Tag Archives: Big Cypress National Preserve

February and March 2017 New Stamps

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

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

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

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

Katmai National Park & Preserve | Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes

Big Cypress National Preserve | Swamp Welcome Center

Sequoia National Park |

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

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

Civil War Defense of Washington | Fort Stevens

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

MotorCities National Heritage Area | Greenfield Village

Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail |

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The final shot this month is a present-day view of the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes in Katmai National Park & Preserve. Photo credit: National Park Service
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30 for 300 – Part I

I’m going to take a brief break from my usual postings on this blog to engage in a little self-indulgence.   Careful readers may have noticed in my recent Trip Report that my trip to Petersburg National Battlefield marked my milestone 300th national park visited.  To mark this occasion, I’ve decided to put together a brief retrospective on 30 of my favorite moments from the visits to my first 300 national parks.   These are not necessarily my 30 favorite national parks, but rather they are 30 of my favorite moments from visiting national parks – in fact, some national parks that have had more than one special moment in my travels to them may even appear more than once.   For simplicity, I’ve limited the choices here to parks that I visited after 1998, when I first discovered the Passport Program and first started to conceive of the possibility of visiting all the national parks, and all the way up to my trip to Petersburg just a couple months ago.    To make this more readable, I’ll break this up into three posts of 10 favorite memories each.  So without further ado, here are #’s 21-30 of my “30 for 300” in the national parks.

#30) Yosemite National Park in the Snow – March 2006
I figured that I should start this off this series with a  national park that would rank as many people’s favorite.   Back in 2006, I met up with a friend of mine from college who was living in the San Francisco Bay Area at the time, and we headed out to Yosemite National Park for the weekend.  After our first night in the Curry Village, we woke up to find that our spring day in Yosemite had been turned into a Winter Wonderland.   The snow cover made the iconic Yosemite Falls especially spectacular.

Yosemite Falls in the snow made this national park visit especially memorable.
Yosemite Falls in the snow made this national park visit especially memorable.

#29) Discovering George Rogers Clark National Historical Park – May 2003
When you set out to visit all of the national parks in the United States, one of the many rewards is the discovery of the unexpected places that you never even knew existed before the journey began.   Perhaps no place symbolizes that “discovery of the unexpected” for me more than George Rogers Clark National Historical Park in tiny Vincennes, Indiana.  Most Americans have never heard of George Rogers Clark, although most have probably heard of his “little brother,” William Clark, of the famous Lewis & Clark expedition.

During the heart of the American Revolutionary War, however, it was older brother George who would stake first claim to the history books.   In the dead winter of mid-February 1779, George Rogers Clark would lead 170 volunteers out of Fort Kaskasia in Illinois on a daring sneak attack.  Together they would march across 180 miles of flooded prairie, sometimes wading through icy water that rose to their shoulders, to surprise the British garrison at present-day Vincennes.  Their arrival caught the British completely by surprise – understandably given the extraordinary conditions – and he was able to force their surrender.  This victory helped cement American control of the whole territory from Ohio to Illinois.  This control would then be formally recognized four years later in the Treaties of Paris that ended the American Revolution, making this territory part of the fledgling United States, rather than part of Canada .  Younger brother William would make his own way into the history books some 14 years later, but this extraordinary effort under incredibly harsh conditions demonstrated that there was more than one Clark brother with “Undaunted Courage.”

Today, Vincennes, IN is a location that is truly “off-the-beaten-path,” but the impressive memorial to George Rogers Clark commemorates his story – a story that I would likely never have learned had this national park not existed.

The George Rogers Clark NHP in Vincennes, Indiana memorializes a forgotten hero. Photo Credit: National Park Service
The George Rogers Clark NHP in Vincennes, Indiana memorializes a forgotten hero. Photo Credit: National Park Service

#28) Playing in the Surf at Cape Hatteras National Seashore – July 2002
Sometimes we visit a National Park to pursue solititude, and sometimes national parks are best visited with a friend.  In the summer of 2002, my best friend from college and I took a road trip through all three of the national seashores in the middle of the Atlantic Coast.   At Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina, we particularly enjoyed playing in the surf, tossing a football to each other, with the waves crashing around us.   Approriately enough, we named this particular game “Hatteras,” in honor of how much we enjoyed the pristine sandy beaches at this park.

