Tag Archives: Fort Pulaski

May 2018 – Gateway Arch, Mississippi Hills, Silos & Smokestacks and More!

This month you can find your park and find a new cancellation at Prince William Forest Park in Virginia. Photo from 2018.

Fort Pulaski National Monument |

  • Gullah-Geechee
  • Underground RR Freedom Network

Gateway Arch National Park | St. Louis, MO

Prince William Forest Park | Washington-Rochambeau NHT

Crossroads of the Revolution National Heritage Area |

  • Abraham Staats House c. 1740 SBB, NJ
  • Battle of Bound Brook Reenactment

Ilinois & Michigan Canal National Heritage Area |

  • Chicago, IL
  • Lockport, IL

Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area |

  • Elvis Presley Birthplace & Museum
  • Historic DeSoto County Courthouse
  • Historic Lafayette County Courthouse
  • Ida B. Wells Barnett Museum
  • L.Q.C. Lamar House Museum
  • Rust College
  • Tennessee Williams Home
  • Tupelo Hardware Store
  • Union County Heritage Museum
  • University of Mississippi Lyceum
  • William Faulkner’s Rowan Oak
  • (Stephen D.) Lee Home Museum

Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area |

  • African American Museum of Iowa
  • Calkins Nature Area
  • Center Grove Orchard
  • Hardin County Farm Museum
  • Hartman Reserve
  • Hurstville Interpretive Center
  • Ice  House Museum
  • Jasper County Historical Museum
  • Maier Rural Heritage Center
  • Mathias Ham House
  • Motor Mill
  • National Farm Toy Museum
  • Sawmill Museum
  • Waterloo, IA
  • U of I Natural History Museum
  • Wapsipinicon Mill
The new name for Gateway National Park highlights this month’s cancellations. Photo from 2005.

Headlining this month’s new stamps is a new stamp for the recently-designated Gateway Arch National Park.   The famous St. Louis Arch had previous been in the National Park System under the name of the “Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. ” St. Louis is located at the confluence of the Missouri River with the Mississippi River, and so served as the “gateway to the west” from the time of Thomas Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase onward, including to the completion of the arch in 1967.  The name “Jefferson National Expansion Memorial” was always one of the most-awkward names in the National Park System, and referenced the role of Thomas Jefferson in arranging for the Louisiana Purchase that brought much of the lands west of the Mississippi River into the United States.  Few people probably ever heard that name, outside of National Park junkies and those with a real attention to detail.  The new name of Gateway Arch National Park will certainly roll of the tongue much more easily, and will no doubt increase the visibility of the site itself, as well as increase the visibility of the fact that it is part of the National Park System.

Some purists have objected that the title of “national park” aught to be reserved for natural landscapes managed by the National Park Service.  However, this name is such a clear improvement over the old name, I find it hard to support that objection.  Many years ago, when I embarked on my first cross-country road trip to report for an assignment with the National Park Service in Colorado, the one detour that I made time for on my trip was a stop at the Gateway Arch.  It is truly one of the most recognizable landmarks in all of the National Park System, so why not go ahead and call it Gateway  Arch National Park?   In fact, I’d even argue for using it as a precedent for increasing the visibility of another iconic landmark in the National Park System.  How about combining Statue of Liberty National Monument and Castle Clinton National Monument into a new Liberty National Park?   The Statue of Liberty National Monument includes not just the iconic statute on Liberty Island, but also the Ellis Island Immigration Museum.  Castle Clinton is an early 19th-century fortification located in Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan.  It was used as an immigration processing facility in the decades before Ellis Island opens, and nowadays serves as one of the main ferry departure points for visitors to Liberty Island and Ellis Island.  Its a radical proposal,  but for Parkasaurus, Liberty National Park certainly has a nice ring to it.  So here’s a hearty welcome to Gateway Arch National Park to the list of national parks, and here’s hoping that it even inspires more.

The exterior wall of Fort Pualski National Monument still shows the scars from bombardment by Union forces during the Civil War. The center section was rebuilt after new rifled cannons demonstrated that the brick walls were now obsolete. Photo form 2014.

