Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site – Kiowa County, CO
Women’s Rights National Historical Park –
Bedford Falls, NY
Elizabeth Cady Stanton House
Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area – Stonecrest, GA
Appalachian National Scenic Trail – Blairstown, NJ
Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail – Harpers Ferry, WV
Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site in rural eastern Colorado has had a passport cancellation reading “Eads, CO” ever since the site was added to the National Park System in 2007. The town of Eads, however, where the Park’s headquarters offices are located, is actually a couple miles from the site itself. Thus, the National Park Service has apparently decided to update their cancellation to read “Kiowa County,” rather than the town of Eads.
The highlight of this month’s additions, however, are three new stamps for Women’s Rights National Historical Park in upstate New York. The Elizabeth Cady Stanton house is the third park location to get its own passport cancellation, along with the main Visitor Center in Seneca Falls and the M’Clintock House in nearby Waterloo where the organizers of the Seneca Falls Convention met regularly. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was one of the giants of the women’s suffrage movement and a key organizer of the Seneca Falls Convention. The “Convention Days” stamps refers to the annual commemoration of the Seneca Falls Convention on or around July 20th each summer. The “Bedford Falls” stamp, however, is more closely associated with winter. The town of Seneca Falls was the model for the fictional town of Bedford Falls in Mrs. Parkasaurus’ all-time favorite Christmas movie, “Its a Wonderful Life.” The National Park Service annually hosts an “It’s a Wonderful Life” weekend in mid-December each year.
The Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area commemorates the natural and cultural landscapes around two granite mountains located just east of Atlanta, Arabia Mountain itself and Panola Mountain. (The famous Stone Mountain, with its massive carving of Confederate leaders etched in the side, is part of the same geological province, and is located just to the north of the designated National Heritage Area.) This Heritage Area has previously had one cancellation, available at multiple locations, for the town of Lithonia, Georgia. This new cancellation reflects that a new town of Stonecrest, Georgia, containing Arabia Mountain itself, has been split off from the town of Lithonia, Georgia.
The Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, like many heritage areas, is organized around a number of “themes.” For Arabia Mountain NHA, these themes are Natural Systems, Early Settlement, Culture & Community, Granite & Technology, and Spiritual Landscape. The Spiritual Landscape theme is relatively unusual – the only other example I can immediately think of is the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area in Utah. Thus, in addition to being able to obtain this new stamp at Panola Mountain State Park and at the Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve, this stamp can also be obtained at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit. The Monastery of the Holy Spirit is an unusual location for a passport cancellation as a religious site, but they also preserve a significant natural expanse of the Arabia Mountain area. Their visitor center includes exhibits on the history of the monastery, and the gift shop includes fudge, fruitcake, and biscotti made on-site by the monks themselves.
The new cancellation for the Appalachian National Scenic Trail is for Blairstown, New Jersey. Blairstown is located just to the east of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area on the upper Pennsylvania-New Jersey border. This stamp is located at the Mohican Outdoor Center, operated by the Appalachian Mountain Club.
Finally, the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail has updated its stamp for Harpers Ferry National Historical Park to reflect the name of the town on the bottom instead of the name of the park.
Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area | Charleston, IL
Oil Region National Heritage Area |
Oil City, PA
Drake Well Museum
Pumping Jack Museum
DeBence Antique Music World
National Aviation Heritage Area | WACO Air Museum
El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail | Albuquerque Museum, NM
North Country National Scenic Trail | Jay Cooke State Park, MN
Oregon National Historic Trail |
Homestead NM of America, NE
McLoughlin House, OR
Harry S Truman NHS, MO
Pony Express National Historic Trail |
B. F. Hastings Building, CA
Fort Sedgwick Museum, CO
Pony Express National Museum
Old Sacramento Visitor Center, CA
Santa Fe National Historic Trail | Bent’s Old Fort NHS, CO
Trail of Tears National Historic Trial |
Great Smoky Mountains NP – Oconoaluftee, NC
Great Smoky Mountains NP – Sugarlands, TN
Hidden Springs, Shawnee NF, IL
Mississippi Bluffs, Shawnee NF, IL
Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail | St. Mary’s County Museum Division, MD
Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail | St. Mary’s County Museum Division, MD
Underground Railroad Freedom Network | St. Mary’s County Museum Division, MD
As I get caught up, I am going to combine two months of stamps from last winter.
