Tag Archives: Gateway NRA

March & April Stories Behind the Stamps – New Additions Hit 2,000 Cancellations!

View of Halema‘uma‘u from Jaggar Museum Overlook as darkness falls. The Jaggar Museum is one of several new cancellations. Photo credit: NPS.gov
View of Halema‘uma‘u in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park from the Jaggar Museum Overlook as darkness falls. The Jaggar Museum is one of several new cancellations this month. Photo credit: NPS.gov

I missed posting last month due to some big news.  The Parkasaurus family is now officially at 5 with the birth of our third child!   Mother and baby are doing great – although everyone is working on getting more sleep.  At the suggestion of our now-5-year-old, the Toothy T-Rex, this will be “Baby Brachiosaurus” in future Parksaurus posts.  We’re delighted to have a new addition to our family!

The other big news from last month is that the Passport program is that this month’s additions mean that there are now more than 2,000 active stamps.  Counting the total number of the stamps is partly art and partly science, since whether or not two Passport stamps are “the same” can be in the eye of the beholder.  However, based on the best information we have on which stamps are made regularly available for different locations within the national parks and the National Park Service’s partners, that is the current total.   Congratulations to the Passport program on this milestone!

So with those two announcements out of the way, here’s to a double-dose of “stories behind the stamps” for March and April.

First, the new cancellations for March that took us to 2,000:

Boston African American National Historic Site | African American Trail

Castle Mountains National Monument | Nipton, CA

Gateway National Recreation Area | Jacob Riis Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

      • Jagger Museum
      • Kilauea Visitor Center
      • Panau Coastal Contact Station

Cane River National Heritage Area | Grand Ecore Visitor Center

Underground Railroad Freedom Network | Harriet Tubman UGRR NHP

And here are the new cancellations for April:

Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network | Washington’s Birthplace, VA
Underground Railroad Freedom Network | Washington’s Birthplace, VA

Oregon National Historic Trail | Oregon City, OR

Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area |

      • Iuka, MS
      • Tupelo – Birthplace of Elvis Presley

Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area |

      • Cleveland, TN
      • Grammy Museum of Mississippi
Fullscreen capture 422016 82201 AM-001
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has a spiffy logo for their own centennial this year.

The highlight of this set of new stamps are those for Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, located on the big island of Hawaii.  This park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and world-famous as easily the best place on Earth to witness a volcanic eruption in action.  This year, the park celebrates its centennial, along with the National Park Service as a whole.  The special centennial logo includes both of the park’s main volcanic features, the actively erupting crater of Kilauea is in the center, and the occasionally snow-capped Mauna Loa volcano is in the background.  Also included in the logo are the park’s pristine night sky, the endangered nene goose, a Hawaiian petroglyph, and the flower of the ‘ōhi‘a tree.  This flower is considered sacred to Pele, the native Hawaiian goddess of fire and volcanoes, and whom was believed to live in the Halema‘uma‘u Crater of Kilauea.

Since the beginning of the Passport program in 1986, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has had a single cancellation, labeled as “Hawaii National Park, Hawaii;” available at each of the park’s visitor contact locations.  This label was a perhaps unintentional tribute to the fact that the park was originally established as Hawaii National Park in 1916, and at that time, the park also included what is now known as Haleakala National Park on the island of Maui.  The two parks were separated in 1961.   Now the park will have separate cancellations at each of its main visitor contact points, including the Kilauea Visitor Center and the Jaggar Museum.   The Kilauea Visitor Center is located at the park entrance, very near the rim of Kilauea Crater.  The Thomas A. Jagger museum is devoted to the history of volcanology, or the study of volcanoes.  Located 3 miles from the Kilauea Visitor Center on the Crater Rim Road, it has a spectacular overlook for viewing the ongoing eruption, right on the edge of the crater itself.  The park has a short online tour of the Crater Rim Road for those of us who can’t make it out to Hawaii any time soon!

The Panau Coastal Contact Station is located at the end of the Chain of Craters Road, the park’s 19 mile (one way) tour road into the heart of the park.  It too has a short online tour available. This contact station is a mobile facility, allowing it to be moved out of harms way in response to changing volcanic activity.   A few years ago, it was possible to see a lava flow meeting the ocean at the end of the road, but as of this writing in 2016, there has not been volcanic activity in the area for several years.  Still a trip to the end of the Chain of Craters Road will take you to the Hōlei Sea Arch.  Also near the end of the Chain of Craters Road is the parking area for a short 0.7 miles (one way) trail to the Pu’u Loa petroglyph site with some 23,00 petroglyphs – so the road is still well worth taking on your visit.

