Welcome Belmont-Paul National Monument to the National Park System

The inside of the stained glass window at the new Belmont-Paul National Monument, located at 144 Constitution Avenue in Washington, DC
The inside of the stained glass window at the new Belmont-Paul National Monument, located at 144 Constitution Avenue in Washington, DC

On April 12, 2016, President Obama used his authority under the Antiquities Act to establish the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, DC.  The Sewall-Belmont House has actually received funding and technical assistance from the National Park Service dating back to 1974, making it an Affiliated Area of the National Park System.  However, since it has remained in private hands, it has not officially been counted as a Unit of the National Park System until now.

The two-part name continues a recent trend in compound names for new national parks. This includes President Obama designating the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument (since redesignated in the National Park System as a National Historical Park) in Maryland in 2013; President Bush designating the World War II / Valor in the Pacific National Monument in Hawaii, California, and Alaska in 2008; and Congress designating the Rosie the Riveter / World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California in 2000.  In this case, the compound name alludes to the fact that President Obama issued the proclamation for this national monument on “Equal Pay Day 2016” – the day intended to highlight that by some calculations,  American women in 2016 will earn, on average, 21% less than men. This calculation, however, is disputed by many economists, who point out that much of the difference is explainable by factors other than discrimination.

In picking this compound name, President Obama chose to eschew going with the “law firm” name for this new park of Sewall-Belmont-Paul National Monument.  Instead, the name Sewall was dropped in favor of adding the name of famous feminist and suffragette Alice Paul.

The name Sewall comes from Robert Sewall, who had the house constructed on Capitol Hill around 1800. Historical records indicate that the Sewall family only actually occupied the house for a short time, instead renting out to numerous officials and dignitaries.  Among its many residents were Albert Gallatin, Thomas Jefferson’s Secretary of the Treasury, who arranged the financing for the Louisiana Purchase and the subsequent Lewis & Clark expedition.   Gallatin’s home estate in western Pennsylvania is now Friendship Hill National Historic Site.

Nonetheless, the house over time came to be known as the Sewall House. Although it cannot be verified, tradition has long held that during the British attack on Washington in the War of 1812 (now commemorated by the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail) shots were fired at the British troops from the Sewall House, leading the British to set the Sewall House on fire.  If this indeed happened, it was noteworthy as while the British burned the government buildings in Washington, they actually took care to spare civilian buildings, which they viewed as belonging to once and future British subjects.

The name Belmont refers to Alva Vanderbilt Belmont, the wealthy philanthropist and feminist who bankrolled the National Woman’s Party’s acquisition of the Sewall House.  Alva Erskine Smith was born into a wealthy family in Mobile, Alabama and her first husband was William Kissam Vanderbilt; grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt, and the brother of Frederick William Vanderbilt.  (Frederick William was responsible for building the Hyde Park, New York estate that is now Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site.) Alva divorced her husband in March 1895, and then married Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont less than one year later in January 1896.  (Oliver Belmont was the grandnephew of the famous Oliver Hazard Perry, the hero of the Battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812, and commemorated by the Perry’s Victory International Peace Memorial in Put-in-Bay, Ohio.)  Oliver Belmont’s sudden death in 1908 seems to have directly lead to Alva Belmont actively devoting herself to the cause of women’s suffrage.

The name Paul, of course, refers to Alice Paul.  Alice Paul has rightly earned fame as the dynamo of the women’s suffrage movement in the United States.   She recognized that the cause of women’s suffrage, which had languished for more than 100 years in this country could be brought to fruition through a relentless campaign of agitation and political action.   She also recognized that she was just the person with the fame and charisma to rally a movement to do just that.

