek Park Nature Center, along with the replacement stamp for the Nature Center, which includes the words “and Planetarium” for the first time.

Cotswold Cottage is one of the historic buildings at The Henry Ford Museum’s Greenfield Village.  Photo credit: Michael Barera [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0),  via Wikimedia Commons
The Motorcities National Heritage Area is centered around the history of the automobile industry in southeast Michigan.  Greenfield Village is a living history attraction that is part of The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

Finally, there are two replacement stamps for locations along the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail in Montana.   The Great Falls of the Missouri River were a major obstacle for Lewis & Clark and their Corps of Discovery.  Today, dams and development projects along the Missouri River have deprived the namesake of the town of Great Falls, Montana much of its grandeur, but there is still a good Lewis & Clark interpretive center in town.   Meanwhile,  Traveler’s Rest State Park near Lolo, Montana preserves the only known archeological remains of an actual encampment by the Corps of Discovery.   Lewis and Clark encamped here in September 1805 before embarking on the difficult crossing of the Lolo Pass.  They then camped here a second time in June 1806, before splitting into two separate exploration parties for the return route home.   The two parties would reunite some two and a half months later in North Dakota to take advantage of the swift currents of the Missouri River for the return trip back to civilization.

With these new additions, Parkasaurus calculates that there are now 2,148 active stamp cancellations to collect.  There are 2,039 of these if you exclude special stamps for anniversaries and special events.

The final shot this month is a present-day view of the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes in Katmai National Park & Preserve. Photo credit: National Park Service
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January 2017 New Stamps – Historic Anniversaries and Heritage Areas

Hopewell Culture National Historical Park has a new stamp this month for some historical resources that are much more recent than the ancient Americans who built these mounds. Photo from National Park Service

Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site | 10th Anniversary 2007-2017

First State National Historical Park |

      • New Castle Court House
      • The Green – New Castle

Minuteman Missile National Historic Site | South Dakota

Hopewell Culture National Historical Park | Camp Sherman

Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area |

      • Alton, IL
      • Atlanta, IL
      • Beardstown, IL
      • Bloomington, IL
      • Danville, IL
      • Decatur, IL
      • Jacksonville, IL
      • Lerna, IL
      • Lincoln, IL
      • Mt. Pulaski, IL
      • Nauvoo, IL
      • Pittsfield, IL
      • Quincy, IL
      • Shelbyville, IL
      • Taylorville, IL

Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area |

      • Bryants Grocery
      • Fort Pemberton
      • Museum of the Mississippi Delta
      • Robert Johnson Gravesite

California National Historic Trail | Hollenberg Pony Express Station SHS
Oregon National Historic Trail | Hollenberg Pony Express Station SHS
Pony Express National Historic Trail | Hollenberg Pony Express Station SHS

Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site commemorates its 10th anniversary in 2017. US troops brutally murdered an encampment down below those sandstone cliffs. Photo from 2015.

Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site may only be ten years old in 2017, but this is already their second anniversary stamp.  In 2014, they had a stamp commemorating the 150th Anniversary of  the massacre of a camp of Cheyenne Indians by Colorado soldiers in 1864.  This park immediately retired that 150th Anniversary stamp as soon as the calendar turned to 2015, so if you want to collect this anniversary cancellation, you’ll probably need to trek out to eastern Colorado before the year is out.

For First State National Historical Park, the New Castle Courthouse stamp is simply a replacement for the existing stamp reading “New Castle, DE” on the bottom.   The New Castle Courthouse is where Delaware seceded from Great Britain in 1775, and is also the baseline for Delaware’s curved border with Pennsylvania, which is 12 miles from the courthouse.  The other stamp is for the New Castle Green and will be located at the New Castle Historical Society’s Visitor Center in The Arsenal.   A great summary of the history of New Castle Green can be found in this blog post from the official Delaware State Government blog.  This new addition for New Castle Green gives First State NHP a total of 8 active cancellations.

Minuteman Missile National Historic Site previously replaced its existing stamp reading “South Dakota” on the bottom in February 2015 with one reading “Visitor Center” on the bottom.   This one takes things back to where they were previously, restoring “South Dakota” as the main stamp for this Park.   Personally, I tend to dislike cancellations that read “visitor center” on the bottom, so this is a welcome change.

