The list of new stamps for June is out, and all but one of them associated with partnership programs:
Crossroads of the American Revolution National Heritage Area |
Lawrence Twp (Maidenhead), NJ
1761 Brearley House, Lawrence Twp, NJ
David Brearley, NJ Signer of U.S. Constitution
Maidenhead Meadows, NJ
Maidenhead Road/King’s Highway, NJ
Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail | Lawrence Twp (Maidenhead), NJ
Coal National Heritage Area |
Country Roads Byway
Mine Wars Museum
Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area | Albany Pine Bush Preserve
Cuyahoga Valley National Park | Hunt House
The Crossroads of the American Revolution National Heritage Area encompasses much of central New Jersey. Up to this point, it has had a single Passport cancellation available at multiple sites, all identical and reading “New Jersey” on the bottom. These will be the Heritage Area’s first-place specific stamps. Lawrence Township is the newest official site in the Crossroads NHA Program, and all of the stamps, as well as the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail stamp, will be available at both the Lawrence Township Municipal Building during weekday hours and at the historic home of David Brearley, which has very limited hours.
When new sites are added to the Passport Program we have sometimes seen a high-level of enthusiasm expressed in the form of multiple stamps for what is essentially a single site. In particular, all of the stamps highlight Lawrence Township’s previous name as Maidenhead in the 18th Century, and its connection with David Brearley. Brearley served in the New Jersey militia, including at the Battle of Monmouth in 1778, and indeed represented New Jersey at the Constitutional Convention. Brearley is buried in St. Michael’s Episcopal Church just a short down the road in nearby Trenton, New Jersey. As of this writing, his historic home dating from 1761 is open twice a month, from 10am to Noon on the first Saturday of the month and from 2pm to 3pm on the third Sunday of the month.
The Coal National Heritage Area in southern West Virginia has added two stamps this month. The West Virginia Mine Wars Museum is located in Matewan, WV and tells the story of the historical conflicts between labor unions and coal mining companies. In particular, the “Battle of Matewan” also known as the “Matewan Massacre” occurred in 1920 between coal miners and detectives hired by the local coal mine to evict some coal mining families living nearby from their houses. The ensuing gun battle left a total of 10 people dead.
The other new stamp is for the Country Roads Byway Visitor Center, located outside of Logan, West Virginia, which just opened last September. The visitor center has tourism information for the three county area covered by the Country Roads Byway.
Since I’ve started tracking the monthly releases of new stamps for this blog last year in September, this may be the single biggest month yet. Indeed, the last few months may be the single-greatest expansion of the stamp program in a three month period, or at the very least, the largest expansion since the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area added 60+ new stamps in a single month back in the winter of 2008.
With such a long list, I am going to break the listings into two parts, starting with the new passport stamp additions for parks that are counted among the 408 units of the U.S. National Park System.
Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park |
RI / MA
Bryce Canyon National Park | Bryce, UT
Death Valley National Park | Devils Hole
Fort Pulaski National Monument | Sutler Store
Mississippi National River and Recreation Area | St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam
There were also two special event stamps discovered this month:
Andersonville National Historic Site | Funeral for 13,000
Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens | Lotus & Water Lilly Festival
Most notable among these new stamps are the three new ones for the Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park. This is one of the new national parks that was established in last December’s Defense Authorization Act. In fact, this national park is still so new, that the National Park Service doesn’t even have a website up and running for it, although once the website is ready, it looks like you’ll be able to find it at www.nps.gov/blac*. Pawtucket, Rhode Island is the home of the Slater Mill, which is arguably the centerpiece of the new national historical park, and has a claim to be one of the birthplaces of the Industrial Revolution in the United States. Ashton, Rhode Island is the home of Blackstone River State Park, which features a canal towpath and riverwalk, as well as the Captain Wilber Kelly House Museum.
Fort Pulaski National Monument is the local national park in Savannah, Georgia, and is one of several “coastal fortification” sites in the National Park System. The Sutler Store is the park bookstore, located inside the fort, and previously housed a second copy of the stamps found in the visitor center at the entrace to the fort. It looks like it will now have a stamp of its own.
