Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor | Stephen & Harriet Myers Residence
Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area | Stephen & Harriet Myers Residence
Oregon National Historic Trail |
Craters of the Moon NM & PRES
Fossil Butte NM
Pony Express National Historic Trail | Camp Floyd State Park
The Lolo Pass in Idaho is where the Lewis & Clark expedition made a treacherous mountain crossing in September 1805, despite the early onset of winter weather. This stamp will be available at the US Forest Service’s Lolo Pass Visitor Center on US Route 12. The new stamp for the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail finally replaces a previous stamp that had been available here from 2004 to 2007. In addition, this site has had a stamp for the Nez Perce National Historic Trail since 2011.
The new North Country National Scenic Trail replaces a previous stamp reading simply “New York” on the bottom that had been available at both the US Forest Service Finger Lakes Ranger Station in the town of Hector, NY as well as at Fort Stanwix National Monument in Rome, NY. The “New York” stamp is still available at Fort Stanwix.
The Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site preserves a small section of what was originally a 36 mile railroad using a series of cables to carry canal boats over the Allegheny Mountains between separate sections of the Pennsylvania Canal. Operating from 1834 to 1854, until steam engines rendered the system of canal boats and cables obsolete, the railroad is known to also have been used by slaves attempting to escape to freedom; hence its inclusion in the Underground Railroad Freedom Network.
Meanwhile, the main route of the Oregon National Historic Trail passes some 60 miles to the south of the 50 million year-old fossils of Fossil Butte National Monument at Fort Bridger and Fort Bridger State Historic Site. However, an alternate route, known as the Sublette Cutoff, passes within just 5 miles of the park, and the park has recently added the Oregon Trail to its interpretive activities. Interestingly, the nearest town to Fossil Butte is Kemmerer, Wyoming, which is the home of the original J.C. Penney store.
Finally, Camp Floyd State Park preserves a historic stagecoach inn, just south of the Salt Lake City metro area in the town of Fairfield. Camp Floyd is one of the first stops where the Pony Express National Historic Trail diverges from the California National Historic Trail. The California Trail, which took 49ers to the gold fields of California, roughly follows the route of what is now Interstate 80 across northern Utah and Nevada. The Pony Express Trail, however, took a route that was roughly 50 miles to the south, a route that doesn’t appear to have translated into our modern road system.
Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve | Fort Casey State Park
Joshua Tree National Park | Oasis of Mara
Yellowstone National Park | Snake River Ranger Station
Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve | Slaven’s Roadhouse
Ohio & Erie National Heritage Canalway |
Cleveland History Center / University Circle
Hale Farm & Village
High Point of the Canal
Historic Zoar Village
Richard Howe House
California National Historic Trail | Salt Lake City, UT
The signature landmark in Dry Tortugas National Park is Fort Jefferson, which is located on Garden Key – about 70 miles west of Key West, Florida. About two years ago, Dry Tortugas National Park added a second cancellation for the Florida Keys Eco Discovery Center on Key West. This new cancellation may simply be a replacement for the long-standing stamp reading “Dry Tortugas, FL” on the bottom; Garden Key being one of the largest of the Dry Tortugas and the primary visitor destination in the park.
Fort Jefferson was constructed in the years leading up to the Civil War. All of the islands in the Dry Tortugas, including Garden Key, are “dry,” meaning they lack fresh water, However, they occupy a strategic location for any ships travelling through the Florida Strait between the United States and Cuba, effectively controlling the approach to the U.S. Gulf Coast and the all-important Port of New Orleans. Nevertheless, the fort was never fully completed. It never saw action in the Civil War, and then was quickly rendered obsolete by the rapid evolution of naval technology in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.
Joshua Tree National Park in southern California includes beautiful desert landscapes as well as many stands of the iconic joshua trees. One of the first settlers in the region, used a natural oasis to plant twenty-nine palm trees. That eventually led to the growth of the town of Twenty-Nine Palms, California. In turn, the town of Twenty-Nine Palms donated the original oasis to the National Park Service for use as the Park Headquarters and main Visitor Center. This stamp likely replaces the existing “Twenty-Nine Palms, CA” stamp found at the Park’s Oasis Visitor Center.
Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve is a partnership that preserves the agricultural landscapes of Whidbey Island, located north of Seattle in Puget Sound, and the history of European settlement in the Pacific Northwest. Fort Casey State Park on Whidbey Island is one of the Reserve’s partners. Fort Casey was built right around the turn of the 20th Century, and was designed to control the strategic entrance to Puget Sound and the Ports of Seattle, Tacoma, and Olympia.
The Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve in Alaska is one of nine national parks (including five that “count twice,” for a total of fourteen) in that state that are not accessible by road. Slaven’s Roadhouse is located some 45 miles down the Yukon River from the nearest road, at the junction of Coal Creek with the Yukon River. Roadhouses are an institution in Alaska, providing service to passing travelers across Alaska’s massive distances and remote wilderness. Slaven’s Roadhouse was established in the early 20th Century by Frank Slaven during the Klondike Gold Rush. The National Park Service restored the roadhouse in the early 1990’s, and ever since it has continued to serve its original purpose of providing shelter to travelers on the Yukon River. The National Park Service has a nice one-minute video about Slaven’s Roadhouse on its website. The new stamp for Slaven’s Roadhouse supplements the existing stamp for Coal Creek.
The California National Historic Trail marks the route of an earlier gold rush, the one to California in 1849. The new stamp for Salt Lake City, UT will be at the National Park Service’s Intermountain Region Trails Office in Salt Lake City, which administers many of the western trails.
Finally, for the Ohio & Erie Canalway, since I’ve been behind on these posts for a couple months, I’ve combined the new stamps for this Heritage Area from both July and September into this post. The original Ohio & Erie Canal was naturally inspired by the success of the Erie Canal, and stretched some 308 miles across central Ohio to the town of Portsmouth, where the Scioto River meets the Ohio River. Today, the Congressionally-designated National Heritage Area only includes the first 110 miles or-so of the Canal and surrounding areas in northeast Ohio, stretching from Cleveland, through Akron and Canton, to the town of New Philadelphia. The National Park Service has a comprehensive listing of Ohio & Erie Canalway sites on its website.
The stamp for the Cleveland History Center in Cleveland’s University Circle neighborhood was added to the list in July. Cleveland’s University Circle is named for the presence of Case Western Reserve University, which happens to be the Parkasaurus Blog’s alma maters. University Circle includes almost all of Cleveland’s premier cultural institutions, including the Cleveland Museum of Art and Severance Hall, the home of the Cleveland Orchestra. The Cleveland History Center is the museum of the Western Reserve Historical Society, which tells the story of the settlement and development of Cleveland and northeast Ohio. The name Western Reserve dates back to the days when the State of Connecticut actually laid claim to the lands that are now northeast Ohio, calling them its “Western Reserve.”
The Richard Howe House was formerly the home of the Ohio & Erie Canalway’s resident engineer. Today, it has been restored for use as a Canalway Visitor Center and moved from its original location to a location adjacent to the towpath.
Canal Fulton is one of the many historic towns located along the towpath. The Canalway Center located in town also includes canalboat rides on the replica vessel St. Helena III. Another unique historic town along the Canalway is Historic Zoar Village, which was founded by German separatists seeking religious freedom.
Finally, the Hale Farm & Village is also operated by the Western Reserve Historical Society, and had a new stamp listed in September. It is a living history farm, and is actually located within the larger boundaries of Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
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.
Writing about the World War II Memorial has gotten me to thinking about what makes a national memorial a national park. According to the National Park Service, there are 30 national memorials in the U.S. National Park System. However, as with so many things in counting national parks it isn’t quite as simple as that. Under Federal Law, only Congress has the exclusive right to designate a national memorial. This means that there is no provision like an Antiquities Act for designating national memorials the way that there is for the President to designate national monuments. Moreover, similar to national monuments, not all national memorials have been assiged to the National Park Service for inclusion in the U.S. National Park System – in fact with there being 64 national memorials that I have been able to identify, the National Park Service is only directly responsible for around half of them.
NPS National Memorials in Washington, DC
Let’s take a closer look at national memorials by starting with the 12 national memorials listed by the National Park Service that are in or around the nation’s capital in Washington, D.C.:
There are also two more memorials in the above category that are planned for future construction. The Eisenhower Memorial(*) has recently received final design approval, and is hoping to complete construction in the next few years. The Adams Memorial(*), a tribute to the remarkable family that produced the second and sixth Presidents of the United States, is still in the design and fundraising stages.
So overall, this first set of memorials are dedicated either to “great Americans” – primarily former Presidents of the United States, or else to those who served, and in many cases, gave their lives, in one of the major wars of the 20th Century.
