Tag Archives: Tuskegee Airmen NHS

July & August 2018 – US Civil Rights Trail Joins the Passport Program

The graves of Martin Luther & Coretta Scott King are just one of the destinations on the new US Civil Rights Trail, which joins the Passport Program this month. Photo from 2012.

U.S. Civil Rights Trail

  • Selma
  • Lowndes
  • Tuskegee Airmen NHS
  • Carver Museum
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. NHP

Alaska Public Lands Information Center

James A. Garfield National Historic Site | Underground RR Freedom Network

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area | Circle X Ranch

California National Historic Trail | Echo Information Center, UT

Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail | Echo Information Center, UT

Pony Express National Historic Trail | Echo Information Center, UT

Ebenzer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King, Jr. began his ministry is part of Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park on the US Civil Rights Trail. Photo from 2012

Highlighting this month’s stamps are a set of five new stamps for the U.S. Civil Rights Trail partnership program. The U.S. Civil Rights Trail, which was just launched in 2017, actually has nothing to do with the National Historic Trails that so frequently feature in these regular passport cancellation update blog posts.  A National Historic Trail can only be designated by Congress, and must reflect a route whose significance arises from actually being used in history.  The U.S. Civil Rights Trail, however, is instead a branding mechanism to encourage both Americans and international tourists to explore the historic legacy of the 20th Century struggle for African-American civil rights in this country.

This program actually originated in an effort by the Obama Administration to identify additional American sites for recognition as World Heritage Sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO.) Despite the vast natural, historic, and cultural heritage of the United States, this country currently only has 23 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  That total is tied for just 10th most in the world with Iran, and behind such countries as Italy (#1 with 54 sites), Spain (47 sites), and Mexico (34 sites.)  The idea of the US Civil Rights Trail is to connect together all of the significant sites associated with the civil rights movement, that might ultimately become suitable for nomination to be recognized as a World Heritage Site.  UNESCO encourages such “serial nominations” that include multiple related and thematically connected locations together as a single “site,” so the concept of the US Civil Rights Trail could well boost the United States’ chances of being so recognized.

Currently, the US Civil Rights Trail actually includes nearly 100 different places in 14 primary destination cities, as well as in dozens of secondary destination cities.  Some of the 14 primary destination cities need little introduction to anyone with even a cursory knowledge of the history of the civil rights movement, including Atlanta, Birmingham, Memphis, and Washington.  Others included in the 14 primary destination cities may be less familiar.  Farmville, Virginia was the site of a school desegregation case that was ultimately rolled into the more famous Brown v. Board of Education case from Topeka, Kansas.  Sumner, Mississippi is part of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area and was the site of the infamous murder of Emmitt Till (January 2017 Parkasaurus).  Greensboro, North Carolina was the site of the first sit-in at a Woolworth’s lunch counter.

This month’s batch of new cancellations for the US Civil Rights Trail covers the fully-operational National Park Service sites in the National Park Service’s Southeast Region.  The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park in Atlanta, Georgia preserves both the home where the famed civil rights activist grew up and the Church where he first began to preach, and also has a fantastic visitor center. In an innovative approach, the visitor center includes a number of kiosks where you can actually hear the words of Martin Luther King from records of his speeches, and you can wander in and out of them as you browse the exhibits.

The George Washington Carver Museum can be found at the Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site a short drive away in Alabama.  Tuskegee is also home to the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site.  Also in Alabama, the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail commemorates the route of the historic voting rights match from the city of Selma to the state capitol in Montgomery.  The Trail has two visitor centers, one in Selma, and one near the midpoint of the trail in Lowndes County.  Presumably, the recently-established Birmingham Civil RightsFreedom Riders, and Reconstruction Era National Monuments will also get their own US Civil Rights Trail cancellations once those new national parks are fully up and running.

Eventually, National Park Service sites that are included in the US Civil Rights Trail, but are located outside the Southeast Region may eventually also request cancellations for the US Civil Rights Trail.  As of this writing, that list would include:

These ruins can be found in the Solstice Canyon area of Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, which adds a new cancellation this month. Photo from 2007.

Among the other stamps this month is a new cancellation for the Alaska Public Lands Information Center in Anchorage, Alaska which provides information on all sorts of public lands in south-central Alaska.  This location had already been a cancellation location for the Iditarod National Historic Trail and for Lake Clark National Park & Preserve.  Now it gets a cancellation of its own.

The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area was established in 1978 in suburban Los Angeles as part of the movement to establish urban National Recreation Areas.  Like many newer national parks, this area is largely run in partnerships with the state of California, local governments, universities, and private land holders.  In fact, the National Park Service actually only controls just a bit more than 23,000 of this park’s nearly 157,000 acres, which is just 15% of the total land.  The Circle X Ranch is among those federally-managed parcels of land.  The Ranch was formerly a Boy Scout Camp, but now serves as the only National Park Service-managed campground within the park.

