Jimmy Carter NHS | – Plains High School – Plains, GA – Plains Depot – 1976 Campaign HQ – Boyhood Farm – Archery, GA
Badlands National Park | Ben Reifel VC – Interior, SD
Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park | Swains Lock #21 – Travilah, MD
Chickasaw National Recreation Area | Travertine Nature Center 50th Anniversary 1969-2019
Honouliuli National Historic Site | Waipahu, HI
Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park | Atlanta, GA
Oregon Caves National Monument & Preserve | Illinois Valley Visitor Center
White Sands National Park | Alamogordo, NM
Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network | – Columbia Crossing River Trails Center – Sultana Education Foundation – Zimmerman Center for Heritage
Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail | Yankton, SD
Stories Behind the Stamps
Jimmy Carter National Historic Site gets three cancellations this month, two of them new. The main visitor center for this park has always been located in the former Plains High School, and this new stamp replaces the existing cancellation for the park. Just around the corner is the Plains Train Depot, which Jimmy Carter used as the headquarters for his 1976 Presidential Campaign. The third location, the farm where Jimmy Carter grew up, is located about three miles outside of town.
The Carter NHS is unusual in that Jimmy Carter himself rather famously still lives in this town. It is hard to overstate just how small the tiny town of Plains really is – but with a population of fewer than 800, it is very, very small. Thus, Jimmy Carter effectively lives in a national park dedicated in his honor. The situation definitely left with me with mixed feelings on my previous visit to this site. On one hand, it would surely be foolish to hold off on the process of protecting historic resources associated with Presidents until those Presidents have passed away. On the other hand, it is surely an odd situation for any human being to live out ones life while surrounded by such a situation.
For many park travelers, one of the highlights of a visit to Jimmy Carter NHS is supplementing the trip with a visit to Maranatha Baptist Church, located just outside of town, where Jimmy Carter himself still regularly teaches Sunday School before Sunday morning worship services. The former President then regularly poses for photographs and selfies with the attendees. Particularly if this aligns with your own faith traditions, attending Sunday School with the honoree of a Unit of the National Park System is certainly a unique opportunity – and an opportunity that will only last for a handful more years, given that Jimmy Carter is 95 years old, albeit a very healthy 95 years old. This month’s new cancellations provide another reason to go and take advantage of that opportunity, should you be interested.
Chicakasaw National Recreation Area can be found in south-central Oklahoma. It preserves a number of natural springs, as well as providing resevoir-based recreation. Their new cancellation this month celebrates the 50th anniversary of their Travertine Nature Center.
The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail has issued an updated cancellation to be located at the visitor center and headquarters for the Missouri National Recreational River in Yankton, South Dakota. The Missouri National Recreational River preserves two free-flowing segments of the mighty Missouri River amidst a large stretch that has otherwise been heavily dammed by the US Army Corps of Engineers.
The final three cancellations this month for the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network partnership program are for three locations that already had Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail cancellations. The Columbia Crossing Center is located on the Susquehanna River in the town of Columbia, Pennysylvania and the nearby Zimmerman Center for Heritage is located just downstream in the town of Wrightsville. The Sultana Education Center can be found in Chestertown, Maryland on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay. The Sultana is a replica 18th-century schooner that is just one component of the comprehensive environmental educational programs offered by the namesake foundation.
Canaveral National Seashore | Apollo Beach Playalinda Beach
Cumberland Gap National Historical Park | Iron Furnace 1819 Tri-State Marker
Cuyahoga Valley National Park | Cuyahoga River Water Trail
Gateway Arch National Park | Old Courthouse
Guadalupe Mountains National Park | Guadalupe Peaks – The Top of Texas Salt Basin Dunes Williams Ranch
Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area | Freeport, IL Jonesboro, IL Petersburg, IL Pontiac, IL
Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial | Living Historical Farm
Fort Sumter & Fort Moultrie National Historical Park | Charleston Harbor, SC Fort Moultrie Liberty Square
Reconstruction Era National Historical Park | Beaufort, SC Port Royal, SC St. Helena Island, SC
Cedar Breaks National Monument | Brianhead, Utah
Fort Hunt Park | Fairfax, VA Fort Marcy Park | Fairfax, VA
Olympic National Park | Hoodsport WIC Port Angeles WIC
Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail | Port Tobacco, MD
Coal National Heritage Area | Ashland Company Store
Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail | Las Lagunas de Anza, CA
Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network | Roving Ranger Annapolis, MD
Stories Behind the Stamps
Leading off the new stamps this month are two new cancellations for Canaveral National Seashore on Florida’s Space Coast. Its fitting that a stamp for “Apollo Beach” is being issued in the same year that we are celebrating the historic 50th Anniversary of the Apollo Moon Landing. Canaveral National Seashore shares the Cape with Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, as well as the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. As near as I can tell, though, Apollo Beach has no significance to the space program other than being named in its honor.
