Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

Day2-DSCN0022Welcome 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 Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is a National Recreation Area contained within the Siuslaw National Forest and so is a unit of the US Forest Service, not the NPS. Back in my post on Flathead National Forest, I talked briefly about the Forest Service’s mission of managed conservation vs. the National Park Service’s goal of preservation. As a result of this different ‘prime directive’, you are likely to find more commercial recreational opportunities in National Forest lands.


Oregon Dunes is a 40 mile stretch along the southern Oregon coastline of temperate sand dunes intermingled with forested land. We stopped in a few sections of this park on our drive down Highway 101 to Redwoods National Park.


Our first stop was in the northern section in Florence, Oregon. We took a sandrail tour with Sandland Adventures, giving us our first glimpse of these sand mountains.


Our driver and tour guide was Ben. We took the thirty minute tour and it was a wild, thrilling ride around the dunes with some scenic interludes while we caught our breath. There is a calmer ride available on a sort of dune bus for those with motion sickness issues.


The dunes themselves are the result of millions of years of wind erosion. Some of them are 500 feet above sea level. Here and there you will find a forested oasis in the middle of all that sand.


As we traveled south the dunes were visible from the highway in some sections. Our next stop was in Reedsport where we found the park’s Visitor Center was closed. So we had lunch across the street at the Harbor Light Family Restaurant.


This is a small place, frequented by locals. We did have to wait 15 minutes for a table to open up, but it was worth the wait. They source many of their ingredients locally. Two of us had the chicken pot pie. They have a smoker and use the tender smoked chicken in the pot pie. Yum!


After lunch, we visited Umpqua Lighthouse State Park. This park is centered within Oregon Dunes National Recreational Area. Though the dunes here are not as dramatic as in the Northern section, there is a beautiful ocean vista, a historic lighthouse (circa 1894) and a small museum.


Location: 855 U.S. 101, Reedsport, OR 97467

Designation: National Forest, National Recreation Area

Date designation declared: 3/23/1972

Date of my visit: 8/20/2016


Travelling south over the Conde McCullough Memorial/Coos Bay Bridge as we left the Oregon Dunes NRA behind. This bridge was built in 1936 and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

John Fell House – NRHP

Fell IMG_1435

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.


The John Fell House, which was originally called Peterfield, was built in the 1760’s, was expanded in the 1830’s and again in 1915. John Fell was an American Patriot during the Revolutionary War.

Fell IMG_1430

Fell had made his fortune with his shipping company, but was imprisoned by the British at the beginning of the war. His famous cell-mate, Ethan Allen, convinced the British to release John Fell when he fell ill in the prison. As a member of the First Continental Congress, he ratified the constitution.


In the 2000’s, the owners were no longer able to keep the mansion up and it was in danger of being sold to developers and demolished to make room for condos. A group called the Concerned Citizens of Allendale raised the funds to purchase the historic home and petitioned to have it added to the National Register of Historic Places.


Today, the non-profit group holds events on the site to raise funds for its restoration. Each Spring, the arrest of John Fell by the British is reenacted for audiences. Docents give tours of the house and help to bring a forgotten page of history back to life.


For History Day, they also had two dancers performing old-fashioned waltzes to a vintage phonograph and presented a slideshow on the history of the railroad in Allendale.

Fell IMG_1418


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)

fell IMG_1412

Location: 475 Franklin Turnpike, Allendale, NJ 07446

Designation: National Register of Historic Places

Date designation declared: 2011

Date of my visit: 4/28/2018

The original section of the house, dating to the 1700s
A later addition to the house

NRHP: Museum at Barnegat Light


Welcome back to National Parks 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.


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.


About midway through my day, I arrived at Barnegat Light State Park where I climbed to the top of old Barney and walked the Maritime Forest loop. A few blocks away is the Barnegat Light Museum, operated by the Barnegat Light Historical Society. The museum was a designated stop on the challenge, so I headed over there to take a look.


The museum is housed in the old one-room schoolhouse from 1903. It served as the town’s school until 1951 and was converted into a museum in 1954. It showcases the light’s original first-order Fresnel lens, as well as other lighthouse related exhibits.


The schoolhouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. The grounds are maintained by the local garden club.


Lighthouse Challenge and related posts:


Location: 208 Broadway, Barnegat Light, NJ 08006

Designation: National Register of Historic Places

Date designated or established: June 6, 1976

Date of my visit: 10/20/2018


Coconino National Forest: Chapel of the Holy Cross


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The Chapel of the Holy Cross is a Catholic chapel built into the buttes of Sedona, Arizona.  It was inspired by the vision of Marguerite Brunswig Staude. She’d imagined a cross superimposed on the newly constructed Empire State Building in 1932 and set out to build the grand chapel of her dreams.


After a failed attempt to build the chapel in Budapest, Staude set her sights on her home town of Sedona.  She chose a site within Coconino National forest and had to obtain a special-use permit from the Secretary of the Interior to build there.


It took 18 months to build the chapel at a cost of $300,000. It was completed in 1956. The 11 acres on which Holy Cross sits is still owned by the US Forest service, but is managed by the local Roman Catholic Diocese.


It’s a simple, humble structure set in a majestic backdrop. It is too small to host regular services, so it serves as a non-denominational shrine for the thousands who visit it each year.