However, there is still the small matter of those asterisks above. What becomes a little tricky here is that five of these twelve memorials (as well as the two under development) have actually not been specifically designated as national memorials by Congress – as national memorial is a rather specific legal honor and title that can only be conferred by Congress. However, each of those memorials is of a sufficent size and distinction that the National Park Service has determined that each of them should count separately as individual national parks in the National Park System. As such, in listing all of the different units in the National Park System, the National Park Service goes ahead and lists all of the above as national memorials.
Given that recognition, its hard to be pedantic about the the specific legal distinctions. Take for example, the case of the World War II Memorial. The fundraising drivde by the American Battle Monuments Commission to build this memorial was explicitly called the National World War II Memorial Cammpaign. The non-profit partners of the memorial calls themselves “Friends of the National World War II Memorial.” Regardless of the technical legal status, almost all Americans, including, I would imagine, almost all Members of Congress, consider it to be the National World War II Memorial. So in the interests of simplicity and clarity, I’m going to conside each of the above memorials to also be a national memorial, if for no other reason than by popular acclamation and by the de facto designation as such by the National Park Service.
So those twelve constitue the first entries on the list of national memorials. Let’s look at a few more:
In addition to these twelve, seven other national memorials in the greater Washington, DC area are included as part of other, larger units of the U.S. National Park System:
the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial is also part of Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site in downtown Washington, DC – but it is one of only two of these sseven sites without its own Passport stamp;
This second group is a bit more of a mixed bag than the first group. The Memorial to the 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence is straight-forward enough, and in keeping with the theme from the first group of honoring the “Founding Fathers” of the Nation. The Nation’s desire to honor the Preisdent who saved the Union is evident by there being two designations relating to Abraham Lincoln, in addition, of course, to the Lincoln Memorial itself in the first group. Four others are dedicated to specific groups of people who served, or more accurately, to specific types of service. The mixed-nature of this list is perhaps most-highlighted by the absence of the Air Force Memorial from this list, which has apparently not been formally designated a national memorial, and resides on Department of Defense land at the Pentagon, and so is outside the National Park System as well. With neither official recognition by Congress as a national memorial, nor listing by the National Park Service as a national memorial, there just was no way to include it on the list. Even though, with all due respect to the service of the many U.S. Navy Seabees over the years, it seems inconsistent to have the Seabees Memorial on this list, but not the Air Force Memorial.
Indeed, there are many other memorials in the National Park System which are also not on that list, and in some cases, it almost seems to be simply a paperwork oversight that they have not been designated as national memorials, while many similar memorials have been. For more on them, check out Sidebar#1.
NPS National Memorials Outside Washington
Outside of Washington, DC, however, the National Park System includes 18 other national memorials that are also individual national parks. All of these were designated by Congress as a national memorial in their very name, however, so their inclusion on the list is straightforward. The 18 are:
Port Chicago National Memorial – marks the site of a tragic explosion on the American Home Front in the East Bay of San Francisco during the Second World War, in which the victims were largely African-Americans;
Once again, this set of national memorials also appears to be quite the mixed bag, although some themes definitely emerge. Many of the sites are associated with the earliest days of America’s exploration and settlement – although San Diego’s Cabrillo National Monumentis notably absent from this list as it is a national monument rather than a national memorial. Several of the others, such as Thaddeus Kosciuszko and Lincoln Boyhood are on the list because they primarily rely upon reconstructions, rather than actually-preserved historic resources – or in the case of Hamilton Grange, have been moved from their original location. Three others are the site of major tragedies, with significant loss of life. Others, like Mount Rushmore, are truly memorials in the traditional sense.
For some more related facts to national memorials that count as national parks, you can again check out Sidebar #2.
There are also three other memorials that are part of larger national parks outside of the Washington, DC area:
White Cross World War I Memorial is a white cross that was erected in 1934 in California’s Mojave Desert, and is now located on private land within Mojave National Preserve in order to settle an “establishment of religion” claim against the memorial;
U.S.S. Oklahoma Memorial is also in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and is also part of World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument. (Note: the U.S.S. Utah Memorial is also located in Pearl Harbor, but it does not appear to have been designated a national memorial by Congress. ) The U.S.S. Missouri Memorial, which is the ship that hosted the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II, is also located in Pearl Harbor. Although it is not part of the National Monument, it too has its own Passport stamp.
At the risk of getting too far into the weeds, the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial was previously a stand-alone unit of the National Park System. As such, the National Park Service listed it as a national memorial, for the reasons I described above for the WorldWar II Memorial and others. In 2008, however, President George W. Bush designated it as part of World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, and so the National Park Service now lists it as a national monument, rather than a national memorial. However, since there was clearly no intention to de-designate the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial as a national memorial, I’m going to continue to include it on this list. You can read about four other national parks that arguably could be included on this list, despite not having the word “memorial” in their name in Sidebar #3.
