Four Hundred and Eight Strong

Imagine stepping back in time to an elegant country estate, and standing on a front porch where a presidential candidate once spoke to thousands of people. Envision a quiet island corridor between Put-in-Bay and the Ohio coast, the same place where the naval Battle of Lake Erie was waged over 200 years ago. Picture yourself walking a peaceful riverside trail, where commerce and community formerly thrived upon the Ohio and Erie Canal.

These are just a few of the scenes preserved and protected by the National Park Service (NPS), and the best part is they are all right here in Ohio. And for park rangers, these scenes are just another day at the office!

The National Park Service (NPS) is an agency of the federal government, operating within the Department of the Interior. The parks that make up the system are further divided into 7 regions: Alaska, Intermountain, Midwest, National Capital, Northeast, Pacific West, and Southeast. Ohio falls within the Midwest Region, which includes parks in or near urban areas like Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, varied landscapes such as Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, and historic locations like our own James A. Garfield National Historic Site. James A. Garfield National Historic Site (or JAGA, as it is affectionately abbreviated) is one of 408 National Park Service units across the United States, plus the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Every state has at least one National Park unit (Delaware was the last state to join the list, with the addition of First State National Historical Park, which includes the First State National Monument, in March 2013).

A guided tour of the Garfield home is a must-have experience at James A. Garfield NHS!  Garfield campaigned for president from this home and property in 1880.  (NPS photo)

A guided tour of the Garfield home is a must-have experience at James A. Garfield NHS! Garfield campaigned for president from this home and property in 1880. (NPS photo)

Work within the NPS is generally divided among six main divisions responsible for various aspects of park management. Each division typically includes a chief as well as other management staff who oversee the operations. The division names and functions may vary slightly from one site to another, but the general structure and responsibilities are similar:

Superintendent’s Office

A superintendent and his or her staff oversee all park divisions and activities. This office may also work and communicate with surrounding communities and organizations.

Administrative

The administrative staff manages many functions, including human resources and payroll, budget planning, information technology, property management and acquisition, and purchasing and contracting.

Interpretation, Education, and Visitor Services

IEVS rangers are the staff with whom visitors are most likely to interact on a visit. Interpretive rangers can be found working in visitor centers, leading tours and guided hikes, presenting educational programs to students, supervising volunteers, and organizing special events. Interpretive rangers are also busy behind the scenes, planning programs, creating brochures and park literature, and keeping the park’s website and social media accounts current.

Maintenance

Maintenance employees are responsible for upkeep of the park and its facilities, whether that is cleaning and servicing the buildings and grounds used by the public, constructing and maintaining trails, or keeping areas cleared of snow in the winter months. Some maintenance staff members, like automotive technicians, work on specialized projects depending on the needs of the site.

Visitor and Resource Protection

Visitor and resource protection Rangers are the law enforcement division of a park. These rangers are trained in first aid and incident response, so that in an emergency, they can quickly reach a victim or situation and assist. They also maintain internal communications, such as radio traffic, weather-related news, and employee contact information, and monitor park security systems.

Resource and Visitor Protection park rangers are commissioned federal law enforcement officers.  They ensure that visitors can safely enjoy their national parks and that resources are protected from damage, poaching, metal detecting, harvesting, and other illegal activities.  (NPS photo)

Resource and Visitor Protection Park Rangers are commissioned federal law enforcement officers. They ensure that visitors can safely enjoy their national parks and that resources are protected from damage, poaching, metal detecting, harvesting, and other illegal activities. (NPS photo)

Resource Management

Each park within NPS has a unique set of resources, which could include historical buildings or structures, original artifacts or documents, and natural features. Resource management could involve ecosystem management, such as invasive species or water quality monitoring, or protection of cultural and historical resources, like curating a museum collection or archaeological artifacts.

Although tasks and projects are divided amongst divisions, cooperation between them is essential in order for parks to function well. Beyond these park-level divisions, there are also regional offices for each of the seven regions. These regional offices report to the Washington, D.C. offices, the highest level in the park’s organization. Regional offices may handle affairs that cannot be handled internally at the park level, while the Washington offices handle matters at the nationwide level.

Some visitors are also curious about how one comes to work for the National Park Service in the first place. While working in or visiting a park, you might encounter people with all sorts of educational backgrounds: natural resource management, biology, fisheries and wildlife, history, social science/anthropology, park and recreation management, law enforcement, museum studies, business administration, public administration, or any number of other degrees. Many park employees begin their careers as seasonal staff or interns. Still others have worked in a variety of other industries or environments, such as experience as an educator, military veteran, outdoor recreation instructor, or park volunteer, before joining the staff.

NPS in Ohio
Ohio is home to eight National Park Service units:

  • Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument (Wilberforce)
  • Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Cleveland-Akron)
  • Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park (Dayton)
  • First Ladies National Historic Site (Canton)
  • Hopewell Culture National Historical Park (Chillicothe)
  • James A. Garfield National Historic Site (Mentor)
  • Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial (Put-in-Bay)
  • William Howard Taft National Historic Site (Cincinnati)

Not included on this list are some of the other NPS designations that are affiliated with the National Park Service (for example, the North Country National Scenic Trail, which runs through Ohio as well as six other states).

Ohio is the birthplace or home of eight U.S. presidents!  Two of them--James A. Garfield and William Howard Taft--have National Historic Sites in the state.  This is William Howard Taft National Historic Site in Cincinnati.  (NPS photo)

Ohio is the birthplace or home of eight U.S. presidents! Two of them–James A. Garfield and William Howard Taft–have National Historic Sites in the state. This is William Howard Taft National Historic Site in Cincinnati. (NPS photo)

Types of NPS Units

Keeping track of all the different designations can be a little confusing, but not to worry—just focus on learning something, having fun, and enjoying your visit! It is helpful, though, to know a little bit about the different types of parks, so you can know some of what to expect when you take your next visit (examples of each designation are in parentheses):

National Park (Acadia)

With 59 units, National Parks are some of the most recognizable and well-known units of NPS. These are generally large, natural places having a wide variety of attributes, often including significant historic or cultural elements. Hunting, mining, and consumptive activities (like collecting fossils or plants) are not authorized within units of this variety.

