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
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.
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?
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.
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