Frustrated by the pace of change, in 1913 Alice Paul, along with another woman, Lucy Burns, separated from the National American Woman Suffrage Association (N.A.W.S.A.) to form their own organization solely dedicated to a Constitutional Amendment for women’s suffrage.  Shortly thereafter, Alva Belmont merged her own women’s suffrage organization into the new group, and in 1916 the new group was renamed as the National Woman’s Party.   Just four years later the National Woman’s Party would secure its greatest success with the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

Around one decade later, when the National Woman’s Party needed a new headquarters, Alva Belmont was able to purchase the old Sewall House on Capitol Hill for that purpose.  Located just a few blocks from the Capitol, it was a prime location from which the National Woman’s Party could engage in their principal work of lobbying Congress to advance their cause of an Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution.  At the time, the National Woman’s Party officially renamed the Sewall House as the “Alva Belmont House,” but it appears that the long-standing Sewall House name was not so easily dropped out of common use, and the name Sewall-Belmont House came into popular usage instead.  Now, of course, the property will become known as the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument, and I suspect that this name change will be a bit more successful than the last, what with the branding power of the National Park Service behind it.

The Toothy T-Rex, Age 4, in Seneca Falls, New York, just across the street from Women's Rights National Historical Park
The Toothy T-Rex, Age 4, in Seneca Falls, New York, just across the street from Women’s Rights National Historical Park

Many historians date the beginning of the organized women’s suffrage movement in the United States to the Seneca Falls Convention of July 1848.  Looking at the history of the early women’s suffrage movement, its immediately apparent how women’s suffrage was a natural outgrowth of the anti-slavery abolition movement and also out of the religious traditions of the Quakers.   The Quakers have long been an anti-clerical movement within Christianity, originating in 17th Century England.  The Quakers believed in the “priesthood of all believers,” and did not typically have a formal religious hierarchy.   By the 19th Century, these beliefs were evolving within Quakerism to include a more radical equality of all people, including men and women.  Not surprisingly, many of the early leaders of the women’s suffrage movement were shaped in their beliefs by the Quakers.

Today, the National Park Service’s Women’s Rights National Historical Park includes the site of the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel where the Convention was held, as well as the homes of the Hunt Family and the M’Clintock Family, who were both Quakers, and the home of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who was not.  Word of the Convention was initially spread both among progressive Quakers, and among the networks of activists in the abolition of slavery movement.  These networks included Frederick Douglass from nearby Rochester, New York, who was a friend of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and who published word of the Convention in his North Star newspaper.

The Convention would last for two days, women-only on the first day, with men joining on the second day.  At the end of the second day, the Convention adopted the Declaration of Sentiments, which became the seminal document of the women’s rights movement.  It is notable for its comprehensive assessment of the inequalities between women and men of that day, and is now engraved in stone at Women’s Rights NHP in Seneca Falls.  Although the first goal of the women’s rights movement would become the right to vote, from the beginning there was a broader articulation of civil and social rights – such as the right to own property, the right to higher education, and the right to become a “teacher of theology, medicine, or law.”  All of these things, however, would take many years.

The Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments is now engraved in stone at Women's Rights National Historical Park
The Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments is now engraved in bronze at Women’s Rights National Historical Park

Following Seneca Falls, the women’s rights movement would receive a further boost in 1851 when Susan B. Anthony was introduced to Elizabeth Cady Stanton.  Since Susan B. Anthony would never marry, the absence of family commitments allowed her to spend more time travelling and organizing on behalf of the women’s suffrage movement.  Anthony would become perhaps the most-famous women’s rights campaigner in the country, and the women’s suffrage amendment to the Constitution would become informally known as the “Anthony Amendment.”  With the addition of Belmont-Paul National Monument to the National Park System, Susan B. Anthony now clearly holds the distinction of being the most-significant figure in the women’s rights movements who is not yet commemorated in the National Park System.

Despite Anthony joining the cause, however, success would not be the reward for this first generation of activists.  Following the Civil War, the women’s rights movement would split over the question of supporting the 15th Amendment, which gave the right to vote to all men, including African-Americans, but not to women.  Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton ultimately decided to oppose the 15th Amendment on those grounds, leading to a split and the forming of rival organizations.  That lack of unity may not have been decisive in the failure to secure women’s suffrage in the 19th Century, but it certainly didn’t help.

