Tag Archives: Indiana Dunes

Breaking Down the Recent and Coming Changes to the National Park System

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore has officially become the 61st (or 62nd, depending on how you count) unit of the National Park System with a “national park” designation. Photo Credit: Flickr user: Paul J Everett in 2008 https://www.flickr.com/people/paul_everett82/ [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]
Calendar year 2018 ended on a low note for the National Park System in the midst of a partial Federal government shutdown.   With the budget negotiations to keep the Federal government open consuming almost all of Congress’ attention in November, December, and January, that left a lot of unfinished business that Congress was unable to get to before their 115th Session ended in early January.   Fortunately, the newly elected Congress began the 116th Session by immediately taking up many of the pending public lands provisions that had received Committee hearings and debates over the previous two years in the 115th Session and sent many of them to the President’s desk for signature.   Here’s a recap of what you need to know:

I’ll begin with the news that Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is now Indiana Dunes National Park.  On Friday February 15, the President signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2019.  This is the law the prevented another government shutdown from beginning on February 16 by providing budget authority to the National Park Service (and all other Federal agencies that weren’t previously funded) through September 30, 2019.  Normally, any law with the words “Appropriations Act” in the title is supposed to be limited to just providing funding – and is not supposed to be making other changes to permanent law.   However, advocates for redesignating Indiana Dunes were so persistent that they managed to get their provision tucked into this must-pass legislation keeping the government open so as to ensure that it was enacted into law.  Thus, congratulations to Indiana Dunes on being redesignated as the 61st “national park” of the United States (or alternatively, the 62nd depending if you count “Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts” as a “national park.”)

The USS Arizona Memorial and the other Pearl Harbor Sites in World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument are being redesignated as the Pearl Harbor National Memorial. Photo Credit: Stan Shebs in 2002 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]
Most other proposed bills relating to the National Park System aren’t so lucky to be tucked into must-pass legislation.  Instead, it has now become common practice that whenever a two-year session of Congress begins wrapping up, a giant “omnibus” piece of legislation is crafted to bring together a large number of public lands provisions that had been debated in Committee over the previous two years.  The idea behind the “omnibus” is to include something for almost everyone in Congress, and thus ensure its passage.   So it was little surprise when the “omnibus” public lands bill for the 115th Congress (2017-2018), the Natural Resources Management Act, passed the Senate earlier this week by a vote of 92-8.   The House of Representatives is almost certain to pass this legislation sometime next week.  Its possible that they may even pass it without amendment, which would send the legislation directly to President Trump for his signature to be enacted into law.

Presuming that happens,  here is what you need to know about how the Natural Resources Management Act will impact the National Park System.

First up, the existing World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument is being broken up, creating a new addition to the National Park System.   The “Valor” National Monument was always an odd creation from the moment that President George W. Bush created it in 2008 by combining the existing then-designated USS Arizona National Memorial with several other sites around Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, the site of the Tule Lake Internment Camp in California, and three World War II sites in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska.   The USS Arizona Memorial and the other sites around Pearl Harbor are redesignated as the Pearl Harbor National Memorial.   The Tule Lake Unit of the Monument is redesignated as the Tule Lake National Monument, and this will effectively become the 419th Unit of the National Park System upon passage of the legislation (unless something very surprising happens between now and then).  The Alaskan areas of the monument are redesignated as Aleutian Islands World War II National Monument, and they will continue to be managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and so will not be part of the National Park System.

The Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home in Jackson, Mississippi could soon become the newest addition to the National Park System. Photo Credit: Jud McCranie in 2018 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]
Next, the bill authorizes the establishment of two new units of the National Park System:

  • Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Monument in Mississippi
  • Mill Springs Battlefield National Monument in Kentucky

Medgar and Myrlie Evers were famed civil rights activists, and this national monument will protect the home where they lived in Jackson, Mississippi from 1956 up until Medgar’s asssasination in 1963.  Mill Springs Battlefield is located near the town of Nancy in south-central Kentucky.  In January 1862, it was the site of the first significant Union victory during the Civil War.

