Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site – Kiowa County, CO
Women’s Rights National Historical Park –
Bedford Falls, NY
Elizabeth Cady Stanton House
Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area – Stonecrest, GA
Appalachian National Scenic Trail – Blairstown, NJ
Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail – Harpers Ferry, WV
Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site in rural eastern Colorado has had a passport cancellation reading “Eads, CO” ever since the site was added to the National Park System in 2007. The town of Eads, however, where the Park’s headquarters offices are located, is actually a couple miles from the site itself. Thus, the National Park Service has apparently decided to update their cancellation to read “Kiowa County,” rather than the town of Eads.
The highlight of this month’s additions, however, are three new stamps for Women’s Rights National Historical Park in upstate New York. The Elizabeth Cady Stanton house is the third park location to get its own passport cancellation, along with the main Visitor Center in Seneca Falls and the M’Clintock House in nearby Waterloo where the organizers of the Seneca Falls Convention met regularly. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was one of the giants of the women’s suffrage movement and a key organizer of the Seneca Falls Convention. The “Convention Days” stamps refers to the annual commemoration of the Seneca Falls Convention on or around July 20th each summer. The “Bedford Falls” stamp, however, is more closely associated with winter. The town of Seneca Falls was the model for the fictional town of Bedford Falls in Mrs. Parkasaurus’ all-time favorite Christmas movie, “Its a Wonderful Life.” The National Park Service annually hosts an “It’s a Wonderful Life” weekend in mid-December each year.
The Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area commemorates the natural and cultural landscapes around two granite mountains located just east of Atlanta, Arabia Mountain itself and Panola Mountain. (The famous Stone Mountain, with its massive carving of Confederate leaders etched in the side, is part of the same geological province, and is located just to the north of the designated National Heritage Area.) This Heritage Area has previously had one cancellation, available at multiple locations, for the town of Lithonia, Georgia. This new cancellation reflects that a new town of Stonecrest, Georgia, containing Arabia Mountain itself, has been split off from the town of Lithonia, Georgia.
The Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, like many heritage areas, is organized around a number of “themes.” For Arabia Mountain NHA, these themes are Natural Systems, Early Settlement, Culture & Community, Granite & Technology, and Spiritual Landscape. The Spiritual Landscape theme is relatively unusual – the only other example I can immediately think of is the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area in Utah. Thus, in addition to being able to obtain this new stamp at Panola Mountain State Park and at the Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve, this stamp can also be obtained at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit. The Monastery of the Holy Spirit is an unusual location for a passport cancellation as a religious site, but they also preserve a significant natural expanse of the Arabia Mountain area. Their visitor center includes exhibits on the history of the monastery, and the gift shop includes fudge, fruitcake, and biscotti made on-site by the monks themselves.
The new cancellation for the Appalachian National Scenic Trail is for Blairstown, New Jersey. Blairstown is located just to the east of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area on the upper Pennsylvania-New Jersey border. This stamp is located at the Mohican Outdoor Center, operated by the Appalachian Mountain Club.
Finally, the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail has updated its stamp for Harpers Ferry National Historical Park to reflect the name of the town on the bottom instead of the name of the park.
Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area | Charleston, IL
Oil Region National Heritage Area |
Oil City, PA
Drake Well Museum
Pumping Jack 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
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.
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.
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 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 new stamps for September 2017 (yes, 2017 – but we’re happy to be back) are highlighted by a plethora of stamps for the Crossroads of the American Revolution National Heritage Area, and a few more:
Golden Gate National Recreation Area | Rob Hill
Salem Maritime National Historic Site |
St. Joseph Hall
Yellowstone National Park | Bechler Ranger Station
Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail | Smallwood State Park, MD
Trail of Tears National Historic Trail |
Old Jefferson, TN
Webber Falls Museum, OK
Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area |
Copake Iron Works
Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
Crossroads of the American Revolution National Heritage Area |
Abraham Clark Memorial House
Battle of Connecticut Farms
Battle of Springfield
Battle of the Short Hills
Deacon Andrew Hetfield House
Dr William Robinson Plantation
Elizabeth and Gershom Frazee House
First Presbyterian Church of Elizabeth
Merchants & Drovers Tavern
Osborn Cannonball House
Plainfield Meeting House
Salt Box Museum
St. John’s Parsonage
The Deserted Village
Woodruff House – Eaton Store Museum
Working in reverse order this month, the most notable addition to the Passport Program are the 27 stamps for the Crossroads of the Revolution National Heritage Area. Although this Heritage Area includes sites associated with the Revolutionary War across 14 counties in central New Jersey, all 27 of this month’s additions are located in Union County New Jersey, which is part of the greater New York City metropolitan area. Many of the historic sites in Union County have limited hours, some as little as one weekend a month, and others are even open only by appointment only. However, Union County hosts a “Four Centuries in a Weekend” event each year during the third weekend in October, when all of these sites will be open. So make your plans for this coming October accordingly!