The Charit Creek Lodge is one of a handful of unique, backcountry lodges located in the National Park System. A hiking trip out to this lodge is another good reason for a trip out to Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. Meanwhile, the new stamps at Bryce Canyon National Park and Mississippi National River and Recreation Area appear at first glance to simply re-issues of stamps for existing stamp locations. The St. Anthony Falls Lock & Dam, for example, are located directly behind the Mill City Museum which is a must-see destination for anyone visiting Minneapolis, regardless of whether you are visiting the national parks or collecting the passport stamps. The Mill City Museum does a really fantastic job telling the story of the Twin Cities, and the history of milling industry in the area.
At Andersonville National Historic Site, the “Funeral for 13,000” is a special event held this September to commemorate the burying at the end of the Civil War of the numerous Union soldiers who died there. According to the park’s website, this will be a very limited-edition cancellation, only available in September – which will surely be frustrating to the “passport completists” out there. On the other hand, the Lotus and Water Lilly Festival at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Washington, DC is an annual event held each July – so enthusiasts will have another opportunity to collect that stamp next summer.
Perhaps the most striking of the new stamps, however, is the new stamp for Devil’s Hole at Death Valley National Park. Devil’s Hole is home to what most scientists consider to be the world’s rarest fish. The tiny, inch-long, Devil’s Hole pupfish lives nowhere else on earth but this small desert pond of only about 500 square feet in surface area – a space that’s smaller than some master bedrooms that are built these days.
I first learned about Devils Hole when it was mentioned in one of the most memorable and formative stories that I read while growing up. I suppose it says a lot about me, with no further commentary needed, that I was reading Natural History magazine on a monthly basis as a teenager. Make of that what you will, but the January 1993 issue had a haunting article entitled “Species in a Bucket” – the memory of which has still stuck with me. The subject of this story was a close relative of the Devil’s Hole pupfish, this one called the Owens pupfish. The story relates an incident from 1969 in which the author, a wildlife biologist, found himself carrying the entire surviving population of Owens pupfish in two buckets in order to save the species from near-certain extinction due to declining water levels in its native habitat. Fortunately, restoration efforts for this species have led to four established populations, leaving it slightly less-endangered than the Devils Hole pupfish. Nonetheless, this article is worth reading, and Natural History magazine has made it available for free online, so I encourage you to check it out and see if it impacts you as much as it did my younger self.
Finally, a number of National Park Service partners also received stamps this month. Due to limitations of space and time, I’ll simply list them without extensive commentary this month:
Coal National Heritage Area | Princeton Railroad Museum
The Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area is located in northeast Missouri. These eight stamps join two existing stamps for a total of ten. The awkwardly named National Coal Heritage Area is located in southern West Virginia, and now has nine active passport stamp locations.
California National Historic Trail | Fort Bridger, WY
Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail | Fort Bridger, WY
Oregon National Historic Trail | Fort Bridger, WY
Pony Express National Historic Trail | Fort Bridger, WY
Pony Express National Historic Trail | St. Joseph, MO
Its worth noting that Fort Bridger is a Wyoming State Historic Site, and was a notable trading outpost on the western trails. St. Joseph, Missouri is the famous starting point of the short-lived overland mail route.
Santa Fe National Historic Trail | El Rancho de los Golondrias, NM
El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail | New Mexico History Museum, NM
North Country National Sceni Trail | Carlton, MN
Capt. John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail |
Havre de Grace, MD
Oxon Hill, MD
Fort Washington, MD
Smallwood State Park, MD
Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum
Historic St. Mary’s City, MD
Point Lookout State Park, MD
Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail |
Montana Natural History Center
National Bison Range
Dry Falls State Park
Columbia Gorge Discovery Center
This is the second stamp for El Rancho de los Golondrias, which already had a stamp for the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail. The town of Santa Fe, New Mexico was a hub of trading activity first for Spanish Mexico, and then for independent Mexico after 1821. The El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro is literally the “Royal Road to the Interior” and connected the colonial capital of Aguascalientes, located in the center of present-day Mexico, to the trading post of Santa Fe. Following Mexican independence in 1821, trade was opened with the United States, and the Santa Fe Trail was a trading route from Missouri to Santa Fe. El Rancho de los Golondrias, literally, “Ranch of the Swallows,” is located about a days’ walk to the south and west of Santa Fe, and so was a popular “last stop” for traders arriving on the camino real for the south. Its a little surprising to see this location receive a stamp for the Santa Fe NHT, as it does not appear to be located on the trail route itself, located as it is just to the west of Santa Fe. However, today the site operates as a living history museum, and its possible that they have added some educational exhibits on the Santa Fe Trail, given the site’s proximity to Santa Fe.