#27) Counting Alligators at Big Cypress National Preserve – May 2014
The spring of 2014 found me travelling across south Florida from Miami to Naples with my family on the Tamiani Trail.  Along the way, Big Cypress National Preserve proved to be the perfect place to stop for a picnic lunch.  Right outside the picnic area, there is a boardwalk running alongside a canal that was also the perfect place to look for alligators with my then three-year old son.   I can still hear him saying, “Dad, there’s another one!”

You don't have to look hard to find alligators at Big Cypress National Preserve.
You don’t have to look hard to find alligators at Big Cypress National Preserve.  There are at least six in this photograph.

#26) Cajun Culture at Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve – May 2004

Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve in southeast Louisiana is something of a grab-bag of a national park, covering New Orleans’ French Quarter, the Barataria Nature Preserve just west of New Orleans,  the Chalmette Battlefield from the War of 1812 just east of New Orleans, and then three Acadian Cultural Centers in the nearby cities of Eunice, Lafayette, and Thibodaux.  Back in 2004, I was heading out to the Prairie Acadian Culture Center in Eunice, some 2.5 hours west of New Orleans, to try and catch a scheduled demonstration of cajun music.  Unfortunately, as sometimes happens, I was running late getting out there, and ended up missing it.  As it turned out, though, I had no worries.  The Ranger on duty that day said that she was in a cajun music band herself, and that her band was playing a gig that evening at a nearby restaurant called Bubba Frey’s.  Arriving there, the special that evening was “boulet” – a dish that reminded me of a hush puppy, only with seafood mixed in.  Acadian Cultural experiences rarely get more authentic than that!

#25) Looking Up at the World’s Biggest Trees in Redwood National Park – March 2001
In 2001, I was only two years out of college and making my first trip to the State of California.  While visiting two of my friends in the San Francisco Bay Area, we decided, almost son the spur of the moment, to make the long day trip up the Pacific Coast Highway to Redwood National Park.  This was my first encounter with the Pacific Coast Rainforest and with the giant trees.  There’s a reason why these giants have inspired generations of conservationists.  Standing under some of the tallest living things anywhere on the face of the Earth is always awe-inspiring.

Its hard for a photograph to do justice to the towering heights of some of the world's tallest trees, which are found in Redwood National Park.
Its hard for a photograph to do justice to the towering heights of some of the world’s tallest trees, which are found in Redwood National Park.

#24) Sailing to Dry Tortugas National Park – December 2002
Dry Tortugas National Park is one of the harder-to-reach places in the U.S. National Park System.  Its location says it all – 70 miles west of Key West.  The centerpiece of the park is historic Fort Jefferson, which straddles the tiny island of Garden Key like a behemoth – so much so that its walls seemingly stretch right over the edges of the key and plunge into the ocean.   The Fort was built in the early 19th Century to protect the shipping passage around the Florida Keys into New Orleans, and was later used as an Alcatraz-style prison. Today, on a day trip out of Key West, not only do you get to tour this impressive historic fort, but the boat operators also provide snorkeling gear to discover the coral reef that has grown up around the walls in the ocean below.  To top it all off, nearby Long Key, which is frequently connected to Garden Key by a sandbar, is a major seabird rookery.  From my vantage point standing on the walls of Fort Jefferson, Long Key looked like it was a scene out of Jurassic Park, surrounded as it was by a virtual cloud of nesting seabirds.