If you aren’t up for visiting all 27 sites in Union County, a few of these sites are more strongly connected to the primary Revolutionary War mission of this National Heritage Area.
The Battle of Connecticut Farms was a three-hour engagement fought on June 7, 1780 in the town of Union, NJ. The stamp for this battle can be found at the Caldwell Parsonage in Union. The current Caldwell Parsonage was rebuilt in 1782 after the original was burned by the British following the Battle of Connecticut Farms. The historic home features a painting of the battle, as well as both stamps.
The Battle of Springfield occurred two weeks later on June 23, 1780, and is known primarily as the last Revolutionary War battle fought in the northern colonies before the fateful Battle of Yorktown in September and October 1781. This stamp can be found at the Cannon Ball House in Springfield. This historic home features a cannonball still lodged in its walls from the Battle of Springfield, as well as both stamps.
The Boxwood Hall State Historic Site preserves the the former house of Elias Boudinot in Elizabeth, NJ. Boudinot served as a President of the Continental Congress. Nearby is the First Presbyterian Church of Elizabeth, which was burned by the British in 1780 and was rebuilt in 1790, and the St. John’s Parsonage in Elizabeth, whose earliest portions date back to the 18th Century. The Abraham Clark Memorial House in Roselle is a 1941 replica of the house of one of New Jersey’s signers of the Declaration of Independence. Unfortunately, the original burned in 1900. The Liberty Hall Museum at Kean University in Union preserves the home of William Livingston. Livingston was New Jersey’s first Governor and a signer of the Constitution. The Carter House in Summit and the Miller-Cory House in Westfield each date back to the 1740’s. The Miller-Cory House in particular now operates as a living history museum, with frequent special events.
A number of other sites preserve the post-Revolutionary War history of Union County. The Deserted Village Visitor Center is in the Watchung Reservation County Park. The Deserted Village is a former company town created by New York businessman David Felt in 1845, and thus was known as “Feltville” in its hey day. Also dating to the 19th Century are the Littell-Lord Farmstead in Berkeley Heights, the Merchants and Drovers Tavern Museum in Rahway, and the Salt Box Museum in New Providence. The Salt Box Museum is so-named because the unusual way in which two historic houses were joined together in the mid-19th century left a visual impression that resembled a salt box. The Merchants and Drovers Tavern also includes the stamp for King’sHighway. The King’s Highway was a colonial-era road connecting Boston, Massachusetts to Charleston, South Carolina. It was built over a period of more than 80 years on the orders of Britain’s Charles II beginning in 1650. Astute Passport observers may note that there is also a Crossroads of the Revolution NHA stamp for “Maidenhead Road/King’s Highway, NJ” located at the David Brearley House in Lawrenceville, near Trenton. That stamp was discussed by Parkasaurus in June 2016.
Some of the locations have origins hundreds of years ago as well as 20th Century significance. The Woodruff House-Eaton Store of Hillside, which includes an 18th-Century House, a circa-1900 neighborhood store, and a museum devoted to former New York Yankees baseball player Phil Rizzuto. The Deacon Andrew Hetfield House in Mountainside was built in 1760, and was expanded in the 19th Century, and later became the home of MacKinlay Kantor. Kantor is the author of the Civil War novel Andersonville, about the Confederate Prisoner of War Camp preserved in Georgia as Andersonville National Historic Site.
