Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River: Roebling’s Delaware Aqueduct

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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.

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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.

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Roebling’s Delaware Aqueduct/Bridge on the Upper Delaware is also maintained by the NPS. It is the oldest wire suspension bridge in the US and was built by John A. Roebling, who is best known for building the Brooklyn Bridge.

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The Delaware Aqueduct used the same engineering principles as the Brooklyn Bridge.

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I attended a meet-up here with the National Park Travelers Club. The NPTC has about 2000 paid members nationwide, all who share a passion for visiting the 417 NPS units.  The club had arranged for a park ranger to give our group a tour of the bridge and The Zane Grey museum.

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The Aqueduct was built to carry the Delaware and Hudson Canal across the Delaware River. The canal was built in 1828 to carry coal from mines in Northeastern Pennsylvania to New York City. The canal was abandoned in 1898 when the railroad became a more efficient means of transportation.

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Our tour began at the D&H Towpath Trail on the New York side of the river. The towpath was once used by mules to help the canal boats move downstream. It now passes under the bridge and past the remnants of a half-mile stretch of the old canal.

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Next we followed the ranger past the old toll house, which now is a museum with displays about life on the canal.

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We crossed the bridge on the southern pedestrian walk and returned on the northern walk trying to imagine what it had looked like when it was filled with water.  (Scroll to the end for a short video clip.)

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When the park purchased the bridge, they restored it to its original appearance, except for the concrete road bed installed to safely accommodate a single lane of traffic. It had already been converted from aqueduct to bridge sometime after the abandonment of the canal, but the road was made of timbers. These had rotted out and actually collapsed under the weight of a truck crossing the bridge.

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At each display, the ranger paused to point out features like the steel cable used to suspend the bridge and the ice breakers designed to protect the structure from ice floes in the spring.

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Back on the New York side of the river, the ranger pointed out some ruins across the street that were from the old canal. State highway 97 follows the path the canal once took, parallel to the Delaware River.

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Location: Lackawaxen, PA

Designation: National Scenic & Recreational River

Date designation declared: 1978

Date of my visit: 7/18/2018

Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area: Camp Shanks

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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

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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

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Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

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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

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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.

Martin Van Buren National Historic Site

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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.

The Martin Van Buren National Historic Site is in Kinderhook, NY.  Van Buren was the 8th president of the United States, the first American-born president, and a founder of the Democratic Party.

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He moved here to the home called Lindenwald in the mid 1800s after serving out his presidential term and losing his bid for re-election. It was a tumultuous time in our history, as our nation teetered on the brink of civil war. Van Buren had no intention of retiring in Lindenwald. He enlarged the home and ran two more presidential campaigns using the mansion as his campaign headquarters, before ultimately conceding defeat and becoming a ‘gentleman farmer’ on the 220 acre estate. The home was again expanded to 36 rooms, complete with modern conveniences such as running water when Van Buren’s son moved into Lindenwald with his family.

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My husband and I stopped at the visitors center several years ago on our way up to Lake Placid. The only way to see the inside of the home is on a ranger-guided tour, so we took the tour. We didn’t know much about Martin Van Buren or his presidency and so we enjoyed the ranger’s informative talk as we walked through the mansion.

 

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The Ogee arch originated in the Arab world and later became popular in medieval England

 

The home has many interesting architectural details, like the Ogee Arch in the formal parlor and the Palladian window in the second floor bedroom and the stair tower that connects the old and new portions of the home. The home was designed to impress as Van Buren frequently entertained his political guests here.

Location: Kinderhook, NY

Designation: National Historic Site

Date designation declared: 10/26/1974

Date of my visit: 7/25/2011

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In the mid 1800s, having a tub with running water and a flush toilet was quite unique
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The winding staircase connecting old and new sections of the house
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The guest bedroom on the second floor. Servants quarters were on the 3rd floor.

Saratoga National Historical Park

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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.

06SNP04TThis park preserves the site of the Battles of Saratoga. The American victory here in 1777 is considered the turning point of the American Revolution. It was the first time in world history that a British Army had ever surrendered and it convinced the French, and then the Dutch and Spanish to ally themselves with the Americans.

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Benedict Arnold injured his leg in the Battle of Saratoga. This monument was erected to honor him, but it does not name him because he later betrayed the Americans.

We stopped at Saratoga on our way home from Lake Placid. We started at the visitor center where we watched a short film and a cool fiber optic diorama type presentation on the history of the battlefield. We got our map to take the self-guided Battlefield Drive.

We stopped several times along the drive at highlighted points of interest. In some locations there were rangers giving talks and in others there were volunteers dressed in costumes of the era performing demonstrations.

Our tour culminated, 8 miles North of the battlefield, at the Saratoga monument. We climbed the 188 steps of this obelisk, built to commemorate the American victory.

 

 

Location: 648 NY-32, Stillwater, NY 12170

Designation: National Historical Park

Date designation declared: 6/01/1938

Date of my visit: 7/30/2011

 

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Saratoga Monument
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Entrance to the monument
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The obligatory NPS entrance sign shot

SOL National Monument: Ellis Island

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The Great Hall/Registry Room in the Museum of Immigration

 

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.

Ellis Island is a part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument, but is its own island with its own history and worthy of separate exploration. Twelve million immigrants entered the United States through Ellis Island for over 60 years starting in 1892.

IMG_4842When you buy a ticket on the ferry to the Statue of Liberty, it includes a stop at Ellis Island. Most folks just stay on the boat, itching to get to the main attraction. Lady Liberty is inspirational, the symbol of our collective hopes and dreams. But there is something pretty awesome about walking the halls where our ancestors first set foot on American soil.

IMG_4830I have been here several times before. The first time, a friend sneaked me aboard a park ranger boat so I could see the main building, still under renovation at the time, before it was open to the public.

Thirty years later, I was back with a photography group and signed up for the hard hat tour of the south side of the island. After a quick run through the Museum of Immigration, I met up with the group at the back of the park where a guide took us through the Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital. These buildings housed the quarantined arrivals. They are in bad repair…poison ivy and decay have reclaimed much of the structures. A private organization is raising funds to preserve as much as they can.

On many of the surfaces French artist JR has installed (in conjunction with the Save Ellis Island group) black and white murals of immigrants derived from photos of the period. They are life-size and lend an eerie, haunted feeling to the place.

Location: Jersey City & New York City

Designation: National Monument

Date NPS designation declared: 5/11/1965

Date of my visit: 5/15/2016

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