Women's Rights National Historical Park by Dave Hileman

Seneca Falls was the site of the first convention to secure women’s rights held in July of 1848. The park has a museum and the former church where the convention was held. The story of why events and people converged on this small town is intriguing and included abolitionists and anti-slavery factions too. Important story well explained here. The statues in the main hall are life size and are used to introduce you to each of the primary people in the story. New park number 12.

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Fort Stanwix (Two photos) by Dave Hileman

This is a reconstructed fort (1976) on an urban area that was leveled to create a space on the original site for the re-built fort. As such it is rather difficult to get great photos here. The modern city rises up over the walls, the walls are very low and the fort built lower than the surrounding ground and, on our trip, half of the fort was being rebuilt again so lots of construction and yellow tape. This place played a role in the Revolution holding off a siege but never seriously engaged it provided protection for troops supplies moving in the Mohawk Valley. Nice ranger tour here with a well-informed guide. New park eleven on the journey.

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 Fort’s outer gate

Fort’s outer gate

Saratoga National Battlefield by Dave Hileman

This was our first visit to this well-preserved crucial battlefield of the American Revolution. We were here three days shy of the 241st anniversary of the battle and on the same type of day, heavy overcast with periodic rains. The battlefield consists of two primary battles one on 9/19 and one in early October. The Americans held their own in September at Frazier’s farm and turned the latter battle into a complete victory. This is the first time in history a British army surrendered. It allowed France to enter the war on the American side and is seen as the military turning point of the war. Good place to tour, lots of places to walk and super scenery along the Hudson River. This structure, the Neilson House, is original to the battle and about 60% of the structure is dated to the battle. It was the center of the American line of defense. New park number 10 for this vacation.

 A touch of fall color and a threatening storm cloud approaching.

A touch of fall color and a threatening storm cloud approaching.

Saint Croix Island International Historic Site (2 photos) by Dave Hileman

My friend Dennis (https://www.thewanderinglensman.com) asked me the other day were there parks that I did not think ought to be parks. The answer is a clear “yes.” However I understand politics enter into the decisions (First State in Delaware when Biden was VP or Tupelo Battlefield that makes no sense to me) and I might put Saint Croix into that category or at least leave it solely to the Canadians. The island in the river is the site of a short-lived effort in 1604 by the French to establish a permanent settlement. It failed and by spring of 1605 it was deserted. You cannot ordinarily even visit the island but there is a small park, maybe three acres on the riverbank with some statues and interpretation signs. The ranger was enthused and very nice but I did not capture that excitement with my visit. Again, a very rainy deeply overcast day may have contributed to the lack of excitement. Samuel Champlain was a young man and part of the exploration and his name is associated with several places in New England along with the leader of the group, Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Mons, for whom a spring is named in Acadia NP. This was a new park for us, number nine on this trip.

 Saint Croix and the 1880’s boat house from the park

Saint Croix and the 1880’s boat house from the park

 This statue shows a native bringing food that saved many of the men.

This statue shows a native bringing food that saved many of the men.

Acadia NP by Dave Hileman

My favorite park. One reason is familiarity as this was our 15th week here over several trips but also it is so beautiful and accessible. In fact, this year I completed all 16 of the major mountain hikes. The combination of oceans, mountains, lakes, trails, streams, carriage roads and amenities simply add up to my definition of a perfect place to spend a week or two or ten. It is also one of the few places where I simply like to sit and absorb the atmosphere. I am sure that is a fault of mine, arrive at a park, set up and go see, hike, photograph and do it again with the first light of the next day. Here I stop (occasionally) and sit as Cindy is here along the Atlantic Ocean just off the Shore Trail before the rain rolled in for the evening.

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Saugus Iron Works by Dave Hileman

This was a disappointment. I did not expect the place to be great but often I am pleasantly surprised. Not this time. Saugus was not a good experience. We arrived early, very early, because we had to traverse Boston on a Monday morning so we left Hingham at 5:15 and it still took over 2 hours for the 71 mile drive. We arrived, parked and ate breakfast. Meanwhile a worker arrived and I verified it was ok to park where I was. Then about 8:30 (sign said open at nine, website said 10) two young rangers arrived and began to hang signs around the park, I walked to where they were and they were preparing for a pre-school group. She said park opens at 10 now and sometimes they are early. At 10 a third ranger was at the gate to the small park, she greeted us as we walked to the VC and we waited until 10:15 with no one around, so back to the third ranger. What time is the park open? “We are closed on Monday.” The web site says seven days a week? “Not the Facebook page, you should have checked there.” No apology, no further conversation. I really appreciate the Park Service Rangers and write often of what they do, but…

So we did not get to see inside anything but we did walk the grounds. That is sufficient for Saugus. It is a tiny park hemmed in by housing and urban encroachment. This is a park that would make a nice state park, not a National Park. Yet it is and a new one for us, number 8 on this trip if you are counting.

 The wheel worked two large bellows.

The wheel worked two large bellows.

