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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!Share this Parkasaurus post: