Tag Archives: Great Smoky Mountains

June 2018 – Hopewell Furnace Expands & More!

Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site in Pennsylvania headlines the list of this month’s new stamps. Photo from 2012.

Acadia National Park | Duck Harbor

Great Smoky Mountains National Park | Sevierville Visitor Center

Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site |

  • Buckley & Brooke Office & Store
  • 80th Anniversary 1958-2018

Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail |

  • Historic Winter Quarters, NE
  • Sixth Crossing, WY
  • Church History Museum, UT

Old Spanish National Historic Trail

  • Fishlake National Forest – Gooseberry, UT
  • Museum of Moab, UT

Oregon National Historic Trail | Three Island Crossing SP, ID

Santa Fe National Historic Trail | Cimarron Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center, NM

Trail of Tears National Historic Trail | History Museum on the Square, MO

The Buckley & Brooke Store is a new cancellation location at Hopewell Furance National Historic Site. Photo from 2017

The highlight of this month’s stamps are two new cancellations for the Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, located about an hour’s drive to the west of Philadelphia.  Hopewell Furnace is one of three national park system sites with a primary interpretive theme on the history of ironworking.   The first is the Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site, located just northeast of Boston.  The Saugus Iron Works were the first iron-making facility in the English Colonies, and operated in the mid-1600’s from 1646 to approximately 1670.  The Hopewell Furnace was founded a full century later in 1771.  It operated using charcoal for heat all the way until 1883 when coal-powered steel mills began to take over.  The Tredegar Iron Works were founded in 1831, and are today preserved as the main visitor facility for Richmond National Battlefield Park in Richmond, Virginia. The Tredegar Iron Works were the largest in the Confederate States, and were a critical armory to the Confederate war effort. Like Hopewell, Tredegar faded from prominence with the introduction of steel in the late 19th Century, but did manage to stay in operation through both World Wars and into the mid-20th Century.  The story of the transition to steel can be visited through the National Park Service’s Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area in western Pennsylvania.

The first new stamp for Hopewell Furnace of course commemorates the 80th anniversary of the park’s establishment.  The second is for one of the historic buildings preserved in the park, the Buckley & Brooke Office and Store.  In its heyday, Hopewell Furnace functioned as a self-contained company town in which the workers were paid by the company, and in turn bought much of what they needed from the company.  The company town concept bears a lot of similarities to the Blue Heron coal mining community at Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area in southeastern Kentucky.

If you visit Hopewell Furnace today, you can of course tour the historic buildings, including the historic furnace that is the centerpiece of the park, as well as of course the historic company store and the historic ironmaster’s house.  There are also farm buildings with livestock, which are always a hit with little kids, as well as reconstructed charcoal huts where the charcoal was made that powered the iron furnace.  It is hard to believe today, with Hopewell Furnace largely surrounded by the well-forested French Creek State Park but in the heyday of the Furnace, this area would have been nearly clear cut to fuel the furnace’s continuous need for charcoal.  An exception to that, however, would have been the iron-making community’s fruit orchards – and a visit to Hopewell Furnace in the late summer and early fall can provide the unique opportunity to go apple-picking in a national park, including many heirloom varieties.

Acadia National Park gets an updated cancellation this month for Duck Harbor on Isle au Haut. This photo, from the Schoodic Peninsula is from 2015.

The new stamp for Acadia National Park appears to be an update to the existing stamp for Isle au Haut.  Isle au Haut is a small outlying island, which is only accessible by ferry from the coastal town of Stonington.  Around half of the island is set aside as an outlying unit of Acadia National Park.  Duck Harbor is about four miles from the town of Isle au Haut and is the location of the National Park Service campground and the National Park Service trailheads for the island.

The town of Sevierville in Tennessee is one of many gateway communities to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are located just outside the park’s main visitor center, and are notorious for their crushing traffic congestion.  Sevierville is located at the junction of US Route 441 and Tennessee Route 66, and is a convenient place for the National Park Service to provide information to incoming travelers heading towards the Great Smoky Mountains just before they would reach Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg,

Notable also this month are stamps for three very significant locations on the Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail.  The Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters in Omaha, Nebraska commemorates the settlement where the original group of Mormon Pioneers spent the winter of 1846-1847 after being expelled from Nauvoo, Illinois. (See Parkasaurus for June 2017.)  The new Sixth Crossing Visitors Center in Lander, Wyoming marks the difficult crossing of the Sweetwater River by  a later group of Mormon Pioneers in October 1856.  Hit by an early season snowstorm, this group of settlers ultimately had to be rescued  at this spot by supplies of food and clothing sent from Salt Lake City.  Finally, the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City, Utah comprehensively tells the story of the Church of Latter-Day Saints.