Harriet Tubman - Underground Railroad National Historic Park has logically added an Underground Railroad: Network to Freedom Cancellation. Photo from 2014.
Harriet Tubman – Underground Railroad National Historic Park has logically added an Underground Railroad: Network to Freedom Cancellation. Photo from 2014.

Several other stamps were also issued to full-fledged units of the National Park System.  The brand-new Castle Mountains National Monument received its first Passport cancellation, which will, as expected, be located at the various visitor centers for Mojave National Preserve.  The relatively new Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park in Maryland has also very logically received a secondary cancellation for the Underground Railroad: Network to Freedom  partnership program. The Boston African American National Historic Site includes both the NPS-managed Abiel Smith School site, as well as the Black Heritage Trail connecting 14 mostly privately-held historic sites related to free African Americans who lived in Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood.  As of this writing, its not clear why the stamp reads “African-American Heritage Trail” but the NPS website refers to it as the trade-marked “Black Heritage Trail.”

The Gateway National Recreation Area provides urban recreation opportunities in and around New York City.  The Jacob Riis Park, on the south side of Jamaica Bay, is a popular beach destination for New Yorkers in the summer.   This cancellation will be located at the rennovated historic bathhouse in the park.

The Toothy T-Rex is 3.5 years old in this picture, about the age George Washington might have walked these very shores of the Potomac River watching tobacco being ferried out to trading ships. Photo from 2014.
The Toothy T-Rex is 3.5 years old in this picture, about the age George Washington would have been when he would  have walked these very shores of the Potomac River watching tobacco being ferried out to trading ships deeper in the river. Photo from 2014.

Finally, the George Washington Birthplace National Monument in Virginia marks the location of the colonial plantation on Popes Creek where George Washington was born.  There is a reconstruction of a period-appropriate plantation house on the site, but more-recent archaeological work indicates that the Augustine Washington Plantation house would actually have looked much different than the reconstruction.  George Washington would live here until he was four, before moving to Ferry Farm near present-day Fredericksburg, Virginia (which like the Birthplace National Monument is also part of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail.)   Like almost all Virginia plantations of this time period,  Augustine Washington’s Popes Creek plantation would have relied upon slaves, estimated to be about 20-25 slaves in this case.   The replicas of the places where the slaves lived and worked here places this park in the Underground Railroad: Network to Freedom.

Apart from the replica colonial plantation at this site, many visitors may overlook that this park includes a one mile hiking trail through a marsh bordering Popes Creek, as well as a section of beach along the Potomac River.  The Potomac River site is where a young George Washington may have watched tobacco being ferried out to waiting ships in the Potomac River.

The US Army Corps of Engineers' Grand Ecore Visitor Center on the Red River is the newest cancellation location for the Cane River National Heritage Area.
The US Army Corps of Engineers’ Grand Ecore Visitor Center on the Red River is the newest cancellation location for the Cane River National Heritage Area.

Among partnership sites this month, the Cane River National Heritage Area commemorates the unique Creole culture of northwest Louisiana.   The center of the Heritage Area, the town of Natchitoches, has the distinction of being the oldest town in the former Louisiana Purchase, having been founded in 1714, some four years before New Orleans.  It was founded on the banks of the Red River as an outpost for the fur trade with the Spanish in nearby present-day Texas.  The Grand Ecore Visitor Center is a US Army Corps of Engineers facility that interprets the Corps’ management of the Red River, as well as nearby Confederate earthworks from the Civil War. “Ecore” is the French word for “bluffs,” and refers to the bluffs of the Red River on which it is located.

The town of Oregon City, Oregon is located on the southeastern edge of the Portland metro area in Oregon, and is home to the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center.   Why does the Oregon Trail end in Oregon City, you may ask?  The town of Oregon City was founded as a fur trading outpost and a lumber mill at the confluence of the Clackamas and Willamette Rivers.  At the height of travel on the Oregon Trail, Oregon City was the largest town in the area, and in 1844 it became the administrative capital of the newly-formed Oregon Territory.  It would not be until near the end of the 19th Century that Portland, with its deepwater port, would overtake Oregon City in size.  In addition to the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, Oregon City is also home to the McLoughlin House Unit of Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.  John McLoughlin founded Oregon City while he was with the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1829, and he returned to Oregon City to build this house after leaving the Company in 1846.