This Park Ranger is observing wildlife at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.  The Park Ranger hat and uniform are almost as iconic as the landscapes and places of historical significance that Rangers interpret and protect!  (NPS photo)

This Park Ranger is observing wildlife at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. The Park Ranger hat and uniform are almost as iconic as the landscapes and places of historical significance that Rangers interpret and protect! (NPS photo)

National Monument (Fort Sumter)

A National Monument could be something constructed (like a statue or fort) or something natural (such as a geologic feature). Devils Tower in Wyoming was the first national monument, established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. The Antiquities Act earlier that year authorized the president to declare landmarks, structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest as national monuments.

National Preserve (Big Cypress)

National preserves are similar to national parks, but allow a wider range of activities within their borders, such as hunting, trapping, and oil extraction. Many existing national preserves, without sport hunting, would qualify for national park designation.

National Historic Site (Clara Barton)

Usually, a national historic site contains a single, historical feature that was directly associated with its subject. Beginning with the Historic Sites Act of 1935, a number of historic sites were established by Secretaries of the Interior, but most have been authorized by Congress.

National Historical Park (Cane River Creole)

Similar to a national historic site, historical parks may center on a particular building or place, but extend into the surrounding area and the associated structures and places.

National Memorial (Mount Rushmore)

A national memorial is commemorative of a historic person or episode, but is specific in that it does not necessarily occupy a site historically or geographically connected with the subject.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial in the Black Hills of South Dakota is among the nation's best-known and most-visited national memorials.  (NPS photo)

Mount Rushmore National Memorial in the Black Hills of South Dakota is among the nation’s best-known and most-visited national memorials. (NPS photo)

National Battlefield (Antietam)

This umbrella title includes national battlefield, national battlefield park, national battlefield site, and national military park.

National Cemetery (Poplar Grove, part of Petersburg National Battlefield)

There are 14 national cemeteries in the National Park System, all of which are administered in conjunction with an associated park unit and are not accounted for separately.

Gettysburg National Cemetery is part of Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.  It was at the dedication of this cemetery that President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863.  (NPS photo)

Gettysburg National Cemetery is part of Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania. It was at the dedication of this cemetery that President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863. (NPS photo)

National Recreation Area (Santa Monica Mountains)

Recreation areas are generally found on a large body of water (it could be an unnatural lake, such as Lake Mead) that provides opportunities for aquatic activities like swimming, kayaking, and fishing, and/or they are located near a highly urban area. Like national parks, they often combine historical, cultural, and recreational resources.

National Seashores (Cape Cod), Lakeshores (Apostle Islands), and Rivers (Mississippi)

Ten national seashores have been established on the Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific coasts, some developed and some relatively primitive. Hunting is allowed at many of these sites. National lakeshores, all located on the Great Lakes, are very similar to national seashores in terms of use.

National rivers include subcategories, like national river and recreation area, national scenic river, and wild river, to name a few. The first, Ozark National Scenic Riverways in Missouri, was authorized in 1964 and others were established following passage of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968.

National Parkway (Blue Ridge)

Parkway refers to a roadway and the adjacent parkland. Parkways are intended for scenic motoring along a protected corridor and often connect cultural sites.

This is a commemorative poster from Blue Ridge Parkway's 75th anniversary back in 2010.  We love the retro look of this poster!  (www.rangerdoug.com)

This is a commemorative poster from Blue Ridge Parkway’s 75th anniversary back in 2010. We love the retro look of this poster! (www.rangerdoug.com)

National Trail (Ice Age National Scenic Trail)

National scenic trails and national historic trails are the titles given to these linear parklands (over 3,600 miles) authorized under the National Trails System Act of 1968. National trails often cross the boundaries of several states within a wider region, and may intersect other park sites.

Other Designations

Some units of the National Park System have unique designations, like the President’s Park (White House), Prince William Forest Park, and City of Rocks National Reserve. Some parks, like Denali in Alaska, combine two designations (National Park and Preserve), while others, like Cuyahoga Valley, were authorized to change their official designation at some point (from National Recreation Area to National Park).

Finally, NPS also helps to manage, through providing technical and financial support, other historically significant, affiliated sites that may or may not fit within the official count of NPS units:

National Historic Landmarks are nationally significant, historic places designated as such by the Secretary of the Interior. To date, there are over 2,500 NHLs across the United States. The National Park Service helps to guide this process and assists with existing sites. The James A. Garfield home is both a National Historic Landmark as well as a National Park Service site.

National Register of Historic Places is the most inclusive category. Sites on this list number over 85,000. The National Park Service administers the NRHP, which includes historic districts as well as individual sites such as parks, town halls, hotels, residences, schools, churches, post offices, theatres, bridges, hospitals, farms, submarines, mills, research facilities, industrial plants, armories, and more. These sites can be federally, privately, or locally owned and operated. All National Historic Sites and National Historical Parks are on this register.

Remember to keep an eye out for the iconic arrowhead logo–you’ll know that you’ve found a National Park!

The Arrowhead is the official logo of the National Park Service.  Look for it on your travels around the country!  There are 408 units of the National Park System to visit, learn from, and enjoy!  (NPS)

The Arrowhead is the official logo of the National Park Service. Look for it on your travels around the country! There are 408 units of the National Park System to visit, learn from, and enjoy! (NPS)

-Katelin McArdle, Park Ranger

Finding History’s Forgotten Women with the National Register of Historic Places, Part I

As you may be aware, March has been designated as Women’s History Month. I’m proud to say that I was alive when this national “holiday” was born – can’t say that for most! Congress authorized President Ronald Reagan to proclaim Women’s History WEEK to begin on March 7, 1981. Authorizations continued over the next five years, until March 1987 when Women’s History MONTH was designated. Every president since has been authorized by Congress to continue this annual tradition, which brings us to today.

Certainly women should be celebrated all year long. However, there are a number of women throughout our history that deserve special mention because of their contributions to society, and these are the stories told throughout the month of March. In honor of these stories and the women behind them, I’d like to introduce you to three women who you may be familiar with, but perhaps forgotton about, over time.

How did I choose three women out of the myriad of women who are worthy of note?  Easy – I referred to a wonderful program administered by the National Park Service: the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). The NRHP is the “official list of the Nation’s historic places worthy of preservation…it is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America’s historic and archaeological resources” (www.nps.gov/nr/). This website lists sites which are devoted to women’s history, as well as those for African Americans, aviation, the Shakers, Lewis and Clark, and dozens of others. These sites are offered as travel itineraries for the purposes of visiting thematically-grouped history sites.

So off we go on an armchair tour of the first of a few forgotten Women in History!!

Elizabeth C. Quinlan House, NRHP Listing 2013
In an age of measure-and-sew clothing that required multiple trips to tailors and fittings, or having the skill to sew your own clothing, Elizabeth Quinlan introduced to American women in Minneapolis, and eventually around the country, a new way of shopping for clothing. Could this passion have been fueled by the fact that Quinlan could not sew and never made a dress in her life?

Elizabeth C. Quinlan was known as the "Queen of Minneapolis" and was one of the most successful businesswomen of her era.  (ForgottenMinnesota.com)

Elizabeth C. Quinlan was known as the “Queen of Minneapolis” and was one of the most successful businesswomen of her era. (ForgottenMinnesota.com)

The Young-Quinlan Company was the first women’s ready-to-wear shop west of the Mississippi River. Opened in 1894, Ms. Quinlan filled her shop with the latest pre-made fashions from Paris, New York City, and Florence, among other iconic fashion cities. Her start in the industry was modest; in 1879 she earned $10 a week as a clerk in a dry goods store in downtown Minneapolis, and 15 years later she was one of the company’s top sales people, making more money than any of her male counterparts. Her ability to spot a style hit, her entrepreneurial work and innovative practices elevated her reputation nationally, and these skills propelled her store into the national spotlight. In 1937 she was offered a job in New York City making double her salary at the Young-Quinlan Company, which she proudly declined, saying her decision to stay in Minneapolis was “the best day’s work I ever did.”

Quinlan expanded to a new location in 1926, constructing a five-story, $1.25 million building with 250 parking stalls underground and an elevator which brought customers directly to each floor. Always thinking ahead, the core of the store was built to accommodate seven additional floors, and Quinlan also requested of the architect that the design be easily converted into office space if the store failed.

The Young-Quinlan Company store in Minneapolis around 1908.  The store moved to a new , larger location in 1926.  (ForgottenMinnesota.com)

The Young-Quinlan Company store in Minneapolis around 1908. The store moved to a new , larger location in 1926. (ForgottenMinnesota.com)

At the time, the store was considered the largest women’s specialty shop in the country. In addition to the latest women’s fashions, the store also displayed special displays and touring exhibits. In 1932 Quinlan brought a collection of rare imperial treasures from Russia to the auditorium on the 5th floor, and exhibited the $150,000 Hattie Carnegie gown encrusted with 40,000 pearls. Popular actresses of the time, including Ethel Barrymore and Lynn Fontanne, were frequent visitors to the store.

During her career, Elizabeth Quinlan was an important player in national and local civic work, and a supporter of charities and cultural groups. She founded the Business Women’s Club in 1919, was an advisory board member for the Salvation Army, and served on the National Recovery Administration board, which was part of a New Deal program that advocated raising minimum wage, among other policies. As a side business, she became the director of a taxicab company because she wanted a safe taxi system for women and children. In 1935 she was listed as one of the top 16 businesswomen in the United States by Fortune magazine.

The “Queen of Minneapolis” died in 1947, and The Young-Quinlan Company closed in 1985. The home in the Lowry Hill neighborhood of Minneapolis, where Elizabeth Quinlan lived from 1925-1947, was added to the NRHP in 2013. After brief ownership by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the home was returned to private ownership in 1981.

This is the home in which Elizabeth C. Quinlan lived  for the last 22 years of her life, from 1925-1947.  The home was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2013.  (Wikipedia Commons)

This is the home in which Elizabeth C. Quinlan lived for the last 22 years of her life, from 1925-1947. The home was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2013. (Wikipedia Commons)

Elizabeth C. Quinlan’s legacy lives on in many ways:  through The Elizabeth C. Quinlan Foundation which supports educational institutions and their activities, and social service organizations and their programs, and the still-standing Young-Quinlan Company store, located at 513 Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis. Quinlan’s “perfect gem” was saved from demolition in 1985. After several million dollars of restoration work, the building now houses offices and retail outlets. I think Elizabeth Quinlan would approve of that!

Stay tuned for more Women’s History Month sites in the coming weeks!

For more information on The National Register of Historic Places, please visit www.nps.gov/nr

Elizabeth C. Quinlan: http://forgottenminnesota.com/2014/03/the-queen-of-minneapolis/

Elizabeth C. Quinlan Home: http://www.nps.gov/nr/feature/wom/2013/Elizabeth_quinlan_House.htm

-Allison Powell, Park Ranger

How Do Fees Help Your National Parks?

When the “founding fathers” of the National Park Service first established this agency in 1916, there were a handful of natural sites, mostly around the western United States, which came under the NPS umbrella. Funding for protection of these and future sites was to come from the Congressional budget every year, but could those leaders have predicted that nearly 100 years later, we would have over 400 units in this growing organization? Unfortunately, the funding hasn’t been able to keep up with the number of new parks being added to the fray, and that’s where fees play a big part.

Congress has given the National Park Service the authority to charge several types of fees; entrance; special amenity (special tours, behind the scenes experiences, etc); boating and camping; and others. These fees range from a few dollars per person to per car fees for some of the larger parks. Sites also sell the America the Beautiful – National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Passes, affectionately known as the “annual” and “senior” passes. Depending on the size and amount of revenue generated each year, parks are able to retain nearly 100% of all their fees. Since it was paid by the visitors, this money is in turn used to fund projects that have direct visitor benefits. Facilities, improvements, and programs that make our audiences safer, more comfortable, and more knowledgeable about and appreciative towards our national parks are the types of projects funded by visitor fees.