The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area straddles the border between Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and provides a relatively close National Park experience for millions of residents in the New York and Pennsylvania metro areas, as well as millions more residents of eastern Pennsylvania and central New Jersey. The park has historically had six cancellation locations, and this months listings simply represent a “reboot” of the same six cancellation locations, with a consistent lexicon for each location on the bottoms of the new stamps.
More interesting are the new stamps for Everglades National Park. This park already has six cancellation locations, including one at each of this massive national park’s five visitor centers. The sixth is for the Nike Missile Site, which was added in January 2016. The three new additions this month are for each of the three authorized airboat tour operators within Everglades National Park. So getting a complete set of Passport cancellations for this Park will now require visiting each of the three authorized airboat concessionaires. I’m trying to think of a parallel for placing Passport cancellations at multiple concessionaires, but I think that this may be a first.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has been much in the news lately for the ongoing volcanic eruption that closed most of the park for several months in 2018. The Kahuku Unit, however, is an outlying area of the park, away from the main crater of Kilauea. It is one of the only parts of the park that was able to remain open during the eruption event.
A highlight of this group of stamps are the first five stamps for the Oil Region National Heritage Area, which previously did not have any passport cancellation locations. The headquarters of the Oil Region Alliance are located in Oil City, PA, along with the Venango Museum of Art, Science, and Industry. The Drake Well Museum, the fist commercially-successful oil well, is just to the north in the town of Titusville, Pennsylvania. The Pumping Jack Museum, dedicated to the symbol of oil wells everywhere, can be found in the town of Emlemton, Pennsylvania. Finally, the DeBence Antique Music World is a museum dedicated to antique mechanical musical instruments in the town of Franklin.
The National Aviation Heritage Area has had a number of unofficial passport cancellations for its “Wil-bear Wright Passport Program” (a special program specific to the National Heritage Area) for a number of years, but the new stamp for the WACO Air Museum in Troy, Ohio is its first official Passport to Your National Parks cancellation. The museum is dedicated to the history of the historic WACO Air Company; for a time it was the largest manufacturer of civil aircraft in the country during the early days in the history of aviation.
Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network | Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum
Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail | Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum
Underground Railroad Freedom Network | Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum
Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument |
Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail | National Frontier Trails Museum, MO
Schuykill River Valley National Heritage Area |
The list of new stamps was fairly short over these two months, so I’m combining November and December for 2017 together into a single post.
Three new stamps were issued for the Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum in southern Maryland, which previously has had a Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail stamp since September 2015. Jefferson Patterson Park preserves the Point Farm Estate, which was donated the state of Maryland by philanthropist Mary Marvin Breckenridge Patterson in 1983. She made the donation in honor of her late husband, Jefferson Patterson, a former U.S. ambassador to Uruguay, and the son of the founder of the National Cash Register company.
One of the highlights of Jefferson Patterson Park is a reconstruction of an Indian Village on the property, of the sort that might have been encountered by John Smith on one of his voyages of exploration up the Chesapeake Bay in 1609. The park is also the site of the 1813 naval engagement known as the Battle of St. Leonard’s Creek, which was fought in the Patuxent River directly offshore the property. In addition to visitor services, the park is the site of ongoing archaeological research, and has exhibits related to the science of archaeology. This month’s additions give this park a total of four cancellation stamps.
Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument in New Mexico is one of the most-remote national parks in the contiguous United States, located some 100 miles from the nearest national parks and some 35 miles from the nearest town. The first new stamp simply reflects a change in the main post office servicing the park, which formerly was Silver City, New Mexico, but now is Mimbres, New Mexico. The Cliff Dwellings themselves were built around the year 1275 and are located at more than a mile above sea level. To reach them, visitors have to drive about two miles from the Visitor Center to the trailhead, and then hike a one mile loop trail. The second stamp is the first one to be located at the National Park Service’s trailhead contact station.