Tupelo, Mississippi is home to the tiny Tupelo National Battlefield - and also the birthplace of Elvis Presley!
Tupelo, Mississippi is home to the tiny Tupelo National Battlefield – and also the birthplace of Elvis Presley!

The Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area and the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area are located in in northeast and northwest Mississippi, respectively.   The town of Cleveland, MS is in Bolivar County (which has its own Mississippi Delta NHA cancellation) and is home to the Grammy Museum Mississippi.  This extension of the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles opened March 5, 2016.  The town of Iuka, Mississippi, meanwhile, is located in Tishomingo County (which has its own Mississippi Hills NHA cancellation).   According to its Wikipedia Page, spring water from here won first prize at the St. Louis World’s Fair – so there is that.

Tupelo, Mississippi is the center of the Mississippi Hills NHA.  In addition to hosting the flagship Visitor Center for the Natchez Trace Parkway and the tiny Tupelo National Battlefield,  it is also home to the  privately-held Birthplace of Elvis Presley.  There’s no denying Presley’s enormous impact on American popular culture, but given that most historic sites associated with his life are privately held, the inclusion of a site like this through a National Heritage Area is likely the closest the National Park System will come to including a site devoted to “The King.”

With the new cancellations from March and April added in, there are now 2,006 active  cancellations available.  If you exclude the anniversary and special event cancellations, there are still 1,910 active cancellations available.  Always more to explore!

The Holei Sea Arch is one of the attractions at the end of the Chain of Craters Road in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The Panau Coastal Contact Station at the end of the road is one of the new cancellations now available.
The Holei Sea Arch is one of the attractions at the end of the Chain of Craters Road in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The Panau Coastal Contact Station at the end of the road is one of the new cancellations now available.
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January Stamps: Steel, Slavery, and Security

The Gantry Crane is part of the Battle of Homestead self-guiding tour sponsored by the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area. Photo from 2006.

A total of 13 new stamps this month:

Everglades National Park | Nike Missile Site

Lassen Volcanic National Park | 100th Anniversary 1916-2016

Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail | Bitterroot Valley, MT

Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area |

      • Battle of Homestead 1892
      • Bost Building NHL
      • Carrie Furnace NHL
      • W.A. Young & Sons Machine Shop

Underground Railroad Freedom Network |

      • Cape Hatteras NS
      • Christiansted NHS
      • Fort Monroe NM
      • Fort Scott NHS
      • Monocacy NB
      • Petersburg NB’
Aerial view of the Nike Missile Base at Everglades National Park. Photo Credit: Rodney Cammouf, Nataionl Park Service
Aerial view of the Nike Missile Base at Everglades National Park. Photo Credit: Rodney Cammouf, Nataionl Park Service

If you participate in the Passport program long enough, you’ll no doubt have many cases of the “one that got away” – a stamp that you just missed due to the circumstances of the day.   The Parkasaurus Family just had one of those moments as we visited Everglades National Park over Christmas week just last month.  We had hoped that this visit would give us a “complete set” of all four Everglades Passport stamps, only to have Everglades receive this new stamp for their Nike Missile Site, which is open by guided tour.   As we like to say, though, this gives us another reason to go back to this park!

Nike Missiles were early surface-to-air missile defense systems that were deployed during the first part of the Cold War in the 1950’s and early 1960’s.   Nike Missile sites can also be viewed at several locations in Golden Gate National Recreation Area,  including one in the Marin Headlands area with its own Passport cancellation.   Nike Missile Sites are also included within the boundaries of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Gateway National Recreation Area in New York and New Jersey, but are not part of the interpretive program at either park as near as I can tell.  (UPDATE: a reader in the comments informs me that Gateway NRA’s Sandy Hook Unit in New Jersey does offer guided tours of its well-preserved Nike Missile Site on the weekends in-season, as this schedule from Spring 2015 confirms. Gateway NRA has a second Nike Missle Site at Fort Tilden in Queens that is very deteriorated.)

