Tag Archives: Reconstruction Era

The New National Park No One Is Talking About & More!

 

There are lots more other changes to the National Park System included in the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, which has now been officially signed into law.

Among the many remaining changes that jump out to me is that Death Valley National Park is expanded by 35,292 acres, further expanding the largest national park in the contiguous 48 states.  Although this is a small addition to Death Valley’s existing 3.4 million acres, the expansion is larger than seven other national parks.  If this were a stand-alone addition to the National Park System, we might well be celebrating the addition of a 62nd national park.  In fact,  the additional lands are about the size of Bryce Canyon National Park’s 35, 835 acres.  So in some ways, this addition to Death Valley National Park is the new national park that no one is talking about.  If land of this size had been set aside as a new national park with a new name, it would certainly be headline news.  As it is, its a bit of a footnote, but is still worth celebrating.

A bit over 6,000 acres of this addition come from adding an area known as “the Crater” to the Park.  If you look closely at a map of Death Valley National Park, The Crater appears as a “doughnut hole” of Bureau of Land Management Land in the northeast corner of the Park.  That hole will now be filled in. The remaining 29,000 acres come from expanding the Park southwards to include the land between the current boundaries and the Fort Irwin National Training Center operated by the U.S. military.

Fort Moultrie, outside of Charleston South Carolina, tells a nearly complete history of US harbor defenses, and is now formally included in the newly-renamed Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park. Photo from 2011.

Although the expansion of Death Valley is far and away the largest expansion of the National Park System under the Dingell Act, there are a number of other changes to existing units that should not be overlooked:

  • Acadia National Park benefits by Congress confirming the 2015 addition of land on the Schoodic Peninsula to the Park;
  • Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument in Colorado, which preserves absolutely spectacular 35 million year old fossils, gets a small expansion from 6,000 acres to 6,300 acres
  • Fort Frederica National Monument in Georgia, where the British solidified their hold on their southern colonies, is expanded by 22%, with the addition of 55 additional acres;
  • Fort Scott National Historic Site in Kansas, which preserves a Fort that played an important role in the “Bleeding Kansas” conflicts of the antebellum years before the Civil War gets a small boundary expansion;
  • Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park not only gets a new name, but gets formal recognition of the inclusion of Fort Moultrie and the Charleston Lifesaving Station within the boundaries of the park after 60 years of being unofficially included in the park;
  • Harry S Truman National Historic Site in Independence, Missouri gets authorized to acquire additional land in Independence for a new or expanded visitor center;
  • Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site in Hyde Park, New York gets expanded by approximately 10% as 89 additional acres are added along the scenic Hudson River;
  • Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park in Georgia, the site of an important battle on General Sherman’s “March to the Sea” during the Civil War, gets a small addition of 8 acres around the  Wallis House and Hairston Hill;
  • Joshua Tree National Park  gets a modest expansion of 4,518 acres, plus the authority to establish a new visitor center in the unincorporated town of Joshua Tree, California;
  • Mojave National Preserve in California gets a small expansion of 25 additional acres;
  • A small sub-unit of National Capital Parks in Washington, DC containing a statue of Irish independence hero Robert Emmert gets redesignated as Robert Emmert Park;
  • Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park in Georgia, in addition to getting a new name, is tripled in size from its present 702 acres to some 2,100 acres;
  • Reconstruction Era National Historical Park gets a new name, and also the authority to acquire additional properties beyond the original monument designation;
  • Shiloh National Military Park, site of the overall bloodiest battle in the Civil War, is expanded by adding three new areas:
    • the Davis Bridge Battlefield in Tennessee, which is currently already a Parks Passport cancellation location by virtue of being part of a shared National Historic Landmark designation with the national military park itself,
    • additional acres around the Fallen Timbers Battlefield site in Tennessee, and
    • the Russel House Battlefield site on the Tennessee-Mississippi border;
  • Voyageurs National Park in northern Minnesota benefits by allowing the Department of the Interior to transfer 49 acres within the current Park boundaries that are currently managed by the Bureau of Land Management to National Park Service management, and also authorizes the possibility of up to several dozen additional acres to be donated to the National Park Service by the State of Minnesota;
Fort Kaskaskia State Historic Site in Illinois, where Meriwether Lewis and William Clark sought recruits for the Corps of Discovery in November 1803 will now benefit from the recognition of the eastward extension of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. Photo from 2009.