The leaders of the movement would continue actively working for the women’s right to vote for some 50 more years, all of them into old age, but to no avail.  Lucretia Mott, a Philadelphia Quaker who played a leading role in drafting the Declaration of Sentiments would die in 1880 at the age of 87. In 1887, a women’s suffrage amendment would finally receive a vote in the U.S. Senate, but was defeated by a vote of 16 in favor to 34 against.  Elizabeth Cady Stanton would die in 1902 at the age of 86. Susan B. Anthony would die in 1906, also at the age of 86.

Not surprisingly, historians cite the period of 1896 to 1910 as the nadir of the women’s suffrage movement as the heroes of the Seneca Falls generation began to fade away and it was unclear as to whom would succeed them.  The organizations they founded, like the N.A.W.S.A. would continue, but they were under-funded and the cause of a Federal Constitutional Amendment had largely been abandoned in favor of pursuing women’s suffrage on a state-by-state basis.

A bust of Alice Paul outside one of the rooms she worked in at the Belmont-Paul National Monument.
A bust of Alice Paul outside one of the rooms she worked in at the Belmont-Paul National Monument.

Enter a young Quaker woman from Mount Laurel, New Jersey named Alice Paul.  The year after Susan B. Anthony’s death, in 1907, Alice Paul would set out to Great Britain at the age of 21 to continue her education with postgraduate study at the London School of Economics and to join the women’s suffrage movement in that country.   It was in Britain that Paul would have what she called her “conversion experience” and where she would join the militant wing the British women’s suffrage movement. It was in Britain that she met famed British activist Emmeline Pankhurst, and is also where she met fellow American Lucy Burns, which whom she would form a life-long partnership.  It was also in Britain that she would be convinced that women’s suffrage would not be achieved by persuasion alone, but that the cause would require more forceful demonstrations.

Indeed, she would live this out in Britain, ultimately being arrested several times for civil disobedience.  Once arrested, a frequent tactic of the suffragists, Paul included, was to begin a hunger strike, in hopes of securing a shortened sentence.  However, after a particularly boisterous protest in late 1909, one in which Paul and other suffragists smashed windows, the stakes were significantly raised. In this instance, the British authorities responded to the hunger strike by holding down Paul and force-feeding her through a tube.  The experience was so traumatic for Paul that she literally had to be carried out of the jail once her sentence was over.

A few months later, in January 1910, Alice Paul returned to the United States after three years in Britain.  By this time Alice Paul was a suffragist celebrity in the United States.  Moreover, she returned to the United States convinced that the goal of the women’s suffrage movement must be a Federal Constitutional Amendment, and that passage of this Amendment would require employing the same tactics of the militant suffragists on the other side of the Atlantic.  By the end of 1912, she had completed her PhD at the University of Pennsylvania and had secured authorization from the N.A.W.S.A. to set up shop in Washington to begin lobbying activities for a Constitutional Amendment.

Historic women's suffrage banner, from the National Women's Party vollection.
Historic women’s suffrage banner, from the National Women’s Party collection.

Once she arrived in Washington, she immediately set to work organizing confrontations in support of women’s suffrage and re-energizing the women’s movement through her charisma and her flair for the dramatic. Some of the brilliant protests she organized included a “March on the White House” the night before Woodrow Wilson’s inaugural parade in 1913, and the staging of “Silent Sentinels” in continuous peaceful protest outside the Wilson White House. The Sentinels would maintain a small fire in an urn, in which they would burn copies of any Woodrow Wilson speech referring to “freedom” or to “liberty.”  These attempts to embarrass Woodrow Wilson were in keeping with Alice Paul’s grand strategy that all Democrats must be held responsible for the failure to pass the women’s suffrage amendment, since they were the party in power at the time.   Alice Paul’s application of this opposition to all Democrats in the 1914 elections led to her break with the avowedly non-partisan N.A.W.S.A. and the founding of the National Woman’s Party, in 1916.

