Tag Archives: Ellis Island

April 2018 – Alexander Majors & More

The Alexander Majors House on the southside of Kansas City highlight’s this month’s cancellations. Photo Credit: JERRYE & ROY KLOTZ MD [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons
Statue of Liberty National Monument | Ellis Island Immigration Station

California National Historic Trail | Alexander Majors House, MO

Oregon National Historic Trail | Alexander Majors House, MO

Pony Express National Historic Trail | Alexander Majors House, MO

Old Spanish National Historic Trail |

  • Moab Field Office, UT
  • Fish Lake Lodge, UT
Portrait of Alexander Majors and the Alexander Majors House. Photo from 2016.

The highlight of this month’s listings are three new stamps for the Alexander Majors House, just south of Kansas City.  This site previously had a stamp for the Santa Fe National Historic Trail, and now adds stamps for three others.  The Oregon and  California National Historic Trails all follow the same route as the Santa Fe Trail from the city of Independence just east of Kansas City, around the southern end of the city, and into the Great Plains. The city of Independence owes its origins to being the westernmost point on the Missouri River accessible by steamships. The nearby city of Kansas City would later overtake it, first due to its position at the confluence of the Kansas and Missouri Rivers, and later due to the locating of a major railroad bridge across the Missouri River at Kansas City.  The stories of Independence and Kansas City remind a bit of the stories of St. Paul and Minneapolis in Minnesota.  St. Paul is the northernmost navigable point on the Mississippi River, and so was a major shipping center.  Minneapolis, however, is located on St. Anthony Falls, which powered the milling industry.

The addition of the Pony Express National Historic Trail cancellation is a bit more interesting than the first two trails, as the Pony Express trail begins more than 60 miles to the north in the city of St. Joseph, Missouri. The explanation for this stamp being located an hour’s drive away from the trail that it commemorates is explained by Alexander Majors himself – as he was one of three Kansas City businessmen who founded the Pony Express.  Majors made his initial fortune hauling freight on the Santa Fe Trail and proposed the Pony Express to more than halve the then-25 day time for mail deliveries to California by conestoga wagon along the southerly Butterfield Overland Mail Route.  The Pony Express would follow a new northerly route through Salt Lake City to Sacramento and San Francisco, and of course, make innovative use of relay teams of ponies.  Unfortunately for Majors, within just a couple years, the development telegraph and the railroad spelled the doom not only of the Pony Express, but of Majors’ Santa Fe Trail operations as well.  Majors ultimately died penniless – but not before helping launch the career of Buffalo Bill Cody, an assistant on his Santa Fe Trail operations who went on to become one of his most famous Pony Express riders

Alexander Majors’ House is now preserved as a historic site on the southern side of Kansas City and is run by a non-profit foundation that also operates the John Wornall House from the same era.

An outdoor sculpture of the Santa Fe Trail, located very near the Alexander Majors House in Kansas City. Photo from 2016.

The first of the two new stamps for the Old Spanish National Historic Trail is for the Bureau of Land Management Field Office in the town of Moab, Utah, which is the gateway to both Arches and Canyonlands National Park.  The other is for the Fish Lake Resorts located in the namesake National Forest near the town of Richfield in central Utah.

Finally, the Statue of Liberty National Monument has updated its cancellation for the historic Ellis Island Immigration Station.  The majestic statue itself is, of course, the symbol of America’s welcome to overseas immigrants.  The old Ellis Island Immigration Station is also part of this national park, and now hosts the fantastic Ellis Island Immigration Museum, which tells the story of all US immigrant people, but primarily those who arrived through the Ellis Island Immigration Station in the early 20th Century.

Final Shot: The Statue of Liberty, namesake of Statue of LIberty National Monument, which includes Ellis Island.

 

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November Stamps: 1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi….

Davis Bayou-001
Davis Bayou in Gulf Islands National Seashore is one of 19 new Passport locations in Mississippi this month.  Photo credit: NPS.gov.

 

Eastern National has released its list of new stamps for the month of November, and its a big month for the State of Mississippi.

For starters, the Gulf Islands National Seashore has two new stamps:

  • one for Opal Beach in Florida, and
  • one ofr Davis Bayou in Mississippi.

These two additions give the park a total of 10 stamps available to collect.

The Gulf Islands National Seashore is primarily known for pristine white sand beaches on coastal barrier islands in the Florida Panhandle and coastal Mississippi.  (Interestingly, the park does not include any lands in Alabama in between the two.)   Opal Beach is one of those gorgeouse stretches of white sand, on the eastern end of Santa Rosa Island, just outside of Pensacola, Florida.