Finally, the Schuykill River Valley National Heritage Area includes a corridor from where the Schuykill River meets the Delaware River in Philadelphia out to Pottstown, Pennsylvania. The two stamps this month are replacements for previously existing stamps, and reflect a change in branding for the partner association that manages the Heritage Area. The association has rebranded itself as Schuylkill River Greenways, Inc. and the new stamps read Schuylkill River Greenways NHA on top – although the legal name of the Heritage Area, Schuylkill River Valley National Heritage Area, remains the same. Both of these stamps are located at the Heritage Area’s Headquarters Offices in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. This Heritage Area has three other cancellations, located at Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, Valley Forge National Historical Park, and Independence National Historical Park; all of which retain stamps with the original branding.
Wrangell St. Elias National Park & Preserve | Hubbard Glacier – Yakutat
National Center for Preservation Technology and Training | Natchitoches, LA
Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail |
Canyon Ferry Reservoir, MT
Fort Benton, MT
Yellowstone Gateway Museum, MT
Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area | Intermodal Tourist Center
MotorCities National Heritage Area |
Automotive Hall of Fame
Detroit Historical Museum
Detroit Institute of Arts
Durant – Dort Carriage Company
Edsel & Eleanor Ford House
Gilmore Car Museum
GM – Renaissance Center
Historic Fort Wayne
Meadow Brook Hall
Michigan Historical Center
Michigan Military Tech. & Hist. Soc.
Old Mill Museum
Plymouth Historical Museum
R. E. Olds Transportation Museum
Roush Automotive Collection
Sloan Auto Museum
Stahls Automotive Foundation
Walker Tavern Historic Site
Yankee Air Museum
Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum
Wrangell St. Elias National Park & Preserve is the largest unit in the National Park System, encompassing 13.2 million acres around Alaska’s “southeastern hinge” between the panhandle and the main part of the state. The new stamp this month combines two previously separate stamps, one for the Hubbard Glacier and the other for the Yakutat Ranger Station. The Hubbard Glacier is at the extreme southeastern end of this park, at the point where Alaska itself is the narrowest, and the Alaska Panhandle is squeezed between the Pacific Ocean, the Canadian Yukon Territory and Province of British Columbia. The Hubbard Glacier area is only accessible by boat or by plane, and has been described to me by one National Park Ranger who has worked in the area as “one of the most-spectacular sights in all of the National Park System.” The town of Yakutat is actually located a dozen miles away from the park itself, across Yakutat Bay in the Tongass National Forest, and more than 25 miles away from the Hubbard Glacier itself, but is the only community of any size in the area. Rangers based in Yakutat are responsible for managing the visitors who approach the Hubbard Glacier area by boat, cruise ship, or seaplane.
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area preserves an extensive portion of the Colorado River, including several of its tributaries, in southern Utah and northern Arizona. In particular, it includes the Colorado River from the moment that it flows west out of Canyonlands National Park into the eponymous Glen Canyon, and then as the rivers widen into the famous Lake Powell, formed by the Glen Canyon Dam in the city of Page in northern Arizona. The park then also includes the Colorado River’s path through Marble Canyon south of the Glen Canyon Dam to the western tip of Grand Canyon National Park. The two stamps this month are replacements for existing stamps. One is for the Park’s main visitor center, the Navajo Bridge Interpretive Center, in the Arizona town of Marble Canyon. The Navajo Bridge is one of just two bridges (and one car ferry) across more than 250 miles of the Colorado River from the Hoover Dam all the way upstream to the remote town of Hite in central Utah. This spectacular bridge is both an important transportation corridor in this part of the country, as well as an architectural landmark itself.