The Rest of the National Memorials
In addition to all of the above, four other national memorials are officially considered to be Affiliated Areas of the National Park System, along with two others that have unofficially had that status. Status as an Affiliated Area makes the site eligible for additional technical assistance on preservation from National Park Service staff, as well as for inclusion in the Passport to Your National Parks program:
In addition, the (5) AIDS Memorial Grove in San Francisco California and the (6) David Berger Memorial (an American-Israeli dual-citizen who was killed as a member of the Israeli Olympic Team at the 1972 Munich Olympics) in suburban Cleveland, Ohio both have been incorrectly listed as Affiliated Areas by some sources in the past. As such, both have previously been part of the Passport Program, but no longer receive official Passport stamps from Eastern National. In any event, both appear to continue to benefit from National Park Service technical assistance from Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Cuyahoga Valley National Park, respectively.
Finally, the following 18 national memorials have no connection with the U.S. National Park System, but round out the complete list of national memorials:
National Civil Defense Monument – also located in Emmitsburg, Maryland;
U.S.S. Indianapolis Memorial – located in its namesake city and commemorates the last ship in the U.S. Navy to sink during the Second World War;
World War Memorial in Guam – marks the site where Japanese sodliers raped and massacared Guamanian civilians at the Fana Caves during the closing days of World War II.
There is a distinctly military theme, not surprisingly, to many of the memorials on this list. It is amazing, however, to think that Riverside, California, of all places, is tied with New York City for the most national memorials of any place in the country outside of Washington, DC. It is also interesting to note the three memorials on the above list that are dedicated to American civilians outside of public service. Albert Einstein is such a towering figure in the history of science, that a national memorial to him is completely unsurprising. The Bosque Redondo Memorial is in keeping with the list of National Park System national memorials that commemorate tragedies in our Nation’s history – although it is worth noting that this event gets a national memorial, whereas the removal of the Cherokee from the eastern United States gets the Trail of Tears of National Historic Trail commemorating the full route. Finally, the most unusual entry on this list is Robert L. Kohnstamm, whom I’m not sure many readers of this past will have previously been familiar with. For example, he doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry! He apparently played a role in preserving the Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood and in opening Mt. Hood to recreational skiing. A full article about him can be read here.
So, after this exhaustive summary of national memorials here is a summary of the results:
12 national memorials recognized by the National Park Service as stand-alone national parks in Washington, DC;
7 other national memorials in Washington, DC that are managed by the National Park Service;
18 other national memorials that are also stand-alone national parks, outside of Washington, DC;
3 other national memorials located inside the boundaries of national parks outside of Washington, DC;
6 national memorials that are either formally or informally affiliated with the National Park System;
18 national memorials that are located outside the National Park System entirely.
That makes a total of 64 national memorials!
Out of these 64, 26 of them are dedicated to wars, military victories, military service, or public service (I’m including the Astronauts Memorial and Civil Defense Memorial here.)
19 more national memorials are dedicated to U.S. Presidents (incluing four to Abraham Lincoln alone), other U.S. Founding Fathers (I’m including Federal Hall in this group ), or to Robert E. Lee.
Eight more national memorials are dedicated to the exploration and settlement of the United States.
Seven of the national memorials are dedicated to the memory of national tragedies.
Finally, four of the national memorials are dedicated to civilians primarily for civilian accomplishments in the areas of science, conservation, or civil rights.
By no means do any of the above seem to be complete lists. The closest might be the memorials to the Founding Fathers, although if Kosciuszko is on the list of national memorials, then the names of Lafayette, Rochambeau, and von Steuben are conspicuous by their absences. The list of explorers with national memorials, however, seems far too short, and almost random in its selection. While hardly anyone could object to a national memorial to the scientific achievements of Albert Einstein or the Wright Brothers, that area of achievement can only be described as under-recognized. As with many things in the National Park System – there will no doubt be more to come in the future. In the meantime, the list of 64 national memorials provides an interesting starting point for those looking to remember our Nation’s past and history, going even beyond just those sites managed by the National Park Service.
Bonus Fact: Congress has actually passed a resolution calling for the final resting of place of the RMS Titanic to be designated as an international maritime memorial to the men, women, and children who perished aboard her. Of course, the Titanic sank in international waters, so its not at all clear who would have the jurisdiction to carry this out, but it is fun to think about.