Now in charge of her own organization, Alice Paul only accelerated her campaign from there, leading to more civil disobedience and more arrests, both by herself and by the many supporters she inspired to join her.  At one point, after many National Woman’s Party members were arrested after another protest, she specifically sought out arrest to join them, and was given a seven month sentence.  In protest of the terrible conditions, she once again began a hunger strike, and this time she was force-fed raw eggs through a tube before ultimately being released.

However, soon the tide turned. In April 1917, the United States entered the First World War.  The next January, Woodrow Wilson called for passage of the women’s suffrage amendment, quote, “as an urgent war measure.”  The House of Representatives passed the amendment shortly thereafter. The Senate would finally follow suit more than one year later, passing it in June 1919 on its third attempt,  sending the amendment to the States for ratification. The amendment was added to the Constitution upon ratification by Tennessee in August 1920, just in time for women across the U.S. to vote in the 1920 Presidential election. After 70 years of struggle, the women’s rights movement had achieved its most-important victory, and its hard to describe the role of Alice Paul as being anything less than central to this achievement.

With the 19th Amendment added to the Constitution, the question then became “what next?”  In this interview, Alice Paul relates that her National Woman’s Party was heavily in debt from the long campaign.  In the months immediately following ratification, the National Woman’s Party would basically shut down, the headquarters would be closed, and all efforts would be devoted to fundraising in order to pay off the debts.  Meanwhile, the N.A.W.S.A., having accomplished its mission, would reorganize itself into the League of Women Voters, which we know to this day.

Joan of Arc was a natural source of inspiration for Alice Paul and the National Women's Party.
Joan of Arc was a natural source of inspiration for Alice Paul and the National Woman’s Party.

Reading about Alice Paul, however, you kind of get the sense that she would never really be happy unless she was engaged in campaign to make a difference. Having spent more than a decade of her life agitating for women’s suffrage, its hard to envision her retiring to a quiet life somewhere. So its not at all surprising that in 1921, when Alice Paul convened a meeting of National Woman’s Party to decide whether the continue, the decision was a resounding “yes.”  Just as when Alice Paul first returned to the United States from Great Britain with the conviction that the top priority should be a Federal Constitutional Amendment, the new goal would also be a Constitutional Amendment.  Two years later, in 1923, Alice Paul and others would return to Seneca Falls for the 75th Anniversary of the Declaration of Sentiments and to propose a new amendment to the Constitution establishing full equality for women.  After some revisions in future years, it would become what we know today as the Equal Rights Amendment.   The simple text of Article 1 of the ERA read:

“Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

The campaign to secure passage of the ERA would consume the rest of Alice Paul’s life.

In 1972, Congress finally passed the ERA and submitted it to the States, with a deadline of 6 years for ratification.  Alice Paul would die in 1977 at the age of 92 with the ERA just two States shy of ratification. Unfortunately for the ERA, no further ratifications would come by the 1979 deadline, and instead, some States would actually rescind their ratification.  There was a half-hearted attempt to try and extend the deadline for three years to 1982, but by then it was clear that the momentum for the ERA, and indeed the dynamo behind so much of the women’s movement, had been lost. The extended deadline also expired with no additional ratifications, and the ERA was defeated.

Just as the 15th Amendment had split the women’s movement in 1869 by extending the right to vote to African-Americans, but not to women, the ERA, which was modeled on the language of the 15th Amendment, also split the women’s movement.  From the beginning in the 1920’s, many in the women’s movement expressed concern that the ERA would take away special privileges enjoyed by women, such as special protection under labor laws and laws regarding alimony. In later years, other objections would be raised including that some of the consequences of the ERA would include taking away the exemption of women from the draft, prohibiting maternity leave policies, and ending “dependent wife benefits” under Social Security.   Another objection  raised in the 1970’s was that an ERA prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex would also require the government to extend recognition of marriage to same-sex couples, since marriage was defined at that time based on opposite-sex couples.  Ironically, the Belmont-Paul National Monument in Alice Paul’s honor was established less than a year after the Supreme Court decided that the Constitution required that anyways – even without passage of the ERA.