For those prone to seasickenss, Fort Jefferson in Dry Tortugas National Park can also be visited by seaplane. Long Key can be seen in the far back of this image. Photo Credit: National Park Service
For those prone to seasickenss, Fort Jefferson in Dry Tortugas National Park can also be visited by seaplane. Long Key can be seen in the far back of this image. Photo Credit: National Park Service

#23) Discovering Petroglyphs at Arches National Park – July 1999
I could probably fill a whole blog post with my stories from Arches National Park, a true gem of the National Park System.  On this trip, I was travelling by myself, on my way to Salt Lake City, and was camping on Bureau of Land Management Land along the Colorado River, just outside of the National Park.  While there, I ran into a young woman who was also travelling solo.  We agreed that it would be fun to go hiking together in the Park.   It turns out that she had heard that there was a “secret” petroglyph panel in Arches National Park.  Its “secret” because there is no marked trail to the panel, and the Park Rangers will not provide directions to it. This is due to the relatively small number of petroglyphs in the Park and the very high number of visitors that this “destination park” receives every year.  Nevertheless, her directions were good, and when we arrived at the location, we found this simple sign from the National Park Service, “You’ve Found Something Unique – Please Preserve It.”  Really – that sign could be placed almost anywhere in the National Park System, but it was particularly poignant here.  This was the very first time I had ever encountered petroglyphs, and I was enthralled.  Moreover, more than 15 years later, in an age when almost all information is available on the Internet, it seems amazing that a place with unpublished directions like this can still exist.  You can see some good photos of the Dark Angel Petroglyphs, including that sign, here.

#22) The World is Big and Small at Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve – September 2008
Since Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve is one of those odd national parks that “counts twice,” I’m going to cheat a little bit and include two moments from this trip.

The main visitor center for this Park, located in Copper Center, AK, is set up somewhat unusually. The theatre with the park movie is actually located in a separate out-building from the rest of the visitor center.  So after planning my hike in the main building, I went out to watch the move.  I was so floored by the stunning aerial photography in this film that I just had to go back into the main building and ask the Rangers about how the photography was done, and hopefully purchase a take-home copy – something I had never done before (or since!).  That ended up being a most-fortuitous decision.  While I was talking to the Rangers back in the main building, the phone rang.  A nearby flight-seeing operation had someone who was interested in going up for a tour, but they needed someone else to split the cost of the plane.  The Rangers said that this had never happened before all summer – so clearly this was “meant to be.”  The following hour spent flying above the glaciers in the Wrangell Mountains was one of the most memorable hours of my life.

Few experiences can compare to seeing the rugged peaks of the Wrangell Mountains up close from a flight-seeing tour.
Few experiences can compare to seeing the rugged peaks of the Wrangell Mountains up close from a flight-seeing tour.

Shortly after the flight-seeing tour ended, I proceeded to drive the rest of the way towards my planned hike.  Along the way, I stopped at an overlook like this one, with the aspens in full fall colors.   I checked my phone at one of these stops, and I had a text message with a picture of my new nephew, Aiden, who had been born just an hour or two earlier more than 3,800 miles away, on the other side of the continent, in Florida.  This day had shown that the world was both larger and smaller than I had imagined.

Even in the middle of the wilderness, modern technology meant that news of a birth on the side of the continent could still reach you.

#21) “She Said ‘Yes!'” at Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park – October 2007
As things were getting serious with my then-girlfriend, it only seemed natural given my second love for the national parks that I should ask the big question in a national park.  I was lucky to pick a beautiful fall colors day in West Virginia.  We began the day with a quiet picnic lunch away from the crowds on Bolivar Heights in the western end of the Park.  Then we headed to the historic downtown, where we discovered that the recently-rennovated Historic St. Peter’s Chapel was open for the first time that I had seen in my several years of having visited this Park.  Since we are both Catholics, that ended up being the perfect place to combine faith, hope, and love and to ask her to spend the rest of our lives together. I’ve felt a special connection to this national park ever since.

The author and the future Mrs. Parkasaurus capped off their big day by happily celebrating at the top of Maryland Heights in Harper’s Ferry National HIstorical Park.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post, if you’d like to keep reading, here are links to Part II with #’s 11-20,  Part III with #’s 1-10, and the Honorable Mentions.