Although the history of the Cold War is slowly being included in the National Park System through places like Minuteman Missile National Historic Site in South Dakota, Eveglades National Park is actually a surprisingly rich location to learn about the history of the Cold War.   Due to its proximity to Cuba, the Nike Missiles stationed in Everglades National Park were some of the last to be decommissioned, remaining active some five years after other sites around the country were taken out of service.  In addition, numerous locations around the Park were used by the Central Intelligence Agency to train Cuban exiles to conduct operations against the Castro Regime in Cuba. These efforts even included the stationing of secret weapons caches for arming Cuban exiles in areas around the park!  In addition to these clandestine offensive operations, during the 1950’s the US Air Force actually trained National Park Service Rangers as part of the Ground Observer Corps  Program, whose role was to have participants capable of identifying incoming hostile bombers attacking the United States.   Although advances in radar technology rendered the program obsolete by the late 1950’s, that program is illustrative of a much different era in U.S. History, one in which Everglades National Park was in many ways located on the United States’ front lines in the Cold War.

Meanwhile, Lassen Volcanic National Park, in northern California, is continuing an extended centennial celebration.  Last year, Lassen Volcanic added a new stamp marking the centennial of the 1915 eruption of Mt. Lassen.   This eruption lead to the creation of Lassen Volcanic National Park the following year on August 9th, just a couple weeks before the creation of the National Park Service itself on August 25, 1916.

 

While traversing the Bitterroot Valley in 1805, Lewis & Clark received confirmation of the Lolo Pass to the north over the Bitterroot Mountains. This photo from the Lochsa River, just beyond the Lolo Pass, illustrates the harsh, mountainous terrain, they would have to cross to reach the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean.
While traversing the Bitterroot Valley in 1805, Lewis & Clark received confirmation of the Lolo Pass to the north over the Bitterroot Mountains. This photo from the Lochsa River, just beyond the Lolo Pass, illustrates the harsh, mountainous terrain, they would have to cross to reach the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean. Photo from 2005

The new stamp for the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail will be located at the Ravalli County Museum in Hamilton, MT, about 30 miles south of Missoula. The Lewis & Clark expedition passed through this area in early September of 1805, the second year of their cross-country expedition. Just before passing through this relatively broad valley, they encountered the Native Americans now known as the Salish.  Lewis & Clark purchased horses from them and gained valuable information about the Lolo Pass to the north, which they would eventually take over the Bitterroot Mountains, just barely making it through before the early onset of winter.  Interestingly, Lewis & Clark were so amazed by the unique sounds of the Salish language that they speculated that the Salish must be the lost descendents of Welsh explorers from the 12th Century – which was a popular legend in America at the time.

It is also worth noting that the Bitterrot Valley actually owes its name somewhat indirectly to Lewis & Clark.  The American Indians of the area would eat the roots of this plant after boiling them until they were soft, and the women would collect these roots in the valley during the late summer each year.  In 1805, they shared some of these roots with the expedition, but Lewis found that “they had a very bitter taste, which was naucious  to my pallate.” (spellings from the original)   Nonetheless, on the return journey back east in 1806 Lewis was able to collect some specimens of the complete plant, which he he returned back east as part of the expedition’s collections.  Botanist Frederick Pursh of the University of Pennsylvania would later give this species the scientific name Lewisia rediviva in Lewis’ honor.   And of course, that initial assessment of the bitter taste lives on to this day in the name of the valley and of the mountains.

This decaying water tower is one of the signature landmarks at the Battle of Homestead site in the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area.. Photo from 2006.

The Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area, like other National Heritage Areas, is a partnership program – but in many ways, it also functions as “Steelmaking National Historical Park” in the absence of a full-fledged national park dedicated to the history of steelmaking in southwest Pennsylvania. The main starting point for any visit to the Heritage Area is the visitor center and headquarters for the River of Steel Heritage Alliance in Homestead, Pennsylvania, just outside of Pittsburgh.  The Bost Building  was originally built as a hotel, and served as the temporary headquarters of the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers during the contentious strike and lockout of 1892.  That strike culminated on July 6, 1892 with a conflict between the striking workers on one side and the security agents and strike-breakers hired by the Carnegie Steel Company on the other side.  The nearby site of that battle is already a Passport location for the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail and features a small visitor contact station, some wayside exhibits, and a cell phone audio tour.   Across the Monongahela River from this site are located the Carrie Furnaces National Historic Landmark.  There lie the remains of the giant blast furnaces at the Homestead Steel Works, and are open only by guided tour from May to October.  The Carrie Furnaces are actually the core of a proposal to create a Homestead Steelworks National Historical Park; you can also see part of this facility in this 13 minute online video tour.

