Tag Archives: Natchez Trace Parkway

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
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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: A Yosemite Anniversary & More

Yosemite National Park is celebrating its 125th Anniversary in 2015.  This photo is from Parkasaurus' visit in Winter 2006.
Yosemite National Park is celebrating its 125th Anniversary in 2015. This photo is from Parkasaurus’ visit in Winter 2006.

 

I’m a little late again this month, but Eastern National has released its new Passport stamps for the month of January, and the list contains four brand-new stamps and five sort-of-new stamps.

First the brand new ones:

  • Yosemite National Park | 125th Annivesary 1890-2015
  • Lake Mead NRA | The Boulevard
  • Lake Mead NRA | Lakeshore
  • Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm NHA | Girdwood, AK

At Parkasaurus, we’re not really fans of single-year anniversary stamps, like this one for Yosemite National Park.  The typical Passport Stamp has an adjustable year that is good for 5-7 years, so it doesn’t seem to make sense to produce one that is specific to a single anniversary year.  Instead,  I’d much rather see the parks use their creative juices to create special stamps for their anniversaries, such as this particularly beautiful one for the recently-completed 75th Anniversary of the Natchez Trace Parkway.

Natchez Trace

Meanwhile, its worth noting that until this past July, the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, south of Anchorage, was one of only a handful of National Heritage Areas without any Passport stamps at all.    It then added three of them in conjunction with the National Park Travelers Club’s annual convention this past summer.  This one, to be located at the Alyeska Resort’s Roundhouse Museum, will be its fourth stamp.   The other three are located at the Kenai Fjords National Park in Seward; the Chugach National Forest Visitor Center in Portage; and the Hope & Sunrise HIstorical & Mining Museum in the town of Hope.  The last one is particularly interesting, since it means that there are now Passport stamps located in both the towns of Hope, Alaska and Hope, Arkansas.

The last two new stamps are for Lake Mead National Recreation Area.   Lake Mead is the reservoir created by Hoover Dam, just to the south and west of Las Vegas, Nevada.   It apears that these two new stamps will be used to provide unique, place-specific stamps for two of this national park’s entrance stations, one located on Lake Mead Boulevard heading west out of Las Vegas from the north, and the other on Lakeshore Drive heading west out of Las Vegas from the south.  These two new additions will give Lake Mead NRA a total of at least 10 Passport Stamps, one at each of the park’s Visitor Centers, Ranger Stations, and Entrance Stations, along with a generic passport stamp without any specific location on it.

Finally, the Eastern National list also announced five “new” stamps for Olympic National Park:  Kalaloch Ranger Station, Mora Ranger Station, Quinault Ranger Station, Storm King Ranger Station, and Port Angeles Visitor Center.  I put new in quotes there, because each of these five locations has already had a slightly-different passport stamp.   What constitutes a “new” passport stamp is always in the eye of the beholder, of course, but for purposes of Parkasaurus, these stamps won’t add to the national stamp total.

Thus, based on the four new additions above, we now have a total of 1,954 Passport Stamps available out there to collect!

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When Is a National Scenic Trail a National Park?

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The author on the Appalachian NST near Boiling Springs, PA. The Appalachian NST is one of three trails that are also counted as a national park as well.

One of the tricky aspects about visiting all of the U.S. National Parks is just identifying the list of what are the national parks in the first place.  In my first post, I mentioned that there are three National Scenic Trails in the U.S. National Park System, and I thought that I would write a little bit more about them. The list of U.S. National Parks includes three national scenic trails;

And yet, there are a total eleven national scenic trails in the United States.  So why does these three “count,” but not the other eight?   What makes these three so special?

Officially, the designation of a long-distance hiking route as a national scenic trail was established by the National Trails System Act of 1968.  Of course, the grand-daddy of them all, the Appalachian Trail was first conceived all the way back in the early 1920’s.   Not too long after that, the parallel concept of of a Pacific Crest Trail was proposed in the 1930’s, running along the Sierra Nevadas. Both the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail were designated the first two national scenic trails in 1968.  Confusingly, however, the Appalachian NST became a national park site, but the Pacific Crest NST did not.   In particularly, the National Park Service was authorized to purchase most of the right-of-way for the Appalachian Trail – in that respect, at least, making it a true national park.  The Pacific Crest NST, on the other hand, largely runs through existing national parks, national forests, Bureau of Land Management land, and existing state parks.

By 1980, three other national scenic trails were designated.  The Continental Divide NST would parallel the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails by running down the spine of the Rocky Mountains.   The North Country NST, on the other hand, would turn long-distance trails on their head by running mostly east-west from Lake Champlain in upstate New York to Lake Sakakawea in central North Dakota.    Finally, the Ice Age NST would become the first single-state national scenic trail, making a long loop connecting sites throughout the state of Wisconsin. None of trails, however, authorized the acquisition of land by the National Park Service, and so none of these three trails are officially listed as national parks -even though the National Park Service is the lead Federal liaison for both the North Country and Ice Age Trails.  (The US Forest Service, in the Department of Agriculture, is the lead Federal agency for the Continental Divide Trail.)

In 1983, however, three more national scenic trails would be designated.   The Florida NST runs from the end of the Florida Panhandle all the way down to Big Cypress National Preserve, just north of Everglades National Park, and is not counted as a national park.  On the other hand, the Natchez Trace NST and the Potomac Heritage NST would both receive this distinction.  The Natchez Trace NST was designed to run alongside the Natchez Trace Parkway through Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee.  The Potomac Heritage NST was designated to run along the tow-path of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park in Maryland and Washington, DC, with extensions eastward through Maryland and Virginia to the Chesapeake Bay, and an extension westwards to Pittsburgh.  In this respect, both the Natchez Trace NST and Potomac Heritage NST were unique in that although the National Park Service would not be acquiring additional Federal land for these trails (as was done for the Appalachian NST), these two new trails would be running in large part through existing Federal land – indeed through existing National Park Service land.

I actually had occasion to contact the National Park Service about this issue, and they indicated to me that shortly after these new trails were designated in the 1983, the legal department at the National Park Service Headquarters made the determination that these two new trails should be counted as national parks.   Although they did not cite the specific legal rationale that was made all those years ago, I almost have to believe that the fact that these trails were largely designated on National Park Service land must have played a role in the determination.   The irony, of course, is that since the Natchez Trace Parkway and C&O Canal NHP are both already national parks, in many cases these trails become places where you can “visit two parks at once!”   Go figure!

Anyhow, its worth noting that it would be 26 years before another national scenic trail would be designated.  In 2009, three new national scenic trails were created: the Arizona NST runs north-south through the State of Arizona, the New England NST runs from Long Island Sound in Connecticut to the Massachusetts-New Hampshire border, and the Pacific Northwest NST runs from the Continental Divide NST in Montana to Olympic National Park in Washington State.  None of these three, however, are counted as national parks.

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