Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area: Camp Shanks


Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! Happy Veterans Day and thank you to all who have served!


The Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area  is one of the forty-nine federally recognized National Heritage Areas in the United States. The Hudson Valley NHA is considered a National Park Service affiliate. Through the partnership with the Park Service and other organizations, the Heritage Area includes over one hundred sites spread across ten counties in New York State.


Camp Shanks was the military base that was the last stop in the USA for soldiers heading out to the front lines during World War II. The majority of the landing forces for the D-Day invasion shipped out from here.


The government built the complex of barracks, mess halls, and other buildings in 1942 in Orangeburg, NY, forcing hundreds of local residents from their homes via eminent domain.


Approximately 1.5 million G.I.s were processed through the facility before shipping out to combat. Most soldiers spent eight to twelve days there.


There were also female soldiers in the Women’s Army Corps who lived on the base to keep it running.


Today, Camp Shanks is commemorated by a museum behind the town library in a recreated barracks building with displays and artifacts from the time period.


The museum is open on weekends and is staffed by volunteers who are World War II veterans. The three men who were there the day I visited answered my questions and were happy to pose for a picture for me


To see my other posts from The Hudson Valley National Heritage Area, please click the links below:

  • DeWint House (Washington’s HQ at Tappan) – Coming Soon!
  • Camp Shanks

Location: 20 Greenbush Road, Orangeburg, NY

Designation: National Heritage Area

Date designation declared: 1996

Date of my visit: 8/18/2018


NRHP: Cameron Suspension Bridge


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The Cameron Suspension Bridge was built over the Little Colorado River in 1911 to provide better access to the Navajo Nation and Hopi Indian Reservation. The bridge originally carried highway 89, nearly collapsed under the weight of too many sheep in 1937 and was replaced by a more modern bridge in 1959.



Five years after the suspension bridge was erected, the Richardson Brothers established the Cameron Trading post where the Navajo and Hopi came to barter for dry goods. As the town grew up around the bridge and trading post, it became a hotel for the area’s tourists.


Today, it is a Southwestern version of the Cracker Barrel, with a restaurant and large gift shop and an adjoining motel. We stopped there on our way to the Grand Canyon to use the restroom. We perused the native crafts available in the gift shop, walked through the motel’s courtyard garden and took some photos of the historic bridge and canyon from the back of their property.

Location: US Highway 8954 Miles North of FlagstaffCameron, AZ 86020

Designation: National Register of Historic Places

Date designation declared: 6/5/1986

Date of my visit: 8/19/2014


Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum


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The FDR Roosevelt Presidential Library was built under the direction of FDR himself in order to preserve the records of the 32nd president of the United States. Roosevelt had been a collector his whole life, believed he would only serve two terms when he broke ground for the library and wanted to insure public access to his presidential collections. Dedicated in 1941, it is managed by the National Archives and Records Administration.


Because of the precedent set by FDR’s library, Congress passed the Presidential Libraries Act in 1955 in order to preserve the papers of future presidents for the public. FDR’s is the first of 13 Presidential Libraries.


The land for the library was donated by FDR and his mother Sara Roosevelt. It sits on 16 acres within the Hyde Park estate and the FDR National Historic Site. FDR used a room in the library as his office.


The museum has sections for Roosevelt’s early life and family history, his four presidential campaigns and the different eras spanned by his terms. There are also displays devoted to Eleanor, the First Lady.


There are many interactive displays and videos…you could spend the whole day here if you stopped to press all the buttons, read all of the displays and watch the clips. But I wanted to see the three NPS sites in Hyde Park that day, so I had to take a more abbreviated tour through the library.


Hyde Park posts:

  • FDR Presidential Library
  • Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site (Coming Soon)
  • Gardens at Bellefield (Coming Soon)
  • Home of FDR National Historic Site (Coming Soon)
  • Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site (Coming Soon)


Location: 4079 Albany Post Rd, Hyde Park, NY 12538

Designation: Presidential Library

Date designated or established: 6/30/1941

Date of my visit: 10/3/2018

Freedom Court, in front of the presidential library, commemorates the shared ideals of FDR and Winston Churchill. The sculpture at the center is ‘Break Free’ and was designed by Churchill’s granddaughter.

Independence NHP: Independence Hall


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. And to my American followers, be sure to show up at the polls tomorrow and vote!


We started our day at the Independence Visitor Center to pick up our tickets for the Independence Hall tour. The rangers were very helpful and gave directions to various sites and even got us on an earlier tour than the one we’d reserved. (Be sure to use the restrooms here because there are none in the historic buildings once you go through security.)


Independence Hall was built in 1732 to be the Pennsylvania State House. It is the birthplace of the USA, where both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were debated and signed.

