Park Related Books I Read in 2019

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A blogger I follow, Ken Dowell, recently posted his top six books of 2019. That gave me the idea to look at the books I’ve read this year and rate the ones related to public lands. I completed my Goodreads challenge of 38 books read for the year, up from 32 in 2018.

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Three of the 38 were related to National Parks and one to a National Forest. When we are traveling to our vacation destinations by plane, I like to download a novel about that place to read on the journey. Alas, I was in the midst of a 1000 page fantasy epic on our flight to Hawaii this year, but I managed to get in a viewing of Moana with my daughter to get into the Aloha spirit.

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Have you ever read a book about, or set in a National Park? Would you recommend it? Here are the ones I read this year, in no particular order:


My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie  hanilton

This is a work of historical fiction, but a very well-researched, compelling one. Not having a small fortune to spend on the Broadway production of Hamilton, this was a more accessible way to form a connection to our founding fathers and the birth of our nation. I especially liked that it was told from Eliza’s point of view.

The authors discuss their sources at the end of the book and they did travel to many of the sites where the events took place, such as Saratoga, Morristown and The Grange. After reading the novel, I saw that the Grange was putting on an Eliza-focused event for Women’s History month and I made sure to attend.


 

Track of the Cat by Nevada Barr

This is the first in a series of 19 books about the adventures of Anna Pigeon, a National catPark Service Law Enforcement Ranger. Each novel is a mystery which Anna must solve within the confines of a national park and its community.

Track of the Cat is Anna’s first assignment to Guadalupe Mountains National Park in West Texas. There she must solve the puzzle behind the mysterious death of a fellow ranger.

Nevada Barr was a Park Ranger herself and created the character of Anna Pigeon when she was working in Guadalupe NP. Her descriptive imagery of the terrain, wildlife and the insider view of the NPS can only have come from firsthand experience.

I have not yet been to any of the Texas parks, but my friends Scott and Tiff over at Raven About The Parks have blogged about Guadalupe. You can see that post here.


Dark Divide and Badlands Witch by Carrie Vaughn

darkThese paranormal novellas are very loosely tied to public lands. An ex-con retired from vampire hunting and the centuries old witch who shares his consciousness travel to Donner Pass to help a Tahoe National Forest Ranger solve the mystery behind another ranger’s death…was it the ghosts of the Donner Party?

I don’t have pictures, but I have been through Donner Pass. A friend and I were traveling for our company many years ago. The plan was to start off in our Reno stores and then drive to Sacramento to rendezvous with a district manager. A sudden snowstorm in the pass trapped us in a fleabag motel in Reno for the night. Rather than risk the specter of starvation and cannibalism in a Sierra Nevada blizzard, we shared a room, pushed a dresser against the door and slept with one eye open until the sun rose the next day.

In Badlands Witch, the duo heads to the Badlands to solve another supernatural murderbad mystery. These books are fun, quick reads that are more about immersing the reader in the Kitty-verse (these characters are a spin-off from the Kitty Norville series) than in the landscape, but the author did do her research to make sure she got the vibe right.

Carrie Vaughn posted about her Badlands research trip here. She also visited Deadwood and Custer State Park.

 


Happy New Year!

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Hamilton Grange National Memorial: Eliza Tour

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Welcome back to National Parks and 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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Hamilton Grange National Memorial preserves the mansion of Alexander Hamilton. Built in 1802 on Hamilton’s land in Harlem, Hamilton would live there with his family for only two years before his fateful duel with Aaron Burr.

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Upon his death, Hamilton’s political rivals sought to dismiss or take credit for his accomplishments. But Hamilton’s widow, Eliza, who survived Alexander by 50 years, spent the rest of her life ensuring that Alexander Hamilton’s legacy would not be forgotten. For women’s history month, we took a special tour of The Grange with the AHA society, which focused on Eliza.