Beyond the additions to the National Park System, the Dingell Act will also make a major change to the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, extending it from its current starting point near St. Louis, Missouri eastward to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  In 2004, during the Lewis & Clark Bicentennial, Congress directed the National Park Service to conduct a “Special Resource Study” on extending the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail eastward to include routes related to activities occurring both before and after the main 1804-1806 expedition already commemorated by the existing Trail.  The National Park Service looked at some 25 different route segments as part of its study, eventually determining that only the routes from Pittsburgh to St. Louis along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers met the criteria for historical significance to be added to the National Historic Trails System.

Interestingly, in researching this post, I discovered that the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail had already certified 12 of these “Eastern Legacy” sites as Trail locations, despite not being located along the then-authorized trail route.  The extension of the Lewis & Clark Trail to Pittsburgh will incorporate about half of these sites, but five certified sites will remain outside of the new, extended National Historic Trail:

  • Thomas Jefferson’s plantation, Monticello, in Virginia (currently a Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area cancellation location) where Meriwether Lewis met with Thomas Jefferson to plan the Corps of Discovery expedition;
  • Harpers Ferry National Historical Park in West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia where Lewis procured armaments for the expedition and tested plans for a collapsable boat (which ultimately failed);
  • the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where Lewis received training in the natural sciences from Benjamin Rush, and other Society Members, in preparation for the expedition;
  • the College of Physicians in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where Meriwether Lewis received Medical Training from Benjamin Rush and others; and finally,
  • the Lewis and Clark Herbarium at the Academy of Natural Resources where most of the plant specimens collected by the Corps of Discovery continue to be housed today.
Parker’s Crossroads Battlefield in Tennessee Is the Newest Affiliated Area of the National Park System. Photo from 2018, courtesy Brian Bailey.

The Dingell Act will also be adding one new Affiliated Area to the National Park System.  The Parker’s Crossroads Battlefield in Tennessee, which already has a passport cancellation and an Eastern National-operated bookstore gets elevated to recognition as an Affiliated Area of the National Park System.  The 368 acre battlefield is managed by the non-profit American Battlefield Trust, and preserves the site of a Civil War engagement that took place on New Year’s Eve, approximately three and a half months prior to the Battle of Shiloh.

The President James K. Polk Home in Columbia, Tennessee is one of several areas that will now be studied for potential inclusion in the National Park System. Photo from 2010 by Polk Association Photographer. [CC BY 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)]
Finally, the Dingell Act authorizes a number of special resource studies for future additions to the National Park System.  A special resource study is where the National Park Service formally studies and gathers public input on the national significance, suitability, and feasibility of a proposed addition to the National Park System.  As mentioned earlier, it can be a long time between the authorization of a special resource study and a change to the National Park System – 15 years in the case of the eastward extension of the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail.  Here are the studies authorized by the Dingell Act:

  • the President James K. Polk Home in Columbia, Tennessee, which would be the first National Park System Unit other than Gateway Arch National Park interpreting the Presidency of James K. Polk;
  • the Thurgood Marshall School in Baltimore, Maryland, better-known as Public School 103, which the first African-American Supreme Court Justice attended as a youth;
  • President Street Station, which played a role in the Underground railroad,  Baltimore’s Civil War riots, the growth of the railroad industry, and early 20th century immigration (and which also currently has an Eastern National Bookstore and its own Parks Passport cancellation already);
  • Camp Amache Internment Camp in Granada, Colorado, which would be the fourth Japanese internment camp added to the National Park System;
  • the  George W. Bush childhood home in Midland Texas;
  • the Ocmulgee River Corridor in Macon, Georgia; and
  • the route of the explorer Zebulon Montgomery Pike (of Pike’s Peak fame) for consideration as a national historic trail.

These special resource studies will join a slew of studies already underway by the National Park Service, including a study of Fort Ontario in Oswego, New York that was authorized by a piece of stand-alone legislation in October 2018.

The authorizations of  special resource studies for the President Street Station and for Thurgood Marshall’s Elementary School in Baltimore, Maryland are particularly notable because Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland first introduced legislation requesting this study in October of 2011.  It took more than 7 years to get the legislation enacted, just for a study!   The proposal for the study of a Pike National Historic Trail goes all the way back to 2010!  That really illustrates how much effort goes into establishing just one new unit of the National Park System – even a small one!  Moreover, many of these special resource studies will of course conclude that the proposed addition is either not suitable, not feasible, or even not nationally significant and recommend against inclusion in the National Park System.  Although Congress can always make its own decision, an unfavorable recommendation in the special resource study often effectively ends efforts to designate a particular area a national park.