It is unfortunate, but understandable, that the lasting legacy to Alice Paul in the National Park System will be associated with the unsuccessful ERA effort, rather than her brilliant campaign and greatest triumph.  After passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, the rebooted National Women’s Party found a new headquarters in 1921 in a building called the Old Brick Capitol.  When that building was ultimately condemned in 1929 under eminent domain to make way for the Supreme Court Building, Alice Paul’s old friend, Alva Belmont, stepped in with the funding to secure the old Sewall House as a new headquarters.  Alice Paul would lead the campaign for the ERA from this building for nearly 50 years.

The National Woman’s Party would continue to lobby for the ERA for more than a decade.  In 1997, the National Woman’s Party decided to cease its lobbying efforts and to focus on preservation and education.  Even though the building will now be managed as part of the National Park System, the National Woman’s Party will remain an active partner at the site, including managing their extensive collection of historical artifacts associated with the campaign for the ERA, the life of Alice Paul, and the women’s suffrage movement.  With its new designation as part of the National Park System, many more visitors to Washington, DC will encounter the story of this extraordinary leader, and will remember the legacy of how through sheer determination and charismatic inspiration Alice Paul changed the course of history.

This historic banner from the National Women's Party collection is a fitting motto for the way Alice Paul lived her life.
This historic banner from the National Women’s Party collection is a fitting motto for the way Alice Paul lived her life.

 

 

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March & April Stories Behind the Stamps – New Additions Hit 2,000 Cancellations!

View of Halema‘uma‘u from Jaggar Museum Overlook as darkness falls. The Jaggar Museum is one of several new cancellations. Photo credit: NPS.gov
View of Halema‘uma‘u in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park from the Jaggar Museum Overlook as darkness falls. The Jaggar Museum is one of several new cancellations this month. Photo credit: NPS.gov

I missed posting last month due to some big news.  The Parkasaurus family is now officially at 5 with the birth of our third child!   Mother and baby are doing great – although everyone is working on getting more sleep.  At the suggestion of our now-5-year-old, the Toothy T-Rex, this will be “Baby Brachiosaurus” in future Parksaurus posts.  We’re delighted to have a new addition to our family!

The other big news from last month is that the Passport program is that this month’s additions mean that there are now more than 2,000 active stamps.  Counting the total number of the stamps is partly art and partly science, since whether or not two Passport stamps are “the same” can be in the eye of the beholder.  However, based on the best information we have on which stamps are made regularly available for different locations within the national parks and the National Park Service’s partners, that is the current total.   Congratulations to the Passport program on this milestone!

So with those two announcements out of the way, here’s to a double-dose of “stories behind the stamps” for March and April.

First, the new cancellations for March that took us to 2,000:

Boston African American National Historic Site | African American Trail

Castle Mountains National Monument | Nipton, CA

Gateway National Recreation Area | Jacob Riis Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

      • Jagger Museum
      • Kilauea Visitor Center
      • Panau Coastal Contact Station

Cane River National Heritage Area | Grand Ecore Visitor Center

Underground Railroad Freedom Network | Harriet Tubman UGRR NHP

And here are the new cancellations for April:

Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network | Washington’s Birthplace, VA
Underground Railroad Freedom Network | Washington’s Birthplace, VA

Oregon National Historic Trail | Oregon City, OR

Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area |

      • Iuka, MS
      • Tupelo – Birthplace of Elvis Presley

Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area |

      • Cleveland, TN
      • Grammy Museum of Mississippi
Fullscreen capture 422016 82201 AM-001
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has a spiffy logo for their own centennial this year.

The highlight of this set of new stamps are those for Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, located on the big island of Hawaii.  This park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and world-famous as easily the best place on Earth to witness a volcanic eruption in action.  This year, the park celebrates its centennial, along with the National Park Service as a whole.  The special centennial logo includes both of the park’s main volcanic features, the actively erupting crater of Kilauea is in the center, and the occasionally snow-capped Mauna Loa volcano is in the background.  Also included in the logo are the park’s pristine night sky, the endangered nene goose, a Hawaiian petroglyph, and the flower of the ‘ōhi‘a tree.  This flower is considered sacred to Pele, the native Hawaiian goddess of fire and volcanoes, and whom was believed to live in the Halema‘uma‘u Crater of Kilauea.