Finally, the last new Passport location is for the W. A. Young and Sons Machine Shop and Foundry, which is located about an hour south of Homestead in Rices Landing, PA, and has been restored by the Rivers of Steel Heritage Alliance.

Appomattox Plantation at City Point in Petersburg National Battlefield once had a number of slaves before it was occupied by the Union Army in the closing stages of the Civil War.  Photo from 2015.

The last stamps this month are for the Underground Railroad: Network to Freedom.  This is partnership that includes any site that tells the story of slavery or emancipation in the United States.  Since this partnership includes more than 500 sites and programs, for purposes of the Passport, the Network only issues cancellations to sites in the Network that are already part of the National Park System proper.  The waterfront at Christiansted National Historic Site in the Virgin Islands was once part of the slave trade from 1733 to 1803 as a colony of Denmark.  Petersburg National Battlefield in Virginia preserves the Appommattox Plantation at City Point, which was later used as General Grant’s Headquarters.  Like most southern plantations, the plantation included a number of slaves, whose stories are now told by the National Park Service.  Similarly, Monocacy National Battlefield includes the Best Farm, which was founded  in 1793 as L’Hermitage by French plantation owners from what is now present-day Haiti.  The  Vincendiere Family owned slaves at the plantation into the 1850’s.

Fort Monroe National Monument in Virginia was amously used as a refuge for escaped slaves during the Civil War as well.  Union General Benjamin Butler argued that if the Confederates wished to argue that slaves were legally property and that they had legally seceeded from the Union, then escaped slaves were legally “contraband of war” and thus no longer needed to be returned under the terms of the Fugitive Slave Act. The story of escape from slavery is now part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.  A monument there marks the site of the Hotel d’Afrique on Hatteras Inlet, which was used as a safe haven for escaped slaves during the Civil War.

Finally, Fort Scott National Historic Site in eastern Kansas tells the story of the “Bleeding Kansas” years of the 1850’s.  During this time, pro-slavery southerners and pro-abolition northerners flooded in to Kansas, and frequently had conflicts with each other, as they attempted to influence whether Kansas would enter the Union as a so-called “slave state” or “free state.”  The violence would include an appearance by John Brown, who would later go on to fame (and his death) in a raid on the Federal Armory at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.   This violence also led to the infamous case of Republican Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts being nearly caned to death by South Carolina Congressman Preston Brooks after Sumner gave a speech sharply criticizing the role of one of South Carolina’s Senators in instigating the violence in Kansas.  The violence ultimately came to an end only when southern Senators abandoned the US Senate during the Civil War, allowing Kansas to be admitted to the Union as a “free state” in 1861.

The addition of this month’s new stamps means that there are now 1, 997 Passport cancellations currently available.   That means next month we will almost certainly pass 2,000!    Excluding anniversary and special event cancellations, there are still 1,897 cancellations available.

Fort Scott National Historic Site
Fort Scott National Historic Site in Kansas is one of several new sites adding an Underground Railroad: Network to Freedom Passport stamp this month. Photo from 2006.

 

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October New Stamps: Acadia, Yellowstone, and Hudson River

The brand-new Schoodic Woods campground at Acadia National Park will let you wake up close to spectacular scenery like this in the Schoodic Peninsula area of the park.
The brand-new Schoodic Woods campground at Acadia National Park will let you wake up close to spectacular scenery like this in the Schoodic Peninsula area of the park.

Compared to previous months, the list of new stamps this month is much shorter:

Acadia National Park | Schoodic Woods

Yellowstone National Park | Tower Falls Area

Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area |

  • Jacob Blauvelt House
  • Rosen House at Caramoor
  • Senate House & Museum
  • Albany Institute of History & Art

Acadia National Park is somewhat unusual in offering place-specific Passport cancellations for each of the campgrounds within the park.  In fact,  based on my research only around a half-dozen parks can really be described as offering place-specific campground stamps.  Of those, only two others are truly systematic, as Acadia is, in having a place-specific stamp for each campground in the park: Joshua Tree National Park in California and Gateway National Recreation Area in and around New York City.

