Tag Archives: The White House

November & December 2018 – Big News for Indiana Dunes & More!

C&O Canal National Historical Park | Lockhouse #21 – Swains

The Lockkeeper’s House | Washington, DC

Ice Age National Scenic Trail | Camp Douglas, WI

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore |

  • West Beach
  • Bailly Homestead
  • Chellberg Farm
  • Mount Baldy
  • Pin Hook Bog

Camp Nelson National Monument | Nicholasville, KY

Isle Royale National Park | USNPS Ranger III

Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail | Prairie Trails Museum, IA

Underground Railroad Freedom Network | Longfellow House – Washington’s Headquarters NHS

The Bailly Homestead is one of the new passport locations for Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore – now Indiana Dunes National Park. Photo courtesy Bruce Johnson, 2008

As I get caught back up with blogging, the highlights of this month’s new stamps are the five new additions for Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.  These new stamps were created just a few weeks before this park was redesignated as Indiana Dunes National Park, making them strong candidates to quickly become collector’s items, depending on whether or not the park decided to continue to make them available as a “secret stash” under the counter or by some other arrangement for devoted passport cancellation collectors.

Mount Baldy is a sand dune located at the far eastern end of the Park.  Its notable because the “bald” top provides clear views from which you can see as far away as Chicago.  You can only climb to the top on a Ranger-guided hike, but the area also has a swimmable beach.  West Beach is the westernmost swimmable beach in the park, although the park does include additional protected inland areas even further to the west, including an Environmental Education Center.

The Pinhook Bog is an outlying unit of the park, located right off Interstate 80, but is only accessible by Ranger-guided tours.  The Bailly Homestead and the Chellburg Farm, by contrast, are located relatively close to the main visitor center in the town of Porter, Indiana.  The Bailly Homestead dates from 1822 and was one of the earliest settlements in Indiana.  The Chellburg Farm, meanwhile, was established by Swedish immigrants in the 1870s.

These new stamps give Indiana Dunes a total of six passport cancellations.   If you’re interested in Indiana Dunes National Park, you might also enjoy this episode of the National Parks Podcast, which discusses the architectural legacy of some of the houses located just outside the park boundaries.

Another highlight is the first stamp for Camp Nelson National Monument.  Camp Nelson represents President Trump’s first use of the Antiquities Act to establish a new national park via a Presidential Proclamation.  During the Civil War, the Union supply depot at Camp Nelson became a key location for recruiting and training African Americans to join the Union Army.

The Lockkeeper’s House in Washington, DC., is a relic of the Washington City Canal, which last ran past here more than 100 years ago. Photo from 2019.

The Lockkeeper’s House is located at the corner of 17th Street and Constitution Avenue Northwest in Washington, DC on the edge of Constitution Gardens.  That location is diagonally across Constitution Avenue from the southwest corner of The Ellipse located behind the White House.  This house was used by a lockkeeper on the Washington City Canal from 1835 to 1855.  The canal was later filled in during the 1870s.  The restored lockhouse was finally reopened on October 23, 2018.

The Lockhouse at C&O Canal National Historical Park Lock #21 is better known as Swain’s Lock. The Swain family was the last canal family living in a lockhouse – the last family member didn’t move out until 2006!   The Canal Trust, the non-profit partner of the C&O Canal National Historical Park has been working on efforts to rennovate the lockhouse since 2015.  Once completed, the lockhouse will be the seventh location in the innovative Canal Quarters Program.  The Canal Quarters Program lets visitors spend the night in a restored canal lockhouse, which keeps these otherwise abandoned structures in use and also raises much-needed funds for their upkeep.  Each of the seven lockhouses also has their own passport cancellation as well.   In addition, the lockhouse is large enough that once-completed it will also provide classroom space for educational programs in the park.  Swain’s Lock is having an open house on Saturday afternoon, June 29, 2019 – if you are in the Washington area, that will be a great opportunity to check it out and to obtain what will surely be a Passport cancellation that is rarely collected on-site.

Mill Bluff State Park in Camp Douglas, Wisconsin is part of the Ice Age National Scientific Reserve, and has apparently also received a new cancellation for the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, which passes to the east of here. Photo from 2012.

The Ice Age National Scenic Trail is located entirely in Wisconsin, and takes long-distance hikers along landscapes that were right on the edge of what is now known as the Wisconsin glaciation.   The new stamp is a little surprising, however, as the actual route of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail actually passes several miles to the east of Mill Bluff State Park near Camp Douglas, Wisconsin.  Mill Bluff State Park is a participant in the Ice Age National Scientific Reserve Affiliated Area of the National Park Service, which includes nine Wisconsin State Parks, and is one of seven sites that already has a Cancellation for the Reserve.  Of those seven, it was the only one that did not also have a cancellation for the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, so perhaps that explains why a new cancellation was added for this site, despite not actually being on the Trail route.

The Ranger III is a National Park Service vessel that takes passengers to Isle Royale National Park.  The vessel is based in the town of Houghton, Michigan in the “upper peninsula of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula” and located near Keweenaw National Historical Park.  The new stamp will mean that visitors traveling to Isle Royale National Park from Houghton, Michigan will be able to get a second stamp before the even arrive on the island thanks to the NPS Visitor Center in Houghton and this one on board the boat.

The Prairie Trails Museum is located in Corydon, Iowa, in the south-central part of the state.  This month it becomes one of around a dozen Passport locations for the Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail, from Nauvoo, Illinois to Salt Lake City, Utah.