To see my other Sedona posts, click below:

Location: 780 Chapel Rd, Sedona, AZ 86336

Designation: National Historic Landmark

Date designated or established: October 6, 2011 (added to NRHP)

Date of my visit: August 23, 2014

View of Snoopy Rock from the restaurant we went to for lunch after visiting Chapel of the Holy Cross. Snoopy Rock is the formation on the right in this photo (imagine Snoopy’s silhouette laying on top of the dog house)

Lackawanna Coal Mine


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.


On our way back from a stay in Northern Pennsylvania, we took a break from driving at the Lackawanna Coal Mine. We took a trip on the Mantrip…a unique enclosed mine car used to shuttle people from the visitor center down the steep slope and into the mine. From there we walked through the tunnels with a guide who was the descendant of a miner and learned about the history of the place.


The mine was opened by Continental Coal Company in 1903 and produced coal until it closed in 1966. In 1978, with funds from the federal government, the mine was converted into a museum. It opened to the public in 1985 and is managed by Lackawanna County.

Location: Bald Mountain Road, Scranton, PA 18504

Designation: Museum

Date designated or established: 1985

Date of my visit: 8/11/2006


Glacier National Park: Many Glacier Hotel Tour


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I’d read about Many Glacier Hotel’s dramatic rescue in a publication by The National Trust for Historic Preservation. I checked on the NPS website and saw that ranger-led tours of the hotel were held every afternoon. We timed our hike on the Grinnell Glacier trail to be sure we were back in time for the tour.


We returned back in time to have lunch in the Ptarmigan Dining Room. This is a beautiful place to eat, with its high ceilings, two story windows and the view of Swiftcurrent Lake. But unfortunately, the food was pretty mediocre for the price paid.


We met up with a park ranger in the hotel lobby for the tour at 2 PM. He spent some time there giving a history of the lodge.


Many Glacier Hotel was built by Louis Hill, president of the Great Northern Railroad. Many Glacier was the largest of all the hotels built in the park in an effort by Great Northern to attract tourists to Glacier National Park. Hill is said to have been obsessed with Many Glacier and was more involved in the design and construction than in his other Glacier properties.


It is designed to look like a Swiss Chalet as Hill considered Glacier to be the American Alps. The site for the hotel was chosen for the symmetry of the view across Swiftcurrent Lake. Grinnell Point is in the middle, flanked by ‘matching’ mountains on either side.


Time, the elements and some ill-advised ‘improvements’ took their toll on the structure over the years. In 1996, The National Trust For Historic Preservation included Many Glacier on its annual list of America’s Most Endangered Historic Places. The force of heavy winter snowfalls had actually knocked the massive hotel off its foundations and the whole thing was threatening to collapse into the lake.


Through the National Trust, the NPS and other organizations, the $42 million needed to restore the building was raised and renovations began in 2000. It took 17 years to pull the hotel back onto its foundation and restore it to its original design.


The ranger took us up to the second floor for an overview of the grand lobby. He pointed out the interesting design of the central fireplace, the restored double helix staircase and the Japanese lanterns. These are replicas of the paper lanterns originally installed by Louis Hill who incorporated Asian influences into the overall Swiss Alpine theme.


Next we went to the Ptarmigan Room where the ranger showed us pictures of what the Great Room looked like after a 1950s makeover. A drop-ceiling had been installed, harboring bats. The cathedral ceilings and pergola were restored in the 2000 renovation.


The tour concluded outside to discuss the Swiss architecture. The only wooden element remaining on the exterior is the carport. The rest is made of more fire-resistant materials because of the area’s history of wildfires.


Location: 1 Rte 3, Browning, MT 59417

Designation: National Park, National Landmark

Date designated or established: 5/11/1910 (1987 NHL)

Date of my visit: 6/27/2018


National Historic Landmark: St. Patrick’s Cathedral


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Saint Patrick’s Cathedral is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of the New York diocese and is perhaps the most famous Catholic Church in the US. It is on the busiest section of 5th Avenue, across the street from Rockefeller Center.


Once inside the doors, it is an oasis of calm in the midst of chaos. Though crowded with tourists when there is not a service, there is still a hush when compared with the blaring horns of the traffic outside.


The land was originally purchased by the Jesuits for a college campus in 1810 and served multiple purposes over the next several decades. At that time, this area was considered north of the city proper.


Construction on the cathedral began in 1858 and took 20 years to complete because work on it stopped during the Civil War. The Gothic Revival-style cathedral was dedicated in 1879 and had the main spires added nearly ten years later. They were the tallest structures in NYC at the time.


Renovations and additions continued into the early 1900s. The Cathedral was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976.

Compare the marble color in this photo, taken in 2010 to the aerial view of the spires from 2014 at the end of the post

The last time we visited, there was an extensive restoration underway. The Cathedral that I’d thought was grey all my life gradually emerged as pristine white marble. The restoration cost $177 million and was completed just in time for Pope Francis’ visit in 2015.


Location: 5th Ave, New York, NY 10022

Designation: National Historic Landmark

Date designated or established: 12/8/1976

Date of my visit: 8/1/2014

The Pietà by William Partridge is three times the size of Michelangelo’s Pietà
From the Top of the Rock, you can clearly see the cross-shaped floor plan in the style of the great European cathedrals.