Tag Archives: Underground Railroad: Network to Freedom

October, November, & December 2016 New Stamps

The Lolo Pass Visitor Center has a new stamp for the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. Photo from 2004.

As I return to blogging, I am going to quickly catch up by combining the new stamps for the last three months of 2016:

Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail | Lolo Pass, ID

North Country National Scenic Trail | Finger Lakes National Forest, NY

Ohio & Erie National Heritage Canalway |

      • Brecksville Nature Center
      • Canalway Center
      • Century Cycles

Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail |

      • Bitterroot Valley, MT
      • Cape Disappointment State Park
      • Farragut State Park
      • Grand Coulee Dam
      • The REACH Museum
      • Tulalatin, OR
      • Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge

Underground Railroad Freedom Network | Allegheny Portage Railroad NHS

Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor | Stephen & Harriet Myers Residence
Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area | Stephen & Harriet Myers Residence

Oregon National Historic Trail |

      • Craters of the Moon NM & PRES
      • Fossil Butte NM

Pony Express National Historic Trail | Camp Floyd State Park

The Lolo Pass in Idaho is where the Lewis & Clark expedition made a treacherous mountain crossing in September 1805, despite the early onset of winter weather.  This stamp will be available at the US Forest Service’s Lolo Pass Visitor Center on US Route 12.  The new stamp for the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail finally replaces a previous stamp that had been available here from 2004 to 2007.  In addition, this site has had a stamp for the Nez Perce National Historic Trail since 2011.

The new North Country National Scenic Trail replaces a previous stamp reading simply “New York” on the bottom that had been available at both the US Forest Service Finger Lakes Ranger Station in the town of Hector, NY as well as at Fort Stanwix National Monument in Rome, NY.  The “New York” stamp is still available at Fort Stanwix.

There are three new stamps for the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area in eastern Ohio, joining six others from August 2016.  The Brecksville Nature Center provides interpretation and access to hiking trails in Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  The new stamp for the Canalway Center replaces an existing stamp for “Cuyahoga Heights, OH” at the Leonard Krieger Canalway Center.  Finally, Century Cycles provides bike rentals for trips along the Ohio & Erie Canal towpath from the town of Peninsula, Ohio, right in the center of Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  These two non-replacement additions bring the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area up to a total of 15 cancellation locations.

The Grand Coulee Dam is a new stamping location for the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail. This 2001 photo shows release of excess water from Lake Roosevelt. Photo from Bureau of Reclamation.

The 7 new stamps this month for the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail join 7 others from September 2015, for a total of 14 for the Trail.   The Ravalli County Museum in the town of Hamilton in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley already has an official stamp for the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail and a semi-official stamp for the Nez Perce National Historic Trail, as the valley extends north-south to Idaho’s Lolo Pass, which was mentioned earlier.  Farragut State Park is located on the south shore of northern Idaho’s Lake Pend Oreille.  The Park owes its name to the World War II-era Farragut Naval Training Station, named after the hero of the Battle of Mobile Bay in the Civil War.  Lake Pend Oreille meanwhile, owes its origins, at least in part, to the flood of glacial Lake Missoula, commemorated by this Trail, and which I described in this post from September 2015.   The Turnbull  National Wildlife Refuge is located just across the border in Washington State, just south of Spokane.

The floods of glacial Lake Missoula are also responsible for having created the modern-day gorge of the Columbia River. The rest of the Ice Age Floods stamps this month are related to the Columbia River.  The Bureau of Reclamation‘s Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River is responsible for creating Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area.  The REACH Museum is located downstream, and provides science education in the town of Richland, Washington.  It also serves as the Interpretive Center for the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Hanford Reach National Monument, which preserves one of the last-remaining free-flowing stretches, or “reaches,” of the Columbia River.  The town of Tualatin, Oregon is located just south of Portland.  The Tualatin Public Library contains some exhibits on the ice age history of the area, courtesy of the Tualatin Historical Society.   Finally, Cape Disappointment State Park is located on the Washington side of the mouth of the Columbia River, and is also part of Lewis & Clark National Historical Park unit of the National Park System as well as the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail.

Allegheny Portage National Historic Site is the latest stamp location in the Underground Railroad Freedom Network. This photo is of Engine House #6, which used cables to pull canal boats on rail cars up the incline. Photo from 2010.

The Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site preserves a small section of what was originally a 36 mile railroad using a series of cables to carry canal boats over the Allegheny Mountains between separate sections of the Pennsylvania Canal.   Operating from 1834 to 1854, until steam engines rendered the system of canal boats and cables obsolete, the railroad is known to also have been used by slaves attempting to escape to freedom; hence its inclusion in the Underground Railroad Freedom Network.

The Stephen and Harriet Myers Residence in Albany, New York is the recently-restored mid-19th century residence of the Myers, who were free blacks, abolitionists, and in the antebellum years, the center of underground railroad activity in Albany.  The building is being restored and maintained by the Underground Railroad History Project, and is part of both the Erie Canalway National Heritage Area and the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area.

The main route of the Oregon National Historic Trail passes some 100 miles to the south of Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve in central Idaho.  However, during the civil war, in order to avoid conflicts with the Northern Shoshone and Bannock Tribes, an alternate route to the north became increasingly popular.  This route became known as Goodale’s Cutoff, and it took the wagon trains on a treacherous crossing of the Craters of the Moon lava fields in what is known the northern portion of the park.

Meanwhile, the main route of the Oregon National Historic Trail passes some 60 miles to the south of the 50 million year-old fossils of Fossil Butte National Monument at Fort Bridger and Fort Bridger State Historic Site.  However, an alternate route, known as the Sublette Cutoff, passes within just 5 miles of the park, and the park has recently added the Oregon Trail to its interpretive activities.  Interestingly, the nearest town to Fossil Butte is Kemmerer, Wyoming, which is the home of the original J.C. Penney store.

Finally, Camp Floyd State Park preserves a historic stagecoach inn, just south of the Salt Lake City metro area in the town of Fairfield.  Camp Floyd is one of the first stops where the Pony Express National Historic Trail diverges from the California National Historic Trail.   The California Trail, which took 49ers to the gold fields of California, roughly follows the route of what is now Interstate 80  across northern Utah and Nevada.  The Pony Express Trail, however, took a route that was roughly 50 miles to the south, a route that doesn’t appear to have translated into our modern road system.

 

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March & April Stories Behind the Stamps – New Additions Hit 2,000 Cancellations!

View of Halema‘uma‘u from Jaggar Museum Overlook as darkness falls. The Jaggar Museum is one of several new cancellations. Photo credit: NPS.gov
View of Halema‘uma‘u in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park from the Jaggar Museum Overlook as darkness falls. The Jaggar Museum is one of several new cancellations this month. Photo credit: NPS.gov

I missed posting last month due to some big news.  The Parkasaurus family is now officially at 5 with the birth of our third child!   Mother and baby are doing great – although everyone is working on getting more sleep.  At the suggestion of our now-5-year-old, the Toothy T-Rex, this will be “Baby Brachiosaurus” in future Parksaurus posts.  We’re delighted to have a new addition to our family!

The other big news from last month is that the Passport program is that this month’s additions mean that there are now more than 2,000 active stamps.  Counting the total number of the stamps is partly art and partly science, since whether or not two Passport stamps are “the same” can be in the eye of the beholder.  However, based on the best information we have on which stamps are made regularly available for different locations within the national parks and the National Park Service’s partners, that is the current total.   Congratulations to the Passport program on this milestone!

So with those two announcements out of the way, here’s to a double-dose of “stories behind the stamps” for March and April.

First, the new cancellations for March that took us to 2,000:

Boston African American National Historic Site | African American Trail

Castle Mountains National Monument | Nipton, CA

Gateway National Recreation Area | Jacob Riis Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

      • Jagger Museum
      • Kilauea Visitor Center
      • Panau Coastal Contact Station

Cane River National Heritage Area | Grand Ecore Visitor Center

Underground Railroad Freedom Network | Harriet Tubman UGRR NHP

And here are the new cancellations for April:

Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network | Washington’s Birthplace, VA
Underground Railroad Freedom Network | Washington’s Birthplace, VA

Oregon National Historic Trail | Oregon City, OR

Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area |

      • Iuka, MS
      • Tupelo – Birthplace of Elvis Presley

Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area |

      • Cleveland, TN
      • Grammy Museum of Mississippi
Fullscreen capture 422016 82201 AM-001
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has a spiffy logo for their own centennial this year.