Neither site will become the 420th unit of the National Park System just yet.  Instead, both sites will become full-fledged national parks upon the acquisition of land for the sites by the National Park Service.  In that sense, they join a pool of candidates that for that distinction that includes:

  • Ste. Genevieve National Historical Park – an early French settlement in Missouri that was first authorized last year (and whose authorized boundaries will be modified in this legislation in order to help move the process along);
  • Coltsville National Historical Park – the 19th-century industrial village centered on arms-making in Hartford, Connecticut that was authorized back in 2014;
  • the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial – first authorized in 1999, the memorial commission is currently hoping to complete construction on a site near the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC by May 8, 2020;
  • the Adams Memorial – first authorized in 2001 at the height of the popularity of David McCullough’s Pulitzer-Prize winning biography of family patriarch John Adams, the effort to memorialize the family has struggled with fundraising, but this legislation extends the authorization for the memorial until 2025 and establishes a Commission to try and jump-start these efforts;
  • Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home National Historic Site – first authorized in 2002, the National Park Service and the Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home Preservation Foundation were not able to agree on a selling price for the site in Dixon, Illinois, and so land acquisition won’t happen until that changes.

So, if you’re keeping track at home, it is likely that the 420th unit of the National Park System will be one of Mill Springs Battlefield National Monument, Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Monument, Ste. Genevieve National Historical Park, or Coltsville National Historical Park – but there is always the possibility that the President could declare a brand-new national monument under the Antiquities Act even before land acquisition for any one of those authorized (or soon-to-be authorized) parks happens.

Ocmulgee National Monument will soon be getting the much-more descriptive name of Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park. Photo from 2015.

The Natural Resources Management Act,once enacted will also make a large number of name changes to the National Park System:

  • Camp Nelson National Monument in central Kentucky, designated just a couple months ago to preserve a training ground for African-American Union soldiers during the Civil War gets renamed as Camp Nelson Heritage National Monument;
  • Fort Sumter National Monument, where the Civil War began in Charleston, South Carolina, gets renamed as Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park;
  • Golden Spike National Historic Site in northern Utah, where the first trans-continental railroad was completed on May 10, 1869 gets renamed Golden Spike National Historical Park, just in time for their 150th Anniversary;
  • Honouliuli National Monument, the Japanese prisoner of war camp that was also used for internement of Japanese-American civilians on Oahu, in Hawaii, gets renamed Honouliuli National Historic Site;
  • Ocmulgee National Monument, which preserves paleo-Indian archeological sites that are up to 17,000 years old, pre-Columbian American Indian mounds that are about 1,000 years old, and the historic culture of the Creek Nation in the city of Macon in central Georgia gets renamed as Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park;
  • Reconstruction Era National Monument in and around Beaufort, South Carolina, where the process of building a new life for recently-emancipated African-Americans began, gets renamed Reconstruction Era National Historical Park;
  • Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, the estate of the famed sculptor Agustus Saint-Gaudens in central New Hampshire gets renamed as Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park.

All of those name changes would take place immediately upon enactment.

With that, those are all the changes to the units of the National Park System in the proposed legislation as it passed the Senate.  It remains possible that the House of Representatives may add a few changes of their own as they consider the legislation this week.   In my next post, I will put together a summary of all the changes to the National Park System outside the those designated as official units.

This is Part I of a three-part series on changes to the National Park System in early 2019.  Check out Part II and Part III.

Updated on February 18, 2019 to correct errors and clarify the order of which Parks will become the 419th and 420th Units of the National Park System.

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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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Two New National Parks, Two New Stamps

Pullman_Chicago_Clock_Tower
The old Administration Building is the centerpiece of the new Pullman National Monument, and will eventually become the new national park’s visitor center.

 

There’s been some big news in the National Park System in recent weeks with President Obama using the Antiquities Act to add two new national parks to the U.S. National Park System, taking us to 407 total U.S. national parks.    There’s also the usual monthly release of new cancellations for the Parks Passport program, which had two additions this March, one of them for the brand new Park.

