National Historic Landmark: The US Capitol Building


Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.


It’s been over ten years since we spent a day touring the many monuments and memorials in Washington DC while on a road trip to visit family in South Carolina. We went right to the Capitol Building’s ticket booth when it opened, but the day’s walk-up tickets were quickly distributed and we weren’t able to get in. Nowadays, you can reserve free tickets in advance through the Visitors Center online, through some private tour companies or through your senators or congressional representatives.


Lesson learned in reserving DC tours in advance, we took some photos of the building and surroundings before taking a hop-on and off bus to see the monuments that don’t require reservations. Someday we will go back and take the tour.


The Capitol building began construction in 1793 and was designed by a physician named Thornton utilizing a neoclassical architectural style. The cornerstone was laid by President George Washington.

2007_1123(010)The British set fire to it during the war of 1812, but heavy rains kept it from being destroyed and it was repaired. From 1850-1868, the building was expanded and a new dome installed to accommodate the growing number of legislators. In 1960, the last expansion brought the Capitol to its current size of over 175 thousand square feet.


In 1960, the Capitol was declared a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service. From its steps, you have a great view of the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial across the National Mall.

Location: East Capitol St NE & First St SE, Washington, DC 20004

Designation: National Historic Landmark

Date designated or established: 12/19/1960

Date of my visit: November 7, 2007


NRHP: Van Voorhees-Quackenbush

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

For the past 8 years, the Northwest Bergen History Coalition has been holding a themed History Day. On History Day, several historic sites in the area are open, running tours and stamping passports. This year, the theme was ‘How Immigration & The Railroad Shaped Our Towns’ with 10 sites participating.

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There are a few Zabriskie Homes in Bergen County, the family having been early settlers in the area. The Van Voorhees-Quackenbush-Zabriskie House in Wyckoff is actually two homes that were combined in later renovations. The original stone house was built around 1740 by William Van Voorhees and enlarged in 1824 by Albert Van Voorhees.

I first visited the original section of the house..two rooms off a side entrance downstairs. There were volunteers in period costumes there to tell me about the history of these small quarters.

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Then I went back outside and through the front entrance to the larger, later addition. The Van Voorhees mansion was purchased in 1867 by Uriah Quackenbush. His granddaughter Grace Quackenbush Zabriskie inherited the home and lived there until she died.

Grace Zabriskie was a collector of antiques and filled the home with beautiful furnishings and decor appropriate for its colonial origins. She willed the home and contents to the Town of Wyckoff in 1973. The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places 10 years later.

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I wasn’t allowed to photograph anything inside the house…there are some fairly valuable pieces inside. This was probably the best maintained site I visited on history day. I did get a few shots of the lovely garden.

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I managed to tour five of the participating sites that day. To see my posts on the other NW Bergen County historic sites, click on the following links:

  1. The Old Stone House (Ramsey)
  2. The Schoolhouse Museum (Ridgewood)
  3. The Hermitage (Ho-ho-kus)
  4. The Zabriskie House (Wyckoff)
  5. The John Fell House (Allendale) Coming Soon

Location: 421 Franklin Ave, Wyckoff, NJ 07481

Designation: National Register of Historic Places

Date designated or established: 1/10/1983

Date of my visit: 4/28/2018

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Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River: Zane Grey Museum


Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.


The National Park Service manages the stretch of the Delaware from Hancock to Sparrowbush, NY…about 73 miles…under the Wild and Scenic River System. The Upper Delaware is considered recreational, rather than wild, since the park has some means to control the flow of the water.


I attended a meet-up here with the National Park Travelers Club for a ranger-guided tour of the area. After touring Roebling’s Delaware Aqueduct with the ranger (see that post here), our group headed over to the Zane Grey Museum, about a quarter-mile from the bridge on the Pennsylvania side of the river.


Zane Grey, actually born Pearl Grey because of his mother’s fixation with the British Royals (Pearl Grey was the official mourning color that year in England,) is considered the Father of the Western Novel.


He played baseball as a young man which earned him a scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania’s dentistry school. He established a dental practice in NYC in 1899, but his enthusiasm for fly-fishing and the encouragement of his wife Dolly led him to move to his farmhouse in Lackawaxen, PA to pursue writing as a profession.