Since the beginning of the Passport program in 1986, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has had a single cancellation, labeled as “Hawaii National Park, Hawaii;” available at each of the park’s visitor contact locations.  This label was a perhaps unintentional tribute to the fact that the park was originally established as Hawaii National Park in 1916, and at that time, the park also included what is now known as Haleakala National Park on the island of Maui.  The two parks were separated in 1961.   Now the park will have separate cancellations at each of its main visitor contact points, including the Kilauea Visitor Center and the Jaggar Museum.   The Kilauea Visitor Center is located at the park entrance, very near the rim of Kilauea Crater.  The Thomas A. Jagger museum is devoted to the history of volcanology, or the study of volcanoes.  Located 3 miles from the Kilauea Visitor Center on the Crater Rim Road, it has a spectacular overlook for viewing the ongoing eruption, right on the edge of the crater itself.  The park has a short online tour of the Crater Rim Road for those of us who can’t make it out to Hawaii any time soon!

The Panau Coastal Contact Station is located at the end of the Chain of Craters Road, the park’s 19 mile (one way) tour road into the heart of the park.  It too has a short online tour available. This contact station is a mobile facility, allowing it to be moved out of harms way in response to changing volcanic activity.   A few years ago, it was possible to see a lava flow meeting the ocean at the end of the road, but as of this writing in 2016, there has not been volcanic activity in the area for several years.  Still a trip to the end of the Chain of Craters Road will take you to the Hōlei Sea Arch.  Also near the end of the Chain of Craters Road is the parking area for a short 0.7 miles (one way) trail to the Pu’u Loa petroglyph site with some 23,00 petroglyphs – so the road is still well worth taking on your visit.

Harriet Tubman - Underground Railroad National Historic Park has logically added an Underground Railroad: Network to Freedom Cancellation. Photo from 2014.
Harriet Tubman – Underground Railroad National Historic Park has logically added an Underground Railroad: Network to Freedom Cancellation. Photo from 2014.

Several other stamps were also issued to full-fledged units of the National Park System.  The brand-new Castle Mountains National Monument received its first Passport cancellation, which will, as expected, be located at the various visitor centers for Mojave National Preserve.  The relatively new Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park in Maryland has also very logically received a secondary cancellation for the Underground Railroad: Network to Freedom  partnership program. The Boston African American National Historic Site includes both the NPS-managed Abiel Smith School site, as well as the Black Heritage Trail connecting 14 mostly privately-held historic sites related to free African Americans who lived in Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood.  As of this writing, its not clear why the stamp reads “African-American Heritage Trail” but the NPS website refers to it as the trade-marked “Black Heritage Trail.”

The Gateway National Recreation Area provides urban recreation opportunities in and around New York City.  The Jacob Riis Park, on the south side of Jamaica Bay, is a popular beach destination for New Yorkers in the summer.   This cancellation will be located at the rennovated historic bathhouse in the park.

The Toothy T-Rex is 3.5 years old in this picture, about the age George Washington might have walked these very shores of the Potomac River watching tobacco being ferried out to trading ships. Photo from 2014.
The Toothy T-Rex is 3.5 years old in this picture, about the age George Washington would have been when he would  have walked these very shores of the Potomac River watching tobacco being ferried out to trading ships deeper in the river. Photo from 2014.

Finally, the George Washington Birthplace National Monument in Virginia marks the location of the colonial plantation on Popes Creek where George Washington was born.  There is a reconstruction of a period-appropriate plantation house on the site, but more-recent archaeological work indicates that the Augustine Washington Plantation house would actually have looked much different than the reconstruction.  George Washington would live here until he was four, before moving to Ferry Farm near present-day Fredericksburg, Virginia (which like the Birthplace National Monument is also part of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail.)   Like almost all Virginia plantations of this time period,  Augustine Washington’s Popes Creek plantation would have relied upon slaves, estimated to be about 20-25 slaves in this case.   The replicas of the places where the slaves lived and worked here places this park in the Underground Railroad: Network to Freedom.