Fort Pulaski National Monument is located near Savannah, Georgia and was the site of major bombardment in the Civil War.  The successful seige of the Fort heralded the end of the era of masonry coastal fortifications, which were now obsolete against rifled artillery.  The two cancellations this month are updates to existing cancellations reflecting Fort Pulaski’s participation in the Underground Railroad: Network to Freedom Partnership Program and in the Gullah-Geechee National Heritage Area.  Once Fort Pulaski was captured by Union forces in April 1862, they emancipated the slaves there, and the area became a magnet for slaves escaping from the surrounding areas and seeking freedom.  The Park also interprets the history of the free people of African ancestry who developed the unique Gullah culture in the coastal lowlands of Georgia and South Carolina.

Prince William Forest has a new cancellation for when George Washington passed through the area on his way to Yorktown. It also commemorates some much older history, like this petrified log. Photo from 2014.

Prince William Forest Park is located just outside the famed Quantico Marine Corps Base along Interstate 95 in Virginia.  The new cancellation commemorates the route taken by George Washington and French General Jean-Baptiste Rochambeau on their way from New England to the final battle at Yorktown in 1781 during the closing days of the Revolutionary War.

The new stamps for the Crossroads of the Revolution National Heritage Area supplement the additions for Union County that were featured in October 2017.  The Abraham Staats House is a historic home dating to circa 1740 in South Bound Brook, New Jersey.  The Battle of Bound Brook was a Revolutionary War engagement that occurred in 1777.  The reenactment occurs in April each year.

For the Illinois and Michigan Canal National Heritage Area the two new stamps this month, are actually reissues of earlier cancellations.  The stamp for Chicago, Illinois was previously at the Chicago Historical Society Museum, but they ended their participation in the Passport Program back in 2006.  The new stamp reading “Chicago, IL” will be located at the McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum.  The old stamp for Lockport, Illinois was located in the historic Gaylord Building. but which now has a stamp reading “Gaylord Building.”  The new Lockport, Illinois stamp is located at the Will County Historical Museum.

The home where Elvis Presley was born in Tupleo, Mississippi is among the highlights from this month’s expansion of the Passport Program in the Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area. Photo Credit: By Ken Lund, Las Vegas, Nevada [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area in northeast Mississippi has doubled its total number of cancellations this month from 12 to 24.  The headliners are the Elvis Presley Birthplace Museum in the city of Tupelo and the Tennessee Williams Home in the city of Columbus.   “The King” of rock’n’roll needs no introduction.  Tennessee Williams is the famed playwright who wrote A Streetcar Named Desire, Orpheus Descending, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.  His home is now a visitor welcome center in Columbus, and this stamp likely replaces an existing stamp simply reading “Columbus, MS.”  Back in Tupelo there is also the Tupelo Hardware Store, where Gladys Presley famously bought her son, Elvis, his first guitar.  Additionally, also  located in Columbus is the home of former Civil War General Stephen D. Lee, which now houses a museum of Civil War artifacts that is primarily open by appointment, with limited regular hours.

The University of Mississippi is located in Oxford, Mississippi.  The Lyceum is the oldest building remaining on campus and remains the primary administration building; it is named for the garden in Athens where Aristotle taught philosophy.  Rowan Oak is located adjacent to the University of Mississippi campus, and was the home of William Faulkner for 40 years.  In addition to winning two Pulitzer Prizes, Faulker is one of just 16 Americans to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.  He is also, I believe, only the second of those 16 Americans to be associated with a site with a Passport cancellation, the other being the Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site in the East Bay Area of California, which is a full-fledged unit of the National Park System.

The L.Q.C. Lamar House is also located in Oxford.  Lamar was a Congressman from Mississippi both before the Civil War and then again after Reconstruction ended in 1873.  He actually drafted Mississippi’s secession documents, and then went on to become an Ambassador for the Confederate States of America.  After his return to Congress, went on to become a Senator, a Secretary of the Interior under President Grover Cleveland, and then a Supreme Court Justice (nominated by Cleveland.)   The town of Oxford also includes the Historic Lafayette County Courthouse.