Hopewell Culture National Historical Park in south-central Ohio was officially established to interpret the archeological remains of a 2,000-year-old Indian civilization that archeologists refer to as “the Hopewell Culture,” since they did not leave behind a written language recording their own name for themselves.   However, 100 years ago, part of the land that is now the national park was included in the then newly-designated Camp Sherman to gather and train US troops for the war effort.   This new cancellation is timely, as it coincides with the 100th Anniversary of the U.S. entering the first World War in 1917, and with Hopewell Culture National Historical Park stepping up its interpretation of the small role it played in the First World War.

Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site in Charleston, Illinois is one of the latest Passport locations for the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area. Photo by Daniel Schwen (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area, which is run by the Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition, covers some 40 counties in central Illinois.  Previously, this Heritage Area had only a single cancellation, for the Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield, IL.    These 15 additional cancellations cover the heritage area’s official gateway cities of Alton, Bloomington, Danville, and Quincy.    These cancellations also cover several other partner sites, including the Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site in Lerna, where Lincoln’s father and stepmother lived once he was a grown man in Springfield.  Also included are several sites associated with Lincoln practicing law, including those in Mt. Pualski, Pittsfield, and Taylorville.  The remainder of the sites appear to be primarily associated with more-general history and visitation of the area, the most notable of which is the Joseph Smith Historic Site in Nauvoo, which is also the starting point for the Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail.

Bryant’s Grocery has been restored and commemorates the events surrounding the infamous murder of Emmett Till, and the acquittal of his killers. Photo: By Richard Apple (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area has been steadily adding stamps since joining the Passport Program in November 2014.  You can find the Parkasaurus write-up for all the previous additions here.  Particularly notable this month is the addition of a stamp for Bryant’s Grocery.  In August 1955, a 14-year-old teenager from Chicago named Emmett Till was visiting his family in the small town of Money, Mississippi.  On that trip, an incident with a white woman, Carolyn Bryant, at Bryant’s Grocery, led to Till being murdered by Ms. Bryant’s husband, Roy Bryant and his half-brother, John W. Milam.  Despite ample evidence, Bryant and Milam were acquitted by the all-white jury after a little more than an hour of deliberations.  You can read more details on the events of the case in this account from famous-trials.com.

The other three stamps for the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area this month can all be found in the town of Greenwood, Mississippi, which is just 17 miles to the south of Money.  Fort Pemberton was the site of a minor Confederate victory as part of the Vicksburg campaign.   The Museum of the Mississippi Delta comprehensively covers the human and natural history of the region.  Robert Johnson was a renowned blues artist, and the most-likely site of his burial is Little Zion Missionary Baptist Church on Money Road in Greenwood.

The Hollenberg Pony Express Station in 1991, prior to restoration. Photo: National Park Service, Kansas Historical Society

Finally, the Hollenberg Pony Express Station State Historic Site is located just east of the town of Hanover in northern Kansas.  The ranch was founded by Gerat Hollenberg in 1857 as a trading post on the Oregon and California Emigrant Trails.  By 1860 it became an official station on the Pony Express, and is one of the few remaining original Pony Express stations.

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October, November, & December 2016 New Stamps

The Lolo Pass Visitor Center has a new stamp for the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. Photo from 2004.

As I return to blogging, I am going to quickly catch up by combining the new stamps for the last three months of 2016:

Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail | Lolo Pass, ID

North Country National Scenic Trail | Finger Lakes National Forest, NY

Ohio & Erie National Heritage Canalway |

      • Brecksville Nature Center
      • Canalway Center
      • Century Cycles

Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail |

      • Bitterroot Valley, MT
      • Cape Disappointment State Park
      • Farragut State Park
      • Grand Coulee Dam
      • The REACH Museum
      • Tulalatin, OR
      • Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge

Underground Railroad Freedom Network | Allegheny Portage Railroad NHS

Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor | Stephen & Harriet Myers Residence
Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area | Stephen & Harriet Myers Residence

Oregon National Historic Trail |

      • Craters of the Moon NM & PRES
      • Fossil Butte NM

Pony Express National Historic Trail | Camp Floyd State Park

The Lolo Pass in Idaho is where the Lewis & Clark expedition made a treacherous mountain crossing in September 1805, despite the early onset of winter weather.  This stamp will be available at the US Forest Service’s Lolo Pass Visitor Center on US Route 12.  The new stamp for the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail finally replaces a previous stamp that had been available here from 2004 to 2007.  In addition, this site has had a stamp for the Nez Perce National Historic Trail since 2011.