In addition to the beaches, however, Gulf Islands National Seashore also preserves some of the natural coastal habitat on the mainland.   Davis Bayou is one of these areas, located just outside of the park’s secondary visitor center in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

The State of Mississippi also gets a number of new additions as the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area has decided to add  18 new Passport cancellations.  These new cancellations will join the existing stamp for “The Mississippi Delta” available at the Heritage Area Headquarters at Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi.   The new stamps are as follows:

  • Bolivar County
  • Carroll County
  • Coahoma County
  • DeSoto County
  • Holmes County
  • Humphreys County
  • Issaquena County
  • Leflore County
  • Panola County
  • Quitman County
  • Sharkey County
  • Sunflower County
  • Tallahatchie County
  • Tate County
  • Tunica County
  • Warren County
  • Washington County
  • Yazoo County

Based on this list, it seems likely that each of these new stamps will be located at the local County Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center in each of the counties located within the Heritage Area, all in northwest Mississippi.  This is a not-uncommon arrangement for Heritage Areas participating in the Passport Program, as there is a natural desire to spread participation out over all areas included in the Heritage Area’s partnership program.   For what its worth, I’m not particularly a fan of that arrangement.   I would much rather have seen the Heritage Area pick out the dozen-or-so most-significant places in the Mississippi Delta, regardless of county, than distribute them evenly.  For example, a stamp at the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, Mississippi would  be much more meaningful to met than simply making a stamp for Coahoma County at the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center.   Still, these new 18 passport stamps will take passport stamp collectors throughout a part of the country that many of them would probably have been unlikely to visit otherwise – which has always been one of the main points of the program.

The Mississippi Delta NHA is one of three national heritage areas in the state of Mississippi.   The Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area has 20 stamps in the southern part of the stamp, and the Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area has just two stamps (so far) in the northeast part of the state.

Finally, there were two other new major stamps.   One was for the newly-dedicated American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial in Washington, DC, which is part of the catchall National Capital Parks unit of the U.S. National Park System.   The other is a new stamp for Great Smoky Mountains Naitonal Park and Bryson City, NC.   Bryson City is the gateway to the Deep Creek area in the northwest corner of the park.

With these new additions, that now takes us up to 1,939 activie Passport cancellations available.   Slowly closing in on 2,000!

 

 

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More to See at Ellis Island

Ellis Island, as viewed from the ferry to Governor's Island National Monument.
Ellis Island, as viewed from the ferry to Governor’s Island National Monument.

 

Ellis Island, which is operated by the National Park Service as part of Statue of Liberty National Monument, is one of those national park sites that needs almost no introduction.   The site of the immigration inspection station through which millions of new arrivals first came to the United States between 1900 and 1954 is on many peoples’ bucket lists – not just those of national park completists.   Not only has Ellis Island become almost synonymous with America’s European immigration story itself, but the Ellis Island Immigration Musem, run by the non-profit Statue of Liberty – Ellis Island Foundation, is a world-class museum meriting a place on anyone’s New York City itinerary.

Unfortunately, Ellis Island suffered severe damage from Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and was closed for almost exactly a year in the aftermath.   As of this writing, it still has not fully re-opened.

There is good news, however, in that the National Park Service has just announced that the hospital buildings on Ellis Island will be opened to the public for the first time starting October 1, 2014.

This map from the official NPS Brochure shows the location of the hospital buildings on Ellis Island relative to the Main Building, which is now the famous Ellis Island Immigration Museum.
This map from the official NPS Brochure shows the location of the hospital buildings on Ellis Island relative to the Main Building, which is now the famous Ellis Island Immigration Museum.

 

If you want to take in the hospital buildings, however, it will take some planning ahead.   Access is to be limited to just four 90-minute daily tours of 10 persons each.   The ticket price for these tours of $25 will go towards funding additional preservation efforts on Ellis Island.  With only 40 tickets per day, though, I expect that many of them will sell out well in advance.

Still, it will be an interesting situation to monitor.   Also, as an interesting bit of trivia, in 1998 the Supreme Court ruled that since most of Ellis Island sits on landfill on the New Jersey side of the river, the island is technically part of the state of New Jersey.   On the other hand, the hospital buildings that are newly being opened to the public sit on the original, “natural,” Ellis Island, and so are part of the state of New York.

The Statue of Liberty National Monument generally has two Passport cancellations available, one for the Statue of Liberty and one for Ellis Island – although different variations on those cancellations have been found over the years.  For example, stamps reading “Ellis Island,” “Ellis Island National Monument” (which is technically incorrect), and “Ellis Island Immigration Museum” have all been found just within the past year on the island- some may find those differences in the Passport cancellations meaningful, whereas others may not.

In any event, if you’ve already been to Ellis Island, the opening of the hospitals may provide a good reason to make a return visit and experience a new corner of this park.   On the other hand, if you haven’t been yet, the new buildings to explore provide another reason to make the visit and walk in the footsteps of so many who left one life behind to start a new life in a far away land.

Even if you can't land one of the tickets for the tours of the hospital buildings, the Great Hall at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum is still a sight to behold.
Even if you can’t land one of the tickets for the tours of the hospital buildings, the hallways of the Ellis Island Immigration Museum are still a sight to behold.

 

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