The first of the two new national parks is Pullman National Monument in Chicago, located south and west of Chicago’s downtown.   Parkasaurus wrote a short post on the proposal for this national park back in August.   The new National Monument will include the historic administration building and clock tower, which will actually be the only part of the monument owned by the Federal Government.  The administration building was badly damaged by a fire in 1999, and the higher profile of being a national park site should definitely assist fundraising efforts to repair and restore the building.

The rest of the Monument will retain its current ownership.  The architecturally beautiful Hotel Florence and the old factory will remain owned by the State of Illinois as part of Pullman State Historic Site.  The old greenstone church and the numerous worker houses from Pullman’s days as an old-style company town will remained owned by the residents.  Full details are available in the monument’s official proclamation.

This National Monument has clearly been in the works for a long time.   President Obama actually flew in to Chicago to make the announcement on-site, and as part of the ceremonies the National Park Service staff from nearby Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore already had a Junior Ranger program available, as well as a Passport cancellation: Pullman National Monument | Chicago, IL.  The cancellation is available at the Historic Pullman Foundation’s Visitor Center, which is serving as the Park Visitor Center until the Administration Building is complete.

 

The Memorial at Manzanar National Historic Site in California.  Honouliuli National Monument will join Manzanar as one of 5 national parks telling the story of Japanese-American internment during World War II.  Photo from 2009.
The Memorial at the cemetery site in Manzanar National Historic Site in California. Honouliuli National Monument will join Manzanar as one of 5 national parks telling the story of Japanese-American internment during World War II. Photo from 2009.

The second new national park, which was also established under the Antiquities Act on the same day is Honouliuli National Monument, located just outside of urban Honolulu in Hawaii.   At first glance, Honouliuli appears to be the fifth national park telling the story of Japanese internment during World War II.   The first of these is Manzanar National Historic Site in California, which was established as a national park in 1992.  Manzanar was established after a detailed special resource study by the National Park Service on Japanese internment and was selected because it was the first internment camp to be established, the California desert had left Manzanar relatively well-preserved, and its proximity to the main highway between southern California and many of California’s ski resorts insured that it would be relatively accessible to visitation.  The other three are:

The story of Honouliuli will be somewhat different than these other four, however, in two important ways.  First, because of the very large numbers of people of Japanese ancestry in the Territory of Hawaii immediatelly following the attack on Pearl Harbor, internment was carried out much more selectively in Hawaii than the mass-internment which occurred on the American mainland.   In total, only about 2,000 residents of the Territory of Hawaii were interned in World War II, and of those, only about 320 were interned at Honouliuli.   By contrast, Manzanar had more than 10,000 internees at its peak, and Tule Lake had more than 18,000 internees at its peak.  Secondly, Honouliuli actually held more than 4,000 prisoners of war.   In that sense, Honouliuli might also develop closer ties with Andersonville National Historic Site in Georgia, the site of the infamous prisoner of war camp operated by the Confederacy.

As of the date of proclamation, however, Honouliuli has become largely overgrown.   Indeed, the site was actually donated to the Federal Government by Monsanto, which had subsequently acquired the site and surrounding lands.   Right now there is no public access to the site.  It will be at least a few months before the site is open to limited visitation, and likely several years before it is fully opened to regular visits.  So no Passport Cancellation, just yet for this site.

The second new Passport Cancellation for March instead goes to the Selma-to-Montgomery National Historic Trail with a stamp for its 50th Anniversary 1965-2015.   The historic voting rights march to the State Capitol in Montgomery of course came just days after the Nation was then-marking the 100th Anniversary of Lincoln’s 2nd Inaugural Address, and his call to “achieve and cherish a just, and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”

The addition of Pullman National Monument and Honouliuli National Monument means that there are now 407 national parks in the U.S. National Park System, with another three national parks that were authorized by the Defense Authorization Act for 2015 expected to be established by the end of the year.   Meanwhile, we have recalibrated our calculations of what constitutes a unique Passport cancellation, so the addition of these two new cancellations takes us to a total of  1,889 unique stamps in the Passport Program, with 79 of those being stamps for anniversaries or special events and programs associated with the Parks.

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