The Seashore itself is divided into three beaches on the barrier islands just to the north of the Kennedy Space Center. The new cancellation for Apollo Beach is possibly a replacement for the existing Passport cancellation reading “New Smyrna Beach, FL,” which is the closest town to Apollo Beach. Apollo Beach is the northern-most beach in the park, and is where the park’s main visitor center is, as well as the historic Eldora state house from an early 20th-century resort. Despite this fact, Apollo Beach actually gets significantly less visitation than Playalinda Beach, the southern-most beach in the park. Playalinda, which means “beautiful beach” in Spanish, is only accessible by driving through the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, and there may be temporary access restrictions during space launch activity at the nearby Kennedy Space Center.
Located between Apollo Beach and Playalinda Beach is Klondike Beach, but it is not accessible by car, and so does not have its own Passport cancellation, at least not yet.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park, located in far western Texas added three cancellations this month, giving it a total of 8 active cancellations. Seven of the eight stamps are available at the park’s Pine Springs Visitor Center on the south side of the park, including all three of the new stamps. One of the new stamps commemorates the fact that Guadalupe Peak at 8,751 feet is the highest point in Texas. The peak is accessible through a well-marked 4.2 mile one-way trail from the Visitor Center. The Salt Basin Dunes are stunning white gypsum sand dunes. To access the dunes requires a one hour drive around to the remote west side of the park, and then a one mile hike. The access road is impassable when wet, so this will not be a destination for every park visitor. The Williams Ranch is accessible only by special permit with a high-clearance four-wheel drive vehicle or else a strenuous 10+ mile one way hike. Suffice to say, that will be a destination that few park visitors will make it to.
The overall stamp for the park reads “Salt Flat, Texas.” The park also has a cancellation commemorating the path of the Butterfield Overland Mail Route through the park. There is also a stamp for the nearby historic Frijole Ranch. The last stamp at the main visitor center is for McKittrick Canyon, which is located a 45 minute drive around to the east side of the park. The McKittrick Canyon area has three hiking trails, a self-guided nature trail, the geology-focused Permian Reef trail, and the main trail into McKittrick Canyon itself.
The eighth stamp for Guadalupe Mountains National Park is for Dog Canyon on the north side of the park. Dog Canyon is only accessible from New Mexico, and is a 2.5 hour drive from the Pine Springs Visitor Center.
Cumberland Gap National Historic Park has added two new stamps this month to encourage visitors to more thoroughly explore all the places this park has to offer, although all stamps are located at the main visitor center – the only stamping location for the park. The Cumberland Gap is the famous location where Daniel Boone led settlers west of the Appalachian on the Wilderness Road. The Tri-State Marker commemorates the joint border of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia inside the park. It is accessible by a 1.2 mile one-way hike from the Wilderness Road Parking Lot on the Pinnacle View Road. The Iron Furnace is an easy two-tenths of a mile hike from the Iron Furnace Parking Area located at 902 Pennlynn Avenue in the nearby town of Cumberland Gap, Tennessee (although the trail is located entirely in Virginia.
These two new additions give Cumberland Gap NHP a total of seven active non-anniversary Passport cancellations. A stamp reading “Middlesboro, KY” is the overall stamp for the Park. There are also cancellations at the main visitor center available for the Wilderness Road Trail, the Pinnacle Overlook, the Gap Cave, and the Hensley Settlement. The Wilderness Road Trail and Pinnacle Overlook are easily accessible from the main park road. The Gap Cave is only accessible by a one mile hike, followed by a half mile inside the cave, and requires closed-toe shoes; children under 5 are not permitted. The historic Hensley Settlement is ordinarily only accessible by guided tour with advance reservations, but all tours have been cancelled for 2019 due to deteriorated road conditions.
Gateway Arch National Park gets a new stamp this month for the Old Courthouse. In addition to preserving the iconic Gateway Arch in St. Louis, this National Park also preserves the Old Courthouse, which served as a site for both Federal and state courts. The Old Courthouse was where the Missouri Courts, including the Missouri Supreme Court, heard the the Dred Scott cases. Those cases ultimately resulted in the infamous 1857 US Supreme Court decision in Dred Scott v. Sanford, which bizarrely and controversially held that “black people” were not, and indeed, never could be, citizens of the United States.
Gateway Arch National Park is not thought often thought about as a “Civil War” park. However, it does tell the story of how the Nation’s westward expansion made our tenuous compromise on the issue of slavery ever-more unstable. Ironically, Supreme Court Justice Roger Taney, the author of the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision, thought that he was writing a decision that would help settle the issue of slavery. In fact, the infamous decision further set the Nation on a course towards Civil War.
The Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial in southern Indiana commemorates the time that America’s greatest President spent in Indiana, in between the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park in Kentucky and the Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield, Illinois. As the designation of the site as a national memorial implies, little remains of the Lincoln family home from this time period, other than what has been revealed by archeologists. However, in addition to the memorial structure itself, the site includes a living history farm as a tribute to Lincoln’s formative years here.
The Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area adds four new cancellations. Freeport, Illinois was the site of one of the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates, and has a memorial to the debate that occurred there as well as a historic museum. Jonesboro, Illinois was the site of the third Lincoln-Douglas debate, and likewise has a memorial and offices for the Shawnee National Forest, where the cancellation will be located. Pontiac, Illinois was one of the many communities were Lincoln practiced law and today has a museum dedicated to Historic Route 66. The new cancellation for Petersburg, Illinois will apparently be located at the Riverbank Lodge resort.
The Cuyahoga River Water Trail is an ambitious proposal to encourage the use of the restored Cuyahoga River for boating and paddling of all kinds. The section of the Cuyahoga River flowing through Cuyahoga Valley National Park is one of five designated segments along the trail.
Two national parks in South Carolina received new names thanks to the Dingell Act, and now have updated cancellations. Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park was famously the site of the opening salvos in the American Civil War. South Carolinian-occupied batteries on the mainland opened fire on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, which was occupied by Federal troops. The main visitor center for the park is located on Liberty Square in downtown Charleston, and is also the primary departure point for boat excursions to Fort Sumter on the island. Fort Moultrie is located just across the river from Liberty Square and played only a minor role in the bombardment of Fort Sumter. Today it shows the history of coastal defenses all the way from the antebellum years through to the Second World War. The Reconstruction Era National Historical Park includes three sites related to the integration of the freed slaves into society following emancipation. Located in and around Beaufort, South Carolina, a short drive from Charleston, the area provides an interesting set of “book ends” with the place where the Civil War began and some of the places where the post-war era began.
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.
I missed posting last month due to some big news. The Parkasaurus family is now officially at 5 with the birth of our third child! Mother and baby are doing great – although everyone is working on getting more sleep. At the suggestion of our now-5-year-old, the Toothy T-Rex, this will be “Baby Brachiosaurus” in future Parksaurus posts. We’re delighted to have a new addition to our family!
The other big news from last month is that the Passport program is that this month’s additions mean that there are now more than 2,000 active stamps. Counting the total number of the stamps is partly art and partly science, since whether or not two Passport stamps are “the same” can be in the eye of the beholder. However, based on the best information we have on which stamps are made regularly available for different locations within the national parks and the National Park Service’s partners, that is the current total. Congratulations to the Passport program on this milestone!
So with those two announcements out of the way, here’s to a double-dose of “stories behind the stamps” for March and April.
First, the new cancellations for March that took us to 2,000:
Boston African American National Historic Site | African American Trail
Castle Mountains National Monument | Nipton, CA
Gateway National Recreation Area | Jacob Riis Park
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Kilauea Visitor Center
Panau Coastal Contact Station
Cane River National Heritage Area | Grand Ecore Visitor Center
Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network | Washington’s Birthplace, VA
Underground Railroad Freedom Network | Washington’s Birthplace, VA
Oregon National Historic Trail | Oregon City, OR
Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area |
Tupelo – Birthplace of Elvis Presley
Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area |
Grammy Museum of Mississippi
The highlight of this set of new stamps are those for Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, located on the big island of Hawaii. This park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and world-famous as easily the best place on Earth to witness a volcanic eruption in action. This year, the park celebrates its centennial, along with the National Park Service as a whole. The special centennial logo includes both of the park’s main volcanic features, the actively erupting crater of Kilauea is in the center, and the occasionally snow-capped Mauna Loa volcano is in the background. Also included in the logo are the park’s pristine night sky, the endangered nene goose, a Hawaiian petroglyph, and the flower of the ‘ōhi‘a tree. This flower is considered sacred to Pele, the native Hawaiian goddess of fire and volcanoes, and whom was believed to live in the Halema‘uma‘u Crater of Kilauea.
Since the beginning of the Passport program in 1986, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has had a single cancellation, labeled as “Hawaii National Park, Hawaii;” available at each of the park’s visitor contact locations. This label was a perhaps unintentional tribute to the fact that the park was originally established as Hawaii National Park in 1916, and at that time, the park also included what is now known as Haleakala National Park on the island of Maui. The two parks were separated in 1961. Now the park will have separate cancellations at each of its main visitor contact points, including the Kilauea Visitor Center and the Jaggar Museum. The Kilauea Visitor Center is located at the park entrance, very near the rim of Kilauea Crater. The Thomas A. Jagger museum is devoted to the history of volcanology, or the study of volcanoes. Located 3 miles from the Kilauea Visitor Center on the Crater Rim Road, it has a spectacular overlook for viewing the ongoing eruption, right on the edge of the crater itself. The park has a short online tour of the Crater Rim Road for those of us who can’t make it out to Hawaii any time soon!