The National Center for Preservation Technology and Training is a research institute that was founded in 1994 on the campus of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. The National Park Service facility has the mission of advancing the state of the art in the preservation of historic resources of all types. Its not clear how much of this facility really caters to visitors, but this stamp does advance the growing trend towards even National Park Service management offices having a Passport cancellation. One aspect of the National Park Service that many people don’t think about is the huge collection of historic artifacts in the various National Park Service museum collections from Civil War battlefields, to southwest American Indian pueblos, to pioneer forts and ancient fossil beds. This center brings in National Park Service employees from across the country to help meet that preservation challenge.
The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail now has 37 active cancellations with the addition of these three new cancellations from the state of Montana. The town of Fort Benton, in the central part of the state, contains the interpretive center for the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument, which is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. That monument preserves spectacular cliffs and rock formations, as well as one of the last wild stretches of the Missouri River that remains much as Lewis & Clark would have experienced it. The Canyon Ferry Reservoir is located much further upstream, near the state capital of Helena. Suffice to say, the Canyon Ferry dam has not left the Missouri River much as Lewis & Clark would have experienced it, as has happened to so many stretches of the Missouri River. However, the dams are import sources of electrical power and flood control, and also provide natural points for providing historical interpretation. Finally, the Yellowstone Gateway Museum is located in Livingston, MT, just east of Bozeman, MT on the Yellowstone River. The Yellowstone River Valley was explored by William Clark on the return trip home from the Pacific Ocean.
Finally, this month it is the turn of the Motor Cities National Heritage Area to expand. This heritage area includes portions of 16 counties in southeast and central Michigan, and the partner association for his heritage area focuses on programs and activities telling the history of the automobile industry in the area. Up to this point, the heritage area had 18 active cancellations, and the new additions this month bring it to 27 active active cancellations. Since this is a reboot of the passport program for the Heritage Area, I’ll give a brief overview of all the active cancellations.
Eastern Michigan is the home of America’s iconic automobile brands, and a number of automobile museums, 10 of which have cancellations now. The GM – Renaissance Center is located in the world headquarters of General Motors in downtown Detroit. The Sloan Auto Museum in Flint, Michigan is devoted to the history of the Buick brand, and is now part of a larger science center. Also in Flint is the museum of the Durant-Dort Carriage Company‘s offices, which is believed to have been the largest manufacturer of horse-drawn carriages in the age before the automobile. The R. E. Olds Transportation Museum in the state capital of Lansing, Michigan is dedicated to the history of the Oldsmobile brand. The Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum in the town of the same name has a collection ranging across a number of current and former automotive brands, including a Hudson Hornet race car – a car made famous in the Disney-Pixar “Cars” series of movies. Also in Ypsilanti is the Michigan Firehouse Museum, with collections spanning the history of fire fighting equipment, including the history of fire fighting vehicles. The Roush Automotive Collection in Livonia is dedicated to the history of the company, and includes a large number of race cars. The Gilmore Car Museum in the town of Hickory Corners has a collection of more than 200 vehicles, along with other attractions. The Stahls Automotive Foundation has more than 80 vehicles in Chesterfield, Michigan. Finally, the Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn has honored more than 800 significant figures in the automotive industry from around the world.
Dearborn is also the home of the most-famous automotive industrialist of all time, Henry Ford. There are seven cancellations dedicated to his legacy. Several of the MotorCities NHA passport locations are dedicated to him, his family, and his works. The Nankin Mills in Westland, Michigan and the Old Mill Museum in Dundee, Michigan both preserve early 19th-century grist mills that were once owned by Henry Ford. The Ford Piquette Avenue Plant is where Henry Ford produced the first Model T. Edsel Ford was Henry Ford’s only child, and the home he shared with his wife Eleanor in Grosse Pointe Shores is now open for visitation. The Yankee Air Museum at Willow Run Airport in Belleville, Michigan is where Henry Ford directed the construction the B-24 Liberator Bombers during World War II. Today it has a number of display aircraft, and also offers rides in historic aircraft. The Henry Ford National Historic Landmark in Dearborn, Michigan is one of the largest museums in the country, devoted to the history of the industrial revolution in the United States, along with other aspects of modern American history. Greenfield Village is a living history museum attached to The Henry Ford with an extensive collection of historic buildings. Among those historic buildings, is the home of the Wright Brothers, which was moved here by Henry Ford from Dayton, Ohio, long before the site eventually became part of Dayton Aviation National Historical Park.