Ida B. Wells is perhaps somewhat less famous that the above cultural figures, but no less remarkable.  Born in Mississippi in the middle of the Civil War, she would lose both her parents to disease at the age of 16.  Nevertheless, she went on to become a journalist as an African-American woman, with a particular focus on documenting lynchings in the South.  She was also a civil rights activist.  Some 70 years before Rosa Parks, she refused to give up her seat in a segregated train car, only to be forcibly removed.  The year before, the U.S. Supreme Court had overturned the 1875 Civil Rights Act banning discrimination in public accommodations as unconstitutional. That decision that would take nearly 80 years to fully overturn, with passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1864.  The Ida B. Wells-Barnett Museum is open by appointment only in her hometown of Holly Springs, Mississippi.  Rust College is also located in Holly Springs, and is the historically black college where Ms. Wells earned her bachelor’s degree.

Finally, the new additions this month also include the Union County Heritage Museum in the town of New Albany.   The Historic DeSoto County Courthouse in Hernando includes a number of murals depicting the explorations of Hernando DeSoto.  The famed explorer Hernando De Soto arrived near present-day Bradenton, Florida in 1539 where there is a National Memorial as a full-fledged Unit of the National Park System dedicated to him.  DeSoto explored all the way to the Mississippi River before he died in either present-day Louisiana or Arkansas in 1542.  This stamp joins a previous stamp for the Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area simply reading “DeSoto County,” as well as a stamp in the same location for the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area – a relatively rare example of two National Heritage Areas overlapping with each other.

The Wapsipinicon Mill in the town of Independence, Iowa is among the highlights of the expanded Passport Program for the Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area. Photo Credit: By Erich Fabricius [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The new stamps for the Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area take this partnership program in northeastern Iowa from 18 available cancellations to 32 available cancellations.   The African American Museum of Iowa can be found in the city of Cedar Rapids, and joins cancellations for five other museums there, including the Indian Creek Nature Center, the National Czech & Slovak Museum, the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, and the Grant Wood Studio.  Grant Wood is famously the artist behind the painting American Gothic, which is among the many Grant Wood pieces exhibited at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art.

The Calkins Nature Area is a county nature preserve located about an hour west of the city of Waterloo.   Close by the Calkins Nature Area is the Hardin County Farm Museum, whose website delightfully describes its location as “1 mile north of the stoplight in Eldora.”  The stamp for the Hartman Reserve is a replacement for an existing stamp at a Nature Center just outside Waterloo in Cedar Falls.  The Ice House Museum is also located in Cedar Falls, and tells the story of ice harvesting from the Cedar River.  Downtown Waterloo has a stamp for the Grout Museum District, which includes two historic homes, a science center, a natural history museum, and a museum dedicated to the Sullivan Brothers.  The Sullivan Brothers died while serving together in World War II, sparking a policy change that led to the events portrayed in the movie Saving Private Ryan.   The new stamp reading Waterloo, IA is expected to be kept at the Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area Headquarters in downtown Waterloo.

East of Waterloo can be found the Wapsipinicon Mill in the town of Independence, Iowa. The mill is run by the Buchanan County Historical Society and is an impressive six story structure.

Center Grove Orchard is a family fun farm in Cambridge, Iowa, about a half hour’s drive north of the State Capital in Des Moines. This stamp joins an existing one for Living History Farms in Urbandale, Iowa just outside of Des Moines to the west. Living History Farms includes the re-created frontier town of Walnut Hill, and three re-created frontier farms from 1700 (American Indian), 1850 (Pioneer Era), and 1900 (Horse-Powered.)   The Museum of the Jasper County Historical Society  is located about a half hour’s drive east of Des Moines in Newton, Iowa.   In Des Moines itself is the existing stamp for the Iowa State History Museum.