At James A. Garfield National Historic Site, we’ve been able to do many things for our visitors over the years. Here are a few examples of our “fee projects”:

  • Interpretive Timeline – In 2010, the site commemorated the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the Garfield home and grounds as a national historic site. In addition to many public programs throughout the year, we constructed an interpretive timeline which layered the history of James A. Garfield National Historic Site with that of the National Park Service. The timeline was created by two of our seasonal rangers, who were students at the time and able to put some of their writing and graphics skills to work.
This interpretive timeline was  produced using fee dollars and hangs in the visitor center at James A. Garfield NHS.  (NPS photo)

This interpretive timeline was produced using fee dollars and hangs in the visitor center at James A. Garfield NHS. (NPS photo)

  • Warm Water – This might not seem like a big deal, but it’s nice to wash your hands with warm water, isn’t it? For several years the water heating units in the public restrooms were not functioning properly, and visitors who would wash their hands in colder months would experience absolutely freezing cold water coming out of the faucets! With fee money we were able to purchase new heaters and hire a contractor to install them.
Hot water heaters are now present in both public restrooms at James A. Garfield NHS thanks to fee money.  (NPS photo)

Hot water heaters (hidden inside metal case mounted to the wall) are now present in both public restrooms at James A. Garfield NHS thanks to fee money. (NPS photo)

  • Commemorating the Civil War – From 2011 through summer 2015, our staff and park staffs around the country have been commemorating the Civil War in many different ways. At the Garfield site, we’ve created three “post-up” banners  to supplement the static interpretation in our visitor center: The Civil War in Ohio; James A. Garfield and the Civil War; and Presidents in the Civil War. Additionally, we’ve provided the public with a Civil War encampment weekend each year, which brings history to life through reenactors like soldiers in camp, famous generals, and even President Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.  Fee money has paid for reenactor supplies like straw and firewood, fence banners, and activities for families.
These three panels have added a great deal  to our interpretation of the Civil War as the nation has marked that conflict's 150th anniversary in 2011-15.  We used fee dollars to pay for these panels.  (NPS photo)

These three panels have added a great deal to our interpretation of the Civil War as the nation has marked that conflict’s 150th anniversary in 2011-15.  We used fee dollars to pay for these panels. (NPS photo)

  • Get to Know the Presidents – About 5 years ago we purchased a brochure rack with the intention of filling it with brochures from other presidential sites around the country. This has become such a popular feature in our Visitor Center, that one of our volunteers has adopted the weekly duty of calling sites to replenish our rack. We love when our visitors show interest in other presidents (as long as Garfield is still their favorite)!
We purchased this rack with fee money and use it to hold the brochures of other National Park Service presidential sites.  This provides great info for our visitors and also reinforces that we are part of the larger National Park System.  (NPS photo)

We purchased this rack with fee money and use it to hold the brochures of other National Park Service presidential sites. This provides great info for our visitors and also reinforces that we are part of the larger National Park System. (NPS photo)

  • We’ve Got Wheels – If you’ve ever been to the Garfield site, you know there’s quite a lengthy walk between the point of entry at the visitor center and the Garfield home, where tours are led. Often visitors in poor health are not able to make that walk, or find themselves exhausted by the time they get up to the home. We purchased two new wheelchairs to escort visitors to and from the visitor center and house, so they can spend their energy enjoying the house and tour instead of worrying about the trip!
Fee money recently allowed us to purchase two new wheelchairs.  Elderly visitors or those with difficulty walking will appreciate these since the walk between our visitor center and the Garfield home is pretty long!  (NPS photo)

Fee money recently allowed us to purchase two new wheelchairs. Elderly visitors or those with difficulty walking will appreciate these since the walk between our visitor center and the Garfield home is pretty long! (NPS photo)

  • Thirsty? – many visitors, especially in the summer, bring water bottles to the site, and toss them when empty. Our new drinking fountain allows visitors to fill their bottles with cold, filtered water from a specially designed faucet that’s tall enough to accommodate a bottle. With this installation, we hope not only to encourage visitors to drink water, but to bring their reusable bottles from home and fill them up while visiting rather than buying water in plastic bottles and throwing them away.
Using fee dollars, we recently purchased this new water fountain for our visitor center.  You can get a quick sip of cold water here but also refill your own water bottles and help reduce the number of plastic bottles in use.  (NPS photo)

Using fee dollars, we recently purchased this new water fountain for our visitor center. You can get a quick sip of cold water here but also refill your own water bottles and help reduce the number of plastic bottles in use. (NPS photo)

  • Future projects – We’ve got several projects waiting to be funded, so please keep visiting so future visitors might reap the benefits of your fee dollars!
    • Establish distance learning programs which will allow us to provide programming to students and adults around the country, without the travel;
    • Repave pathways around the site to make the surface smoother for wheelchairs and strollers;
    • Create programming to celebrate the NPS centennial and presidential election in 2016;
    • And much, much more!

We can confidently say that on behalf of all the National Park Service staff and volunteers, we appreciate your continued support of our fee program and hope you see the benefits it yields. If you are interested in learning more about your fee dollars at work, please contact the site’s fee manager at 440-255-8722.

-Allison Powell, Park Ranger

More to Explore at Your National Parks

When I say “national parks,”or National Park Service, what comes to mind? If you’re being honest, you might say something like the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Everglades, or maybe even Cuyahoga Valley if you’re from northeast Ohio. Many of our visitors at James A. Garfield National Historic Site are surprised to find out that our presidential home site is a national park, and more so that the National Park Service encompasses hundreds of “non-nature” sites that tell the history of important people and places in our nation’s history.

Of the 401 units of the National Park Service, over half (257) are history and culture sites. We have special names or designations*, for all our sites, and those describing history/culture sites include:

  • National Battlefields (Antietam, Fort Necessity)
  • National Battlefield Parks (Manassas, Richmond)
  • National Battlefield Site (Brice Cross Roads)
  • National Military Parks (Gettysburg, Shiloh)
  • National Historical Parks (Abraham Lincoln Birthplace, Dayton Aviation Heritage)
  • National Historic Site (James A. Garfield, Brown v. Board of Education)
  • International Historic Sites (Saint Croix Island)
  • National Memorials (Arlington House, Flight 93)
  • National Monuments (Aztec Ruins, George Washington Birthplace)

*For a complete list of all the national park designations, see www.nps.gov/classlist

I’d like to share a small sample of national historic sites which may not be as well-known as our bigger, more nature-related cousins out west, but still have an important story to tell. Even less well-known is the fact that each one of the people at the sites below can be tied in some way to James A. Garfield!

Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
This site preserves the home rented by Poe from 1843-1844. It was from this home that Poe had the most prolific period of his career, including stories like The Black Cat which was inspired by the basement in the Poe home. James A. Garfield briefly mentioned The Raven in his diary, and had two volumes of Poe works in his book collection (they now sit on the shelves in the Memorial Library).
www.nps.gov/edal

Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The Garfields enjoyed Poe's fiction and poetry.  (NPS photo)

Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Garfields enjoyed Poe’s fiction and poetry. (NPS photo)

Longfellow House Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site – Cambridge, Massachusetts
This historic site preserves the home of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, one of the world’s foremost 19th century poets. The house also served as headquarters for General George Washington during the Siege of Boston, July 1775-April 1776. In addition to its rich history, the site offers unique opportunities to explore 19th century literature and arts.  On New Year’s Eve, 1852, Garfield wrote in his diary. “…read Longfellow’s ‘Hymn to the Closing Year.’ Memories of by-gone days flit through my mind.”  www.nps.gov/long

Longfellow House-Washington's Headquarters National Historic Site in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  This site interprets Longfellow as an influential 19th century poet but also George Washington's use of the home as a headquarters for nine months during the Revolutionary War.  (NPS photo)

Longfellow House Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This site interprets Longfellow as an influential 19th century poet but also George Washington’s use of the home as a headquarters for nine months during the Revolutionary War. (NPS photo)

Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site – Cornish, New Hampshire
Augustus Saint-Gaudens was one of America’s greatest sculptors who created over 150 works of art, from exposed cameos to heroic-size public monuments.  Some of his works include Standing Lincoln and the 1907 Twenty Dollar Gold Piece, considered America’s most beautiful coin. Saint-Gaudens also had a personal connection to James A. Garfield: he sculpted the death mask we have on display in our Visitor Center today. The site maintains “Aspet”, the sculptor’s home, galleries containing some of his works, gardens, and over 100 acres of forested grounds with nature trails.   www.nps.gov/saga

Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish, New Hampshire interprets the brilliant art career of Augustus Saint-Gaudens.  You can see one of his sculptures-the James A. Garfield death mask-on display in the visitor center at James A. Garfield NHS.  (NPS photo)

Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish, New Hampshire interprets the brilliant art career of Augustus Saint-Gaudens. You can see one of his sculptures-the James A. Garfield death mask-on display in the visitor center at James A. Garfield NHS. (NPS photo)

Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site – Hyde Park, New York
A look at the interior of Vanderbilt Mansion may make you wonder about the direction Lucretia Garfield could have taken with the expansion of the Garfield home after the President’s death. This home, built about 10 years after the 9-room expansion to the Garfield home (1884-1886), represents the world of an American millionaire during the Gilded Age, and was established by the NPS as a monument to an era rather than a tribute to one family or person. Today, the site contains 211 acres surrounding the Vanderbilt Mansion. The land contains trails, centuries-old tree plantings, views of the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains, and Italian gardens.  www.nps.gov/vama

Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site in Hyde Park, New York.  This site commemorates Gilded Age America and features beautiful views of the Hudson River and the Catskills.  (NPS photo)

Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site in Hyde Park, New York. This site commemorates Gilded Age America and features beautiful views of the Hudson River and the Catskills. (NPS photo)

Clara Barton National Historic Site – Glen Echo, Maryland
Clara Barton National Historic Site preserves the home of the foundress of the American Red Cross, where she lived from 1897-1912. As President Garfield lay incapacitated by an assassin’s bullet in 1881, he signed a treaty allowing for collaboration between Ms. Barton and the International Red Cross to establish a national organization in the United States. This site interprets the last 15 years of Clara Barton’s life, and highlights the many accomplishments she made in the field of personal medical care throughout her lifetime.
www.nps.gov/clba

Clara Barton National Historic Site in Glen Echo, Maryland preserves the home of the founder of the American Red Cross.  (NPS photo)

Clara Barton National Historic Site in Glen Echo, Maryland preserves the home of the founder of the American Red Cross. (NPS photo)

We’ll do another post about more history and culture sites soon!

-Allison Powell, Park Ranger

I am a Volunteer

The office that the Rangers and some of the Volunteers use at James A. Garfield NHS accommodates 6 desks in relative comfort, even if Ranger Alan’s thermos occasionally ends up next to my keyboard. To look around the room, you may not think much of it. Ranger Mary’s small bulletin board has pictures of family and Ranger Joan has a picture of several local historic buildings hanging next to her desk. Otherwise the only thing on the walls is the board that posts the daily tour schedule, Rangers’ work schedules, and several other odds and ends, like a newspaper article quoting Betty White on why she’d like to be a Park Ranger someday (as if she hasn’t done enough in her life time). Though it should be pointed out that the simplicity of this room certain belies the amount of work and mischief that goes on inside its walls.

The room next door is the lunch room that doubles as the staff’s library and then triples as a little kitchenette. At any given time you might find Volunteer Interpreters in training, Rangers pouring over old Garfield family pictures trying to remember who-is-who, or on Saturdays Volunteer Rebecca eating her lunch and reading. The lunch table is strewn with books, brochures on other NPS sites, and the occasional baked good brought in by Rangers Mary, Allison, or Joan (which never lasts long anyway – being a Ranger is hungry work). The books in the book case are anything from diaries, biographies written by authors lost to time, books on other presidents, historic cookbooks, and even child- oriented education books. The book shelves on the opposite side of the room are littered with old floppy disks, VHS tapes, binders upon binders of photographs and house history, and of course a small station for the Volunteers to sign out their keys and radios for the day. The room is certainly clean of trash and debris, but the presence of all the historic material gives you the distinct impression that an important conversation about President Garfield’s life or times just occurred, leaving you to ponder what it might have been.

The National Park Service volunteer logo incorporates the agency's iconic "arrowhead" logo but is distinctive enough to generate pride in those who wear it.  (NPS image)

The National Park Service volunteer logo incorporates the agency’s iconic “arrowhead” logo but is distinctive enough to generate pride in those who wear it. (NPS image)

And of course going downstairs brings us to one of the most important aspects of what any of us do here: the visitors. Our visitors range in age from babes with pacifiers to grandparents in walkers, and come from every walk of life you can imagine: a family driving across the country touring our National Parks; a couple from out of state attending a wedding with time to kill; two young couples on a “lunch and learn” double date; an elderly couple who’ve lived in Mentor for “longer than you think” and have never been to the President’s house before; a woman who used to work at a museum in New York and recently moved here; and so many more. Sometimes they’re so excited to be here that the questions start in the book store – which book is the best, where is Garfield buried, and can I get this cute t-shirt in a smaller size? Some visitors are stoic, taking in the exhibits and reading the signs quietly to themselves. Others might not have a passion for history and have accompanied a friend or family member – but that doesn’t mean we don’t try and excite them anyway! We want nothing more than for you to share our love of history and ask a question or two.

