George Grant the First Chief Photographer of the National Park Service

 

After learning about National Parks Magazine, Craig and I got several issues from the library. The fall 2015 issue had an article about George Grant, the first chief photographer of the National Park Service. I had seen several of Grant’s photographs before, but now I know who took them. You may recognize this one of Superintendent Horace Albright taken in Yellowstone National Park.

The article says that during Grant’s “quarter century as the national parks’ principal staff photographer, he crisscrossed the country numerous times, traveling more than 140,000 miles to capture more than 30,000 images from nearly all the national parks, monuments, and historic sites that existed at the time.”  One of the photographs that struck me was Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas National Park. It looks the same so many years later!

If you would like to see more of George Grant’s work, as well as many other national park photographs, this is where I searched on the NPS website. Here is an article about Grant.

Shown is a view of the Grand Canyon looking west, Grand Canyon National Park, June 19, 1930. National Park Service photograph by George A. Grant.

Shown is a view of the Grand Canyon looking west, Grand Canyon National Park, June 19, 1930. National Park Service photograph by George A. Grant.

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Capitol Reef

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Dry Tortugas National Park

The Dry Tortugas are seven islands located nearly 70 miles west of Key West. You can take the official concesionare ferry (the Yankee Freedom), a seaplane or your own boat to get there. Most visitors plan a day trip by ferry. The ferry costs about $175 per person, but check during the year for coupons. They sometimes give $25-$50 off. You should know, the Yankee Freedom ferry is very fast and several people were seasick on our trip. We took Bonine just in case and were fine. We stood out in the front of the ferry for most of the trip back and forth. I saw a huge sea turtle! You can also camp for $8 per night. The Yankee Freedom ferry will carry your gear for you. The campsites were pretty nice and some were shaded by trees. They were steps from a beautiful beach.

The Island you will visit on your day trip is Garden Key. Most of the island is taken up by Fort Jefferson. This fort was built from 1846-1875. It was built to protect an important shipping channel. In 1825 a lighthouse was built to warn vessels about the dangerous reefs. There are many shipwrecks all around the islands. The fort was also used as a prison during the Civil War. Audobon loved the islands for bird watching and Hemingway for sport fishing.

There were two tours offered of the fort. A 30 minute one and one that took an hour and 1/2. Craig and I just did a self guided tour. There are apps you can download for this. We toured the fort for about half an hour-45 minutes, got our national park stamps in the visitor center and then went snorkeling with our new masks! We rinsed off, changed and had lunch on the ferry. Then we went back out to take more pictures. I also got a new t-shirt in the gift shop. It takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes to get to Garden Key by ferry. We left at 8am from Key West and got back about 5pm. We did not feel rushed, but would love to spend more time on the islands camping for our next trip.

It was a great visit and our 18th national park! Craig and I were celebrating our 20th anniversary and we had a wonderful time in the Florida Keys and the three Florida national parks. More posts about our Florida road trip soon!

Death in Yellowstone (and Other National Parks)

The past few weeks several very sad but avoidable accidents have happened at Yellowstone National Park. In May, a lady taking a picture of an Eagle stepped into the road and got hit by a car. On Tuesday, a pair of siblings from Oregon walked 225 yards off the boardwalks in Norris Geyser Basin and one slipped and fell into a hot spring. The water temperatures in Norris are the hottest in the park and range from 199 to 449 degrees. The day before, a 13 year old was being carried by his father as they walked off the designated trail in the Upper Geyser Basin. They slipped and got burned in a hot spring. Many signs are posted at the geyser basins warning visitors to stay on the boardwalks and marked paths. Information packets in different languages are also handed out when you enter the parks.

Rangers and Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk have said that park visitation is already up 60% this year. It is the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service and with cheaper gas, social media interest and unrest overseas, people want to travel to the parks. 

There have been a lot of “crazy tourist” news stories already coming from the parks. I am sure you read or heard about the two tourists putting a Bison calf in their car to save it because they thought it was cold. Or High On Life, a group of Canadian tourists with a clothing line that blatantly ignored several National Park rules and then posted the pictures of themselves doing it to Instagram and Facebook. They have warrants issued for their arrests, but made it back to Canada. Then you have the woman petting a Bison– a wild animal that weighs over a ton and can move at 40mph. Park warnings say to keep 100 yards from Bears and Wolves and 25 yards from Bison and Elk. This woman also made news by approaching an Elk too closely.

In Glacier National Park a young man just died jumping into a pool of water in Running Eagle Falls. A climber died in Zion in March and last year there was an awful accident in Keyhole Canyon.  The last time Craig and I visited Yellowstone in 2014, a young girl fell at The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone the day we were there. Last year, a park employee made news when a bear attacked him while he was out alone running or walking without bear spray. On Monday a man fell while taking pictures in Acadia National  Park.

Throughout history accidents have happened in our wild places. Some are avoidable and some are due to weather and nature. I for one am glad there are still so many wild places left in this country and I hope they stay that way. Some great books to read before your trips are Death in Yellowstone, Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite and Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon. There are also a few other parks with books like these. They will give you a new found respect for the parks and the people that have to try and rescue visitors that make often fatal mistakes.


If you are visiting any National Parks during the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, do some research before you go, read the information and warnings at the parks, respect the animals in their home and respect the fragile ecosystems.  If you plan to hike, carry water and bear spray or join a Ranger led hike. Too many are carving and spray painting rocks, leaving trash everywhere and not following warnings. Please do not ruin it for those of us that love and respect these places. Go and have an amazing time and be an ambassador for our parks!

Adams National Historical Park-Quincy, MA

Here are some pictures of our recent day trip to Adams NHP. The historic homes were closed until April, but the grounds were open and so was the visitor center. We were able to get 4 new stamps for the National Park Passport!

Adams NHP was home to four generations of the Adams family. John Adams was the 2nd president of the United States and his son John Quincy was the 6th president.

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History, Geography and the National Parks

Retail-Guide-PreviewI was watching The Revenant the other night and I really enjoyed it. Parts of it are very intense, but the cinematography is amazing and the scenery is beautiful. It is based on the true story of Hugh Glass an American frontiersman, trapper, and explorer.

I have always loved history, especially the history of the US and the West. Visiting our National Parks has really renewed this interest. I feel like Craig and I have been walking through history when we visit the parks and historic sites. I have also learned so much about where the parks are located. I had general ideas about where certain places were, but now I can locate them much faster, tell you what is near the parks and how to get there. I can map a great route for a road trip, find other great sites to visit and tell you about towns and cities nearby. Trip Advisor has been such a helpful resource. The people on their message boards are great. I also love getting books out of our local library. Then, if I decide I like the book I can purchase it for our trips.

When you visit the parks, the ranger led tours and talks are wonderful for learning. You can check for schedules online before you go. They will also be listed at the visitors centers and in the park newspapers. There are geology talks, star viewing, ranger led hikes and walks, nature talks, history talks, animal talks and much more! Most parks also have a museum. 

  

I wish my family had visited more National Parks when I was younger. I would have learned so much about the history of our country. I hope many people will visit the parks in 2016 for the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service!

 

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Minute Man National Historic Park-MA

Yesterday, Craig and I took a trip to Minute Man NHP. It was only about 45 minutes away from us. It is a great day trip from Boston if you are visiting, or stop there if you are on a road trip in the North East. It is close to the Saugus Iron Works NHS and Salem Maritime NHS. This is where the American Revolution started. Where “the shot heard round the world” was fired. It is hallowed ground.

The park starts in Lexington and goes to Concord. You can drive and park at the different sites or walk or bike. There are several Visitor’s Centers-two have National Park passport stamps in them. Along the Battle Road Trail you will see Hartwell Tavern, the Paul Revere capture site, the Bloody Angle and more. There are ranger walks, battle reenactments and musket firings during the day. You can pick up info at the Visitor’s Centers. 

A few other places you should visit while in the area if you love literature are the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery where Thoreau, Emerson, Hawthorne and the Alcotts are buried, Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House and Walden Pond State Reservation. We had a great day walking through history and will be back!

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Walden Pond

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Castillo De San Marco and Fort Matanzas National Monuments

Beautiful. Old. Saint Augustine was founded on September 8, 1565. The Castillo De San Marco was started in 1672. The fort was declared a National Monument in 1924 and the site is about 20.5 acres. The fort was built with limestone called coquina. Because it is so porous, canon balls stuck in the walls instead of shattering them!

Saint Augustine is a great place to visit if you find yourself in Florida.  It is a nice day trip from Central Florida. There are lots of shops, restaurants and museums. 

We really wanted to visit to see the forts and get our National Passport book stamped!

The Castillo De San Marco was beautiful and the views of the ocean were really relaxing. We spent a lot of time walking around and looking at everything.

Fort Matanzas is located about 15 miles before Saint Augustine and the Castillo De San Marco. It was built by the Spanish in 1742 to guard Matanzas Inlet and Saint Augustine. It was also declared a National Monument in 1924. You reach the fort by boat and there are timed tickets you get at the visitor center/gift shop.  We missed a boat on our way in to Saint Augustine, so we got tickets for the last boat trip of the day. This wound up being great-Craig and I were the only ones on the boat. We got a private tour! They did not rush us at all and we were even able to lower the Spanish military flag at the monument.