The Hurstville Interpretive Center is the Nature Center for Jackson County, about mid-way between Dubuque and Davenport in the eastern end of the state.  The House of Mathias Ham is a historic 19th century mansion on the north side of Dubuque.  In downtown Dubuque is an existing stamp for the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium.  On the south side of Dubuque is an existing stamp for the Mines of Spain State Recreation Area.  This natural area is notable for its monument to Julien Dubuque, who settled this area in the late 1700’s under the authority of the Spanish Governor in New Orleans, back when the Mississippi River Basin was a Spanish colony.

The Maier Rural Heritage Center is a museum to rural farm life in the town of Elkader in northern Iowa.   Also in Elkader is the Motor Mill, a 19th century flour mill that is now a historic site. There are four other existing cancellations across norther Iowa, including the Gilbertson Park Nature Center in Elgin, Iowa.   The Fossil and Prairie Center in remote Rockford, Iowa allows amateur fossil hunting among their collection of 365 million year old marine fossils from the Devonian Period.  The Iowa Dairy Center is an educational dairy farm operated by Northeast Iowa Community College in the town of Calmar, Iowa.  Finally, the Vesterhein Norwegian-American Museum can be found in the town of Decorah, Iowa.

West of Dubuque is the town of Dyersville, where you can find the National Farm Toy Museum.  Dyersville is also, of course, famously the home of the Field of Dreams movie site, from the famous Kevin Costner movie.  Alas, the Field of Dreams movie site is not yet an official Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area partner, so there’s no passport cancellation there – but Parkasaurus certainly thinks that we almost need to find a way to make that happen!

The Sawmill Museum is located a bit more than hour’s drive south of Dubuque, along the Mississippi River in Clinton, Iowa.  This museum tells the story of Iowa’s timber industry – an industry we don’t often associate with Iowa in the present day.   South of Clinton is an existing stamp for The Putnam Museum of science and history in Davenport, Iowa.   Just west of Davenport in Iowa City is the University of Iowa Natural History Museum.  Between Iowa City and Cedar Rapids is the existing stamp for the Amana Heritage Museum, in the town of Amana, Iowa.  The Amana were a Protestant Religious Sect founded in Europe, but which came to America in the 19th Century seeking religious freedom.

Andrew Johnson’s Tailor Shop is preserved inside the National Historic Site Visitor Center. Photo from 2013.

Finally, there was one stamp removed from the list this month.

Andrew Johnson National Historic Site | Tailor Shop

The Andrew Johnson National Historic Site in eastern Tennessee preserves Andrew Johnson’s tailor shop inside the visitor center itself.  There was really no need for it to have a separate cancellation, when it was located inside the visitor center itself, and so the National Park Service has apparently decided to discontinue it.

 

Final Shot: The Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa doesn’t have a cancellation for the Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area…. yet – but it really aught to, right? Photo Credit: By IowaPolitics.com [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

 

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September New Stamps: Devils Hole, Ice Age Floods, and More!

 

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Fort Pulaski National Monument, near Savannah, Georgia, is one of the many parks with a new passport stamp this month.

 

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.

Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area | Charit Creek Lodge

Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park |

  • Ashton, RI
  • Pawtucket, RI
  • 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.

The Funeral for 13,000 program at Andersonville National Historic Site will commemorate the Civil War dead who are buried there.
The Funeral for 13,000 program at Andersonville National Historic Site will commemorate the Civil War dead who are buried there.

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.

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The St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam are part of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area in Minneapolis, Minnesota and are commemorated in a new passport stamp this month.

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

Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area |

  • Corinth, MS
  • Tishomingo County
  • New Albany, MS
  • Holly Springs, MS
  • DeSoto County
  • Oxford, MS
  • Starkville, MS
  • Columbus, MS

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
  • Piscataway Park
  • Smallwood State Park, MD
  • Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum
  • Historic St. Mary’s City, MD
  • Point Lookout State Park, MD
  • Deltaville, VA
  • Urbanna, VA
  • Richmond, VA
  • Onacock, VA

Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail |

  • Montana Natural History Center
  • National Bison Range
  • Fort Spokane
  • Dry Falls State Park
  • Columbia Gorge Discovery Center
  • Multnomah Falls
  • Vista House

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.

The Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail may bring travelers to discover the landscapes of eastern Washington. Photo from 2004.
The Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail may bring travelers to discover the landscapes of eastern Washington. Photo from 2004.

 

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 

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Digging Deeper into Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park

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The Great Falls of the Passaic River in Paterson, New Jersey are one of the newest units of the National Park System.

In the relatively few posts that I have made for this blog so far, readers may have noticed that I love new national parks.   A visit to a new national park is much different from a visit to an older national park, as it really takes a good 10 years for most of the trappings we come to expect out of a national park visit to be established.  That means the significance of visiting one of these new places may not always immediately jump out to you on your visit, and it may instead require a bit more digging to find the things that make the place one of the 400-or-so most-important places in the United States.

A few weeks ago, I had an opportunity to visit Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park in the outer New York City suburb of Paterson, New Jersey.  Congress authorized establishment of this park in March 2009, and after more than a year and a half of negotiations on land acquisition, it finally came into being as the 397th national park in November 2011.

This hydroelectric plant was built in the early 20th century by the Society for the establishment of Useful Manufacturers (S.U.M.), a company that was originally founded by Alexander Hamilton.
This hydroelectric plant was built in the early 20th century by the Society for the establishment of Useful Manufacturers (S.U.M.), a company that was originally founded by Alexander Hamilton.

Now its worth noting that many advocates for the National Park System rolled their eyes when Paterson Great Falls NHP was established.   On one hand, it was pretty clear that the intent to use national park tourism as an engine for economic development was pretty clearly a driving force behind the effort.  Ever since Lowell National Historical Park successfully turned the old cotton mills in the Boston-area outer suburb of Lowell, Massachusetts into not just a national park, but a successful tourist attraction, many other declining factory towns throughout the northeastern United States have dreamed of duplicating the success.  Those dreams were pretty clearly part of the equation here.

For example, when reading about the importance of the new national park, the starting point is usually the Great Falls of the Passaic River themselves.   As you can see from the above photos, the falls are kind of nice, and perhaps a bit unusual in being located in such an urban setting, but are not quite at the level of becoming a natural wonder of the world of anything like that.

After the falls for themselves, descriptions of this park’s importance always include the role of Alexander Hamilton in this area.   As Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton was concerned with establishing the economic independence of the fledgling United States, and in particlar, of reducing the reliance of the States on imported manufactured goods.  At that time, the United States were primarily exporting raw crops and natural resources back to Europe, and were importing almost all of its manufactured goods.   To that end, Hamilton established the Society for the establishment of Useful Manufactures, and selected the Great Falls of the Passaic River as the source of hydro-power that would underpin the manufacturing efforts.  The new town would be named after the then-governor of New Jersey, William Paterson, who would actually go on to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.   The designer of the new capitol city of Washington, DC, Pierre Charles L’Enfant, would even make a cameo appearance here – designing a series of canal raceways to carry the hydro-power of the falls to the mills located throughout the town.   The ruins of these old raceways are still visible in the town today.

Still, with all that being said, the history here still had a bit of an “Alexander Hamilton slept here” feel to it.   After all, there is already a national park devoted to the life of Alexander Hamilton at his former estate, the Hamilton Grange National Memorial,  located in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood.  Additionally, despite Alexander Hamilton’s role in founding S.U.M., its not particularly clear, or at least was not from my visit, whether the manufacturing techniques developed in Paterson, New Jersey really had a larger effect on the Industrial Revolution throughout the United States as a whole.   For example, the recently-established Blackstone River Valley NHP (see Parkasaurus post here) includes the Old Slater Mill in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.  The Slater Mill was founded in 1793, just two years after S.U.M., and is credited with being the “birthplace of the Industrial Revolution in the United States.”

Its possible that this slogan simply reflects better marketing by the Old Slater Mill, but it seems that there is a decent argument that the development of factories in Pawtucket had a greater impact on the United States as a whole than-did the efforts of S.U.M. in Paterson.   On the other hand, it iss still early days at this new national park in Paterson, so it will be interesting to watch how that story is told in the years to come.