The Old Spanish National Historic Trail had just added stamps in Moab, Utah and for the Fish Lake National Forest in April 2018.  This first of this month’s stamps appear to be headed for the US Forest Service Offices for Fish Lake National Forest, in addition to the previous stamp for Fish Lake Resorts.  The second stamp is headed to the the Museum of Moab, Utah – the gateway community for Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.  The town of Moab now has four different cancellation locations for the Old Spanish National Historic Trail, as this cancellation joins existing ones at Arches National Park, the Bureau of Land Management Moab Field Office, and the town of Moab Information Center.  Unfortunately, and strangely, the Museum of Moab is closed until September 2019.  Go figure.

Idaho’s Three Island Crossing State Park features an Oregon Trail History and Education Center.  It was an important crossing of the Snake River for settlers on the Oregon National Historic Trail.

The Cimarron Chamber of Commerce has an updated Santa Fe National Historic Trail stamp this month. Photo from 2015.

The new stamp for the Cimarron Chamber of Commerce replaces an existing stamp reading “Cimarron, NM” for the Santa Fe National Historic Trail, which passed through the area.  Many readers may be familiar with the town of Cimarron, New Mexico as also being the gateway to the famed Philmont Scout Ranch, operated by the Boy Scouts of America.

The History Museum on the Square can be found in Springfield, Missouri.  The Museum is dedicated to the entire history of the city in southwest Missouri, including the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail and Route 66, which also passed through the area.

Finally two stamps were actually removed from the Eastern National list this month.

El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail | Santa Fe, NM

El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail | Santa Fe, NM

These removals reflect the temporary closure of the Santa Fe Offices where the stamps had been housed.  Following rennovations, it is likely that the stamps will be reissued once the office reopens.

Final Shot: The town square in Cimarron, New Mexico. Photo from 2015.
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January & February 2018 – Delaware Water Gap Reboot, Everglades Airboats, & More

The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in Pennsylvania and New Jersey has rebooted its passport program this month. Photo from 2012.

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area |

  • Park Headquarters
  • Pocono Environmental Education Center
  • Dingmans Falls Visitor Center
  • Peters Valley School of Craft
  • Millbrook Village General Store
  • Kittatiny Point Visitor Center

Everglades National Park |

  • Coopertown
  • Everglades Safari Park
  • Gator Park

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park | Kahuku Unit

Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area | Charleston, IL

Oil Region National Heritage Area |

  • Oil City, PA
  • Drake Well Museum
  • Pumping Jack Museum
  • Venango Museum
  • DeBence Antique Music World

National Aviation Heritage Area | WACO Air Museum

El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail | Albuquerque Museum, NM

North Country National Scenic Trail | Jay Cooke State Park, MN

Oregon National Historic Trail |

  • Homestead NM of America, NE
  • McLoughlin House, OR
  • Harry S Truman NHS, MO

Pony Express National Historic Trail |

  • B. F. Hastings Building, CA
  • Fort Sedgwick Museum, CO
  • Pony Express National Museum
  • Old Sacramento Visitor Center, CA

Santa Fe National Historic Trail | Bent’s Old Fort NHS, CO

Trail of Tears National Historic Trial |

  • Great Smoky Mountains NP – Oconoaluftee, NC
  • Great Smoky Mountains NP – Sugarlands, TN
  • Hidden Springs, Shawnee NF, IL
  • Mississippi Bluffs, Shawnee NF, IL

Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail | St. Mary’s County Museum Division, MD

Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail | St. Mary’s County Museum Division, MD

Underground Railroad Freedom Network | St. Mary’s County Museum Division, MD

The Peters Valley Craft Store in New Jersey is one of six passport locations for the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Photo from 2012.

As I get caught up, I am going to combine two months of stamps from last winter.

The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area straddles the border between Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and provides a relatively close National Park experience for millions of residents in the New York and Pennsylvania metro areas, as well as millions more residents of eastern Pennsylvania and central New Jersey.  The park has historically had six cancellation locations, and this months listings simply represent a “reboot” of the same six cancellation locations, with a consistent lexicon for each location on the bottoms of the new stamps.