When there aren’t any visitors around, though, we are left to reflect and perform our individual tasks in an environment almost staggering to anyone who enjoys times gone by. Sometimes you can hear a pin drop as Ranger Alan works on his next talk while Ranger Scott plans the next Civil War Encampment and Volunteer Andrew gets together details for the next “Friends of James A. Garfield NHS” group meeting. Meanwhile, I sneak around with my camera, snapping pictures of the President’s home, the occasional squirrel, and whatever Ranger or Volunteer I can surprise. Other times though the atmosphere is crackling with conversation. Stimulating discussion about what we think Garfield’s opinion may or may not have been on a given topic… or maybe how frustrating the last Indians game was to watch. There’s never a lack of information to absorb!

Some days here can be aptly described as controlled chaos. With visitors coming and going, Volunteers guiding tours, and Rangers and Administrative staff handling the day-to-day operations, there’s always something going on. But that’s why the word “controlled” is more important than “chaos”. Because it’s certainly not directionless energy. There might be a new exhibit going up. A new program being announced. Or maybe even a Garfield family member coming in today. And while I can’t think of one good word to describe it, the staff has managed to cobble together a feeling of sober joviality. An oxymoron perhaps, that fits because our whole situation here is a bit of an oxymoron. After all, aren’t most historians supposed to be stuffy types, looking down their noses at you through their spectacles (never glasses)? Not outgoing, witty jokesters.

Volunteers perform a wide range of duties at James A. Garfield NHS.  Here, Volunteer Dave Lintern (left) leads a presidential trivia game for kids during a recent Presidents Day event.  (NPS image)

Volunteers perform a wide range of duties at James A. Garfield NHS. Here, Volunteer Dave Lintern (left) leads a presidential trivia game for kids during a recent Presidents Day event. (NPS image)

Who am I to make these observations? I am a Volunteer. I’ve learned over time that this means different things to different people. For some, a volunteer is that guy in the yellow vest that waves you into the parking lot at a church carnival. Or maybe that lady at the hospital who tells you where the bathroom is. For me, volunteering is much more than that. After all, what resource is more precious than time itself? We can’t get it back when we give it… we never seem to have enough… and it always seems to fly by. I give of my time freely for the benefit of those I interact with: the visitors and the Rangers and the other Volunteers. It’s safely said that all of us here are very much people-oriented and love a good conversation with anyone – whether you’re asking about how James A. Garfield died or perhaps where is the nearest restaurant. And the Rangers… well, they’re a special group that I, for one, feel privileged to know. I’ve never met a group of people so determined to do so much with what little they have to work with. And they keep positive. Educate. Laugh. And move on.

If you’ve never experienced what it is like to volunteer your time to a worthy cause, I encourage you to do so. To feel like what you did, by your own choice, without the motivation of money, did some good somewhere. Where a compliment from a visitor is worth more than your job could pay you. Where the feeling of accomplishment when the day is done makes it all worthwhile. And the appreciation you feel for having given of yourself brings you back to do it all over again.

James A. Garfield NHS Volunteers often take field trips to other local attractions and museums to see how other facilities operate.  Here, Volunteers join a Park Ranger on a visit to various locations around the city of Mentor, Ohio.  (NPS image)

James A. Garfield NHS Volunteers often take field trips to other local attractions and museums to see how other facilities operate. Here, Volunteers join a Park Ranger on a visit to various locations around the city of Mentor, Ohio. (NPS image)

And so from my computer in the office, with Ranger Alan’s thermos at my elbow, and Ranger Joan discussing the highlights of the last Browns game, I proudly say:

I am a Volunteer.

-Andy Curtiss, Volunteer

The U.S. Department of the Interior and Secretaries of the Interior from Ohio

As you pull into our driveway, one of the first things you probably notice is the sign that says “James A. Garfield National Historic Site; National Park Service/U.S. Department of the Interior.” Chances are, if you have been to another National Park, you have probably seen a similar entrance sign there, too. You might then wonder, “Well, is this site part of the National Park Service or the U.S. Department of the Interior?”  The short answer is “both.”

The National Park Service (www.nps.gov) is an agency of the United States Department of the Interior. The Department of the Interior (www.doi.gov) is our “parent” Cabinet-level, Executive Branch department, which oversees the Service. (You are probably harkening back to your high school or college government class right now.)

The Arrowhead is the official insignia of the National Park Service, the U.S. Department of the Interior agency that administers James A. Garfield National Historic Site and all of the National Parks across the nation.  There are currently 401 sites in all 50 states and in several U.S. territories as well.  (NPS image)

The Arrowhead is the official insignia of the National Park Service, the U.S. Department of the Interior agency that administers James A. Garfield National Historic Site and all of the National Parks across the nation. There are currently 401 sites in all 50 states and in several U.S. territories as well. (NPS image)

The Department of the Interior is one of the 15 departments of the Executive Branch, which comprise the President’s Cabinet.  Of the current fifteen Cabinet departments, the Department of the Interior is the fourth oldest, behind the Department of State (1789); the Department of the Treasury (1789); and the Department of Justice (1789).  The Department of the Interior was established on March 3, 1849, and is responsible for relations with American Indian tribes, the preservation and maintenance of public lands and certain natural resources, and the preservation of the nation’s historical and cultural treasures, among other duties.  Unlike the United States, the Interior Departments of many other nations are primarily law enforcement-based, much like our Department of Homeland Security.

The official seal of the United States Department of the Interior.  (doi.gov)

The official seal of the United States Department of the Interior.   We’re far from neutral, of course, but we think this is by far the best-looking seal of any federal department!(doi.gov)

Our current Secretary is The Honorable Sally Jewell, who took office in April 2013. Secretary Jewell is the 51st Secretary of the Interior since the Department’s creation. Secretary Jewell hails from the State of Washington, which follows the tradition of the Secretary of the Interior being from a western state. The previous four Secretaries-Ken Salazar, Dirk Kempthorne, Gail Norton, and Bruce Babbitt-were from Colorado, Idaho, Colorado, and Arizona, respectively. The last Secretary of the Interior from a state east of the Mississippi River was Secretary Donald Hodel, a Virginian, who served during the second term of President Ronald Reagan from 1985-89.

In addition to James A. Garfield NHS being a part of the Department of the Interior, there is another significant Garfield tie to the Department. Often, the Rangers or Volunteers will be asked if any of the President and Mrs. Garfield’s children entered public service. The answer is yes, as the second oldest son, James Rudolph Garfield served in three appointed positions within the federal government, including serving as the 23rd Secretary of the Interior under President Theodore Roosevelt. Secretary Garfield served during the final two years of President Roosevelt’s administration, and was the second leader of our Department during that Presidency.  (James R.’s older brother, Harry A. Garfield, served the American people as head of the Federal Fuel Administration during World War One.  His youngest brother, Abram, served as a member of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts from 1925-30.)