The Paterson Museum tells the story of Paterson's history, including the historical significance of this locomotive, located in front of the museum
The Paterson Museum tells the story of Paterson’s history, including the historical significance of this locomotive, located in front of the museum.

In order to dig deeper into the history of this place, however, the Paterson Museum, located in an old factory, is a must-stop location at this park.   Inside the Museum, there are a few exhibits on the history of Paterson, from the first American Indians all the way to the middle 20th Century.   There are some interesting historical footnotes about Paterson, including the fact that the engine of Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis was manufactured here, as were the first modern submarines.   Perhaps the most interesting footnote to me, however, was the information on the heavy-duty locomotives that were manufactured in Paterson.  This includes Engine 299, which is now located outside the museum, and which represents the heavy-duty locomotives that were used in the construction of the Panama Canal.

The construction of the Panama Canal is truly one of the great achievements in U.S. history, one that changed the course of history.  Although the Suez Canal was completed in 1869 at a length of around 120-or-so miles, the difficult terrain and climate in the Isthmus of Panama thwarted canal-building attempts for decades, despite being less than 50 miles in length.  Over the course of multiple attempts by first the French and then by the United States, tens of thousands of people would die in the construction, until finally the current canal was completed in 1914.  According to the Paterson Museum, the heavy locomotives built in Paterson were instrumental in the ultimate success of that effort.

Since the Canal Zone was returned to Panama in 1999, there are obviously no prospects of a U.S. national park located at the site of the canal itself.   Thus, if Paterson Great Falls NHP were to  become an unofficial “Panama Canal National Historical Park” in its development, and telling the broader story of the construction of Panama Canal, then that would certainly cement this park’s historical importance as of the nation’s 400-or-so most important places in the U.S. National Park System.

Hinclife Stadium was added to Paterson Great Falls NHP in December 2014, making it the first historic place related to professional sports in the U.S. National Park System.
Hinchlife Stadium was added to Paterson Great Falls NHP in December 2014, making it the first historic place related to professional sports in the U.S. National Park System.

Finally, there is one last historic story to mention at Paterson Great Falls NHP.  The Defense Authorization Act of 2015, in addition to creating a number of new national parks, it also expanded the boundaries of several others, including Paterson Great Falls NHP.   In this case, the boundaries of Paterson Great Falls NHP were expanded to include Hinchliffe Stadium, which is notable for the fact that it once played host to a significantnumber of Negro League Baseball games.

It will be interesting to see what the National Park Service is ultimately able to do with this property in terms of restoration and historical interpretation.   Professional sports have not really been a theme that the National Park Service has much experience in interpreting – except for maybe the occasional mention of a U.S. President being a sports fan at the National Historic Site devoted to that President.   Other than that, baseball gets a brief mention at Fort Pulaski National Monument – primarily because there is this photograph from 1862 (in the middle of the Civil War!), which is one of the earliest known photographs of a baseball game.   Of course, Negro League baseball is an important historical theme not just for the accomplishments of African-American ball-players on the field, but because of the imporThis addition will likely make Paterson Great Falls NHP an entry-point for telling the story of the 20th Century struggle for civil rights in the North.   In this case, it will compliment the stories already being told at several other national parks, but which are primarily located in Washington, DC and in states to the south.

If you go to visit Paterson Great Falls NHP, you may want to strongly consider downloading the Mill Mile App, which is available on both Itunes and Google Play.  The App will give you everything you need to plan your visit, and most importantly, an audio walking tour of the area.  The first half of the walking tour is even narrated by famous New Jerseyian Brian Williams – which I guess was more of a big deal just a few weeks ago than it is right now.  There is also one Passport stamp for the park, not surprisingly for “Paterson, NJ”, and its available at three locations, including the Paterson Museum and the NPS Offices.

Overall, these remain early days for the development of Paterson Great Falls NHP.  Digging deeper into this park, however, its easy to see the potential for this place to tell a number of important historical stories.

A detail from the outside of Hinchliffe Stadium.
A detail from the outside of Hinchliffe Stadium.

 

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