Everglades National Park has added three new cancellations this month for their airboat tour operator partners. Photo Credit: jjron [GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html)], from Wikimedia Commons
More interesting are the new stamps for Everglades National Park.   This park already has six cancellation locations, including one at each of this massive national park’s five visitor centers.  The sixth is for the Nike Missile Site, which was added in January 2016.     The three new additions this month are for each of the three authorized airboat tour operators within Everglades National Park.    So getting a complete set of Passport cancellations for this Park will now require visiting each of the three authorized airboat concessionaires.  I’m trying to think of a parallel for placing  Passport cancellations at multiple concessionaires, but I think that this may be a first.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has been much in the news lately for the ongoing volcanic eruption that closed most of the park for several months in 2018.  The Kahuku Unit, however, is an outlying area of the park, away from the main crater of Kilauea.  It is one of the only parts of the park that was able to remain open during the eruption event.

The Drake Well Museum is a highlight of the new stamps this month for the Oil Region National Heritage Area. Photo credit: By Niagara [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons
A highlight of this group of stamps are the first five stamps for the Oil Region National Heritage Area, which previously did not have any passport cancellation locations.  The headquarters of the Oil Region Alliance are located in Oil City, PA, along with the Venango Museum of Art, Science, and Industry.   The Drake Well Museum, the fist commercially-successful oil well, is just to the north in the town of Titusville, Pennsylvania.  The Pumping Jack Museum, dedicated to the symbol of oil wells everywhere, can be found in the town of Emlemton, Pennsylvania. Finally, the DeBence Antique Music World  is a museum dedicated to antique mechanical musical instruments in the town of Franklin.

The Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area massively expanded their passport program in January 2017 and again in June 2017.    This new stamp will be located at Charleston City Hall, and continues the recent trends of heritage areas involving local governments in the passport program.

The National Aviation Heritage Area has had a number of unofficial passport cancellations for its “Wil-bear Wright Passport Program” (a special program specific to the National Heritage Area) for a number of years, but the new stamp for the WACO Air Museum in Troy, Ohio is its first official Passport to Your National Parks cancellation.  The museum is dedicated to the history of the historic WACO Air Company; for a time it was the largest manufacturer of civil aircraft in the country during the early days in the history of aviation.

The Harry S Truman National Historic Site in Independence, Missouri is located in the same town as the historic starting point for the Oregon National Historic Trail. Photo from 2016

Several of the National Historic Trails received replacement stamps for existing passport cancellation locations.  The El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail marks the US portion of the historic “Royal Road” that linked the Spanish colonial capital of Mexico City to Santa Fe.  The Albuquerque Museum of Art and History is one of 18 passport cancellation locations for this trail. Jay Cooke State Park, near Duluth, Minnesota, is one of 17 passport locations for the North Country National Scenic Trail from North Dakota to New York State.  Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site was a trading post at the midway point of the  Santa Fe National Historic Trail in Colorado, and is one of 38 passport cancellation locations for the trail.  The Oregon National Historic Trail replaced three of its 22 passport cancellation locations, including at Harry S Truman National Historic Site in Missouri, Homestead National Monument in Nebraska, and at the McLoughlin House Unit of Fort Vancouver National Historic Site in Oregon City, Oregon.  Fort Vancouver was an important trading post of the Hudson Bay Company in nearby Vancouver, Washington, located just across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon.  John McLoughlin was a former official at Fort Vancouver, and went on to become known as the “Father of Oregon” for his role in promoting settlement of the then-Oregon Territory.

A statue of a Pony Express Rider outside the Pony Express Museum in St. Joseph, Missouri, which has a replacement passport cancellation this month. Photo from 2004.

The new stamps for the Pony Express National Historic Trail are a mixture of the old and new.  The B.F. Hastings Building in Sacramento is a former headquarters for the Wells Fargo Company and a some-time endpoint for the Pony Express Route that began at the Pony Express Museum in St. Joseph, Missouri.   The Old Sacramento Visitor Center is a new location for the trail, in the town where many Pony Express letters were loaded onto steamships for the final stretch down the Sacramento River into San Francisco.

All four of the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail passport cancellations listed are new, bringing the trail to a total of 47 passport cancellation locations across nine states.  This includes the two new locations at either end of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the two new locations in the Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois.

The Piney Point Lighthouse in St. Mary’s County, Maryland has three new passport cancellations this month thanks to various NPS Trails and partnership programs. Photo Credit: Kitkat70 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons
Finally, the Museum Division of St. Mary’s County in southern Maryland operates the Piney Point Lighthouse Museum and Historic Park.  They have three new cancellations this month, representing their location on the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail, the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail, and the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.  Somewhat surprisingly, no cancellation was issued for the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail – but perhaps that will come at a later date.