The highlight of this set of new stamps are those for Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, located on the big island of Hawaii.  This park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and world-famous as easily the best place on Earth to witness a volcanic eruption in action.  This year, the park celebrates its centennial, along with the National Park Service as a whole.  The special centennial logo includes both of the park’s main volcanic features, the actively erupting crater of Kilauea is in the center, and the occasionally snow-capped Mauna Loa volcano is in the background.  Also included in the logo are the park’s pristine night sky, the endangered nene goose, a Hawaiian petroglyph, and the flower of the ‘ōhi‘a tree.  This flower is considered sacred to Pele, the native Hawaiian goddess of fire and volcanoes, and whom was believed to live in the Halema‘uma‘u Crater of Kilauea.

Since the beginning of the Passport program in 1986, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has had a single cancellation, labeled as “Hawaii National Park, Hawaii;” available at each of the park’s visitor contact locations.  This label was a perhaps unintentional tribute to the fact that the park was originally established as Hawaii National Park in 1916, and at that time, the park also included what is now known as Haleakala National Park on the island of Maui.  The two parks were separated in 1961.   Now the park will have separate cancellations at each of its main visitor contact points, including the Kilauea Visitor Center and the Jaggar Museum.   The Kilauea Visitor Center is located at the park entrance, very near the rim of Kilauea Crater.  The Thomas A. Jagger museum is devoted to the history of volcanology, or the study of volcanoes.  Located 3 miles from the Kilauea Visitor Center on the Crater Rim Road, it has a spectacular overlook for viewing the ongoing eruption, right on the edge of the crater itself.  The park has a short online tour of the Crater Rim Road for those of us who can’t make it out to Hawaii any time soon!

The Panau Coastal Contact Station is located at the end of the Chain of Craters Road, the park’s 19 mile (one way) tour road into the heart of the park.  It too has a short online tour available. This contact station is a mobile facility, allowing it to be moved out of harms way in response to changing volcanic activity.   A few years ago, it was possible to see a lava flow meeting the ocean at the end of the road, but as of this writing in 2016, there has not been volcanic activity in the area for several years.  Still a trip to the end of the Chain of Craters Road will take you to the Hōlei Sea Arch.  Also near the end of the Chain of Craters Road is the parking area for a short 0.7 miles (one way) trail to the Pu’u Loa petroglyph site with some 23,00 petroglyphs – so the road is still well worth taking on your visit.

Harriet Tubman - Underground Railroad National Historic Park has logically added an Underground Railroad: Network to Freedom Cancellation. Photo from 2014.
Harriet Tubman – Underground Railroad National Historic Park has logically added an Underground Railroad: Network to Freedom Cancellation. Photo from 2014.

Several other stamps were also issued to full-fledged units of the National Park System.  The brand-new Castle Mountains National Monument received its first Passport cancellation, which will, as expected, be located at the various visitor centers for Mojave National Preserve.  The relatively new Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park in Maryland has also very logically received a secondary cancellation for the Underground Railroad: Network to Freedom  partnership program. The Boston African American National Historic Site includes both the NPS-managed Abiel Smith School site, as well as the Black Heritage Trail connecting 14 mostly privately-held historic sites related to free African Americans who lived in Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood.  As of this writing, its not clear why the stamp reads “African-American Heritage Trail” but the NPS website refers to it as the trade-marked “Black Heritage Trail.”

The Gateway National Recreation Area provides urban recreation opportunities in and around New York City.  The Jacob Riis Park, on the south side of Jamaica Bay, is a popular beach destination for New Yorkers in the summer.   This cancellation will be located at the rennovated historic bathhouse in the park.

The Toothy T-Rex is 3.5 years old in this picture, about the age George Washington might have walked these very shores of the Potomac River watching tobacco being ferried out to trading ships. Photo from 2014.
The Toothy T-Rex is 3.5 years old in this picture, about the age George Washington would have been when he would  have walked these very shores of the Potomac River watching tobacco being ferried out to trading ships deeper in the river. Photo from 2014.

Finally, the George Washington Birthplace National Monument in Virginia marks the location of the colonial plantation on Popes Creek where George Washington was born.  There is a reconstruction of a period-appropriate plantation house on the site, but more-recent archaeological work indicates that the Augustine Washington Plantation house would actually have looked much different than the reconstruction.  George Washington would live here until he was four, before moving to Ferry Farm near present-day Fredericksburg, Virginia (which like the Birthplace National Monument is also part of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail.)   Like almost all Virginia plantations of this time period,  Augustine Washington’s Popes Creek plantation would have relied upon slaves, estimated to be about 20-25 slaves in this case.   The replicas of the places where the slaves lived and worked here places this park in the Underground Railroad: Network to Freedom.