He was a prolific writer, having written over 100 novels in his lifetime. His most noted work was Riders of the Purple Sage, published in 1912. His writing was heavily influenced by his travels to the Western states, the first trip having been his honeymoon to the Grand Canyon.


Grey moved his family to California in 1918, where he worked with the developing motion picture industry. Many early films were based on his novels and birthed the Western genre.


After Zane Grey’s death, his wife sold the Lackawaxen home to a family friend.


For 25 years, she ran it as the Zane Grey Inn and then later converted it to a museum showcasing Zane Grey memorabilia.


In 1989, the museum was purchased by the NPS and included in the Upper Delaware unit.


Location: Lackawaxen, PA

Designation: National Scenic & Recreational River

Date designated or established: 1978 river, 1989 museum

Date of my visit: 7/18/2018

The two rangers stationed in the Zane Grey Museum were nice enough to provide a wide array of stamps for our National Park Passports and take a group photo for us. (I’m on the right, end of the second row in the light blue shirt, behind the lady with the red shirt.)

Great Egg Harbor National Scenic and Recreational River: Estelle Manor


Welcome back to National Parks with T! As our nation mourns the passing of George H.W. Bush this week, it seems fitting to showcase one of the 14 National Park Service units designated during his presidency. Rip, 41.


The Great Egg Harbor river was designated a National Scenic and Recreational river in 1992. It is a unit of the National Park Service but the park service shares the administration of the area with state and county parks. This was my 75th NPS unit visited…343 more to go 🙂


Great Egg Harbor and the river got their name from the Dutch Explorer who discovered the harbor. When he sailed into the inlet, he called it Egg Harbor because of the abundance of water fowl eggs on the shores. It is considered one of the top places in the country for birding.


I stopped at the Warren E Fox Nature Center in Estelle Manor Atlantic County Park to visit this unit. In the nature center, I was able to get my national passport stamp and see some of the local wildlife native to the area (both stuffed and live.)


I took the 1.8 mile boardwalk trail from behind the nature center to a view of the river. The boardwalk was slick with wet leaves and pine needles, but I managed not to fall on my butt. Even if I had, there would have been no one to witness it.


Along the way were the ruins of the Bethlehem Loading Company. The Bethlehem Loading facilities were built during World War I to produce munitions.


At about one and a 1/2 miles down the trail, there was a bump out with a wide view of the South Branch of the Great Egg Harbor river. The river is 55 miles long and travels through the NJ Pinelands National Reserve.


I continued on the boardwalk trail, following the signs pointing towards an artesian well. That turned out to be a pipe trickling out water near the ruins of the Bethlehem Loading Company Power Plant (scroll down for a video.) Nearby was the Smith-Ireland Cemetery which has graves dating back to the 1800s.


At this point, I could hear a lot of shouting off in the woods and so I turned back and retraced my steps along the peaceful river walk. Because of its significance in WWI industry, Estelle Manor was named a Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006.


Location: 109 NJ-50, Mays Landing, NJ 08330

Designation: National Scenic & Recreational River

Date designated or established: 10/27/1992

Date of my visit: 10/20/2018


Tuckerton Seaport


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Every October the NJ Lighthouse Society runs the Lighthouse Challenge of New Jersey in order to raise funds for the state’s historic lighthouses and maritime sites. This year, we purchased an incomplete commemorative deck of cards at our starting point and then tried to complete the deck by collecting cards at each of the participating locations. There were 13 sites included in the challenge this year and I got to 5 of them on the Saturday of the challenge.


After visiting the Absecon Lighthouse in Atlantic City, I headed over to the Tucker’s Island Light in Tuckerton Seaport. Tuckerton Seaport is a working maritime village with some historic and some recreated buildings around a mile-long boardwalk on Tuckerton Creek.


The lighthouse is one of the recreated buildings because the original fell into the ocean in 1927 as the island on which it sat eroded away. Tucker’s Island was completely gone by 1952.


The reproduction in Tuckerton Seaport is modeled after the 1868 lighthouse on Tucker’s Island. Tucker’s Island was originally a part of Long Beach Island but the ocean cut an inlet through it in the 1800s, creating a separate small ocean resort island with hotels, homes, a coast guard station and a lighthouse.  All of this washed away in the early 1900s as the island was reclaimed by the sea.


The reconstruction was made possible in part through funds from the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority. There is a museum on the second floor with exhibits on New Jersey maritime heritage.