Final Shot: This mill stone provided a great photo opportunity for the oldest of the Parkasaurus kids, then 2.5 years old, back in 2012 at Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

 

 

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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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Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area

IMG_0982

One of the joys of undertaking the journey to try and visit all the units in the US National Park System is coming across special places that few people on your block have ever heard of.   Unless you live in eastern Tennessee or southern Kentucky, the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area is probably just one of those areas.

A lot of factors probably contribute to the Big South Fork NRRA’s relative obscurity.  For one thing, its name, Big South Fork, consists of three adjectives desperately searching for a noun.   For another, despite my recent attempt to organize the classifications of the National Park System, this park somehow manages to be simultaneously both a national river andnational recreation area.  (For what its worth, the Big South Fork is usually included on the list of national recreation areas, and not on the list of national rivers.)  On top of all that, it is located just 100 miles away from that tourist-magnet, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is only the most-visited national park in the National Park System.

The Big South Fork NRRA is located in northeastern Tennessee and southeastern Kentucky, and preserves both the free-flowing character of the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River, as well as the surrounding gorges and plateaus.  Its not clear to me why “of the Cumberland River” got dropped from the official name of this park.  Then again, maybe I’m the only one who thinks that even if adding those words make the name longer, it would certainly give this relatively unknown park a stronger brand.

Anyhow, back in 2013 I was driving with my family from Mississippi back home to Maryland when we made the last-minute decision to add a swing past Big South Fork NRRA to our itinerary.  I had actually previously been to Big South Fork NRRA back in 2001,  but only for a short time to swim in the river in the southern portion of the park.  I had always regretted not having more time to explore this park, and so was excited to take this opportunity.

In one of those fortunate/unfortunate coincidences, we didn’t pay close attention to our GPS routing and found ourselves travelling northbound on Divide Road/Laurel Ridge Road, which forms much of the park’s western boundary.   Almost all of the park’s visitation facilities are in the eastern and southern portions of the park, so this was a side of the park that relatively few travellers get to see.  The western portion of the park includes a number of interesting trailheads, including the trail to Twin Arches – which is one of the top hikes in the park.  Also in the vicinity is the trail to the rustic cabins of the Charit Creek Lodge, one of the rare hike-in lodges in the US National Park System.

Our destination for this particular trip, however, was the Blue Heron Coal Mining Community.   The centerpiece of  Blue Heron is a preserved coal tippler.  Further exploration, however, will reveal that the National Park Service has created frame-reconstructions of the homes and buildings from Blue Heron’s hey-days.  The frame reconstructions show you the outlines of what the building would have looked like, only without walls and roofs.   The special treat, however, is that inside each building was an audio recording from the people who used to live here.   And because Blue Heron was an operating coal mine within living memory, the recordings were the voices of the people who actually lived here – telling the stories of growing up in a company-owned coal mining town in southeastern Kentucky in the early 20th Century.

The experience was totally enthralling.  I probably spent an hour listening to the recordings, and it wasn’t enough time to take them all in.   Nevertheless, it was a cultural experience like few others – and one that you really wouldn’t expect from a park with a name like Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area.

Of course there is much more to explore in the Park, including whitewater rafting opportunities down the Big South Fork of the Cumberland, and an excursion sight-seeing train that runs on the weekends.    Even more unusually, it turns out that the Big South Fork NRRA is one of the few units in the National Park System that permits hog hunting!

The bottom line for this park is that although you can certainly get a taste of it in a half-day visit, if you truly want to experience all that this park has to offer, you should definitely plan at least a full day, if not a weekend-trip for visiting this park.

For those of you who are collectors in the Passport to Your National Parks program, the Big South Fork NRRA has traditionally had three stamp groups to collect:

  • Oneida, TN – for the Bandy Creek Visitor Center at the southern end of the park;
  • Stearns, KY – for the ranger station/visitor center at Stearns Depot on the northern end of the park; and
  • Blue Heron – for the preserved Blue Heron coal mining community, which is the interpretative highlight of the park.

In August 2014, Eastern National announced two additional stamp groups for this park:

  • Historic Rugby, TN – for the gateway community at the southern end of the park;
  • Crossville, TN – which appears to be located well to the south of the park.

You can read more by checking out Chance Finegan’s write-up of Big South Fork NRRA for the National Parks Traveler Blog.

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