James Rudolph Garfield, second son of James and Lucretia Garfield and the 23rd Secretary of the Interior, serving from 1907-1909.  Secretary Garfield once hosted President Theodore Roosevelt at his Mentor, Ohio family home.  (wikipedia.com)

James Rudolph Garfield, second son of James and Lucretia Garfield and the 23rd Secretary of the Interior, serving from 1907-1909. Secretary Garfield once hosted President Theodore Roosevelt at his Mentor, Ohio family home. (wikipedia.com)

Secretary Garfield was not the only Secretary of the Interior to come from Ohio. In fact, the first Secretary of the Interior, Thomas Ewing, was a graduate of Ohio University and a lawyer in southern Ohio. Secretary Ewing served as Secretary for about 16 months under President Zachary Taylor. He was also a United States Senator (twice), and Secretary of the Treasury for Presidents William Henry Harrison and John Tyler. Following the Civil War, Secretary Ewing had an opportunity to serve as a Cabinet Secretary for a third time, as he was nominated to serve as the Secretary of War for President Andrew Johnson, but the Senate refused to take action on their former colleague.

One other note about Secretary Ewing is that he was the foster father to General William Tecumseh Sherman and Senator John Sherman. I mention this because of the recognition we give to those two of the brothers Sherman at the Site. There, of course, is a portrait of General Sherman in the Memorial Library, hung on the wall above the bookcases to the right, as soon as you walk in. The portrait of General Sherman is to the left of the portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte, and two portraits to the left of Otto Von Bismarck. With regards to John Sherman, who served as Secretary of the Treasury under President Rutherford B. Hayes and who would go on to serve as Secretary of State for President William McKinley, then-Congressman James A. Garfield nominated him on the first ballot at the 1880 Republican National Convention to be the Republican nominee for President of the United States.  Of course, Secretary Sherman did not receive the Republican nomination that year as the deadlocked convention eventually (on the 36th ballot) turned to Garfield himself.

John Sherman (brother of famed Civil War General William T. Sherman) had been an Ohio Congressman and Senator before becoming Secretary of the Treasury under President Rutherford B. Hayes.  Congressman James A. Garfield nominated Sherman for President in 1880; Garfield himself ended up as the Republican nominee that year.  Sherman returned to the U.S. Senate and was also Secretary of State for a year under President William McKinley.    (wikipedia.com)

John Sherman (brother of famed Civil War General William T. Sherman) had been an Ohio Congressman and Senator before becoming Secretary of the Treasury under President Rutherford B. Hayes. Congressman James A. Garfield nominated Sherman for President in 1880; Garfield himself ended up as the Republican nominee that year. Sherman returned to the U.S. Senate and was also Secretary of State for a year under President William McKinley. (wikipedia.com)

The other two Secretaries of the Interior to come from Ohio are our Department’s 10th and 11th Secretaries, respectively. Our Department’s 10th Secretary was Jacob Dolson Cox. Secretary Cox has, as of late, become a person I have become interested in conducting more research about. In a recent presentation about the State Senate tenure of James A. Garfield, I mentioned quite a bit about Secretary Cox. Secretary Cox and President Garfield were roommates in the home of the Chairman of the Ohio Republican Central Committee while they served in the State Senate as Members whose respective districts were side-by-side. He, like Garfield, would receive command of a Volunteer Infantry unit, when they were commissioned as officers in the summer of 1861 by Governor William Denison. Following the Civil War, Cox would serve as Secretary of the Interior for a little over a year-and-a-half for President Ulysses S. Grant. Much like Garfield, who would call for civil service reform during his brief presidency, Cox left his position as Interior Secretary because those who wanted positions filled via political patronage had the ear of President Grant, and the President would not support Cox’s reform efforts within the Department. Secretary Cox would come out once again to enter public life beginning in 1876, when he ran for Congress, and would serve one term – and be re-united with his very close friend, Congressman James A. Garfield.

Jacob D. Cox was a friend of James A. Garfield and served as Secretary of the Interior for a time under President Ulysses S. Grant.  He had also served as a member of the Ohio State Senate (with Garfield), as Union general during the Civil War, and as Governor of Ohio.  (wikipedia.com)

Jacob D. Cox was a friend of James A. Garfield and served as Secretary of the Interior for a time under President Ulysses S. Grant. He had also served as a member of the Ohio State Senate (with Garfield), as a Union general during the Civil War, and as Governor of Ohio. (wikipedia.com)

Finally, the last of the Secretaries of the Interior from the State of Ohio is our 11th Secretary, Columbus Delano. Secretary Delano succeeded Secretary Cox, and served in President Grant’s administration from 1870 – 1875. One of the major accomplishments of Secretary Delano’s was the establishment of Yellowstone National Park (www.nps.gov/yell) in 1872. As has been discussed, the issue of patronage permeated throughout the political landscape since the days of President Andrew Jackson. It has been argued by historians that President Grant’s administration may have been one of the most corrupt ever – especially with the amount of patronage jobs doled out. Thus, this created a situation where political reward was ever-present throughout the 8 years of the Grant presidency. With that said, although the first steps to preserve the natural wonder of Yellowstone were taken, the American people were not well-served by Secretary Delano.

Secretary Delano ended up resigning his post as Interior Secretary because of certain misdeeds that occurred within the Department, including the awarding of contracts to the Secretary’s son, as well as DOI employees in the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Patent Office profiting at the expense of the American people.

Columbus Delano, Secretary of the Interior from 1870-1875.  His tenure was marred by scandal within the Interior Department, and President Grant eventually forced him to resign.  (Library of Congress)

Columbus Delano, Secretary of the Interior from 1870-1875. His tenure was marred by scandal within the Interior Department, and President Grant eventually forced him to resign. (Library of Congress)

All four secretaries were buried in Ohio, including Mentor’s own Secretary James R. Garfield. Secretary Garfield and his wife Helen are buried in Mentor at Mentor Municipal Cemetery.  Since Secretary Garfield, including Secretary Hodel, six Secretaries have come from the eastern half of the United States.