The new North Country National Scenic Trail replaces a previous stamp reading simply “New York” on the bottom that had been available at both the US Forest Service Finger Lakes Ranger Station in the town of Hector, NY as well as at Fort Stanwix National Monument in Rome, NY.  The “New York” stamp is still available at Fort Stanwix.

There are three new stamps for the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area in eastern Ohio, joining six others from August 2016.  The Brecksville Nature Center provides interpretation and access to hiking trails in Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  The new stamp for the Canalway Center replaces an existing stamp for “Cuyahoga Heights, OH” at the Leonard Krieger Canalway Center.  Finally, Century Cycles provides bike rentals for trips along the Ohio & Erie Canal towpath from the town of Peninsula, Ohio, right in the center of Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  These two non-replacement additions bring the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area up to a total of 15 cancellation locations.

The Grand Coulee Dam is a new stamping location for the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail. This 2001 photo shows release of excess water from Lake Roosevelt. Photo from Bureau of Reclamation.

The 7 new stamps this month for the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail join 7 others from September 2015, for a total of 14 for the Trail.   The Ravalli County Museum in the town of Hamilton in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley already has an official stamp for the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail and a semi-official stamp for the Nez Perce National Historic Trail, as the valley extends north-south to Idaho’s Lolo Pass, which was mentioned earlier.  Farragut State Park is located on the south shore of northern Idaho’s Lake Pend Oreille.  The Park owes its name to the World War II-era Farragut Naval Training Station, named after the hero of the Battle of Mobile Bay in the Civil War.  Lake Pend Oreille meanwhile, owes its origins, at least in part, to the flood of glacial Lake Missoula, commemorated by this Trail, and which I described in this post from September 2015.   The Turnbull  National Wildlife Refuge is located just across the border in Washington State, just south of Spokane.

The floods of glacial Lake Missoula are also responsible for having created the modern-day gorge of the Columbia River. The rest of the Ice Age Floods stamps this month are related to the Columbia River.  The Bureau of Reclamation‘s Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River is responsible for creating Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area.  The REACH Museum is located downstream, and provides science education in the town of Richland, Washington.  It also serves as the Interpretive Center for the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Hanford Reach National Monument, which preserves one of the last-remaining free-flowing stretches, or “reaches,” of the Columbia River.  The town of Tualatin, Oregon is located just south of Portland.  The Tualatin Public Library contains some exhibits on the ice age history of the area, courtesy of the Tualatin Historical Society.   Finally, Cape Disappointment State Park is located on the Washington side of the mouth of the Columbia River, and is also part of Lewis & Clark National Historical Park unit of the National Park System as well as the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail.

Allegheny Portage National Historic Site is the latest stamp location in the Underground Railroad Freedom Network. This photo is of Engine House #6, which used cables to pull canal boats on rail cars up the incline. Photo from 2010.

The Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site preserves a small section of what was originally a 36 mile railroad using a series of cables to carry canal boats over the Allegheny Mountains between separate sections of the Pennsylvania Canal.   Operating from 1834 to 1854, until steam engines rendered the system of canal boats and cables obsolete, the railroad is known to also have been used by slaves attempting to escape to freedom; hence its inclusion in the Underground Railroad Freedom Network.

The Stephen and Harriet Myers Residence in Albany, New York is the recently-restored mid-19th century residence of the Myers, who were free blacks, abolitionists, and in the antebellum years, the center of underground railroad activity in Albany.  The building is being restored and maintained by the Underground Railroad History Project, and is part of both the Erie Canalway National Heritage Area and the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area.

The main route of the Oregon National Historic Trail passes some 100 miles to the south of Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve in central Idaho.  However, during the civil war, in order to avoid conflicts with the Northern Shoshone and Bannock Tribes, an alternate route to the north became increasingly popular.  This route became known as Goodale’s Cutoff, and it took the wagon trains on a treacherous crossing of the Craters of the Moon lava fields in what is known the northern portion of the park.

Meanwhile, the main route of the Oregon National Historic Trail passes some 60 miles to the south of the 50 million year-old fossils of Fossil Butte National Monument at Fort Bridger and Fort Bridger State Historic Site.  However, an alternate route, known as the Sublette Cutoff, passes within just 5 miles of the park, and the park has recently added the Oregon Trail to its interpretive activities.  Interestingly, the nearest town to Fossil Butte is Kemmerer, Wyoming, which is the home of the original J.C. Penney store.