For the North Country National Scenic Trail, Carlton, Minnesota is located just outside of Duluth, on the southwest tip of Lake Superior. It is located adjacent to Jay Cooke State Park, which has long had a passport stamp reading “Minnesota” on it, and so this is probably its first place-specific passport stamp.
Finally, perhaps the highlight of this month’s stamps are the first seven stamps for the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail. Imagine a lake larger than the State of Delaware and more than twice as deep as Lake Superior suddenly letting loose in a massive flood, sending all that water racing at once across hundreds of miles towards the ocean. The force an power of these floods would surely alter the shape of the landscape for thousands of years to come! Geologists tell us that that is exactly what happened approximately 12,000 years ago on the plains of western Montana and easter Washington.
In fact, geologists tell us that similar events happened several times during the previous 5,000 years. The sources of these floods were water and ice from the melting glaciers of the last ice age. Periodically, ice would form a natural dam in a valley, causing a large lake to form. When the ice dam would melt or break, the lake would drain – sometimes violently.
The largest of the floods, which I described above, was also one of the last such floods. Geologists call the source of this flood Glacial Lake Missoula, and when the ice gave way, it let loose at speeds up to 45 miles an hour. At its peak, the flood may have released a torrent of water at the rate of 400 million cubic feet of water per second. As a comparison, the Amazon River only flows at 6 million cubic feet per second.
Its not known if any human had yet arrived in the area to witness this cataclysmic event. Archeologists date the first arrival of humans in the United States right around 12,000 years ago as well. If any early settlers were in the area, the sheer noise of this event must have been as terrifying as the scouring of the landscape.
Congress established the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail in 2009, and this is the first trail to bear the designation “National Geologic Trail.” Its obviously been quite an effort to get this first National Geologic Trail up and running – but the release of these seven passport stamps is perhaps the first indication that this program is open and ready for discovery.
With this month’s additions there are now 1,981 active passport cancellations to collect. Excluding anniversary and special-event stamps, there are 1,883 passport stamps.
Source: Weis, Paul and William L. Newman. The Channeled Scablands of Eastern Washington: The Geologic Story of the Spokane Flood 2nd Edition. U.S. Department of the Interior and Eastern Washington University Press. 1999.
Update (September 2016): The Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park now has its own website, separate from the National Heritage Corridor. It can be found at http://www.nps.gov/blrv
Eastern national has released its list of new Passport Stamps for the much of February, and the list includes a sizable 17 stamps, 14 of which are truly brand “new.” Of the remaining 14, three are annivesary stamps, four others are for Trails and Heritage Areas, and the remaining seven are for new areas in national parks.
Headlining the list is a new stamp for the Roebling Bridge in the Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River. Although most people think of river-based national parks as being primarily about rafting, canoeing, and kayaking, the Upper Delaware SRR also includes notable historic sites like the home of author Zane Grey and the nearby Roebling Bride. The Roebling Bridge is a true engineering landmark, constructed by the same John Roebling that would later go on to construct the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City.
Although in the modern day we are used to bridges that carry land vehicles over water, back in the heyday of canals, bridges were also used to carry water vehicles over water. In the picture above, you can see that the modern-day roadbed was once used by canal boats crossing over the Delaware River, and the rebuilt wooden towpath can now be used by pedestrians. Also rebuilt are the icebreakers at the base of the bridge:
The stamp for the Roebling Bridge gives the Upper Delaware SRR a total of three cancellations: Beach Lake – where the park headquarters is; The Zane Grey Museum – in Lackawaxen, PA: and the Roebling Bridge – also in Lackawaxen.