The Golden Gate National Recreation Area includes a number of parklands in and around the city of San Francisco, California. Among the many properties included is the former military installation known as “The Presidio.” Rob Hill is the name of the group campground maintained by the Presidio Trust, one of the non-profit partners of the Golden Gate NRA, on the grounds of the The Presidio, right in the heart of the city of San Francisco.
Salem Maritime National Historic Site was actually the first National Park Service area to be dedicated a National Historic Site, back in March 1938. One of its new stamps this month commemorates this landmark status. The Park itself includes approximately 10 historic buildings, and the other two new stamps complement the five new stamps issued in July 2016.
Yellowstone National Park already has 14 Passport Cancellations. However, the new cancellation for the Bechler Ranger Station in the lightly-visited southwest corner of the Park adds a new twist the Passport itinerary for Yellowstone. There are no roads connecting the southwest corner of the Park to the Grand Loop Road that connects almost all the other destinations in the park. Reaching the Bechler Ranger Station will take a nearly two hour drive outside the park from Yellowstone’s West Entrance in Montana, and a more than three hour drive from Yellowstone’s South Entrance at the border with the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway and Grand Teton National Park.
The “Old Jefferson Site” is a section of the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail that was only identified by researchers in recent years. The site is located in the East Fork Recreation Area, near Murfreesboro, TN, and is managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers. The town of Webbers Falls, Oklahoma is named after a Cherokee Chief, Walter Webber, who established a trading post near the falls of the Arkansas River here in 1818, a dozen years before President Andrew Jackson would sign the Indian Removal Act in 1830, which officially began the “Trail of Tears.” The Webbers Falls Museum is the historical society museum for the town.
The Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area adds three new stamps this month. The Copake Iron Works are located very close to the New York-Massachusetts border, about halfway between Poughkeepsie and Albany. The Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is located just north of the Tappan-Zee bridge on the east side of the Hudson River. The town was made famous by author Washington Irving, who is buried there. The Woodstock Playhouse is a an outdoor arts venue in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains. The famous Woodstock Music Festival of 1969 was actually held some 40 miles away for logistical reasons, but the Woodstock Playhouse has a history of its own going back to the 1930’s.
Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail | C&O Canal NHP HQ
Reconstruction Era National Monument |
St. Helena Island
San Juan Island NHP | Friday Harbor, WA
California National Historic Trail | Martin’s Cove, WY
Oregon National Historic Trail | Martin’s Cove, WY
El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail | NM Public Lands Info Ctr.
Santa Fe National Historic Trail | NM Public Lands Info Ctr.
Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail | Roving Ranger
Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail | Historic Nauvoo
Old Spanish National Historic Trail | Kelso Depot
Trail of Tears National Historic Trail | Trail of Tears Assoc., OK
Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail |
Great Falls, MD
Sandy Point State Park, MD
The highlight of this month’s new stamps come from the newly designated Reconstruction Era National Monument in South Carolina. The initial stamp for this new national park was released just a couple months ago in April 2017. That first stamp was for historic Beaufort, South Carolina, which was captured by Union forces in the early days of the Civil War in 1861, and so was one of the places where the process of reconstruction in the south began. Beaufort was also the birthplace of Robert Smalls, who was born into slavery in 1839. During the Civil War, in 1862, Smalls made a daring escape from nearby Charleston, taking the helm of the confederate ship CSS Planter, slipping it past the guns of Fort Sumter, and taking it out to sea where he could surrender to Union forces. In an amazing and ironic historic twist, Robert Smalls would later use the prize money he was awarded for the capture of the Confederate ship to later purchase a home in Beaufort that had actually been owned by the very family that had once owned him.
Port Royal is located just to the south of Beaufort proper. Port Royal was the site of Camp Saxton, where Union forces recruited the 1st South Carolina Volunteer Regiment from among the enslaved black population of the area.
Also in the same year of Robert Smalls’ daring escape in 1862, even as the Civil War was still crescendoing to its full peak, two women from Pennsylvania arrived in the area to begin providing an education to the freed blacks. They soon moved their school into an old brick church on St. Helena Island, just to the east of Beaufort proper, which is the third passport location for this park.