The new stamps for September 2017 (yes, 2017 – but we’re happy to be back) are highlighted by a plethora of stamps for the Crossroads of the American Revolution National Heritage Area, and a few more:
Golden Gate National Recreation Area | Rob Hill
Salem Maritime National Historic Site |
St. Joseph Hall
Yellowstone National Park | Bechler Ranger Station
Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail | Smallwood State Park, MD
Trail of Tears National Historic Trail |
Old Jefferson, TN
Webber Falls Museum, OK
Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area |
Copake Iron Works
Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
Crossroads of the American Revolution National Heritage Area |
Abraham Clark Memorial House
Battle of Connecticut Farms
Battle of Springfield
Battle of the Short Hills
Deacon Andrew Hetfield House
Dr William Robinson Plantation
Elizabeth and Gershom Frazee House
First Presbyterian Church of Elizabeth
Merchants & Drovers Tavern
Osborn Cannonball House
Plainfield Meeting House
Salt Box Museum
St. John’s Parsonage
The Deserted Village
Woodruff House – Eaton Store Museum
Working in reverse order this month, the most notable addition to the Passport Program are the 27 stamps for the Crossroads of the Revolution National Heritage Area. Although this Heritage Area includes sites associated with the Revolutionary War across 14 counties in central New Jersey, all 27 of this month’s additions are located in Union County New Jersey, which is part of the greater New York City metropolitan area. Many of the historic sites in Union County have limited hours, some as little as one weekend a month, and others are even open only by appointment only. However, Union County hosts a “Four Centuries in a Weekend” event each year during the third weekend in October, when all of these sites will be open. So make your plans for this coming October accordingly!
If you aren’t up for visiting all 27 sites in Union County, a few of these sites are more strongly connected to the primary Revolutionary War mission of this National Heritage Area.
The Battle of Connecticut Farms was a three-hour engagement fought on June 7, 1780 in the town of Union, NJ. The stamp for this battle can be found at the Caldwell Parsonage in Union. The current Caldwell Parsonage was rebuilt in 1782 after the original was burned by the British following the Battle of Connecticut Farms. The historic home features a painting of the battle, as well as both stamps.
The Battle of Springfield occurred two weeks later on June 23, 1780, and is known primarily as the last Revolutionary War battle fought in the northern colonies before the fateful Battle of Yorktown in September and October 1781. This stamp can be found at the Cannon Ball House in Springfield. This historic home features a cannonball still lodged in its walls from the Battle of Springfield, as well as both stamps.
The Boxwood Hall State Historic Site preserves the the former house of Elias Boudinot in Elizabeth, NJ. Boudinot served as a President of the Continental Congress. Nearby is the First Presbyterian Church of Elizabeth, which was burned by the British in 1780 and was rebuilt in 1790, and the St. John’s Parsonage in Elizabeth, whose earliest portions date back to the 18th Century. The Abraham Clark Memorial House in Roselle is a 1941 replica of the house of one of New Jersey’s signers of the Declaration of Independence. Unfortunately, the original burned in 1900. The Liberty Hall Museum at Kean University in Union preserves the home of William Livingston. Livingston was New Jersey’s first Governor and a signer of the Constitution. The Carter House in Summit and the Miller-Cory House in Westfield each date back to the 1740’s. The Miller-Cory House in particular now operates as a living history museum, with frequent special events.