To me at least, this makes sense.  Although campgrounds, out of necessity almost always have a Ranger Station in some form or another where a Passport stamp could be located – creating place-specific stamps for campgrounds raises the philosophical question of whether its ethical to collect a passport stamp for a campground without actually spending the night there.   On one hand, that would seem to make sense.  On the other hand, on many trips it would be logistically impractical to spend a night at each campground that has a stamp – particularly if the campground itself does not represent a distinct portion of the park to explore, even without an overnight stay.

In this case, though, since Acadia National Park already had stamps for its Blackwoods Campground, located just south of the tourist destination of Bar Harbor, and also for its Seawall Campground, located on the less-visited western half of Mount Desert Island, it only made sense to order a stamp for its brand-new Schoodic Woods campground.   The Schoodic Woods campground just opened in September 2015,  The Schoodic Peninsula, located to the east across Frenchman’s Bay from Mount Desert Island, was originally added to the boundaries of Acadia National Park to help preserve the natural beauty and scenic views from Mount Desert Island.  On the Peninsula, the U.S. Navy continued to operate a small base until 2002, when it was turned over to the National Park Service and has now become an environmental educational center.  The addition of the Schoodic Woods campground will provide another place for visitors to stay while enjoying one of the quietest and least-crowded places in the park.

At Yellowstone National Park the new stamp for the Tower Falls Area is also a very logical addition.   This stamp will presumably be located at the Tower-Roosevelt Ranger Station at the northeast corner of the park’s Great Loop Road.  For at least two decades, this Ranger Station has been the only one of the park’s major ranger stations to not have its own passport stamp.  So this addition now completes the set of a total of 15 passport locations located throughout Yellowstone National Park.

Finally, each of the four official listings for Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area this month represent replacements for existing stamps in the passport program.  For example, the Jacob Blauvelt House is the location of the Rockland County Historical Society, and presumably replaces that stamp.  With 71 passport locations, the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area stands far and away above any other National Park Service designation with easily more passport stamps than any other.

With this month’s additions, there are now 1,973 active passport stamps, or 1,875 excluding stamps for special programs and events.

Tower Falls in Yellowstone National Park highlights this month's stamp additions. Photo Credit: Jim Peaco, National Park Service, August 2004
Tower Falls in Yellowstone National Park highlights this month’s stamp additions.
Photo Credit: Jim Peaco, National Park Service, August 2004
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May Stamps – Lots More to Choose From

Eastern National has released its list of new cancellations for the month of May, and the list is quite a doozy!   A total of 25 new stamps are listed, although many of them are replacements for already-existant stamps.  Let’s take a look….

The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is marking its 50th Anniversary in 2015.
The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is marking its 50th Anniversary in 2015.  Photo from 2012.

Anniversary Stamps

  • Sequoia National Park | 125th Anniversary 1890 – 2015
  • Kings Canyon National Park | 75th Anniversary 1940 – 2015
  • Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area | 50th Anniversary 1965-2015

Its starting to look like Parks Passsport enthusiasts may well remember 2015 as being the “Year of the Anniversary Stamps.”   At least one new anniversary stamp has been issued each month in 2015, and the trend shows no sign of letting up.  I’m still not sure that it makes sense to be making Passport Stamps with adjustable dates that are good for seven years with a single year permanently etched in the bottom text of the circle, but they seem to be popular for the moment!

Its interesting to note the Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park share more than just a a new Passport stamp this month.   The two parks share a common superintendent, have a single joint brochure for both of them, and even share the same website (just click the links if you don’t believe me!)   In fact, it sometimes appears that the only think keeping Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park from being listed as a single Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park that counts twice is the force of tradition.   Still, until these stamps were issued, I’m not sure if I had ever realized that these two national parks were created 50 years apart, almost to the day.  Sequoia National Park was established on September 25, 1890 and Kings Canyon National Park was established fifty years and six days later on October 1,  1940.   If you are in to anniversary celebrations, it sounds like a trip to Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks the last week of September could be a lot of fun!

