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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