Apart from the replica colonial plantation at this site, many visitors may overlook that this park includes a one mile hiking trail through a marsh bordering Popes Creek, as well as a section of beach along the Potomac River.  The Potomac River site is where a young George Washington may have watched tobacco being ferried out to waiting ships in the Potomac River.

The US Army Corps of Engineers' Grand Ecore Visitor Center on the Red River is the newest cancellation location for the Cane River National Heritage Area.
The US Army Corps of Engineers’ Grand Ecore Visitor Center on the Red River is the newest cancellation location for the Cane River National Heritage Area.

Among partnership sites this month, the Cane River National Heritage Area commemorates the unique Creole culture of northwest Louisiana.   The center of the Heritage Area, the town of Natchitoches, has the distinction of being the oldest town in the former Louisiana Purchase, having been founded in 1714, some four years before New Orleans.  It was founded on the banks of the Red River as an outpost for the fur trade with the Spanish in nearby present-day Texas.  The Grand Ecore Visitor Center is a US Army Corps of Engineers facility that interprets the Corps’ management of the Red River, as well as nearby Confederate earthworks from the Civil War. “Ecore” is the French word for “bluffs,” and refers to the bluffs of the Red River on which it is located.

The town of Oregon City, Oregon is located on the southeastern edge of the Portland metro area in Oregon, and is home to the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center.   Why does the Oregon Trail end in Oregon City, you may ask?  The town of Oregon City was founded as a fur trading outpost and a lumber mill at the confluence of the Clackamas and Willamette Rivers.  At the height of travel on the Oregon Trail, Oregon City was the largest town in the area, and in 1844 it became the administrative capital of the newly-formed Oregon Territory.  It would not be until near the end of the 19th Century that Portland, with its deepwater port, would overtake Oregon City in size.  In addition to the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, Oregon City is also home to the McLoughlin House Unit of Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.  John McLoughlin founded Oregon City while he was with the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1829, and he returned to Oregon City to build this house after leaving the Company in 1846.

Tupelo, Mississippi is home to the tiny Tupelo National Battlefield - and also the birthplace of Elvis Presley!
Tupelo, Mississippi is home to the tiny Tupelo National Battlefield – and also the birthplace of Elvis Presley!

The Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area and the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area are located in in northeast and northwest Mississippi, respectively.   The town of Cleveland, MS is in Bolivar County (which has its own Mississippi Delta NHA cancellation) and is home to the Grammy Museum Mississippi.  This extension of the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles opened March 5, 2016.  The town of Iuka, Mississippi, meanwhile, is located in Tishomingo County (which has its own Mississippi Hills NHA cancellation).   According to its Wikipedia Page, spring water from here won first prize at the St. Louis World’s Fair – so there is that.

Tupelo, Mississippi is the center of the Mississippi Hills NHA.  In addition to hosting the flagship Visitor Center for the Natchez Trace Parkway and the tiny Tupelo National Battlefield,  it is also home to the  privately-held Birthplace of Elvis Presley.  There’s no denying Presley’s enormous impact on American popular culture, but given that most historic sites associated with his life are privately held, the inclusion of a site like this through a National Heritage Area is likely the closest the National Park System will come to including a site devoted to “The King.”

With the new cancellations from March and April added in, there are now 2,006 active  cancellations available.  If you exclude the anniversary and special event cancellations, there are still 1,910 active cancellations available.  Always more to explore!

The Holei Sea Arch is one of the attractions at the end of the Chain of Craters Road in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The Panau Coastal Contact Station at the end of the road is one of the new cancellations now available.
The Holei Sea Arch is one of the attractions at the end of the Chain of Craters Road in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The Panau Coastal Contact Station at the end of the road is one of the new cancellations now available.
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January Stamps: Steel, Slavery, and Security

The Gantry Crane is part of the Battle of Homestead self-guiding tour sponsored by the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area. Photo from 2006.

A total of 13 new stamps this month:

Everglades National Park | Nike Missile Site

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
      • Christiansted NHS
      • Fort Monroe NM
      • Fort Scott NHS
      • Monocacy NB
      • Petersburg NB’
Aerial view of the Nike Missile Base at Everglades National Park. Photo Credit: Rodney Cammouf, Nataionl Park Service
Aerial view of the Nike Missile Base at Everglades National Park. Photo Credit: Rodney Cammouf, Nataionl Park Service

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.