#20) Hiking to Mt. Olympus Viewpoint at Olympic National Park – August 2003
National parks are often places for testing our limits. On a visit to the vast Olympic National Park in Washington, my friend and I naturally hoped to catch a glimpse of Mount Olympus. The only problem was that reaching any of the viewpoints for Mount Olympus required an extensive hike in to the interior of the Park. My friend and I compounded the problem by insisting upon going for a loop trail – in this case, one that was a whopping 20 miles. Suffice to say, we were neither suffiicently prepared nor properly conditioned for a hike of that length. By the time we dragged ourselves back to the car, a couple hours after sunset, we were both completely and utterly exhausted. Still, we did catch that glimpse of Mount Olympus! Well, just barely, as we had to look for it between breaks in the clouds.
#19) Landing at Portsmouth Village on Cape Lookout National Seashore – July 2002
By coincidence, I have two hikes in a row that were both a little more than I had bargained for. As mentioned in this Parkasaurus post, Portsmouth Village is one of the best-preserved ghost towns and one of the most-difficult to reach Passport cancellations on the East Coast. Just to get to the site, you need to take a ferry from the mainland to Ocracoke Island in Cape Hatteras National Seashore, and then from there hire another boat to take you over to Portsmouth Island. The ghost town of Portsmouth Village was interesting enough, but what my friend and I were completely unprepared for were the absolute clouds of mosquitoes! I remember applying multiple layers of high-strength Deet, and still seeing the mosquitoes line up on my blue jeans trying to find a way in! Fortunately, the kind Park Rangers on the island took mercy on my friend and I gave us a ride on their Gator to help speed along our visit! No, they didn’t actually let us drive it – but they did let us pose for this photograph!
#18) Hiking the Savage River Trail in Denali National Park & Preserve – September 2008
By contrast, I have nothing but fond memories of this hike in Alaska’s Denali National Park & Preserve. Our first day in Denali, my wife and I took an all-day bus tour out to Wonder Lake, which of course has been made famous by the photography of Ansel Adams. Although we weren’t lucky enough to catch a glimpse of Mount McKinley on that day, we had enough exciting encounters with Alaskan wildlife to fill a scrapbook full of memories. For our second day, we decided to head out on our own to enjoy some of the Alaskan solitude. The Savage River Trailhead is the furthest point into the Park that you can drive your own vehicle without a special permit, and this late in the season, we seemingly had this part of the park all to ourselves. Even though it was only Labor Day weekend, this was already pretty late in the visitaiton season for Denali – indeed, the plants on the tundra were already beautiful fall colors of red and gold. The image that sticks with me from this trip, however, is reaching the end of the marked trail and seeing the Savage River valley stretch off into the seemingly infinite Alaska wilderness.
#17) Patriot Day at Minute Man National Historical Park – April 2005
The American Revolution began with the “shots heard ’round the world” in the villages of Lexington and Concord, an event now marked every year as Patriots’ Day in the State of Massachusetts. Normally, visiting a national park in the morning is a good way to beat the crowds – but not on Patriots’ Day in and around Minute Man National Historical Park. A reenactment is held each year on Lexington Green (technically not part of the National Park Service’s property), followed by commeorative ceremonies at Old North Bridge in Concord. The event begins in Lexington at 5:30am – and literally every parking lot in the village of Lexington is packed. Savvy locals get there even earlier than that with step ladders to provide viewing points for their young children. The reenactment event itself, true to history, only lasts a few minutes; the Americans fire a few shots, the British fire back, and the Americans run, Afterwards, it seems that almost everyone heads over to the local Catholic Church, located just off the Green, to enjoy a pancake breakfast sponsored by the local Boy Scout Troop. Smart thinking by those Scouts!
#16) Sequoia National Park, Home of the Big Trees – August 2009
In 2009, I attended my first Convention of the National Park Traveler’s Club, held that year at Sequoia National Park. It was great to spend the weekend with so many people who were dedicated to visiting the U.S. National Park System, especially in such a stunning setting. Although I had previously seen the world’s tallest trees at Redwood National Park, it was little preparation for seeing the true giants of the Kingdom of Life growing on the edges of alpine meadows. Looking up, it can be somewhat hard to comprehend the soaring heights of the Redwood. On the other hand, when you stand at the base of sequoia that is many times the circumference of any other tree you have ever seen, there is no mistaking that you are in the land of giants.
Perhaps nothing illustrates the sheer size of these trees quite like this picture of a toppled sequoia. Even laid flat on its side, the sequoia still towers over the trees around it.