Finally, there is a new stamp for the Underground Railroad Freedom Network at the Longfellow House – Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site in Cambridge, Massachusetts.   This stamp finally replaces the older stamp with this site’s old designation as Longfellow National Historic Site on it – despite the fact that “Washington’s Headquarters” was added to the site name back in December 2010.  The poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was a noted anti-slavery advocate in his time, and voiciferous opponent of the Fugitive Slave Act.  Although I couldn’t find any evidence that Longfellow sheltered fugitive slaves at his home, which is now a National Historic Site, there is good evidence of him providing financial support to others who sheltered fugitive slaves on the Underground Railroad.

Final Shot: The Longfellow House – Washington’s Headquarter’s National Historic Site has a new Passport cancellation for the Underground Railroad Freedom Network this month. Photo from 2015.
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Just What Is a National Park Anyways? And How Do You Get 401 of Them?

Whenever I tell people that I’m trying to visit all of the U.S. National Parks at least once, one of the first questions that inevitably follows is: “How many national parks are there?”

When I answer that “there’s 401 of them,” their eyes often grow big, as many people have no idea there’s so many.  That reaction is then often followed by something along the lines of “Oh, so you mean that you are trying to visit not just national parks, but also all the national monuments, and national historic sites, right?”

Well, yes and no.   There are indeed only 59 places with the designation national park,  which are places like Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Grand Canyon, which most people think of when they hear the term national park.  However, there’s nothing simple or straightforward about what are the other kinds of designations that make up the U.S. National Park System.  Its pretty much the case that there’s a list, and you just simply have to know what’s on the list.  I’ll try and give a brief overview of what I mean here, and from time to time I’m planning to come back to this topic to explain more of the details.

So, without further ado, her are the designations that make up the National Park System:

National Parks – You can’t go wrong with this one.  There are 59 of these, and not surprisingly, all 59 count towards the list of national park sites.

National Historic Sites & National Historical Parks – There are 125 of these – the most of any type.  In theory, a national historical park is simply a larger, or more-expansive, national historic site.  In practice, I find there isn’t often a clear line of distinction between the two, (as with so many things!)  In any event, the vast majority of these areas count towards the list of national park sites, but there are a few exceptions, which I’ll discuss in a future post.  The 125 sites also includes one International Historic Site.

National Monuments – Just to make things confusing, would you believe thate the Washington Monument is notnational monument? There are 75 of these.  For the most part, a national monument is an outstanding natural area or historical/archaeological area that was protected by a Presidential proclamation – although there are exceptions to that too.  A great many national monuments are national parks, but a great many are not as well.  In fact,  there are no fewer than six different Federal agencies that manage national monuments.

National Memorials – Most of these are national park sites, and many of the 29 of those that are national park sites are in Washington, D.C.   The Lincoln Memorial is one, as is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and so is the Washington Monument.

National Battlefields & National Military Parks – Quick, think of the name of a famous Civil War or Revolutionary War Battlefield.  Odds are, the place you thought of is a national park site.  There are 25 of these.

National Recreation Areas – Just like national monuments, many of these are national park sites and many of them are not.  There are 18 of these that are national park sites, and they generally come in two varieties: many of them are reservoirs created by hydroelectric dams for water-based recreation, the others are scattered areas of urban parklands that were created to “bring the national park experience to the people.”

National Seashores & Lakeshores – There are 14 of these, and they are pretty much what the name says they are.   As near as I can tell, all of them are national park sites.

Parkways – The are actually four road-based national parks, the Blue Ridge Parkway probably being the most-famous (and also being one of my favorite national parks.)   The National Park Service actually operates several other parkways – but there’s only four that count as stand-alone national park sites.

National Scenic Trails – There are eleven long-distance national scenic trails out there, but only 3 of these that are national park sites, the most-famous of which is surely the Appalachian Trail.

National Rivers – If you thought this list was inconsistent up until now, the rivers in the National Park System only add to the confusion. This category includes some places designated as wild & scenic rivers, some as scenic & recreational rivers, some as wild rivers, and some as just plain national rivers.  Whatever their designations, all are considered part of the National Wild & Scenic Rivers System to protect their wild & scenic nature, or outstanding recreational opportunities.   Many of them are managed by the National Park Service, while many others are not.   Out of those managed by the NPS,  15 have risen to the status of being full-fledged national park sites.

National Preserves & National Reserves – Most of these, but not quite all, are national park sites, a total of 20 to be exact.  These are protected areas that generally allow a greater amount of human activity, such as hunting and trapping, that generally are not allowed in other national park sites.  Perhaps most-confusing is the fact that 9 out of the 20 of these are actually part of a bigger “national park & preserve” – which is a large national park that effectively “counts twice” towards the total of 401 national parks.

Odds & Ends – Finally, there are 11 national park sites that don’t fit into any of the above categories.  Some of them are just plain unique sites.  For example, did you know the White House is managed by the National Park Service?  Many of the others are parklands around the Greater Washington, DC Metropolitan Area that just happen to be managed by the National Park Service for historical reasons.

So there you have it!  That’s how you get to 401 national parks.

Thus, if you say that you are going to try and visit all 401 national parks, you can say that you will be visiting all the national parks,  as well as all the national seashores & lakeshores, and all the national battlefields & national military parks.  You can also say that you will be visiting most of the national historic sites & national historical parks, as well as most of the national memorials, and most of the national preserves  national reserves.   Beyond that, you can say that you will also be visiting many national monuments and many national memorials, as well as many other places that don’t fit nice and easy classifications.

What you can say, however, is that almost every visit to one of the 401 national park sites in this country will be special, and will reflect that National Park Service’s special commitment to visitation and interpretation of America’s most-important treasures.

 

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