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area wouldn’t come along until 1965, and so celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Delaware Water Gap NRA preserves a particularly beautiful section of the Delaware River as it flows past the Pocono Mountains on the border between Pennsylvania and New Jersey.   The “water gap” refers to the southern end of this park where the river literally cuts through one of the mountains, creating a “gap” in the mountain.  Today, this park is within an easy day’s drive of both the Philadelphia and New York metropolitan areas, making it a great place for residents of those urban areas to get out into the parks.

 

landscape-dig
Of the four new national parks established in December 2014, Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument outside of Las Vegas, NV is the second to get its own Passport stamp.  Photo credit: National Park Service

 Stamps for New National Parks

  • Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument | Nevada
  • Pullman National Monument
    • Historic Pullman Foundation
    • Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
    • National Pullman Porter Museum
  • First State National Historical Park
    • Beaver Valley – Woodlawn Tract
    • Fort Christina – Wilmington
    • Old Swede’s Church – Wilmington
    • The Green – Dover
    • John Dickinson Plantation
    • Ryves Holt House – Lewes

Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument was one of four new parks established by Congress in December 2014.   Located outside of Las Vegas, NV it preserves the desert landscape as well as fossils of mammoths and other creatures from the last ice age.   Right now it doesn’t have any visitor facilities, so its passport stamp is being kept at the Alan Bible Visitor Center for Lake Mead National Recreation Area in nearby Boulder City, Nevada, just to the south of Las Vegas.

Pullman National Monument is an even newer national park than Tule Springs Fossil Beds, having been established by Presidential proclamation in February 2015.  I’ve written about Pullman twice already, here and here.  Similar to the way in which Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument / National Historical Park in Maryland was established by relying upon other preservation parterns in the area, it appears that Pullman National Monument is following a similar model  Pullman NM actually already had its first Passport stamp, reading Chicago, IL on the bottom available at its dedication ceremony, in which President Obama signed his proclamation establishing the new national park right on site.  That cancellation is available at the Historic Pullman Foundation’s Visitor Center, which will surely now also have the stamp recognizing the role the Foundation is continuing to play in preserving and interpreting this site.  The Foundation is curently offering tours of the site on the first Sunday of the month, and will continue to own and manage some of the historic buildings on the site, including the Market Hall.   Likewise, the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency will also continue to own and manage some of the historic properties at this site, including the architecturally-significant (and beautiful) Hotel Florence.  Finally, until the National Park Service is able to open its own visitor center at the site, one of the best ways to learn about the history of the Pullman company town,  which is now a national monument, will be a visit to the National A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum, which is also located on-site.

First State National Monument was originally proclaimed by President Obama in March 2013 with three sub-units, Dover Green in the State Capitol, the old New Castle Courthouse in New Castle, and the Brandywine Preserve in Wilmington.  In December 2014, Congress renamed this parkFirst State National Historical Park, and also authorized expanding its boundaries to include a few additional sites.  In February 2015, new stamps were issued for the original three sites with the new name, First State National Historical Park, as well as for two of the new sites.  This month, it appears that new stamps have been issued with new bottom text for four of those first five sites (only the New Castle Courthouse site is not listed), as well as for two new sites, both in Wilmington.   One is for the Old Swedes Church, which claims to be the oldest continuously-used house of worship as originally built in the United States, with a history stretching back to 1698.  The other is for nearby Fort Christina, the site of the colony of New Sweden way back in 1638.  The story of Swedish settlement in the United States is not one that is often told, so these should be very interesting additions to the National Park System.

 

The author and his junior T. Rex at the Blue Heron historical coal mining community in Big South Fork NRRA wearing a T-Shirt from St. Croix NSR.  Both Parks have new stamps this month.  Photo from 2013.
The author and his junior T. Rex at the Blue Heron historical coal mining community in Big South Fork NRRA wearing a T-Shirt from St. Croix NSR. Both Parks have new stamps this month. Photo from 2013.

Stamps for Existing National Parks

  • Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area | Helenwood, TN
  • Gateway National Recreation Area | Ryan VC – Floyd Bennett Field
  • Yellowstone National Park | Wyoming
  • St. Croix National Scenic River
    • St. Croix River
    • St. Croix Visitor Center
    • Namekagon Visitor Center

Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area in northeastern Tennessee and southeastern Kentucky has recently been adding Passport cancellations for visitor facilities in its gateway communities.  In addition to the long-standing three stamps for the Park’s three visitor contact stations at Oneida, TN; Stearns, KY; and Blue Heron (a historic coal mininng community near Stearns, KY) the Park added stamps for Crossville, TN and Historic Rugby, TN in August 2014.   Helenwood, TN is also a gateway community, and is the latest addition to this program.  You can check out a Parkasuaurs Trip Report from this Park here.