Other new stamps this month include a new stamp for Hatteras Island at Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina. This will likely replace the existing stamp for Buxton, NC at the Hatteras Island Visitor Center, next to the iconic Cape Hattereas Lighthouse. It remains to be seen if this will be a net new stamp for this park, or if it will join the existing stamps for Manteo (park headquarters), Bodie Island, and Ocracoke Island for a total of four. A few years ago, there was also a fifth cancellation for the town of Nags Head, NC, but that stamp has since been lost or retired.
Minuteman Missile National Historic Site in South Dakota has added two cancellations this month. This relatively new national park is the first dedicated to telling the story of the Cold War in the United States. The first new stamp is simply labeled “Visitor Center,” and will no doubt be found at the brand new park visitor center that had a soft opening in November 2014. If you are planning a trip to this park, you may want to plan a trip for September 26, 2015 and the official grand opening and dedication of this park’s first visitor center. Up to this point, the Ranger Contact Station for the park had a stamp simply labeled “South Dakota,” which may now be replaced with the opening of the visitor center.
The other new stamp is for Launch Control Facility Delta-01. This facility is only open during ranger-guided tours, so be sure to plan ahead! This cancellation joins the existing stamp for Launch Facility Delta-09, which is the park’s missile silo, and the other major site within the park.
Cane River Creole National Historical Park preserves two plantations in northwest Louisiana. Officially, this park lists one new stamp, for Derry, LA – the site of Magnolia Plantation. For many years, the Park has had a single cancellation available at both plantation sites, reading “Natchez, LA” on the bottom. Natchez is the location of Oakland Plantation, which is the site with more-developed visitor facilities, including the only one of the two plantation sites that also offers house tours. At one point in time, there was a cancellation for Bermuda, LA available at the Oakland Plantation, but it was lost or retired several years ago. The issuance of a unique stamp for Magnolia Plantation thus gives this park a total of two cancellations.
Among the changes to the National Park System in the Defense Authorization Act for 2015 was a provision renaming First State National Monument to First State National Historical Park, and expanding it to include several additional sites. This month, stamps with the new park name have been reissued for the existing sites at Dover Green in Dover, DE; New Castle Courthouse in New Castle, DE; and the Woodlawn Preserve in Wilmington, DE. Additionally, stamps were ordered for two additional sites that are imminently to be added to this park: one for Kent County, DE to be at the Dickinson Plantation site, and another for Lewes, DE to be at the Ryves-Holt House. John Dickinson was a signer of the US Constitution, and the Ryves-Holt House is reportedly the oldest house in the State of Delaware – so neither of these two new sites seem likely to get the blood racing.
In addition to all of the above stamps, there are three new anniversary stamps issued:
Chalmette Battlefield (part of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve) | 200th Anniversary 1815-2015 – for the 200th anniversary of the famous Battle of New Orleans that ended the War of 1812 and propelled Andrew Jackson to the Presidency.
Fire Island National Seashore | 50th Anniversary 1964-2014 – a stamp that seems a little late to the anniversary stamp party, but nonetheless commemorates 50 years of protecting beaches on the south shore of Long Island.
Agate Fossil Beds National Monument | 50th Anniversary 1965-2015 – a stamp that marks 50 years of protecting fossil mammals from approximately 20 million years ago in western Nebraska.
I posted last month my thoughts on the recent trend for anniversary stamps, so I won’t go into that topic again.
Finally, there are a few new stamps for Heritage Areas and Trails:
the Juan Bautista de Anza National HIstorical Trail marks the route of Juan Bautista de Anza’s 1776 expedition with more than 200 men, women, and children from Mexico to establish a new settlement at San Francisco Bay. The first new stamp is for Atascadero, California in San Luis Obispo County where the Atascadero Mutual Water Company manges a stretch of the trail suitable for hiking.