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Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton was born into a wealthy family in upstate New York. Her father was general in George Washington’s army. She met Alexander Hamilton in Morristown, when the army was encamped there. They were married at her father’s home in 1780. Her marriage survived the nation’s first sex scandal (Alexander publicly admitted to adultery to clear up suspicion of financial impropriety while he was Secretary of the Treasury) and produced eight children.

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Alexander Hamilton died in debt. Eliza was able to re-purchase the Grange after it had been sold off at auction with some help from her connections and her inheritance from her father. She lived there with some of her grown children for 30 years before selling it to move into a townhouse downtown.

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Eliza sat for this portrait while the artist was in debtors prison so that he could earn some money towards his release.

She threw herself into charity work, helping to found the first orphanage in New York City and was the director of the organization for 27 years. She also, along with the widows of James Madison and John Adams, helped to raise the money for the construction of the Washington Monument.

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Eliza tirelessly promoted Alexander’s legacy after his death and persisted in having his papers organized and published as a biography. She demanded an apology from President Monroe for the accusations he’d made against Hamilton and defended Hamilton’s authorship of Washington’s Farewell Address.

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This piano was a gift from Eliza’s sister Angelica.

A week before the duel, Alexander wrote to Eliza: “With my last idea; I shall cherish the sweet hope of meeting you in a better world. Adieu best of wives and best of women. Embrace all my darling children for me. Ever yours, A H.”

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Hamilton Grange Posts:

Location: 414 W 141st St, New York, NY 10031

Designation: National Memorial

Date designated or established: April 27, 1962

Date of my visit: August 23, 2014

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Eliza’s father gave lumber from his Albany estate to Alexander for the Grange. These moldings are original and were hand-carved

Hamilton Grange National Memorial

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Welcome back to National Parks and 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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Hamilton Grange National Memorial preserves the mansion of Alexander Hamilton. Built in 1802 on Hamilton’s land in Harlem, the structure has been relocated twice. In 1889, St. Luke’s acquired the home and moved it 500 feet to sit next door to the church where it functioned as a chapel. In 2008, the National Park Service restored the home to a natural setting, moving it to nearby St. Nicholas Park.

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The Grange is the only home Hamilton ever owned. Hamilton was a penniless orphan from the Caribbean. He came to America as a shipping clerk, took up the cause of the American Revolution and is considered one of the founding fathers of the United States.

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This wine cooler is a replica of the one George Washington gifted to the Hamiltons.

Hamilton was George Washington’s Aide for most of the war and a hero of the decisive Battle of Yorktown. He was instrumental in the ratification of the constitution and became our nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury in George Washington’s cabinet where he founded the National Reserve, the US Mint and our currency.

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In semi-retirement from his political career, Hamilton purchased a tract of land near the Hudson River in Harlem. Back in those days, this was the countryside…it was nine miles and 90 minutes by carriage to New York City.

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Hamilton commissioned an architect to build a mansion on the property. He provided legal representation for the builders so that they could keep working on the Grange after they were arrested on suspicion of murder.

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The Grange was completed in 1802, but Hamilton would live there with his family for only two years before his fateful duel with Aaron Burr. Upon his death, Hamilton’s political rivals sought to dismiss or take credit for his accomplishments. But Hamilton’s widow, Eliza, who survived Alexander by 50 years, spent the rest of her life ensuring that Alexander Hamilton’s legacy would not be forgotten.

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Now in the midst of a public park, visitors can view a brief film on the life of Alexander Hamilton in the theater on the ground floor. There is also a small museum and gift shop on the ground floor, which is where the kitchen would have been. Tour the historic floor with a ranger or during one of the open houses…in the home’s original location, the Hamiltons could see the Hudson River from their dining room.

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Hamilton Grange Posts:

  • Hamilton Grange National Memorial
  • Hamilton Grange: Eliza Tour (Coming soon)

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Location: 414 W 141st St, New York, NY 10031

Designation: National Memorial

Date designated or established: April 27, 1962

Date of my visit: August 23, 2014

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