The Echo Canyon Information Center is a highway rest area accessible from westbound Interstate 80 in eastern Utah.  It formerly had stamps for the California, Mormon Pioneer, and Pony Express National Historic Trails from 2011 until the center temporarily closed in 2016.  Now that the center has reopened, it has a new set of Passport cancellations.

Finally, there are are six stamps that have been removed from the list this month.

El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail | El Camino Real Int’l Heritage Ctr, NM

Trail of Tears National Historic Trail | Junaluska Memorial & Museum, NC

California National Historic Trail | Salt Lake City, UT

Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail | Salt Lake City, UT

Oregon National Historic Trail | Salt Lake City, UT

Pony Express National Historic Trail | Salt Lake City, UT

The El Camino Real Heritage Center in central New Mexico and the Intermountain Region Trails Office are both temporarily closed for rennovations.  The Memorial and Museum to Cherokee Chief Junaluska, who fought with Andrew Jackson at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, in Robbinsville, North Carolina was damaged several years ago during severe storms and has been closed indefinitely.

Final Shot: A trail heading off into the distance in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Photo from 2007.
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Liven Up Your Passport with Commemorative Stickers

EPSON MFP image
An example of how special commemorative stamps can liven up the pages of your Parks Pasport.

The Passport to Your National Parks program offers at least one passport stamp at each of the national parks in the U.S. National Park System.  One of the beauties of the program is its consistency.   At the same time, however, its hard to deny that there isn’t something a little boring about the Passport stamps themselves – each of them are the same round circle with text around the upper border, text around the lower border, and a date across the middle.

Thus, to liven up the pages of your Parks Passport Book, the creators of the Passpor Program, Eastern National, annually offer for sale a set of ten commemorative stamps to live up the pages of your Parks Passport.  In the early days of the Passport Program, back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, these comemorative stamps were sold in the same style and format as postage stamps – with special envelope mounts for mounting them in your Passport.   Nowadays, the commemorative stamps are sold in an easy-to-use sticker format.

Each commemorative stamp features a photo of a national park, as well as a short explanatory blurb about the park.   The photos are selected each year from submissions made by National Park Service employees and volunteers.   Each year there is one commemorative stamp for each of the nine geographical regions in the Passport Program, as well a tenth, large-format, national stamp each year – typically for a national park celebrating a special anniversary that year.

Anyhow, the news this week is that Eastern National has announced the nine new commemorative stamps for 2015:

The selection of Appomattox Courthouse as the 2015 National Commemorative Stamp is no surprise.   On April 9, 1865 Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant, effectively ending the CIvil War 150 years ago in 2015.

Likwise, the selection of Ford’s Theatre NHS also makes perfect sense, as it was the site, 150 years ago on April 14, 1865 of President Lincoln’s Assasination.   Somewhat interestingly, this makes Ford’s Theatre a relatively rare park to now have two commemorative annual regional stickers, as Ford’s Theatre was previously the featured sticker for the National Capital Region in 1993.   A duplication was somewhat inevitable, however, as 2015 is the 30the year that commemorative stamps/stickers have been issued, there are only 24 national parks in the National Capital Region, and the last national park in the National Capital Region to get its own sticker, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove on the Potomac, finally got its own sticker last year.

The LBJ Memoria Grove on the Potomac features a large stone obelisk, and in 2014 it became the last  national park in the National Capital Region to get its own commemorative stamp.
The LBJ Memoria Grove on the Potomac features a large stone obelisk, and in 2014 it became the last national park in the National Capital Region to get its own commemorative stamp.

 

The only other park to have been featured twice on regional stickers under the same name is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which was the National Capital Region sticker on the first commemorative stamp/sticker set way back in 1986, and then was featured again in 1994 – marking the addition of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial statue the previous year in 1983.  Four other national parks in Washington, DC have had different individual memorials within those parks featured on the annual commemorative stamps in different years.   Meanwhile, its worth noting that Fort Clatsop National Memorial, which marks the place where the explorers Lewis & Clark finally reached the Pacific Ocean, was featured on the 1992 sticker for the Pacific Northwest & Alaska Region.   After the name of this national park was changed by Congress to Lewis & Clark National Historical Park, it was featured again on a commemorative regional sticker in 2010.

Interestingly, the Southwest, North Atlantic, Midwest, and Rocky Mountain Region all have between 39 and 43 national parks in them.  Thus, all four of those regions will likely reach the point of having each national park within those regions on at least one commemorative regional sticker within the next 10 years or so.

In the meantime, enjoy filling in your Passport Books with the latest set of commemorative stickers.

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