Apart from the replica colonial plantation at this site, many visitors may overlook that this park includes a one mile hiking trail through a marsh bordering Popes Creek, as well as a section of beach along the Potomac River.  The Potomac River site is where a young George Washington may have watched tobacco being ferried out to waiting ships in the Potomac River.

The US Army Corps of Engineers' Grand Ecore Visitor Center on the Red River is the newest cancellation location for the Cane River National Heritage Area.
The US Army Corps of Engineers’ Grand Ecore Visitor Center on the Red River is the newest cancellation location for the Cane River National Heritage Area.

Among partnership sites this month, the Cane River National Heritage Area commemorates the unique Creole culture of northwest Louisiana.   The center of the Heritage Area, the town of Natchitoches, has the distinction of being the oldest town in the former Louisiana Purchase, having been founded in 1714, some four years before New Orleans.  It was founded on the banks of the Red River as an outpost for the fur trade with the Spanish in nearby present-day Texas.  The Grand Ecore Visitor Center is a US Army Corps of Engineers facility that interprets the Corps’ management of the Red River, as well as nearby Confederate earthworks from the Civil War. “Ecore” is the French word for “bluffs,” and refers to the bluffs of the Red River on which it is located.

The town of Oregon City, Oregon is located on the southeastern edge of the Portland metro area in Oregon, and is home to the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center.   Why does the Oregon Trail end in Oregon City, you may ask?  The town of Oregon City was founded as a fur trading outpost and a lumber mill at the confluence of the Clackamas and Willamette Rivers.  At the height of travel on the Oregon Trail, Oregon City was the largest town in the area, and in 1844 it became the administrative capital of the newly-formed Oregon Territory.  It would not be until near the end of the 19th Century that Portland, with its deepwater port, would overtake Oregon City in size.  In addition to the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, Oregon City is also home to the McLoughlin House Unit of Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.  John McLoughlin founded Oregon City while he was with the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1829, and he returned to Oregon City to build this house after leaving the Company in 1846.

Tupelo, Mississippi is home to the tiny Tupelo National Battlefield - and also the birthplace of Elvis Presley!
Tupelo, Mississippi is home to the tiny Tupelo National Battlefield – and also the birthplace of Elvis Presley!

The Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area and the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area are located in in northeast and northwest Mississippi, respectively.   The town of Cleveland, MS is in Bolivar County (which has its own Mississippi Delta NHA cancellation) and is home to the Grammy Museum Mississippi.  This extension of the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles opened March 5, 2016.  The town of Iuka, Mississippi, meanwhile, is located in Tishomingo County (which has its own Mississippi Hills NHA cancellation).   According to its Wikipedia Page, spring water from here won first prize at the St. Louis World’s Fair – so there is that.

Tupelo, Mississippi is the center of the Mississippi Hills NHA.  In addition to hosting the flagship Visitor Center for the Natchez Trace Parkway and the tiny Tupelo National Battlefield,  it is also home to the  privately-held Birthplace of Elvis Presley.  There’s no denying Presley’s enormous impact on American popular culture, but given that most historic sites associated with his life are privately held, the inclusion of a site like this through a National Heritage Area is likely the closest the National Park System will come to including a site devoted to “The King.”

With the new cancellations from March and April added in, there are now 2,006 active  cancellations available.  If you exclude the anniversary and special event cancellations, there are still 1,910 active cancellations available.  Always more to explore!

The Holei Sea Arch is one of the attractions at the end of the Chain of Craters Road in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The Panau Coastal Contact Station at the end of the road is one of the new cancellations now available.
The Holei Sea Arch is one of the attractions at the end of the Chain of Craters Road in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The Panau Coastal Contact Station at the end of the road is one of the new cancellations now available.
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