The Panau Coastal Contact Station is located at the end of the Chain of Craters Road, the park’s 19 mile (one way) tour road into the heart of the park. It too has a short online tour available. This contact station is a mobile facility, allowing it to be moved out of harms way in response to changing volcanic activity. A few years ago, it was possible to see a lava flow meeting the ocean at the end of the road, but as of this writing in 2016, there has not been volcanic activity in the area for several years. Still a trip to the end of the Chain of Craters Road will take you to the Hōlei Sea Arch. Also near the end of the Chain of Craters Road is the parking area for a short 0.7 miles (one way) trail to the Pu’u Loa petroglyph site with some 23,00 petroglyphs – so the road is still well worth taking on your visit.
The Gateway National Recreation Area provides urban recreation opportunities in and around New York City. The Jacob Riis Park, on the south side of Jamaica Bay, is a popular beach destination for New Yorkers in the summer. This cancellation will be located at the rennovated historic bathhouse in the park.
Finally, the George Washington Birthplace National Monument in Virginia marks the location of the colonial plantation on Popes Creek where George Washington was born. There is a reconstruction of a period-appropriate plantation house on the site, but more-recent archaeological work indicates that the Augustine Washington Plantation house would actually have looked much different than the reconstruction. George Washington would live here until he was four, before moving to Ferry Farm near present-day Fredericksburg, Virginia (which like the Birthplace National Monument is also part of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail.) Like almost all Virginia plantations of this time period, Augustine Washington’s Popes Creek plantation would have relied upon slaves, estimated to be about 20-25 slaves in this case. The replicas of the places where the slaves lived and worked here places this park in the Underground Railroad: Network to Freedom.
Apart from the replica colonial plantation at this site, many visitors may overlook that this park includes a one mile hiking trail through a marsh bordering Popes Creek, as well as a section of beach along the Potomac River. The Potomac River site is where a young George Washington may have watched tobacco being ferried out to waiting ships in the Potomac River.
Among partnership sites this month, the Cane River National Heritage Area commemorates the unique Creole culture of northwest Louisiana. The center of the Heritage Area, the town of Natchitoches, has the distinction of being the oldest town in the former Louisiana Purchase, having been founded in 1714, some four years before New Orleans. It was founded on the banks of the Red River as an outpost for the fur trade with the Spanish in nearby present-day Texas. The Grand Ecore Visitor Center is a US Army Corps of Engineers facility that interprets the Corps’ management of the Red River, as well as nearby Confederate earthworks from the Civil War. “Ecore” is the French word for “bluffs,” and refers to the bluffs of the Red River on which it is located.
The town of Oregon City, Oregon is located on the southeastern edge of the Portland metro area in Oregon, and is home to the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. Why does the Oregon Trail end in Oregon City, you may ask? The town of Oregon City was founded as a fur trading outpost and a lumber mill at the confluence of the Clackamas and Willamette Rivers. At the height of travel on the Oregon Trail, Oregon City was the largest town in the area, and in 1844 it became the administrative capital of the newly-formed Oregon Territory. It would not be until near the end of the 19th Century that Portland, with its deepwater port, would overtake Oregon City in size. In addition to the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, Oregon City is also home to the McLoughlin House Unit of Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. John McLoughlin founded Oregon City while he was with the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1829, and he returned to Oregon City to build this house after leaving the Company in 1846.
The Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area and the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area are located in in northeast and northwest Mississippi, respectively. The town of Cleveland, MS is in Bolivar County (which has its own Mississippi Delta NHA cancellation) and is home to the Grammy Museum Mississippi. This extension of the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles opened March 5, 2016. The town of Iuka, Mississippi, meanwhile, is located in Tishomingo County (which has its own Mississippi Hills NHA cancellation). According to its Wikipedia Page, spring water from here won first prize at the St. Louis World’s Fair – so there is that.
Tupelo, Mississippi is the center of the Mississippi Hills NHA. In addition to hosting the flagship Visitor Center for the Natchez Trace Parkway and the tiny Tupelo National Battlefield, it is also home to the privately-held Birthplace of Elvis Presley. There’s no denying Presley’s enormous impact on American popular culture, but given that most historic sites associated with his life are privately held, the inclusion of a site like this through a National Heritage Area is likely the closest the National Park System will come to including a site devoted to “The King.”
With the new cancellations from March and April added in, there are now 2,006 active cancellations available. If you exclude the anniversary and special event cancellations, there are still 1,910 active cancellations available. Always more to explore!