From the museum floor, it’s a 42-step climb to the tower (a piece of cake after the 228-steps I’d just climbed at Absecon Light.) You can walk around the balcony outside and take in the view of the seaport on one side and Lake Pohatcong on the other. It’s six miles from where the original light sat, so you can’t see the ocean.


There is much to see and do in the seaport, but I had to move on to the next stop in the Lighthouse Challenge, so I will save that for another trip.


Lighthouse Challenge and related posts:

  • Sandy Hook Lighthouse
  • Navesink Twin Lights (coming soon)
  • Absecon Lighthouse
  • Tuckerton Seaport
  • Barnegat Lighthouse (coming soon)
  • Barnegat Maritime Forest Trail (coming soon)
  • Barnegat Museum (coming soon)
  • Sea Girt Lighthouse (coming soon)


Location: 120 West Main Street, Tuckerton, New Jersey 08087

Designation: Maritime Museum Village

Date designated or established: May 2000

Date of my visit: 10/20/2018


Glacier National Park: Saint Mary Falls


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We traveled to the Baring Falls dock on St. Mary Lake via the Glacier Park Boat Company and their vintage wooden boats. Once we disembarked, we had the option to visit nearby Baring Falls and then re-board to return to the Rising Sun dock. Instead, we chose to take the guided hike to St. Mary Falls with Ranger Melissa and return on a later boat.


The trail to St. Mary Falls is about 1.6 miles from the dock with an elevation gain of 140 feet. Most of the climb is in the beginning as you make your way to a point above the water. At that point, we paused to discuss bear safety (Melissa had a bear run right through an earlier tour of hers, so sheer numbers don’t keep them away…you have to clap and speak loudly continuously as you hike.)


The path then wound through a woodland area recovering from the Reynolds Creek Fire of 2015. Though that fire had man-made causes, wildfire is a regular occurrence in Glacier National Park and is nature’s way of restoring equilibrium. Melissa said this area was starting to look sick prior to the fire, with the trees choking out the growth on the forest floor.


Melissa pointed out the prolific Beargrass, a grassy plant native to Montana with white flower clusters atop stalks. While there are some blooms every year, the park has reported mass bloomings only once every 5-10 years. They reminded me of something from the pages of Dr. Seuss.


The falls were rushing…lots of glacial turquoise water rushing to the Saint Mary River and on into the lake. Scroll to the end for a video clip.


We hiked back ahead of the group, wanting to see Baring Falls before boarding the boat. This is a less impressive fall, or maybe we were just becoming jaded from having seen so many spectacular waterfalls in the first day of our trip.


To see all of my Going to the Sun Posts, please click the following links:


Location: Going-to-the-Sun Road, East Glacier Park, MT 59434, USA

Designation: National Park

Date designation declared: 5/11/1910

Date of my visit: 6/24/2018



Ramapo Valley County Reservation


Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.


For my 100th post on the blog, I thought I’d highlight a park that we visit frequently. Ramapo Valley Reservation is a County Park in Bergen County, New Jersey. It was designated a wilderness area in 1972 with about 700 acres and has since grown to encompass over 4000 acres.


It is a dog-friendly park with a few wide, flat trails and some more challenging ones up to scenic vistas.


On our most recent visit, we brought the dogs, so we stayed on the easy trails.


We crossed the bridge over the Ramapo River to the loop trail that goes around Scarlet Oak Pond.


Scrarlet Oak Pond was once a quarry. We’ve seen a pair of swans there in the past, but it must have been too late in the season this time.


Fall foliage was at its peak. We stopped frequently at the water’s edge to snap photos. The dogs were impatient to continue our walk.


When we reached the the section in the loop where we could continue uphill to the reservoir, we noticed a sign pointing to the waterfall that we hadn’t seen before. On previous trips, if we wanted to visit the falls, we had to walk partway up to the reservoir and the clamber down a rock scramble (not such an easy thing when you’re toting a cockapoo.)


This new path was nicely groomed, well-marked and led us over the stream and up stone steps to the falls. I searched online and found that this section was built in the summer of 2017 by the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference.


Location: 608 Ramapo Valley Rd, Mahwah, NJ 07430

Designation: County Park

Date designated or established: 1972

Date of my visit: 10/31/2018

Husband: ‘Let me capture the glorious fall colors on my iphone’        Dog: ‘Squirrel!’