The Blue Ridge Parkway has added a 19th visitor center and passport location this month, with the addition of the Doughton Park Visitor Center. Located at milepost 241, it fills a gap between the Blue Ridge Music Center at milepost 213 and the Cone Memorial Park Visitor Center at milepost 294. Interestingly, there was previously a cancellation for the Cumberland Knob Visitor Center at milepost 219, but that location is now closed with the opening of the nearby Blue Ridge Music Center in 2006, and that cancellation is now in the history books.
According to a report in the Wautauga (NC) Democrat, this location was previously operated by a concessionaire as Bluff’s Lodge and Coffee Shop, but has been closed since 2010. A partnership effort was organized, seeded by an anonymous donation to restore the property, which had deteriorated. This year it is reopening as the Doughton Park Visitor Center and will be managed by Eastern National, which also runs the Parks Passport Program. Interestingly, the visitor center is only Phase 1 of the restoration of the project. Phase 2 will include restoring the Coffee Shop – which will be welcome news for many travelers. Restoration of the lodging is also in the plans as well.
The new stamp for the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail located at the C&O Canal National Historical Park in Hagerstown, Maryland is simply an updated replacement for previous stamps at this location. Although the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail runs along the entire length of the C&O Canal towpath, the park Headquarters Building is located in Hagerstown proper, so Passport enthusiasts will have to make a brief detour from the Trail to get this cancellation.
Similarly, the new addition for San Juan Island National Historical Park is for the Park Headquarters in the resort town of Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. Visitors to the Park can also collect cancellations at the American Camp and the English Camp on either end of the island. The American Camp marks where US soldiers established themselves in 1859 and began a face-off with a British warship, as a dispute about a pig uprooting a garden nearly escalated a simple border dispute into an international war. The English Camp marks where British soldiers landed and encamped in 1860 as part of a temporary settlement for “joint occupation” of the island until a permanent settlement could be reached – something that would not occur until nearly a decade later, when arbitrators appointed by the German kaiser awarded San Juan Island to the United States.
The Mormon Handcart Site in Martin’s Cove, WY is operated by the Church of Latter-day Saints. It marks the site where a party of Mormon emigrants pulling hand carts and departing late in the season in 1859 became stranded for several days due to an early blizzard. The site provides interpretation of the events at the site, as well as the rigors of pulling hand carts on the migration west. The site previously has had cancellations for the Mormon Pioneer and Pony Express National Historic Trails. The route used by the Mormon emigrants was the same route also used by settlers and gold rushers travelling on the Oregon and California National Historic Trails, respectively. So this site now has a full compliment of four cancellations for the four Emigrant Trails across the west.
The Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail does get one new cancellation this month, this one for the starting point of the trail in Nauvoo, Illinois. This new stamp is located at the Historic Nauvoo Visitor Center, which is also operated by the LDS Church. This new stamp is somewhat paired with the new stamp for Nauvoo, Illinois under the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area that was released in January 2017. That stamp has been located at the Joseph Smith Historic Site in Nauvoo, which preserves a historic home of the man who was the founder of the LDS Church and also the former mayor of Nauvoo for two years up until his murder by an angry mob in nearby Carthage, Illinois in 1844. The Joseph Smith Historic Site is operated by the Community of Christ, which was formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and which split from the larger LDS Church in 1860. The Nauvoo Historic District represented by this month’s new cancellation includes many other historic structures in Nauvoo, including the former home of Brigham Young who was the second President of the LDS Church, and who led the journey west to Utah.
The New Mexico Public Lands Information Center, operated by the Bureau of Land Management in Santa Fe, New Mexico has already had cancellations for the Old Spanish, Santa Fe, and El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trails. The new stamps for the last two trails are simply subbing out previous stamps that read “Santa Fe, NM” on the bottom with stamps that now read “NM Public Lands Info Ctr.” on the bottom. The Old Spanish Trail had actually made a similar switch back in 2012. Interestingly, I can’t help but note that the street address for the New Mexico Public Lands Information Center is 301 Dinosaur Trail in Santa Fe!
The new stamp for the Old Spanish National Historic Trail is actually the third iteration of a stamp at the historic Kelso Depot in Mojave National Preserve. Previous iterations read “Kelso, CA” and “Mojave National Preserve, CA” on the bottom.
