Tag Archives: Lowell NHP

November and December New Stamps

The Hanford B Reactor in Washington is one of three sites comprising the brand new Manhattan Project National Historical Park.
The Hanford B Reactor in Washington is one of three sites comprising the brand new Manhattan Project National Historical Park. Photo credit: NPS.gov

I wasn’t able to get a new stamps post out last month, so here are the new additions reported by Eastern National for both November and December, starting with the new stamps for the actual Units of the National Park System:

Manhattan Project NHP | Los Alamos, NM

Manhattan Project NHP | Oak Ridge, TN

Manhattan Project NHP | Hanford, WA

Potomac Heritage NST | Rock Creek Park, DC

Lowell NHP | Guard Locks / Francis Gate

National Parks of Southern West Virginia | West Virginia

The big news this month is the official addition of Manhattan Project National Historical Park to the National Park System, bringing the total number of national parks to 409.  This new national park will be unique in having three separate locations, scattered almost clear across the country from each other.  In Oak Ridge, Tennessee  the park will include the research facilities that were used to pioneer the process of uranium enrichment.  They can currently be visited from June through August on a regular weekday tour offered at noon daily by the American Museum of Science and Energy.   In Hanford, Washington the park includes numerous historic buildings associated with the top secret Manhattan Project.  The most notable of these is the Hanford B Reactor that produced the material for the first atomic bomb, and which can be visited as part of a four hour tour offerred regularly from April to September.   Finally, the sites in Los Alamos, New Mexico include historic buildings associated with the design and assembly of both the Trinity test site bomb, as well as the “Little Boy” bomb that was ultimately dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.

The Civil War Defenses Trail passes through Rock Creek Park and connects to the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail.
The Civil War Defenses Trail passes through Rock Creek Park and connects to the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail.  This segment of the trail is from the Fort DeRussy Unit near the Rock Creek Park Nature Center.  Photo from 2013.

The Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail has added a new stamp for Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC, which is itself its own national park.   Surprisingly, Rock Creek Park isn’t particularly close to the Potomac River, located about two miles away at its closest point.  However, the Civil War Defenses of Washington Trail, which passes through Rock Creek Park, is a connecting trail to the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail.  The addition of this cancellation gives the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail a whopping 46 cancellations along the trail network.

Lowell National Historical Park preserves the story of the Industrial Revolution in a historic mill town outside of Boston.  In recent years, several other national parks telling the story of the Industrial Revolution have been established, most of which have cited the success of Lowell NHP as a model.  One of the remarkable features about Lowell NHP is the system of canals that were established to connect water from the Merrimack River to the various factories and cotton mills in the town.   The Guard Locks at the Francis Gate are at the NPS-managed lockhouse along one of those canals, and this stamp replaces an existing stamp at that location.

The New River comprises one of the three National Parks of Southern West Virginia. This photo is from a time of especially high water levels in 2004.
The New River comprises one of the three National Parks of Southern West Virginia. This photo is from a time of especially high water levels in 2004.

Finally, the National Parks of Southern West Virginia is a new group and re-branding of the New River Gorge National River, the Gauley River National Recreation Area, and the Bluestone National Scenic River.  All thee of these river-based national parks are located within a fifty-mile stretch of each other, about 30-60 miles east of Charleston, West Virginia.  The centerpiece of the three parks is the New River Gorge National River, which contains most of the visitor facilities and the must-see scenic landmarks, as well as great whitewater rafting for all skill levels.  The Gauley River National Recreation Area is designated downstream of the Summersville Dam.  It is famed for its dam-release days in the fall, when the release of water from the dam produces some of the most-challenging whitewater east of the Mississippi River in the United States.   Finally, the Bluestone National Scenic River is a completely undeveloped stretch of river that has been left largely in its natural state.

These three national rivers have always been managed by a single Superintendent.  However, there’s long been concern that the designations national river and national scenic river and national recreation area don’t always strongly suggest national park or National Park Service to the casual visitor or tourist.  The hope is that the rebranding as National Parks of Southern West Viginia will bring more attention to the fact that these rivers, particularly the New River Gorge, are part the U.S. National Park System.

The Santa Fe Trail Marker in the Plaza de Santa Fe, located just outside the Palace of the Governors and the New Mexico History Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Three new stamps were issued here this month.
The Santa Fe Trail Marker in the Plaza de Santa Fe, located just outside the Palace of the Governors and the New Mexico History Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Three new stamps were issued here this month.  Photo from 2010.

In addition to the above stamps, a few stamps have also been released for National Park Service partnership programs.

Mississippi Delta NHA | Delta Blues Museum

Pacific Northwest NST | Sedro-Wooley, WA

Pacific Northwest NST | Whitefish, MT

Old Spanish NHT | Palace of the Governors, NM

Old Spanish NHT | New Mexico History Museum, NM

Santa Fe NHT | New Mexico History Museum, NM

The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area includes 18 counties in northwest Mississippi.  This area of Mississippi is, of course, most famous for being the home of the musical style known as the blues.  The Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, Mississippi is Mississippi’s oldest music museum, and tells the story of how the blues originated in northwest Mississippi’s cultural landscape.

The Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail is a relatively new National Scenic Trail, having just been designated in 2009.  The trail’s designated route extends from Olympic National Park in Washington to Glacier National Park in Montana.  These are its first Passport stamps, and will be at the headquarters of the Trail’s non-profit partner association in the town of Sedro-Woolley, Washington and at the offices of the Montana Wilderness Association in the town of Whitefish, Montana.

The Old Spanish National Historic Trail and Santa Fe National Historic Trail commemorate 19th Century trading routes with New Mexico, to California and to the United States, respectively.  The Palace of the Governors was originally built for Spain’s administration of New Mexico in Santa Fe, and is now part of the New Mexico State History Museum, the main building of which is located next door.  The Santa Fe Trail had previously already been issued a stamp for the Palace of the Governors, so now both Trails have both stamps.

This month’s additions mean that there now 1,985 active Passport cancellations to collect.  Excluding special event and anniversary cancellations, there are 1,887 cancellations available.

A parting shot of the New River Gorge National River in the National Parks of Southern West Virginia. Photo credit: NPS.gov
A parting shot of the New River Gorge National River in the National Parks of Southern West Virginia. Photo credit: NPS.gov
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Digging Deeper into Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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A Pullman National Historical Park in Chicago?

One of my favorite topics is following possible new additions to the U.S. National Park System.

This week there has been quite a bit of news surrounding the possibility of a Pullman National Historical Park due to a visit by National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis to a town hall meeting in Chicago on the topic.

The U.S. National Park System includes many historic places, but we don’t often think of our industrial heritage as being among those places.  The Pullman District of Chicago was a company town – founded by George Pullman’s Pullman Palace Car Company.  Pullman Cars are, of course, nearly synonomous with “railroad sleeping cars,” in the way that a hundred years later “Xerox” would become nearly synonomus with “photocopu.”  The town of Pullman was also apparently the first industrial company town – which as near as I can tell is a distinction that excludes coal mining company towns, like Blue Heron in the Big South Fork NRRA.

The Pullman Palace Car Company was founded by George Pullman in 1867, shortly after the end of the civil war.  The business model of the company was to lease its rail cars to the railroads, and to provide the staffing for those cars at the same time – with many of those employees being recently-freed former slaves.   The town of Pullman, which was then separate from Chicago, was founded in 1880 out of a combination of the Pullman Palace Car Company’s need for a new factory, and George Pullman’s belief that the industrialists of the day should use their wealth for the betterment of their workers.

Nowadays, the idea of a “company town” seems like an almost completely foreign concept – well at odds with our modern conception of freedom.   In many ways, Pullman was a remarkable feat of central planning – with the size of your house determined by your rank within the company, and a prohibition on saloons within the town.

Now, industrial heritage isn’t always the first thing that we think of when we think of national parks – but there are a few examples.   Lowell National Historical Park is generally the prototypical example, where the old cotton mills are now a successful national park and tourist destination in Lowell, Massachusetts.  Other examples of industrial heritage-themed national parks include Thomas Edison’s laboratories at Edison National Historical Park in New Jersey, and the Rosie the Riveter / World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California.

Along those lines,  its interesting to note that even Jon Jarvis brings up the fact that adding the Pullman site to the Passport to Your National Parks Program as one of the attractions for designating it as a national park.   There’s no question that designation as a national park immediately adds a site to an awful lot of peoples’ bucket lists.

With that being said, the national significance of the Pullman District seems difficult to question.   The area was the site of a major strike, and so was instrumental in the development of labor unions in this country.  Moreover, the Pullman Company was also the first company to develop a predominantly African-American labor union.  With 90% of the historic buildings still in tact, there seems to be a strong case that the Pullman District would be an ideal place to tell the story of how the Industrial Revolution in this country transitioned into the pre-Great War Gilded Age.

If you want the full details, you can read more about the National Park Service’s initial assessment of the Pullman District as a candidate national park by checking out their Reconnaisance Survey.  As the survey makes clear, however, ideally the Reconnaisance Survey would just be a first step on the way to a complete Special Resource Study of the Pullman District that would fully evaluate the area against the four established criteria for establishing a new national park.   Although several recent national parks have been designated by the President under the Antiquities Act without waiting for the Special Resource Study to be completed (let alone waiting for Congress to take action by designating the park and also establishing a budget for the new park), I generally lean towards wanting to let the established process play out and letting the career professionals in the National Park Service do their job.   By all accounts, the Pullman District isn’t in immediate danger of decay or development, so it seems that there is plenty of time to allow that to happen.

On the other hand, the initial assessment seems to be pretty clearly pointing towards the Pullman District being a worthy addition to the U.S. National Park System.  Indeed, it seems kind of amazing that a storied city like Chicago does not yet have a single national park site of any kind within its boundaries.   Given those considerations, and reading between the lines of Director Jon Jarvis’ comments, it seems that the Pullman District will be taking its place in the U.S. National Park System sooner rather than later – my guess would be almost certainly before another famous Chicagoan moves on to other things in 2017.

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