The second Juan Bautista de Anza stamp is for Hacienda de la Canoa in Green Valley, Arizona. This historic site has a new exhibit on the de Anza expedition.
With all of these new additions, we now estimate that there are 1,968 cancellations out there to explore. Closing in on 2,000!
The list of new stamps for October inspired me to write a little background post on National Heritage Areas.
A National Heritage Area (NHA) is one of several partnership programs managed by the National Park Service. All National Heritage Areas are designated by Congress, and apply to a specific geographic area, usually an area of multiple counties. A National Heritage Area generally does not have any sites that are directly manged by the Naitonal Park Service. Instead, each National Heritage Area authorization also designates an official “partnerhip organization” that will work with the National Park Service to develop projects and programs within the geographic area of the NHA. The projects and programs developed within an NHA can include things like historic preservation, development of interpretive displays, educational outreach projects, resource conservation, and tourism promotion. The Alliance of National Heritage Areas is the industry association for the various NHA partnership organizations around the country.
Just as there are a variety of designations, National Heritage Areas can vary greatly in size and scope. The Wheeling National Heritage Area consists of just the city of Wheeling, WV, tucked in to a sliver of land between Pennsylvania and Ohio. On the other hand, the Gullah-Geechee National Heritage Corridor stretches along the Atlantic Coast from southern North Carolina through South Carolina and Georgia and into northern Florida. The Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area is particularly unusual, covering the all civil war sites across the whole state of Tennessee. Go figure.
Similarly, when it comes to the Passport Program, the 49 National Heritage Areas are all over the map. Currently, 9 of them don’t have any Passport stamps at all. One of those is because the partner association for the Heritage Area went out of business. Another originally put two passport stamps in regional visitor centers, but later decided to discontinue the visitor center operations and focus on other activities. Two others of those nine offer a picture stamp, but which unlike traditional Passport cancellations, does not have a date in the center. The other five have all been established within the last ten years and have simply never participated in the program.
Of the remainder, 21 National Heritage Areas have either just one stamp located at the headquarters offices or a central visitor’s center, or else have just two stamps.
That leaves 19 National Heritage Areas that fully participate in the Passport Program with cancellations available at multiple locations in the area. Even here, there is a broad range. The Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area in south-central Alaska has three locations. By contrast, the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area in New York State has a whopping 67 Passport cancellations – enough to fill the North Atlantic section of a traditional blue Passport book more than three times over!
Suffice to say, National Heritage Areas come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and flavors. At their best, National Heritage Areas bring in to the National Park System areas that would not otherwise be suitable for direct management like the National Park System. A great example of this is the Motorcities National Heritage Area in eastern Michigan, which includes many of that area’s world-class automotive museums. Among those is The Henry Ford Museum, which is on many people’s bucket list, even without being Parks Passport completists. The downside is that since National Heritage Areas operate via local partnerships, and without direct management by the National Park Service, they sometimes fail to provide the consistent visitation experience that we have come to expect from out-and-out national parks.
With that being said, I am strong believe that the National Park System, and by extension, the Passport Program, should include all of the United States’ most-significant natural, historical, and cultural sites. The National Heritage Area program is at its best when its bringing some of America’s treasures into the National Park System, even though they will probably never be suitable for direct management by the National Park Service. The National Park System is a better place when it includes the Motorcities, the Erie Canalway, and Niagara Falls – all of which would surely be worthy for inclusion in the National Park Service based on their national significance alone, but which either do not lend themselves easily to a traditional national park, or else are already being well- managed by outside entities, or both.
As Congress has become more budget-conscious in recent year, there have not been any new National Heritage Area designations since 9 were designated in 2009. Both the career staff of the National Park Service and the Government Acountability Office have called for Congress to establish a stronger vision for what a National Heritage Area should be, and what the criteria should be for establishing such an area. The rapid proliferation of National Heritage Areas in the 2000’s, in which 31 out of the 49 National Heritage Areas were established between 2000 and 2009 probably represented too-fast growth. Nevertheless, the National Park System and the Passport Program would have some clear missing holes without them.