#15) Waking up to Bison at Breakfast at Theodore Roosevelt National Park – July 2004
If you talk to enough travelers in the U.S. National Parks, many of them are likely to agree: Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota (of all places!) is one of the true hidden gems of the whole U.S. National Park System. I previously blogged a little bit about this Park back in December 2014. and highlighted the spectacular scenary, the history of Theodore Roosevelt’s days as a rancher in this area, and the unusual rock concretions in the shape of mushrooms. On my trip in 2004, however, the biggest surprise was waking up in the morning in the Juniper Campground in the Park’s North Unit to the sounds and smells of herd of bison wandering their way through the campground! I guess that when you are bison, you go where you please, and in this case, that was right past our tent! Normally, Park Rangers wisely advise everyone to keep a very respectful distance from bison – but in this case that wasn’t an option! Suffice to say that I got as close to the snorting and grunting bison as I will ever want to be. Fortunately, nobody was hurt, and the memories were unforgettable!
#14) Father’s Day Riding the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad at Cuyahoga Valley National Park – June 2013
Like many young boys, my now-four-year-old Juniot T-Rex has long had a love affair with trains. So when travels to visit family took us through northeast Ohio on Father’s Day weekend in 2013, there was an obvious way to combine daddy’s love of national parks and son’s love of trains – a trip on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. Suffice to say my little T. Rex was beside himself with joy to be riding the train. The conductors even let him help punch the tickets while on board. The train railroad provides service from nearby Canton to various stops throughout the Park, and runs frequently enough that it can even be used to support a short visit or hike within the Park before being boarded for a return trip.
#13) Backpacking with Friends at Death Valley National Park – January 2009
On my first visit to Death Valley National Park, in January 2005, I remember feeling profoundly small. That shouldn’t be much of a surprise, considering that Death Valley has one of the largest vertical elevation gains in the country, from 282 feet below sea level at Badwater Basin to more than 11,000 feet in elevation on nearby Telescope Peak.
In January 2009, I returned with two of my friends from college for an overnight trip in the Death Valley backcountry. Backpacking is itself a humbling experience, especially in a desert park like Death Valley, as everything you need for survival in the loneliness of the backcountry must be carried in with you. After our excursion, we did take some time to take in the salt flats in Badwater Basin and enjoy the otherworldly landscape of the lowest point in the United States.
#12) New Year’s Eve at the Lincoln Memorial – December 2007
I’ve previously blogged about my love for the Lincoln Memorial. I’ve actually twice spent New Year’s Eve at the Lincoln Memorial. The first time, in 1999, was for Washington’s commemoration of the turning of the Millenium. That event was nice enough, with the highlight being when they shot fireworks off the scaffolding that was then-surrounding the Washington Monument. The down-side is that it was very much a made-for-TV event. So, when the TV Network went to a commercial break, everything stopped and you were reminded that you were standing in the cold and in the mud, with nothing to do until the commercial break ended. So that event doesn’t make my Top 30.
However, eight years later I returned to the Lincoln Memorial on New Year’s Eve, with my then-fiancee, the future Mrs. Parkasaurus. Many people may not realize, but Washington actually does not normally have an outdoor New Year’s Eve event. So on December 31st, 2007 it almost felt like my fiancee had the illuminated Memorials on the National Mall to ourselves. As we climbed the steps of the Lincoln Memorial just before midnight, we shared that special moment transitioning from one year to the next with just the security guard and two other couples who had similar ideas. It was a fantastic New Year’s Eve like no other.
#11) The 150th Anniversary of the Civil War at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park – September 2012
For the past four years, the National Park Service has put on a number of events marking the Civil War Sesquicentennial. Although as a family with two young children, we have attended fewer of these events than I might otherwise have liked, we definitely made it a special point to go to some of the events marking the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Harper’s Ferry, given our special connection to this Park. We’re glad that we did.
On the night of September 12, 2012 costumed interpreters from the National Park Service helped recreate several scenes from the night of September 12, 1862. That was the night that Union troops, recognizing that their position was indefensible, abandoned the town of Harpers Ferry to be captured by the Confederates the next day. Visitors were led by lantern light to various locations around the historic downtown where the costumed interpreters using material from actual letters and diary entries from 1862 really helped recreate some of the thoughts and emotions that various townspeople in Harpers Ferry must have been feeling on that night – both those who would be leaving, as well as those who would be left behind. Quite simply it was not a night that I will not soon forget.
I hope you enjoyed Part II of my 30 for 300 retrospective.