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

Update: This post was updated after publication to make it clearer that the “new” national park will still be known as Death Valley National Park. 

Final Shot: A new dawn rising on Death Valley National Park. Photo from 2009.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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June 2017 New Stamps – Reconstruction Era NM Expands Their Passport Program and More Trail Stamps

The Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail continues to add cancellations around the Chesapeake Bay. This photo is from a new cancellation in Chestertown, MD.

 

Blue Ridge Parkway | Doughton Park Visitor Center

Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail | C&O Canal NHP HQ

Reconstruction Era National Monument |

        • Port Royal
        • 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 |

        • Columbia, PA
        • Chestertown, MD
        • Great Falls, MD
        • Sandy Point State Park, MD
        • Gloucester, VA
        • Warsaw, VA
The Rappahannock River National Wildlife Refuge in Warsaw, Virginia is also a new cancellation location this month for the Captain John Smith Chesapeake NHT.

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 is adding a new cancellation this month for the new Doughton Park Visitor Center. Photo from 2016.

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 Doughton Park Visitor Center is located just 22 miles from the now-closed visitor center at Cumberland Knob. Photo from 2010.

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 Historical Site in Martin’s Cove, Wyoming has two new cancellations this month.     Photo Mplark (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
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 Roving Ranger Program at Golden Gate National Recreation Area helps connect people in the Bay Area to extraordinary locations like this one. Photo from 2015.

The new stamp for the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail will presumably be included as part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area‘s Roving Ranger program.  The Roving Ranger truck takes the National Park Service’s outreach out into the communities of the San Francisco Bay Area to promote the National Park Service location that is right in their own backyard.   Meanwhile, the new stamp for the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail simply reflects the move of the Trail’s headquarters offices from Little Rock, Arkansas to Webbers Falls, Oklahoma.

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.

The Great Falls of the Potomac are one of several locations with a new Captain John Smith Chesapeake NHT stamp this month.

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!

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April 2017 New Stamps from Puerto Rico to the Arctic Circle and Places In-Between

San Juan National Historic Site in Puerto Rico has one brand-new stamp this month and one replacement stamp.

Here are the new stamps for the month of April:

Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument | Birmingham, AL

Freedom Riders National Monument | Anniston, AL

Reconstruction Era National Monument | Beaufort, SC

Harriet Tubman National Historical Park | Auburn, NY

Antietam National Battlefield | Pry House Field Hospital Museum

Noatak National Preserve | Bettles, AK

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park | Outdoor Recreation Information Center

Gulf Islands National Seashore |

      • Advanced Redoubt
      • Okaloosa Area

San Juan National Historic Site |

      • Castillo San Felipe del Morro
      • San Antonio Guardhouse, El Morro

Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area |

      • Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
      • Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum
      • Lincoln Depot
      • Lincoln Law Office
      • Lincoln Tomb
      • Old State Capitol
      • Springfield, IL
      • Carthage, IL
      • Clinton, IL
      • Homer, IL
      • Mahomet, IL
      • Quincy, IL
      • Vandalia, IL
The Pry House at Antietam National Battlefield has an updated cancellation this month. Photo credit: National Park Service

Most notable this month are stamps for four new additions to the National Park System, which recently brought the total number of Nationa Park Units up to a total of 417.  Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument, Freedom Riders National Monument, and Reconstruction Era National Monument were all added in January by way of declarations made by President Obama under the Antiquities Act.  Harriet Tubman National Historical Park in Upstate New York (not to be confused with Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park in southern Maryland)  was added following land acquisition that was authorized the 2015 Defense Authorization Act.  I recently wrote about the important history behind the first two civil rights-related national monuments.  Reconstruction Era National Monument preserves four properties associated the building of post-slavery lives for African-Americans in the South.  Union forces captured the area around Beaufort, South Carolina in 1861, in the early days of the Civil War, so in many respects, this part of South Carolina is where the Reconstruction Era began.  Some of the places in the new national monument include areas where reconstruction was being implemented, even as the Civil War raged around them.  This includes sites associated with old Camp Sherman, where a regiment of African-American troops for the Union Army was recruited.