Finally, the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail continues its rapid expansion of Passport cancellations this month. The six new additions this month give it a grand total of 41 Passport cancellations. That total is good for 5th place in the National Park System, behind only the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area with a whopping 71, the Old Spanish National Historic Trail with 50, the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail with 47, and the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail with 44. Each of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake cancellation locations appears to come with a wayside exhibit, providing interpretive about John Smith’s voyages of exploration from the Jamestowne Colony up through the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries in the early 1600’s.
The two new locations in Virginia include the Rappahannock River National Wildlife Refuge near Warsaw, Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay community of Gloucester on Virginia’s Middle Peninsula, between the Rappahannock and York Rivers. In 2003, archeologists working near Gloucester discovered the site of Werowocomoco, which was the capital of the Powhatan Confederacy of some thirty Indian tribes in the area, and which traded and interacted with Captain John Smith and the Jamestowne Colony.
In Maryland, the new locations include Great Falls Park, which is managed by the George Washington Memorial Parkway. The Great Falls of the Potomac River formed a natural barrier to Captain John Smith’s upstream explorations of the Potomac River. Other locations include Sandy Point State Park near Annapolis, Maryland and the Sultana Education Foundation in Chestertown, Maryland on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay. The Sultana Education Fuondation operates a replica of an 18th Century vessel, the Sultana, that was used for collecting tea taxes in the Chesapeake Bay. It also conducts a number of environmental education programs for children, and promotes the newly-developed water trail on the Chester River.
The final new stamp will be located at the Columbia Crossing River Trails Center in Columbia, Pennsylvania, where US Route 30 crosses the Susquehanna River. Captain John Smith never made it this far north on his voyages, as he was stopped by the great falls of the Susquehanna further south in Maryland. However, the Susquehannock American Indians in this area used the Susquehanna River as part of a trading route network that stretched as far as New York State. Thus, Congress has included the full length of the Susquehanna River as part of this National Historic Trail, in part for its historic significance to the American Indians, but also to use the National Historic Trail program to spread awareness of the extensive watershed for the Chesapeake Bay.
With this month’s new additions, the total number of active cancellations in the Passport Program is now 1,179. Happy stamping!
After some time away, I’m at least returning to blogging. To catch up, I’ve decided to go ahead and write the monthly new stamps post for the months I missed. Here are the new stamps for the month of September 2016:
Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument | Penobscot County, ME
Natchez National Historical Park | Fort Rosalie
Nez Perce National Historical Park | Bear Paw Battlefield
Redwood National Park | Prairie Creek Redwoods SP
Redwood National Park | Jedediah Smith Redwoods SP
Rainbow Bridge National Monument |
Lees Ferry, AZ
Big Water, UT
California National Historic Trail | Fairway, KS
Oregon National Historic Trail | Fairway, KS
El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail | Mission Dolores State Historic Site
Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail | Pismo Beach, CA
Old Spanish National Historic Trail | Arizona/Utah
Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail | St. Clements Island SP, MD
Congress established Natchez National Historical Park in 1988 to encompass the historic district of Natchez, Mississippi, and to include three National Park Service-managed properties, the Melrose Plantation, the William Johnson House, and the archaeological site of Fort Rosalie. Fort Rosalie was a French trading post, established in 1716, and was the seed that eventually grew into the present-day town of Natchez. The original authorizing legislation required the National Park Service to first study the archaeological significance of Fort Rosalie before adding it to the park.
The Nez Perce National Historic Park includes 38 sites across the Pacific Northwest. The Bear Paw Battlefield site in Montana is where in 1877 Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce ended his attempts to flee US troops, just 40 miles short of safety across the Canadian Border. The new stamp replaces an earlier version and will be kept at the Blaine County Museum in nearby Chinook, Montana.
Redwood National Park operates as a mix of federal and state lands along the Pacific Coast of northernmost California. Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park and Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park are two of the partners with this effort, and are managed cooperatively by the National Park Service and the California Department of Parks and Recreation. There are now 5 cancellation locations for Redwood National Park, three for the National Park Service visitor centers in Orick, Hiouichi, and Crescent City, and two for these two California State Parks. As an interesting historical footnote, one of these stamps was originally mis-printed as Jedediah Redwoods SP and was used for a short time before being replaced by a correctly-worded stamp. Additionally, no stamp at all has been issued for the third California State Park in this partnerships, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park. This is presumably because as near as I can tell, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park lacks a proper visitor center as a location to place the stamp.
The Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail stamp will presumably be found at the historic Price Historical Park in the town of Prismo Beach. Although the ranch was founded decades after the 18th-Century Anza Expedition, Anza and his companions passed through what is now called Price Canyon on the journey north to San Francisco Bay in 1775.
Two of the new stamps for the North Country National Scenic Trail will be at the Friends of the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center in Fergus Falls, Minnesota and at Itasca State Park in Park Rapids, Minnesota. Itasca State Park is, of course, famously home to the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi River, making it one of the most-notable additions to the Passport Program this month. The significance of Itasca State Park has long made it one of the most-famous State Parks in the country, and now it is also part of the national Passport to Your National Parks program. The third stamp will be at the Douglas County Forestry Department in Solon Springs, Wisconsin.
Valles Caldera National Preserve is also a relatively new unit of the National Park System. Ever since it was transferred to the National Park Service by legislation in December 2014, it has been using an unofficial stamp reading “New Mexico” as the location. The “Jemez Springs, NM” stamp is its first official stamp from Eastern National, and will presumably replace the existing stamp.
The Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail runs from the mouth of the Potomac in the Chesapeake Bay all the way up to Cumberland, Maryland and from there, into the Allegheny Highlands of Pennsylvania. The newest stamp is for a National Trust for Historic Preservation property adjacent to George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Woodlawn Plantation was given as a gift by George Washington in 1799 to his nephew, Lawrence Lewis, upon his marriage to Martha Washington’s granddaughter, of all people, Eleanor Custis. By 1799, George Washington was two years removed from the Presidency, from which he retired from in 1797. The gift was made with some intent of keeping the new family close to home, as it were. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to him, he was just a few months away from his sudden death due to some sort of upper respiratory ailment in December 1799. Woodlawn Plantation first became a historical house museum in 1949, and it would actually become the very first property acquired and operated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1957. In 1961, the property would add the Pope-Leighey House, a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home, that had to be relocated from nearby Falls Church, Virginia due to the construction of Interstate 66. The National Trust for Historic Preservation now owns or operates nearly two dozen historic buildings, and partners with the administration of a half-dozen others through cooperative agreements. Of the 20 properties owner or operated the Trust, this is the 5th to be included in the Passport Program.
The term “Bleeding Kansas” refers to the years of extensive civil conflict between pro-slavery and pro-abolition settlers spurred by the adoption of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854 and culminating in the start of the Civil War in 1861.
The history of the antebellum United States is largely a history of tensions over slavery, divided between the southern states whose economies were largely dependent on slavery, and northern states who became increasingly in favor of abolition of slavery during this time. Following independence from Great Britain, the semi-independent state of Vermont, and the just-across-the-Appalachians states of Kentucky and Tennessee were added to the Union relatively quickly, all during the Presidency of George Washington. The fertile land of Ohio was added in March 1803, just months before the Louisiana Purchase would be completed. That would lead to the addition of the state of Louisiana, and its valuable port of New Orleans, in the spring of 1812 – just 49 days before the US would declare war in the War of 1812.
Thus, the initial wave of expansion left the United States with 18 stars on its flag, and a rough parity of 9 southern states (counting Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware) where slavery was legal and 9 northern states where slavery had been abolished since at least 1804 (when New Jersey became the last of them to abolish slavery). Following the War of 1812, the question of how to handle the expansion of the United States into the western territories, and in particular, how that might alter the parity between “slave” and “free” states became arguably the preoccupying political issue of the era. Indiana and Mississippi would join the Union almost exactly a year apart in December of 1816 and 1817 respectively. Illinois and Alabama would follow them in the Decembers of 1818 and 1819. Then the Missouri compromise of 1820 would allow Maine to split off from the rest of Massachusetts in March 1820, followed by Missouri joining as a “slave state” in August of 1821.