 

While traversing the Bitterroot Valley in 1805, Lewis & Clark received confirmation of the Lolo Pass to the north over the Bitterroot Mountains. This photo from the Lochsa River, just beyond the Lolo Pass, illustrates the harsh, mountainous terrain, they would have to cross to reach the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean.
While traversing the Bitterroot Valley in 1805, Lewis & Clark received confirmation of the Lolo Pass to the north over the Bitterroot Mountains. This photo from the Lochsa River, just beyond the Lolo Pass, illustrates the harsh, mountainous terrain, they would have to cross to reach the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean. Photo from 2005

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.

This decaying water tower is one of the signature landmarks at the Battle of Homestead site in the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area.. Photo from 2006.

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.

Appomattox Plantation at City Point in Petersburg National Battlefield once had a number of slaves before it was occupied by the Union Army in the closing stages of the Civil War.  Photo from 2015.

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.

Fort Scott National Historic Site
Fort Scott National Historic Site in Kansas is one of several new sites adding an Underground Railroad: Network to Freedom Passport stamp this month. Photo from 2006.

 

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August Stamps from Alaska to the Chesapeake Bay

Denali National Park & Preserve has one new stamp this month.  Photo from 2008.
Denali National Park & Preserve has one new stamp among the huge stack of new stamps  this month. Photo from 2008.

 

There is a huge stack of new stamps this month.

    First the stamps for actual units of the National Park System:

      • Waco Mammoth National Monument | Waco, TX
      • Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area | LIttle Brewster Island
      • Olympic National Park – Sol Duc Hot Springs
      • Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore | N. Manitou Island
    Next are a number of stamps for Trails and Heritage Areas:

      • Juan Bautista de Anza NHT | Big Break
      • Juan Bautista de Anza NHT | Ford Ord NM
      • Juan Bautista de Anza NHT | Monterrey, CA
      • Trail of Tears NHT | Historic Blythe Ferry
          Captain John Smith Chesapeake NHT |

            • Belle Isle State Park
            • Caledon State Park
            • Chippokes Plantation State Park
            • First Landing State Park
            • Kiptopeke State Park
            • Leesylvania State Park
            • Mason Neck State Park
            • Chickahominy Riverfront Park
            • Henricus Historical Park
            • James City County, VA
            • Mathews, VA
            • Reedville, VA
            • Vienna,  MD
          Champlain Valley National Heritage Parntership |

            • American Museum of Fly Fishing
            • ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain
            • Green Mountain National Forest
            • Saratoga National Historical Park
    Then there a group of stamps all issued for the same location:

      • Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network | Port Tobacco, MD
      • Potomac Heritage NST | Port Tobacoo, MD
      • Star-Spangled Banner NHT | Port Tobacoo, MD
      • Underground Railroad Freedom Network | Port Tobacco, MD
      • Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route NHT | Port Tobacco, MD
    Finally, there are a few other new stamps to repot:

      • Nine new stamps (one for each region) for National Park Travelers Club Member Meet-Ups
      • Denali Park Kennels | Denali National Park & Preserve, Alaska
Waco Mammoth National Monument is the newest unit of the National Park System. Photo Credit: E. Wilson
Waco Mammoth National Monument is the newest unit of the National Park System. Photo Credit: E. Wilson

Waco Mammoth National Monument is the newest unit of the U.S. National Park System – so this is its first stamp.  You can read more about it in the Parkasaurus Post on it.

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.)

The Sol Duc Falls are among the scenic highlights near the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort in Olympic National Park.  Photo from 2003.
The Sol Duc Falls are among the scenic highlights near the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort in Olympic National Park. Photo from 2003.

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.

This month’stamp for the Historic Blythe Ferry is actually the third stamp for the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail to be located at Tennessee’s Cherokee Removal Park.  It joins the existing stamps for Meigs County, TN and the stamp added last month for Cherokee Removal MEM Park. TN.

 

Caledon State Park in Virginia is among the many Virginia State Parks receiving a new stamp for the Captain John Smith Chesapeake Naitonal HIstoric Trail this month.  Photo from 2012.
Caledon State Park in Virginia is among the many Virginia State Parks receiving a new stamp for the Captain John Smith Chesapeake Naitonal HIstoric Trail this month. Photo from 2012.