The Pry House served as General McClellan’s headquarters at Antietam National Battlefield.  Although it is within the Park boundaries, it is operated in partnership with the National Park Service as an outpost of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, and has several exhibits on how medical needs were handled during the battle.  This site previously had an official stamp from 2006 to 2011 – the new stamp replaces an unofficial stamp that the site had been using for the last five years.

The Ranger Station in Bettles, Alaska is one of the most-remote corners of the National Park System. Photo credit: Bruce Johnson, 2007

There are two new additions in the Pacific Northwest this month.  The remote village of Bettles in northern Alaska is most-famously a gateway community for Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve.  A second stamp is added this month at the joint National Park Service – US Fish and Wildlife Service Ranger Station in the village for adventurers taking a longer flight to the remote rivers located in Noatak National Preserve.   In testament to the size of Alaska, Bettles is itself some 600 miles (a 14.5 hour drive according to Google Maps) from Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city.   Even so, it is approximately another 150 miles as the bush plane flies to get to Noatak National Preserve from Bettles, a remote national park with no on-site visitor facilities whatsoever.

In Seattle, Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park has added a stamp for the inter-agency information station at the REI Flagship Store in Seattle, which provides information about parks and other public lands throughout western Washington.

Gulf Islands National Seashore has added two stamps for the Florida section of the park.  The Okaloosa Area is the easternmost section of the National Seashore, located just east of the town of Fort Walton Beach, and preserves the beaches on the barrier island.  The Advanced Redoubt is located in the Fort Barrancas Unit of the Park, on the grounds of the Pensacola Naval Air Station.  The Advanced Redoubt and Fort Barrancas were both built in the mid-19th Century to protect the Pensacola Navy Yard.

The San Antonio Guardhouse, located in the foreground (with El Morro in the background) is a new cancellation location this month for San Juan National Historic Site.  Photo from 2011

San Juan National Historic Site in Puerto Rico is comprised of two old Spanish fortifications, the Castillo San Marcos and the Castillo San Felipe del Morro.  The latter received a new stamp this month, replacing an older stamp that referred to the location by its nickname, “El Morro.”   There is also a brand new stamp this month for the San Antonio Guardhouse, which is located just outside the fortifications of El Morro. This gives the site three total Passport locations.

Finally, the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area has added to the 15 stamps it introduced in January of this year.  The additions this month include 7 additional Lincoln sites in and around Springfield, Illinois, which join the long-standing cancellation for this Heritage Area at Lincoln Home National Historic Site, which is also in Springfield.

The other additions this month appear to primarily have local connections or secondary interest to the life of Abraham Lincoln.  The two most notable are the additions for Mahomet, Illinois and Vandalia, Illinois. The Museum of the Grand Prairie is operated by Champaign County in Mahomet. Lincoln visited the area in and around Mahomet during his time as a lawyer on the 8th Judicial Circuit and the museum includes exhibits on this stage of Lincoln’s life.  The Vandalia Statehouse State Historic Site preserves the old state capitol in Vandalia, Illinois where Lincoln worked as a state legislator from his election in 1834 up until the capitol being moved in 1839.  The stamps for Carthage, IllinoisClinton, Illinois; and Quincy, Illinois  are each at local historical society museums.    The stamp for Homer, Illinois is at the local nature center.

Together with the existing stamps for this heritage area, there are now 29 stamps for the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area located across central Illinois.  Prior to 2015 there were just 17 on-location* stamps in the entire state of Illinois, including a single stamp for the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, one for the Chicago Portage National Historic Site Affiliated Area, two for the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail,  10 for the Illinois & Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor, and 3 for the Lincoln Home National Historic Site (including one for the Heritage Area and one for the Underground Railroad Freedom Network, both located at the main visitor center on the site).  2015 brought the addition for three more stamps for the brand-new Pullman National Monument in Chicago.  Now the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area has single-handedly more the doubled the statewide cancellation total for the state of Illinois, with now at least 50 stamps being available in that state. That will be enough to keep Passport enthusiasts from the Midwest busy for quite a while, and is continued testament to how National Heritage Areas have really fueled the growth of the Passport Program in recent years.

The final shot this month is of Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve, on a flight from Bettles to Noatak National Preserve. Photo credit: Bruce Johnson, 2007

* – This count of 17 stamps does not include stamps for the Amtrak Trails and Rails Partnership program, a couple of which pass through the state of Illinois.

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