Tag Archives: Waco Mammoth

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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Welcome Waco Mammoth National Monument as the 408th National Park

A mural of what the Columbian Mammoth herd may have looked like at Waco.  Photo from nps.gov
A mural of what the Columbian Mammoth herd may have looked like at Waco. Photo from nps.gov

Its amazing to think that less than one year ago, there were not any  national parks specifically dedicated to mammoth fossils – and now there are two!  The first is the Tule Springs Fossil Beds near Las Vegas, Nevada, which was established by Congress in December 2014.  The second is the newest unit of the National Park System, the Waco Mammoth National Monument, which was established by Presidential Proclamation under the Antiquities Act on July 10, 2015.  Prior to 2014 there were six national parks specifically dedicated to fossils in the name of the park, but all of them from eras predating the age of the mammoths:

By contrast,  mammoths lived  in North America during the Pleistocene time period, from about 2 million years ago to around 10,000 years ago.  Specifically, the mammoths at Tule Springs died approximately 250,000 years ago and the mammoths at Waco died approximately 68,000 years ago.   The mammoths at both sites are considered to be Columbian Mammoths, a species of mammoth that is related to the smaller, but more-famous, Wooly Mammoths that lived in Siberia and northern North America.  Likewise, both sites would predate the arrival of the first humans to the Americas, which different theories date as occuring anywhere between 12,000 years ago to as much as 40,000 years ago.

In addition to the age of their respective mammoth fossils being hundreds of thousands of years apart, two other things distinguish Waco Mammoth National Monument from Tule Springs National Monument and make them each unique in their own way.  First, Tule Springs is currently almost completely undeveloped.  It has no visitor center, and no displays of exposed fossils, whether in situ (still in the ground) or anywhere else.  Visiting it requires some hiking and some imagination. The second is that the Waco site preserves a nursery herd of mammoths – the only known such fossils of its kind in the United States.  This makes the fossils here especially valuable, as they tell us a great deal about how mammoths reproduced, raised their young, and how they lived with others.

The Waco Mammoth Site features displays of mammoth fossils still located in the ground.  Photo Credit: E. Wilson
The Waco Mammoth Site features displays of mammoth fossils still located in the ground. Photo Credit: E. Wilson

 

Although these are the first two national parks specifically dedicated to mammoth fossils, it turns out that mammoth fossils can be found as a secondary feature at a few other national parks.  Among the most notable is Channel Islands National Park.  Although most visitors to Channel Islands National Park, located off the cost of Los Angeles, California, either go for the scenery, or perhaps for activities like sea kayaking, hiking, or whale watching, 40,000 years ago the Channel Islands were home to the Pygmy Mammoth, a species found nowhere else in the world.

There are also two other national parks that are dedicated to the archeology of the peoples who hunted mammoths.   Bering Land Bridge National Preserve is in one of the remotest corners of western Alaska, and preserves the archeological legacy of the first American settlers who likely followed herds of wooly mammoths across the Bering Land Bridge at the end of the last ice age.   The second is Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument in the panhandle of north Texas, where some of the earliest Americans obtained flint for their spearheads with which to hunt the Columbian Mammoths found at Waco and at Tule Springs.  Naturally, the presence of humans at both sites indicates that they are much more recent than the two new national monuments dedicated to mammoths.

Likewise, it should be mentioned that perhaps the most-famous mammoth fossil site in the United States is not part of the U.S. National Park System.  Mammoth fossils have been found at the La Brea tar pits near Los Angeles, California which is now part of the Page Museum.  The fossils there also date from relatively recent history, from between 40,000 and 10,000 years ago.

Mammoths were also featured by the National Park Service as part of the 2012 National Fossil Day artwork.  According to their info, mammoth fossils have also been found at Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve in Colorado,  Glen Canyon National Recreation Area on the Utah-Arizona border, and of all places, Valley Forge National Historical Park in Pennsylvania.

Nevertheless, very few visitors to these Parks would have come away with any deeper appreciation for the way in which mammoth fossils are found, or for the ways in which mammoths lived and thrived in this country, literally for millions of years.   Waco Mammoth National Monument in particular will provide an outstanding opportunity for education about these wonderful creatures.

Its fascintating to think about how sites like Waco Mammoth connect to our present-day world.   Although these were not the Wooly Mammoths of Siberia, its still amazing to think of these giant beasts living in places like central Texas, Las Vegas, and southern California.  In fact, these giant beasts roamed here “only” a few tens of thousands of years, which really puts into context the tens of millions of years that separate us from the other fossil-focused national parks in the National Park System.

Another example of the outstanding mammoth fossils at the Waco Mammoth National Monument.  Photo credit: E. Wilson
Another example of the outstanding mammoth fossils at the Waco Mammoth National Monument. Photo credit: E. Wilson

 

(*) – It should be noted that a single fossil mammoth was found at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument in 2002, but mammoths are not the primary focus of interpretation and education there.

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