The Missouri Compromise was supposed to settle this issue by extending the line of the Virginia-North Carolina, Kentucky-Tennessee, and Missouri-Arkansas Territory borders westward, and providing that future states located within the Louisiana Purchase and to south of that line would be “slave states,” and that future states north of that line would be “free states.” This compromise more-or-less held as Arkansas was admitted in June 1836 and Michigan was added in January 1837. So too, with the addition of Florida and Texas in March and December of 1845, and then Iowa and Wisconsin in December 1846 and May 1848.
The admission of Wisconsin came just a little less than three months after the Mexican-American had ended in February, after less than two years of fighting. The results of that war would change the balance between “slave” and “free” states in ways that no way had anticipated. Unbeknownst to both the treaty negotiators ending the war and also to those in Congress admitting Wisconsin to the Union, gold had been found at Sutter’s Mill in California, less than two weeks before the war had ended. It would take several months for word of the discovery to reach the wider world, but by 1849 hundreds of thousands of “forty-niners” would be arriving in California, many along what is today marked by the National Park Service as the California National Historic Trail. Just one year later the massive influx of people would begin raising the question of statehood for California sooner than anyone had previously imagined and would begin the process of unravelling the Missouri Compromise.
Technically, the Missouri Compromise only applied to those lands acquired in the Louisiana Purchase, thus a new deal was technically required for how to handle the slavery question in the territories that had been newly conquered from Mexico. That deal was the Compromise of 1850. California would be admitted to the Union as a “free state.” In addition, instead of extending the Missouri Compromise line through the rest of the lands acquired in the Mexican-American War, the newly-formed New Mexico Territory and Utah Territory would each be allowed to decide the slavery question for themselves through popular sovereignty. This somewhat satisfied both sides as it opened the possibility of additional pro-slavery states in the new lands, but at the same time it was recognized in the north that the largely desert climate of these new states would likely be unsuitable for plantation-style agriculture. The compromise would also settle the northern and western boundaries of Texas (which had been added five years earlier) and also prohibit the slave trade (but not slavery itself) in the District of Columbia. In exchange for what on balance seemed like a major victory for the pro-abolition forces in the northern states, the southern states gained a truly major concession, passage of a much-stronger Fugitive Slave Act.
The Fugitive Slave Act established severe penalties for aiding an escaped slave, and imposed requirements for helping to return escaped slaves. The Fugitive Slave Act quickly became resented in the northern states, as in their view it essentially forced northerners to become complicit in the practice of slavery itself. Thus things simmered for four years until the question of future statehood for Kansas rose to the top of the agenda, especially as Kansas was located to the north of the Missouri Compromise line, and thus should have been a “free” state. On the other hand, with the admission of new states from the desert lands acquired in the Mexican-American war still many years away, there were no longer any obvious pairings of future “slave” and “free” states for admission to the Union. Thus, Senators from southern states began holding up legislation applying to the new territories, which not only would hold up their future admission to the Union, but also blocked the legal frameworks necessary for the extension westward of the future trans-continental railroad to California.
A solution to this impasse was struck in 1854 when Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, effectively repealing the Missouri compromise and extending the notion of “popular sovereignty” from the former Mexican territories to the future states of Kansas Nebraska. In exchange for this victory of southern states, the Kansas-Nebraska Act allowed for construction of the trans-continental railroad to proceed. Still, the “popular sovereignty” provisions would soon prove disastrous, creating an immediate free-for-all as pro-slavery settlers from the south and pro-abolition settlers from the north flooded into Kansas in the hopes of altering Kansas’ final orientation as a “slave” or “free” state upon statehood. Tensions between the two sides were palpable, and violence would regularly erupt between the two sides off and on for the next several years. Even as Minnesota and Oregon would be added to the Union as “free states” in 1858 and 1859 (in part due to Oregon electing two pro-slavery Democrats as Senators, despite being a “free” state), the “Bleeding Kansas” era would only come to an end once the secession of the first six southern states allowed the Senate to ratify Kansas as the 34th (or the 28th, depending on your perspective) state of the Union in January 1861. The Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area was established to tell the stories from the front lines of the conflict over slavery in the years leading up the Civil War.