You can reserve a guided tour of Independence Hall on the NPS website for a nominal fee (it cost me $7.50 for the 5 of us.) Tickets are free on the day of, but tours do book up quickly. Getting tickets for the tour is the only way to see the inside of the building where the Declaration of Independence was signed. The tour is pretty brief, but interesting and it is inspiring to stand in the place where our founding fathers formed our nation. The tour is limited to the first floor rooms most of the year, but may include the second floor in early winter months.

IMG_9652Our ranger first took us into the Courtroom of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. It was here in 1776 that the Patriots stormed in and tore down the King’s coat of arms in an act of defiance.


Next we went to the Assembly Room.  This is the room where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed. It later became a shrine to the founding of America, housing the Liberty Bell. After his assassination, Lincoln’s body was laid out here before burial.  Now it has since been restored to its 1776 appearance.


Afterwards, be sure to wait on the line for the tour at the congressional building next door…there are no reservations for that one and it is much more extensive than the one in Independence Hall. I will cover that in a future post. Both tours really drove home the awe and respect we should all have for what these men accomplished in 1776.

Location: Chestnut Street, between 5th and 6th Streets, Philadelphia, PA

Designation: National Historical Park

Date NPS designation declared: 1951

Date of my visit: August 2017



Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest – Natural Bridge Interpretive Trail


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The Rogue River–Siskiyou National Forest was originally two separate forest units covering parts of Oregon and California. They were combined into one unit in 2004. The Rogue River is a US Wild and Scenic River, also managed by the US Forest Service.


We stopped at the Natural Bridge Interpretive Trail on our way from Crater Lake to Grants Pass. There are restrooms in the parking lot and it’s just off the main road.
A short trail leads to a raging section of the Rogue River, which shoots through some lava tubes and comes out the other end as a waterfall…a natural wonder.


We were exhausted from a full day of hiking and exploring in Crater Lake National Park, so this was an excellent place to stop on our approximately 2-hour drive  back to our hotel.


It was an easy 1/4 mile walk to the natural land bridge from the parking lot with a level, wide path, benches and interpretive displays along the way. It was just enough for us to stretch our legs, take some photos and move on to the next stop.

For those interested in a more in-depth exploration of the area, the interpretive trail does connect to the Rogue Gorge Trail and Upper Rogue River Trail.

Location: 9 miles North of Prospect, OR

Designation: National Forest, Wild and Scenic River

Date designated or established: 2004

Date of my visit: 8/25/2016


Happy Halloween and Number 418!

IMG_6657Happy Halloween!

Did you hear the news?

The National Park Service just gained its 418th unit!

Camp Nelson in Kentucky was designated a National Monument under the Antiquities Act on October 26th. This is a Civil War Era site that served first as a Union supply depot and then as a training camp for African Americans who took refuge there to fight for their freedom.

This site already has a visitor center with a film and established infrastructure. You can learn more about the site and plan a visit here.

Sorry, no photos yet since I haven’t been. These were not taken in Kentucky 🙂



Glacier National Park: Going to the Sun Road


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 50 mile Going to the Sun Road first opened to traffic in Glacier National Park in 1933 and remains a key attraction in the park today. On our first trip down Going to the Sun Road, we began at the East entrance in St. Mary (scroll down to the end for the video clip) and took a Red Bus tour of the Eastern side. We toured the road in our rental car a few more times that week and saw something different each time.


Going to the Sun Road is partially closed during the colder months and very difficult to plow due to the twists & turns, sheer cliffs and the fact that they get snow drifts of up to 80 feet in the higher elevations. The plow crews started work at the end of April this year and when we got on a plane bound for Kalispell at the end of June, the road still was not completely open. Late on the night of our arrival, the Park Service tweeted out the happy news that Going to the Sun was open for the summer season!


When the road opened in the 1930s, it was an engineering marvel and was a three-year project that actually took 11 years to build. The design of the road changed over the course of the construction from multiple switchbacks carving up the mountain to Logan Pass to only one long switchback called The Loop, reducing the visual impact, but increasing the cost and time needed for the project.


The road is named for the mountain it cuts through on the East side of the pass. Legend has it that a Native American god came down from the sun to teach the Blackfeet how to hunt and left his image in the mountain upon his return to the Sun. The source of that legend is in dispute…is it a Blackfeet legend, or did a European settler make the whole thing up?


On our trips up and down Going to the Sun, we saw tunnels, glaciers, beautiful mountains and valleys and countless waterfalls crossing the road. We were thrilled to have four bighorn sheep cross the road in front of our car one evening, pose for photos and then clamber up the cliff next to us.


Another time, when all I had handy to take photos was my phone, we saw two black bears (one blonde, one brunette) frolicking by the side of the road. We’d heard a ranger talking about this duo on a hike earlier that day. Apparently the couple had come together to mate and there were multiple visitor sightings of the same bears in the St. Mary area.


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


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

Designation: National Park, NHL

Date designated or established: 5/11/1910, Road added to NHL in 1997

Date of my visit: 6/24/2018

Bighorn traffic jam at the East Tunnel…can you see him peeking over the hood of the car in front?