While three of the Secretaries discussed were waist-deep in issues related to political patronage, it must be clearly stated that the Department of the Interior today is a highly professional organization made up of uniformed and non-uniformed employees and volunteers. Due to the civil service reforms proposed by President Garfield and later instituted by President Chester A. Arthur, the issue of political patronage with regards to the handing out of jobs and politics dictating official actions were mitigated through the passage of the Pendleton Act of 1883 and the Hatch Act of 1939.

-Andrew Mizsak, Site Volunteer

What’s in a Name?: National Park Service Areas in Ohio

I am sure this was a question asked many times by the Garfield children as they acted out Shakespearian plays in their parlor, but it is a question that can also be asked about the various units of the National Park Service.

In Ohio, there are 12 National Park Service sites, and while we are all a part of the same agency, there are several different types of sites, such as: National Historic Sites (like James A. Garfield, William Howard Taft, Fallen Timbers and Fort Miamis, or First Ladies), National Parks (Cuyahoga Valley), National Historical Parks (Hopewell Culture or Dayton Aviation), National Memorials (David Berger), Memorials (Perry’s Victory and International Peace), National Historic Trails (North Country or Natonal Aviation), and National Monuments (Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers).

The Arrowhead is the official insignia of the National Park Service, the U.S. Department of the Interior agency that administers all of the National Parks in Ohio and across the nation.  There are currently 401 sites in all 50 states and in several U.S. territories as well.  (NPS image)

The Arrowhead is the official insignia of the National Park Service, the U.S. Department of the Interior agency that administers all of the National Parks in Ohio and across the nation. There are currently 401 sites in all 50 states and in several U.S. territories as well. (NPS image)

You may be wondering what the big difference is if we’re all National Parks.

Let’s start with what we are, a National Historic Site. The NPS designates a site as a National Historic Site if is “not a complicated site,” meaning that it is clearly distinguishable as to what the subject matter is, and that within that site, there is a cultural or historical resource that should be preserved for future generations. Here at James A. Garfield NHS, it is clearly distinguishable that this site is that which was the home of the 20th President of the United States, and that the artifacts found here, coupled with the Front Porch Campaign of 1880, makes it perfectly clear that the NHS designation is the right fit for us.

The James and Lucretia Garfield home at James A. Garfield National Historic Site.  (NPS image)

The James and Lucretia Garfield home at James A. Garfield National Historic Site. (NPS image)

On December 28, 1980, by an act of Congress, Public Law 96-607, Title XII, Section 1201, this site was designated as a National Historic Site “…to preserve for the benefit, education, and inspiration of present and future generations certain properties associated with the life of James A. Garfield…” This meant that the National Park Service could become a part of the team that would preserve the artifacts here, as well as tell the story of President James A. Garfield.

James A. Garfield National Historic Site is one of four NPS Sites in Ohio with the National Historic Site (or NHS) designation. The others are Fallen Timbers and Fort Miamis (www.nps.gov/fati); First Ladies (www.nps.gov/fila); and William Howard Taft (www.nps.gov/wiho).  Only one site in Ohio, Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers, has the National Monument designation.  A National Monument is intended to preserve at least one nationally significant resource. It is usually smaller than a national park and lacks its diversity of attractions.

Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument is one of the newest National Parks in the entire system.  It commemorates the life of Colonel Charles Young, an African American West Point graduate, Army officer, diplomat, and civil rights leader.

Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument is one of the newest National Parks in the entire system. It commemorates the life of Colonel Charles Young, an African American West Point graduate, Army officer, diplomat, and civil rights leader.  (Library of Congress)

So, what then, is a National Park? National Parks, in the traditional sense, are lands which are set aside for the “preservation of nationally and globally significant scenic areas and nature preserves.” When we look at Yellowstone (www.nps.gov/yell), Grand Canyon (www.nps.gov/grca), or even closer to home, Cuyahoga Valley (www.nps.gov/cuva), it is apparent that these locales are home to exactly what they seek to preserve. At Cuyahoga Valley, for example, there are primeval forests, wetlands, grasslands, and other natural wonders that are significant to the area, as well as to the nation and world. Additionally, to find natural treasures sandwiched between two metropolitan areas like this is even more special.

Cuyahoga Valley was originally designated as a National Recreation Area (a separate designation) in 1974, and received its National Park designation in 2001. It is Ohio’s only “traditional” National Park.

Brandywine Falls, located in Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  (NPS image)

Brandywine Falls, located in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. (NPS image)

In the Buckeye State, we have two NPS Site which have the designation of National Historical Park (NHP). These sites deal with broader topics, such as Dayton Aviation Heritage (www.nps.gov/daav), which have multiple venues, such as the Wright Bicycle Shop and the Huffman Prairie, as well as the Paul Laurence Dunbar house, but also hit on multiple points of historical significance. The other NHP in Ohio is Hopewell Culture (www.nps.gov/hocu), which discusses the broad topics concerning some of Ohio’s native peoples.

This brings us to the four remaining NPS sites in Ohio.

Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial (www.nps.gov/pevi) is a National Park located on South Bass Island in the Village of Put-in-Bay. It is a Memorial, which means it commemorates an important event or person, but does it in a two-fold manner. It first commemorates the decisive naval victory in 1813 of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry in the Battle of Lake Erie, where he defeated the British Navy. Secondly, it honors the lasting peace among the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. It is the only International Peace Memorial in the National Park System, and is the only U.S. National Park to fly the flags of three nations side-by-side.

Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial, flying the flags of the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.  (NPS image)

Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial, flying the flags of the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. (NPS image)

David Berger National Memorial (www.nps.gov/dabe) in Beachwood is a National Park site which pays tribute to David Berger, an athlete and native of Shaker Heights, Ohio, who was killed in the attacks at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany. A National Memorial is a place of national importance which honors the sacrifice of an individual or individuals thought to be significant in our nation’s history. David Berger, although an American by birth, had Israeli citizenship, and was a member of the 1972 Israeli National Wrestling Team.

Finally, the last two NPS Sites in Ohio are part of the National Trails System. The National Aviation Heritage Area (www.nps.gov/avia) links sites that were part of the early days of aviation in and around the greater Dayton area. The North Country National Scenic Trail (www.nps.gov/noco) is a nine-state trail that takes travelers to some of the most scenic areas in the nation.

12 National Parks. 7 designations. 1 state. These are your National Parks in Ohio.

-Andrew Mizsak, Site Volunteer