With these additions, there are now 2,008 total active cancellations in the Passport to Your National Parks program. Excluding the cancellations for anniversaries and special events, there 1,912 active cancellations available.
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
Kilauea Visitor Center
Panau Coastal Contact Station
Cane River National Heritage Area | Grand Ecore Visitor Center
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 |
Tupelo – Birthplace of Elvis Presley
Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area |
Grammy Museum of Mississippi
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
Fort Monroe NM
Fort Scott NHS
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area preserves almost all of the off-shore islands in Boston Harbor, including a few that are now connected to the mainland. The stamp for Little Brewster Island is the fifth active stamp for this park. It joins a stamp for “Boston, MA” on the mainland at Long Wharf in dowtown Boston, as well as stamps for Georges Island, Peddocks Island, and Spectacle Island. The 34 islands that comprise this park include a mix of natural scenery, historic resources related to 19th century harbor defenses, and outstanding recreational opportunities. Little Brewster Island is the most-distant of the four islands with stamps, located some 8 miles from downtown Boston.
(As a side note, it should be noted that Boston Harbor Islands NRA previously had a stamp for the Gateway Pavillion information center in downtown Boston, but that stamp has not been available since 2013. Meanwhile, according to the Park map there are Ranger Stations on at least four other islands, so this park may yet add additional stamps in the months and years to come.)
Olympic National Park is one of the true gems of the U.S. National Park System, located on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula. This stamp for the concessionarie at the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort is one of 14 cancellations available around this large national park. The Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort is located in the temperate forests on the northern side of the park in the valley of the Sol Duc River.
The new stamps for North Manitou Island at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore makes for five cancellations at this national park located on the shores of Lake Michigan in the western part of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Three of those stamps are on the mainland, and now there is a stamp for both South Manitou Island and North Manitou Island located off-shore in Lake Michigan.
The Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail connects sites in Arizona and California along the route taken by de Anza in 1776 to establish the settlement of San Francisco. Fort Ord National Monument was established by President Obama in 2012 on the former site of the military base of the same name on Monterey Bay. Thus, this month marks the first two stamps in the Passport Program to be located in the world-famous scenic destination of Monterey, California. The Big Break Regional Park preserves some of the land on the San Joaquin River Delta at the base of San Francisco Bay.
The Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail marks Smith’s voyages of exploration in the Chesapeake Bay from 1607-1609. This month, stamps appear to have been added for just about every Virginia State Park located on the Chesapeake Bay. In addition, Chickahominy Riverfront Park is a local park located in James City County, Virginia. Henricus Historical Park commemorates a famous #2 – it recreates the second successful English settlement in the New World. It was established 80 miles up the James River in 1611 by settlers departing from Jamestown. Mathews County Virginia has a Visitor and Information Center for its network of water trails to explore. Reedville, Virginia is located at the end of Virginia’s Northern Neck, on the Chesapeake Bay. Its Fisherman’s Museum is also a stamping location for the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail. Vienna, Maryland is the launching point for the Nanticoke River Water Trail, which runs along the Nanticoke River all the way into southern Delaware.
The Thomas Stone National Historic Site is also an outright national park, located in the small town of Port Tobacco in southern Maryland. It preserves the home of one of Maryland’s signers of the Declaration of Independence. It probably would not have made it in to the National Park System on its own, but for the fact that the house was damaged by fire in 1977, and designation as a national park site the next year was about the only way to save it from the wrecking ball. The new stamps for the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail and Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail both replace existing stamps that were already at the site, reflecing both the site’s scenic location on the Potomac River and on the route of the British invasion of Maryland during the War of 1812. This site also had a generic stamp listing all the states of the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail, but this its first stamp specific to the site itself. This trail marks the route of American General George Washington and the French General Jean-Baptiste de Rochambeau from Newport, Rhode Island to Yorktown, Virginia at the end of the Revolutionary War. The Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network and the Underground Railroad: Network to Freedom are two National Park Service partnership programs, reflecting this park’s location on the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and as a former plantation were slaves lived, worked, and occasionally, escaped to freedom.
The National Park Travelers Club is a social Club that provides networking for Passport stamp collectors. They now have nine passport stamps that will be available at their member-meetups, one stamp for each Passport region.