 

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 Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership is a National Heritage Area program for the area around Lake Champlain on the New York – Vermont border, as well as areas to the south around the Champlain Canal and Lake George.  These four additional stamps give it a total of nine passport locations.  Of these four, only the ECHO Leahy Center at the ECHO Lake Aquarium in Burlington, Vermont is located on Lake Champlain itself.   The Green Mountain National Forest is headquartered in Rutland, Vermont to the south, and the American Museum of Fly Fishing is even further south in Manchester, Vermont.  Saratoga National Historical Park is an actual outright national park, and commemorates the decisive American victory that was the turning point of the American Revolutionary War.  Through a quirk of overlapping designations, Saratoga NHP is actually part of three National Heritage Areas, as it is also included in the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area and the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor.

Thomas Stone National Historic Site in Maryland has expanded its stamp offerings this month!

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.

Visit the Denali National Park & Preserve kennels and you could see a sled dog like Annie!  Photo from NPS.gov.
Visit the Denali National Park & Preserve kennels and you could see a sled dog like Annie! Photo from NPS.gov.

Finally, Denali National Park & Preserve is the only national park that is patrolled by dogsled in the winter.  In the summer, the dogsled kennels are open for tours and demonstrations.  The National Park Service has a web page devoted to the kennels, including photos and bios of each of the sled dogs.   A visit to the kennels here is truly a unique national parks experience!   The addition of this stamp gives Denali National Park & Preserve a total of eight passport cancellations.

With this month’s numerous additions there are now 1,948 active Passport cancellations, or 1,851 excluding anniversary and special event cancellations.

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Harriet Tubman National Monument

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I recently had occasion to visit one of the newest national parks, the Harriet Tubman – Underground Railroad National Monument on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. There’s very little doubt that Harriet Tubman’s profile in American History and in modern-day American imagination makes her worthy of being honored with a site in the U.S. National Park System.   There’s also no question that for years the absence of a national park site dedicated to the Underground Railroad was a surprising omission.    However, the simple truth is that when it comes to historical places,  time is not always kind.

Nevertheless, the significance of Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad is beyond dispute.  Moreover, the State of Maryland was particularly eager to establish this national park as a catalyst for tourism on the Eastern Shore, which culminated in President Obama using the Antiquities Act to proclaim the area as a National Monument and the 399th unit of the U.S. National Park System in March 2013.

There’s no question that visiting a brand-new national park is much different than visiting one that has been fully established.   You won’t see many NPS Rangers in their wide-brimmed hats for one.   In fact, there is not yet an official visitor center, no scheduled ranger programs, and in fact,  there is not yet much in the way of any interpretive materials.

That doesn’t mean, however, that a visit can’t be worthwhile.   If you are interested in the Passport Program, there are currently a whopping three different cancellations to collect:

  • Cambridge, MD – This is the main stamp for the Park, and is kept at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, as many of the main sites for this park are located within the Wildlife Refuge boundaries.
  • Harriet Tubman Organization – This is kept at the Harriet Tubman Museum in downtown Cambridge.   This site has very limited hours, mostly in the middle of the day, so be sure to check ahead.   There also isn’t really much a musuem just yet, but these are the offices for the non-profit association that will be helping this new national park get off the ground.
  • Harriet Tubman Scenic Byway – This is kept at the Dorchester County Visitor Center at Sailwinds Park, which is the main tourism visitor center for the area.

To visit this Park, definitely stop at the Dorchester County Visitor Center, regardless of whether you collect the stamps.  You can pick up the official NPS Unigrid Brochure for the park here, as well as two brochures on the Harriet Tubman Scenic Byway.  The Byway will take you past severl of the places that are part of the official National Monument, as well as beyond into the surrounding areas, as  you follow the story of Harriet Tubman’s life.

Better yet, before you go, be sure to download the Harriet Tubman Scenic Byway app for your smart phone.  You will want to make sure that you do the download before you go as it requires a download of extra data once you open the app for the first time, and you’ll want to use a wi-fi connection to do that.   The app really enhances the Harriet Tubman experience, though,  bringing her story to life with all the production values of an old-school radio play.

Although there is not much to see just yet, other than the landscape which in many places is little-changed from when Harriet Tubman lived here, it is still possible to bring this story to life.

Meanwhile, progress is being made – here is what the site of the future visitor center, to be operated by the Maryland State Park Service, currently looks like:

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