A number of other sites preserve the post-Revolutionary War history of Union County. The Deserted Village Visitor Center is in the Watchung Reservation County Park. The Deserted Village is a former company town created by New York businessman David Felt in 1845, and thus was known as “Feltville” in its hey day. Also dating to the 19th Century are the Littell-Lord Farmstead in Berkeley Heights, the Merchants and Drovers Tavern Museum in Rahway, and the Salt Box Museum in New Providence. The Salt Box Museum is so-named because the unusual way in which two historic houses were joined together in the mid-19th century left a visual impression that resembled a salt box. The Merchants and Drovers Tavern also includes the stamp for King’sHighway. The King’s Highway was a colonial-era road connecting Boston, Massachusetts to Charleston, South Carolina. It was built over a period of more than 80 years on the orders of Britain’s Charles II beginning in 1650. Astute Passport observers may note that there is also a Crossroads of the Revolution NHA stamp for “Maidenhead Road/King’s Highway, NJ” located at the David Brearley House in Lawrenceville, near Trenton. That stamp was discussed by Parkasaurus in June 2016.
Some of the locations have origins hundreds of years ago as well as 20th Century significance. The Woodruff House-Eaton Store of Hillside, which includes an 18th-Century House, a circa-1900 neighborhood store, and a museum devoted to former New York Yankees baseball player Phil Rizzuto. The Deacon Andrew Hetfield House in Mountainside was built in 1760, and was expanded in the 19th Century, and later became the home of MacKinlay Kantor. Kantor is the author of the Civil War novel Andersonville, about the Confederate Prisoner of War Camp preserved in Georgia as Andersonville National Historic Site.
The Golden Gate National Recreation Area includes a number of parklands in and around the city of San Francisco, California. Among the many properties included is the former military installation known as “The Presidio.” Rob Hill is the name of the group campground maintained by the Presidio Trust, one of the non-profit partners of the Golden Gate NRA, on the grounds of the The Presidio, right in the heart of the city of San Francisco.
Salem Maritime National Historic Site was actually the first National Park Service area to be dedicated a National Historic Site, back in March 1938. One of its new stamps this month commemorates this landmark status. The Park itself includes approximately 10 historic buildings, and the other two new stamps complement the five new stamps issued in July 2016.
Yellowstone National Park already has 14 Passport Cancellations. However, the new cancellation for the Bechler Ranger Station in the lightly-visited southwest corner of the Park adds a new twist the Passport itinerary for Yellowstone. There are no roads connecting the southwest corner of the Park to the Grand Loop Road that connects almost all the other destinations in the park. Reaching the Bechler Ranger Station will take a nearly two hour drive outside the park from Yellowstone’s West Entrance in Montana, and a more than three hour drive from Yellowstone’s South Entrance at the border with the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway and Grand Teton National Park.
The “Old Jefferson Site” is a section of the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail that was only identified by researchers in recent years. The site is located in the East Fork Recreation Area, near Murfreesboro, TN, and is managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers. The town of Webbers Falls, Oklahoma is named after a Cherokee Chief, Walter Webber, who established a trading post near the falls of the Arkansas River here in 1818, a dozen years before President Andrew Jackson would sign the Indian Removal Act in 1830, which officially began the “Trail of Tears.” The Webbers Falls Museum is the historical society museum for the town.
The Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area adds three new stamps this month. The Copake Iron Works are located very close to the New York-Massachusetts border, about halfway between Poughkeepsie and Albany. The Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is located just north of the Tappan-Zee bridge on the east side of the Hudson River. The town was made famous by author Washington Irving, who is buried there. The Woodstock Playhouse is a an outdoor arts venue in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains. The famous Woodstock Music Festival of 1969 was actually held some 40 miles away for logistical reasons, but the Woodstock Playhouse has a history of its own going back to the 1930’s.
Wow, has it really been a year since the last Parkasaurus post?
Its been a long and trying year behind the scenes as I dealt with some things around the house, and took on a new role as a leader in my oldest son’s Cub Scout Pack. Nevertheless, I still love America’s National Parks and just couldn’t walk away – and even periodically worked on this blog behind the scenes over the intervening months.