Gateway National Recreation Area includes a number sites in the immediate vicinity of New York City in Brooklyn, Staten Island, and northern New Jersey.     Floyd Bennett Field was New York City’s first municipal airport, and now provides urban recreational opportunities, including campaing.  The Ryan Visitor Center is the National Park Service’s main visitor facility there, and this stamp replaces a previously-existant stamp.

Its not clear what to make of a new stamp for Yellowstone National Park that simply says “Wyoming” on the bottom.  Yellowstone currently offers 13 different Passport cancellations throughout the Park, and it appears that this would be the 14th.

The St. Croix National Scenic Riverway includes the St. Croix River and its main tributary, the Namekagon River.  Its hard to tell what to make of the stamp that simply reads “St. Croix River,” but the “St. Croix Visitor Center” will likely replace the existing stamp at the visitor center in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin on the Minnesota-Wisconsin border; and the the “Namekagon Visitor Center” stamp will likely replace the existing stamp at the visitor center in  Trego, Wisconsin in the northern part of the state.  This park also includes older stamps for the “Marshland District” and for “Minnesota-Wisconsin” that are kept under the counter at the Namekagon Visitor Center.  There is also one other stamp at Prescott, WI at the Great River Road Visitor & Learning Center in Prescott, Wisconsin where the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway meets the Mississippi National River & Recreation Area.

 

Canyons of the Anicents National Monument includes many pueblo ruins, as well as a portion of the Old Spanish Trail National Historic Trail
Canyons of the Anicents National Monument includes many pueblo ruins, including Lowry Pueblo pictured above, as well as a portion of the Old Spanish Trail National Historic Trail. Photo from 2010.

Stamps for Park Partners

  • Old Spanish National Historic Trail | Canyons of the Ancients NM
  • The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor
    • Old Sturbridge Village
    • Prudence Crandall Museum
    • Lebanon Historical Society Museum
    • Roseland Cottage
    • Norwich Heritage & Regional Visitor Center

The Old Spanish National Historic Trail marks the old trading route between Spanish Santa Fe, New Mexico and Spanish Los Angeles, California.   There are currently 50 different Passport stamps along the various routes of the trail.   Canyons of the Ancients National Monument was proclaimed by President Clinton in January 2000, but it is not a national park because he assigned it to the Bureau of Land Management for management, rather than to the National Park Service.  Canyons of the Anicents is located in southwestern Colorado and is basically contiguous with the much smaller (and much-earlier designated) Hovenweep National Monument operated by the Naitonal Park Service.  It preserves numerous historic pueblo ruins in a largely natural and unexcavated state.  This stamp for the Old Spanish NHT will be housed at the excellent Anasazi Heritage Center in Dolores, Colorado, which is the BLM’s main visitor center for the National Monument.

In addition to establishing four new parks in December 2014, the Defense Authorization Act for 2015 also made a number of administative changes.  Among these changes was rebranding the clumsily-named Quinebaug-Shetucket Rivers Valley National Heritage Corridor to the much-catchier sounding Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor.  The Last Green Valley NHC includes numerous sites in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.  The first three sites listed above all previously had stamps under the old name, whereas the last two are new additions to the Passport Program.  The Old Sturbridge Village is a 19th Century living history villate in Sturbridge, Massachusetts.  The Prudence Crandall Museum  in Canterbury, Connecticut preserves the home of the woman of the same name, who was named Connecticut’s “state heroine” (ever wonder how many states have a state heroine?) for her role in providing education to African-Americans.  The Lebanon Historical Society Museum preserves the history of the Connecticut town of the same name, and back in 1998, it was featured in the New York Times.  Roseland Cottage Gardens and Carriage House is a historic property in Woodstock, Connecticut.  Finally, the Norwich Heritage & Regional Visitor Center is located in the Connecticut town of the same name.

With these new additions, Parkasaurus now counts 1,900 active Passport cancellations currently available, or 1,818 stamps excluding anniversary stamps and other special event or special program stamps.

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