Stamp Collage 1-001

 

Edit: This post was updated after original publication to add the stamp collage image at the end.

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When Is a National Scenic Trail a National Park?

P1040545
The author on the Appalachian NST near Boiling Springs, PA. The Appalachian NST is one of three trails that are also counted as a national park as well.

One of the tricky aspects about visiting all of the U.S. National Parks is just identifying the list of what are the national parks in the first place.  In my first post, I mentioned that there are three National Scenic Trails in the U.S. National Park System, and I thought that I would write a little bit more about them. The list of U.S. National Parks includes three national scenic trails;

And yet, there are a total eleven national scenic trails in the United States.  So why does these three “count,” but not the other eight?   What makes these three so special?

Officially, the designation of a long-distance hiking route as a national scenic trail was established by the National Trails System Act of 1968.  Of course, the grand-daddy of them all, the Appalachian Trail was first conceived all the way back in the early 1920’s.   Not too long after that, the parallel concept of of a Pacific Crest Trail was proposed in the 1930’s, running along the Sierra Nevadas. Both the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail were designated the first two national scenic trails in 1968.  Confusingly, however, the Appalachian NST became a national park site, but the Pacific Crest NST did not.   In particularly, the National Park Service was authorized to purchase most of the right-of-way for the Appalachian Trail – in that respect, at least, making it a true national park.  The Pacific Crest NST, on the other hand, largely runs through existing national parks, national forests, Bureau of Land Management land, and existing state parks.

By 1980, three other national scenic trails were designated.  The Continental Divide NST would parallel the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails by running down the spine of the Rocky Mountains.   The North Country NST, on the other hand, would turn long-distance trails on their head by running mostly east-west from Lake Champlain in upstate New York to Lake Sakakawea in central North Dakota.    Finally, the Ice Age NST would become the first single-state national scenic trail, making a long loop connecting sites throughout the state of Wisconsin. None of trails, however, authorized the acquisition of land by the National Park Service, and so none of these three trails are officially listed as national parks -even though the National Park Service is the lead Federal liaison for both the North Country and Ice Age Trails.  (The US Forest Service, in the Department of Agriculture, is the lead Federal agency for the Continental Divide Trail.)

In 1983, however, three more national scenic trails would be designated.   The Florida NST runs from the end of the Florida Panhandle all the way down to Big Cypress National Preserve, just north of Everglades National Park, and is not counted as a national park.  On the other hand, the Natchez Trace NST and the Potomac Heritage NST would both receive this distinction.  The Natchez Trace NST was designed to run alongside the Natchez Trace Parkway through Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee.  The Potomac Heritage NST was designated to run along the tow-path of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park in Maryland and Washington, DC, with extensions eastward through Maryland and Virginia to the Chesapeake Bay, and an extension westwards to Pittsburgh.  In this respect, both the Natchez Trace NST and Potomac Heritage NST were unique in that although the National Park Service would not be acquiring additional Federal land for these trails (as was done for the Appalachian NST), these two new trails would be running in large park through existing Federal land – indeed through existing National Park Service land.

I actually had occasion to contact the National Park Service about this issue, and they indicated to me that shortly after these new trails were designated in the 1983, the legal department at the National Park Service Headquarters made the determination that these two new trails should be counted as national parks.   Although they did not cite the specific legal rationale that was made all those years ago, I almost have to believe that the fact that these trails were largely designated on National Park Service land must have played a role in the determination.   The irony, of course, is that since the Natchez Trace Parkway and C&O Canal NHP are both already national parks, in many cases these trails become places where you can “visit two parks at once!”   Go figure!

Anyhow, its worth noting that it would be 26 years before another national scenic trail would be designated.  In 2009, three new national scenic trails were created: the Arizona NST runs north-south through the State of Arizona, the New England NST runs from Long Island Sound in Connecticut to the Massachusetts-New Hampshire border, and the Pacific Northwest NST runs from the Continental Divide NST in Montana to Olympic National Park in Washington State.  None of these three, however, are counted as national parks.

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