So here’s an effort to reboot this blog. Moving forward, I’m hoping to cover the following topics:
(1) The breadth and depth of the U.S. National Park System – as measured through the monthly updates to the Passport to Your National Parks program;
(2) Efforts to expand the 417 Units in the U.S. National Park System; and
(3) My family’s own travels through the U.S. National Parks.
So to get things going again – there’s going to be a series of rapid fire posts covering the additions to the Passport to Your National Parks program over the past year. As always, I try and dive into the stories behind the stamps – and look into why each cancellation has been added to the Passport Program. I also try to find the connections between the different areas in the U.S. National Park System in ways that are hopefully new and interesting for anyone interested in the parks.
Enjoy! And I look forward to posting more in the months and years ahead!
Statue of Liberty National Monument | Ellis Island Immigration Station
California National Historic Trail | Alexander Majors House, MO
Oregon National Historic Trail | Alexander Majors House, MO
Pony Express National Historic Trail | Alexander Majors House, MO
Old Spanish National Historic Trail |
Moab Field Office, UT
Fish Lake Lodge, UT
The highlight of this month’s listings are three new stamps for the Alexander Majors House, just south of Kansas City. This site previously had a stamp for the Santa Fe National Historic Trail, and now adds stamps for three others. The Oregon and California National Historic Trails all follow the same route as the Santa Fe Trail from the city of Independence just east of Kansas City, around the southern end of the city, and into the Great Plains. The city of Independence owes its origins to being the westernmost point on the Missouri River accessible by steamships. The nearby city of Kansas City would later overtake it, first due to its position at the confluence of the Kansas and Missouri Rivers, and later due to the locating of a major railroad bridge across the Missouri River at Kansas City. The stories of Independence and Kansas City remind a bit of the stories of St. Paul and Minneapolis in Minnesota. St. Paul is the northernmost navigable point on the Mississippi River, and so was a major shipping center. Minneapolis, however, is located on St. Anthony Falls, which powered the milling industry.
The addition of the Pony Express National Historic Trail cancellation is a bit more interesting than the first two trails, as the Pony Express trail begins more than 60 miles to the north in the city of St. Joseph, Missouri. The explanation for this stamp being located an hour’s drive away from the trail that it commemorates is explained by Alexander Majors himself – as he was one of three Kansas City businessmen who founded the Pony Express. Majors made his initial fortune hauling freight on the Santa Fe Trail and proposed the Pony Express to more than halve the then-25 day time for mail deliveries to California by conestoga wagon along the southerly Butterfield Overland Mail Route. The Pony Express would follow a new northerly route through Salt Lake City to Sacramento and San Francisco, and of course, make innovative use of relay teams of ponies. Unfortunately for Majors, within just a couple years, the development telegraph and the railroad spelled the doom not only of the Pony Express, but of Majors’ Santa Fe Trail operations as well. Majors ultimately died penniless – but not before helping launch the career of Buffalo Bill Cody, an assistant on his Santa Fe Trail operations who went on to become one of his most famous Pony Express riders
Alexander Majors’ House is now preserved as a historic site on the southern side of Kansas City and is run by a non-profit foundation that also operates the John Wornall House from the same era.
Finally, the Statue of Liberty National Monument has updated its cancellation for the historic Ellis Island Immigration Station. The majestic statue itself is, of course, the symbol of America’s welcome to overseas immigrants. The old Ellis Island Immigration Station is also part of this national park, and now hosts the fantastic Ellis Island Immigration Museum, which tells the story of all US immigrant people, but primarily those who arrived through the Ellis Island Immigration Station in the early 20th Century.
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?
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.
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
Lucedale – George Co. Library
Hancock Co. Welcome Center
Jackson County Chamber
Jackson Co. Welcome Center
Pearl River Co. Welcome Center
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
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.
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:
Beauvoir, the home of Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederacy, in Biloxi,
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!
Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail | C&O Canal NHP HQ
Reconstruction Era National Monument |
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 |
Great Falls, MD
Sandy Point State Park, MD
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 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 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 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 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.
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!