national park history

November 10, 1978, is a Date Writ Large in National Park System History

The National Parks and Recreation Act of November 10, 1978, heavily impacted the National Park System by establishing 15 new national parks, designating 1.9 million acres of parkland wilderness, and providing funds to address the land acquisition, facilities improvement, and other needs of existing parks.

Glory, Shame, and Remembrance at Colorado’s Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site

One of the most shameful episodes of the Indian Wars occurred on November 29, 1864, when Colorado militia attacked a peaceful Indian village at Sand Creek and brutally murdered women, children, infants, and old men. Though long overdue, the November 7, 2000, authorization of a national park at the massacre site testified to America’s willingness to shine light into the darker corners of its past.

Climate Change Doomed the Historic Settlements at Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument

The ruins at Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument do more than just remind us of Spain’s shattered dreams of empire in the American Southwest. They also remind us that climate change is an old phenomenon that has powerfully influenced human well-being through the centuries.

Thanks to the California Desert Protection Act, Death Valley National Park is the Biggest Park in the Coterminous U.S.

On October 31, 1994, the California Desert Protection Act redesignated Death Valley from National Monument to National Park and added 1.3 million acres to the new National Park’s holdings. In one fell swoop, Congress had transferred bragging rights for “biggest park in the 48-state U.S.” from Yellowstone to Death Valley.

Moton Field Ceremony Highlights Grand Opening of the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site

Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site, the park that commemorates the first all-black American fighter squadron, is finally up and running at historic Moton Field. Unfortunately, relatively few of the Tuskeegee Airmen have lived long enough to see their story told in the national park established to honor them.

Park History: Fort Scott National Historic Site Tells Many Interesting Stories

Fort Scott National Historic Site in eastern Kansas celebrates its 30th birthday today, October 19. The frontier fort this park commemorates was a crossroads of American history from 1842 to 1873, being associated with the opening of the West, the “Permanent Indian Frontier,” the Mexican-American War, Bleeding Kansas, the Civil War, and the expansion of railroads.

Francis Beidler’s Long-Ago Decision Saved the Forest that Became Congaree National Park

In an action unusual for its time, timber tycoon and early conservationist Francis Beidler put his vast holdings of South Carolina forestland in timber reserve status in the early 1900s. Six decades later, Congaree Swamp National Monument, now Congaree National Park, was created from the remnants. The park celebrates its 32nd birthday today, October 18.

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site and the Struggle to Save Sweet Auburn

The establishment of Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site on October 10, 1980, did more than just preserve the martyred civil rights leader’s birth home and church. It provided further impetus for the preservation of historic Sweet Auburn, one of the most important black neighborhoods in America.

Stanley W. Abbott, Wizard of the Blue Ridge Parkway

Millions of motorists enjoy the Blue Ridge Parkway every year, but most have never heard of Stanley W. Abbott. That’s a shame. Abbott was the young landscape architect who threaded the road through the mountains and made it a scenic-recreational masterpiece.

North Cascades National Park – Forty Years on the Map, Seventy Years in the Making

Washington’s North Cascades National Park sits peacefully along the Canadian border. The serenity of this park, which marks its 40th birthday October 2, masks the story of a 70-year struggle to protect one of the most indomitable mountain landscapes in America.

Tumacacori National Historical Park Commemorates Arizona’s Oldest Spanish Mission

“God, Gold, and Glory” motivated Spanish exploration and settlement of the New World. Arizona’s Tumacácori National Historical Park, which was established August 6, 1990 (superceding the Tumacácori National Monument established in 1908), does a fine job of commemorating three missions that helped shape the history of the Southwest.

National Park History: Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park celebrated its 64th birthday June 12. More than just a marvel of biodiversity, this remote and scenic park offers a wide range of recreational choices. To get the most from your visit you’ll need to do some homework, time your visit wisely, make some prior arrangements, and be prepared for changing conditions.
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