Finally, Camp Floyd State Park preserves a historic stagecoach inn, just south of the Salt Lake City metro area in the town of Fairfield.  Camp Floyd is one of the first stops where the Pony Express National Historic Trail diverges from the California National Historic Trail.   The California Trail, which took 49ers to the gold fields of California, roughly follows the route of what is now Interstate 80  across northern Utah and Nevada.  The Pony Express Trail, however, took a route that was roughly 50 miles to the south, a route that doesn’t appear to have translated into our modern road system.

 

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September 2016 Stamps – Katahdin Woods, State Parks, and Many Trails

The site of Mission Dolores in Texas and associated visitor center is a new State Historic Site and has an updated stamp this month on the El Camino Real de Tejas National Historic Trail.

After some time away, I’m at least returning to blogging.  To catch up, I’ve decided to go ahead and write the monthly new stamps post for the months I missed. Here are the new stamps for the month of September 2016:

Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument | Penobscot County, ME

Natchez National Historical Park | Fort Rosalie

Nez Perce National Historical Park | Bear Paw Battlefield

Redwood National Park | Prairie Creek Redwoods SP

Redwood National Park | Jedediah Smith Redwoods SP

Rainbow Bridge National Monument |

      • Lees Ferry, AZ
      • Big Water, UT
      • Escalante, UT

California National Historic Trail | Fairway, KS

Oregon National Historic Trail | Fairway, KS

El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail | Mission Dolores State Historic Site

Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail | Pismo Beach, CA

Old Spanish National Historic Trail | Arizona/Utah

Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail | St. Clements Island SP, MD

North Country National Scenic Trail |

      • Douglas County, WI
      • Fergus Falls, MN
      • Itasca State Park, MN

The headline of course, is President Obama’s 100th birthday present to the National Park Service – the addition of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in northern Maine.  Although this park is not as expansive as earlier proposals for a comprehensive Maine North Woods National Park, it is still a landmark addition to the National Park System.  Since Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in central Kansas was added to the National Park System in 1996, there have been only a handful of new parks added primarily for their value as natural landscapes.  Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument was added in 1991, but it was really just a boundary expansion of Virgin Islands National Park, just as Castle Mountains National Monument was really just a boundary expansion for Mojave National Preserve.  A few other new parks have included small landscape parcels as part of a larger history-themed park, but really the only other truly new landscape-focused park in the last 20 years has been Valles Caldera National Preserve in New Mexico.

Congress established Natchez National Historical Park in 1988 to encompass the historic district of Natchez, Mississippi, and to include three National Park Service-managed properties, the Melrose Plantation, the William Johnson House, and the archaeological site of Fort Rosalie.   Fort Rosalie was a French trading post, established in 1716, and was the seed that eventually grew into the present-day town of Natchez.  The original authorizing legislation required the National Park Service to first study the archaeological significance of Fort Rosalie before adding it to the park.

The Nez Perce National Historic Park includes 38 sites across the Pacific Northwest.  The Bear Paw Battlefield site in Montana is where in 1877 Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce ended his attempts to flee US troops, just 40 miles short of safety across the Canadian Border.  The new stamp replaces an earlier version and will be kept at the Blaine County Museum in nearby Chinook, Montana.

Redwood National Park is expanding its Passport locations to include its partner State Parks. Photo from 2002.

Redwood National Park operates as a mix of federal and state lands along the Pacific Coast of northernmost California.  Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park and Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park are two of the partners with this effort, and are managed cooperatively by the National Park Service and the California Department of Parks and Recreation.  There are now 5 cancellation locations for Redwood National Park, three for the National Park Service visitor centers in Orick, Hiouichi, and Crescent City, and two for these two California State Parks.  As an interesting historical footnote, one of these stamps was originally mis-printed as Jedediah Redwoods SP and was used for a short time before being replaced by a correctly-worded stamp.  Additionally, no stamp at all has been issued for the third California State Park in this partnerships, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park.  This is presumably because as near as I can tell, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park lacks a proper visitor center as a location to place the stamp.

Rainbow Bridge National Monument is only accessible by boat, deep inside Lake Powell in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.  These stamps, as well as the new stamp for the Old Spanish National Historic Trail, will go to the various visitors centers for Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and the adjacent Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, managed by the Bureau of Land Management, which provide information on visiting the area.

 

Rainbow Bridge National Monument preserves this natural arch. Photo from National Park Service

The stamps for the Oregon National Historic Trail and the California National Historic Trail will go to the Shawnee Mission State Historic State in Fairway, Kansas.   The Shawnee were relocated out of Ohio to an area just west of what is now Kansas City in 1825.   Methodist missionaries operated the mission from the 1830’s until the time of the Civil War.

The Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail stamp will presumably be found at the historic Price Historical Park in the town of Prismo Beach.   Although the ranch was founded decades after the 18th-Century Anza Expedition, Anza and his companions passed through what is now called Price Canyon on the journey north to San Francisco Bay  in 1775.

The new stamp for the El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail is a replacement stamp, reflecting the redesignation of the former Mission Dolores Travel Information Center just south of San Augustine, Texas to an official State Historic Site.

The new Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail stamp will be at St. Clements Island State Park.  St. Clements Island is only accessible by bout tours during the summer months.   This new stamp continues the evolution of the Potomac Heritage Trail cancellation locations from representing a linear long-distance trail to more of a partnership program, similar to a National Heritage Area.

Two of the new stamps for the North Country National Scenic Trail will be at the Friends of the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center in Fergus Falls, Minnesota and at Itasca State Park in Park Rapids, Minnesota.  Itasca State Park is, of course, famously home to the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi River, making it one of the most-notable additions to the Passport Program this month. The significance of Itasca State Park has long made it one of the most-famous State Parks in the country, and now it is also part of the national Passport to Your National Parks program.  The third stamp will be at the Douglas County Forestry Department in Solon Springs, Wisconsin.

Follow these signs to adventure along the North Country National Scenic Trail.  Photo from 2006.
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Two New Civil Rights Additions to the National Park System

One of two new civil rights-related national monuments commemorates the work of Martin Luther King, Jr. and others in Birmingham, Alabama. Photo of the MLK Memorial in Washington, DC from 2011.

Just one week before leaving office, on January 12, 2017, President Barack Obama proclaimed three new National Monuments under the Antiquities Act, and added those monuments to the National Park System.  Two of those National Monuments, Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument and Freedom Riders National Monument, both in central Alabama, will preserve locations associated with the Civil Rights Movement of the mid-1960’s.

Prior to these designations, there were already a handful of National Park Service Units dedicated to the story of the modern Civil Rights Movement in the post-World War II era.  Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka, Kansas preserves the story of the pivotal 1954 Supreme Court case that led to nationwide desegregation of the schools.  Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site  in Arkansas preserves the story of the contentious desegregation effort at that school three years later in 1957.

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta, Georgia preserves the home where the civil rights leader lived from his birth in 1929 until 1941, as well as the Ebenezer Baptist Church where he would jointly serve as pastor with his father into the 1950’s and 60’s.  There is also the relatively new Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial in Washington, DC.   In addition, the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC interprets the story of several civil rights moments from history, including the 1963 March for Jobs and Freedom and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legendary “I Have a Dream” speech.

Most notable of the National Park Service sites from this time period, however, is one place that that doesn’t actually count among the 417 units of the National Park System, the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail in Alabama.    Despite having two Visitor Centers and being staffed by uniformed National Park Service Rangers, National Historic Trails are not given full national park status.   Nonetheless, visitors to the Trail can follow the route of the famous Voting Rights March of March 1965, which were led in part by Martin Luther King, Jr.

National Park Service map of the new Freedom Riders National Monument in and around Anniston, Alabama.The two new sites fill in more of the civil rights timeline between the two school desegregation sites from the 1950’s, and the Voting Rights March in 1965.   Freedom Riders National Monument preserves two sites associated with a particular 1961 effort by activists to exercise their right to desegregated facilities in intercity bus service, and the violent effort by desegregation opponents to oppose them.    The plan for this “Freedom Ride” was to send a mixed-race group of civil rights activists to ride together on two intercity buses from Washington, DC to New Orleans, Louisiana.  The route for that trip would take the riders through much of the Deep South where they knew that tactics of intimidation, sometimes violent intimidation, were used to prevent racial minorities from making use of desegregated facilities.

The first bus was a Greyhound Bus, and when that bus pulled into the town of Anniston in eastern Alabama it was attached by a violent mob that slashed the bus’ tires and broke its windows with rocks.  The old Greyhound bus station in Anniston is now one of the two sites that comprise this new national monument.

Eventually, police officers arrived, and they provided an escort for the bus to leave the station – along with an “escort” of protesters from the mob.   Two cars from the rioters pulled in front of the bus and slowed down in order to slow the bus’s progress.  The bus made it six miles west down Highway 202 towards Birmingham before the slashed tires finally gave out.  The bus driver pulled to the side of the road, and the mob descended again, throwing fire bombs into the broken windows of the bus.  The Freedom Riders struggled to escape from the burning bus, even as the mob acted to try and prevent them from escaping.   Eventually they did break free, and were given some treatment at the Anniston hospital before civil rights leaders from Birmingham were able to arrange their transfer to the Birmingham hospital.   A site of nearly 6 acres where the bus burning took place is now the other site comprising this National Monument.

National Park Service map of the new Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument, showing the location of the Galston Motel and Kelly Ingram Park, among other locations.

Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument includes a four-and-a-half block area in downtown Birmingham.  The only site within the Monument boundaries that will be Federally-owned is the former A. G. Gaston Motel.   The Gaston Motel was itself owned by an African-American businessman, and was the best hotel in Birmingham at which the African-American civil rights activists could find accommodations.   In the spring of 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr., and other leaders from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference arrived in Birmingham to plan a series of marches and sit-ins to protest segregation in the city.

On April 6, 1963, the first attempt to march on Birmingham City Hall began at the Galston Motel, but ended with the protestors being arrested within three blocks.  The next day, a march began at the nearby St. Paul United Methodist Church, but was stopped after just one block in Kelly Ingram Park.  Both of those sites are located within the authorized boundaries for the new National Monument.

A few days later, the City of Birmingham obtained an injunction against King and other civil rights leaders prohibiting future marches.  Nonetheless, April 12th dawned as Good Friday that year, and the leaders went ahead with a planned march anyways – an act for which they were promptly arrested.  It was after this arrest that King wrote his seminal essay, Letter from Birmingham Jail, laying out the philosophical and moral justification for his campaign of nonviolent protest against segregation.

It was in this letter that King wrote the memorable words “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.  We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny, whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”   These words are now inscribed on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Particularly striking to me, however, is another passage of the Letter in which King addresses his justification for defiantly breaking laws, and thus have led him to the circumstances of writing from within a Birmingham Jail.  He starts by reflecting on the Brown v. Board of Education decision, and then invoking principles of moral philosophy and theology.

Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may want to ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all”

For Dr. King, the laws of segregation are unjust because they, quote, “degrade human personality.”   The laws of Alabama, and King presumably has in mind here particularly the laws governing protest and assembly,  are also unjust because they are not equally applied to the majority and the minority alike, but instead are only applied to the minority.  Moreover,  King argues that all of these laws were also unjust because they were only enacted as a result of so many blacks having been denied the right to vote.   As King writes in his letter, “who can say that the legislature of Alabama, which set up the state’s segregation laws, was democratically elected?”

Words from King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail, inscribed on the MLK Memorial in Washington, DC. Photo from 2016.

Having laid out his case for the fundamental injustice of the laws of Alabama, King then turns his attention to one of the great philosophical questions: “what is the role of a just man in an unjust world?”   Here King lays out his radical justification for his program of non-violent protest, and for working within the American system rather than to overthrow it.  He writes:

In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.

King loved the law, and so he willingly accepted the penalty.    This was despite the fact that his fourth child, daughter Bernice, had been born just two weeks earlier.  King would ultimately spend nine days in jail, finally being released on April 20th.

After King’s release from prison, the civil rights campaign in Birmingham would continue to escalate.  A key turning point was the decision of organizers to use children in the protests to reinvigorate the campaign and advance the goal of drawing national attention to the injustice in Birmingham.  Beginning May 2nd, thousands of high school and even elementary students began leaving school to participate in marches.  A great many of them would be peacefully arrested.  In other cases, the city of Birmingham authorities would escalate the situation by using police dogs and extremely powerful fire hoses to disrupt the marches.   By May 5th, some of the African-American crowds that had gathered in Kelly Ingram Park themselves began to turn violent, responding to police violence by throwing rocks and other debris – despite the efforts of civil rights leaders to maintain non-violence.  As the crisis continued to escalate, normal business in downtown Birmingham ground to a halt.  By May 8, business leaders began calling for desegregation, and by May 10 a political deal was reached to end the crisis, release most of the protesters from jail, and to repeal Birmingham’s segregation ordinances.

As the crisis came to an end, a bomb blast would heavily damage the Galston Motel on the night of May 11, only a few hours after King himself had left.   King would then go on to lead the March for Jobs and Freedom in Washington in August of that year. His efforts would lead to passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 in July of that year, and he would receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his advocacy of non-violent protest in October of 1964.

Sunset on the Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington, DC. Photo from 2012.
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Visiting All 417 National Parks