Paul Revere's House by Dave Hileman

This is a small part of the Boston National Historic Park. It includes places like Bunker Hill, Faneuil Hall and several more places crucial as a part of the Revolutionary War heritage. We have visited this park several times and walked the 3 or 4 mile Freedom Trial on most of those occasions. This time I just wanted a better photo of Revere’s house. We did the tour, it was $5 or so but I needed to get off the street to see the front of the property. Park 14 on this journey.

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Boston African American NHS (2 photos) by Dave Hileman

You ought to visit this African Meeting House built in 1806 and now the oldest African-American church in the US. It was organized and built by about 20 members of the Black congregation led by Thomas Paul that was meeting in Faneuil Hall. They constructed a simple but elegant building now restored to its 1854 appearance when some aspects were upgraded. The pews are curved, the balcony mirrors those curves in the pews upstairs. The speakers platform has a small pulpit and two lights that were gas in the 1800s. I took a very low photo to show the floors that are original to the 1806 building and one from above to see the stunning lines of the church. What you cannot see is the echo of William Lloyd Garrison who founded the New England Anti-Slavery Society here in 1832 or Maria Stewart, abolitionist and woman’s rights activist, the first woman to speak before a mixed audience on political issues. Or Frederick Douglass who recruited soldiers here for the famed 54th and 55th Massachusetts Regiments. Or the intensity of Harriet Tubman or the passion of Sojourner Truth or a host of others who sought dignity and freedom. You ought to visit the African Meeting House. This was a new park number 7 for us and 13 on the itinerary for this trip.

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Boston Harbor Islands by Dave Hileman

Multiple islands make up the Boston Harbor Islands NRA. Some are wholly under the auspices of NPS some are partnerships, some are easily accessible some are a challenge and some access is not permitted. We were able to visit two (Worlds End and Georges Island) and had great views of several more. We reached Georges Island by ferry from Hingham about 1/2 hour before anyone else was on the island. Neat to walk around by ourselves. Almost the entire island is covered with Fort Warren. The 1840’s era fort is in very good condition and we had a great ranger tour. Unfortunately for me I got a migraine part way on the tour and visited the infirmary for about an hour. Thanks to the rangers who assisted me! CJH finished the tour and before we left for Boston I was able to walk a bit more of the fort. This photo is after the guard house but before you enter the main gate of the fort. Another new park for us on the trip, number 6.

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Highland Light (Cape Cod Lighthouse) by Dave Hileman

We spent a whole day on Cape Cod and barely scratched the surface of things to do and see. When people enthuse over the Cape it is easy to see why. We loved the scenery and the history. We walked on the bay side, the ocean side and in two marshes as well as two woodland trails. Just a great day. The light house was a popular stop and I was fortunate to get this shot with no crowds of people. It seems to have two names but the more common now is Cape Cod Lighthouse. Not a new park for us but our remembrance from 1972 was more than faded. We must return. This was park #11 in our sequence for this trip.

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New Bedford Historic District (2 photos) by Dave Hileman

Sometimes it is hard to get a decent photograph - at least for me, clearly when conditions are very poor. Most of the time we were at the New Bedford NPS unit it was raining and usually hard. For example, I grabbed the shot of the Mariners’ Home just to look at exposure etc and it just opened up. I never got back to take a decent photo of it or my primary target the Seaman’s Bethel just to the left of the home. NBHD is a mix of cobble streets, historic buildings, shops both old and new, a few restaurants and a large harbor. The centerpiece is the New Bedford Whaling Museum, a private fee based museum in the district. We also visited a nearby home that is a part of the NP area partnership, photos later. This was not a new park for us but when we were here last it was not a NPS unit and we had no photos.

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Roger Williams - Rhode Island by Dave Hileman

Roger Williams was a pivotal figure in history but this park is a bit sad. It is a block wide and about three blocks long in the city with only this small and no longer running spring that actually connects him to this place. There is a VC on the north east end of the park and some parking that, as they were about to close, we were able to use even with the trailer. The short film is OK. Providence is a neat city with lots to see and do but this park does not need to be on your agenda unless visiting all the parks is your goal. We were here for one hour. There were a couple of folks walking in the park and several sleeping on benches with their possessions gathered near. I was told there was a statue but we did not see it. There are no contemporary paintings of Williams so when an artist was commissioned to paint the official portrait, he used TED Williams for his model. Cool.

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Weir Farm by Dave Hileman

There is no photo that will do justice to the atmosphere or the experience of walking the trails, fields and woodlands, of this lovely Connecticut farm. The house dates from the late 1700’s and the tall red building to the left, Weir’s studio, is from the late 1800’s. This was a new park for us and we enjoyed it much more than we expected. A reality we have found with more than a few National Park sites. This one is tricky to get to and if you are pulling a trailer, very difficult to park. I was a bit early and pulled into the lot when I found out there was no exit on the far side that was indicated on the map view. It was reconfigured earlier in the year. However, two rangers assisted me and we turned around and parked parallel to a stone wall. The people serving here were wonderful. We spent about 6 hours and we had budgeted a couple. Still had too little time here and must come back. It is easy to see why painters, as was Weir, spent lots of time on this property. Weir initiated and popularized the American impressionist movement from this locale.

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Mrs. Roosevelt's Home (three photos) by Dave Hileman

The lovely house, the Stone Cottage, is not where Mrs. Roosevelt lived, it was built for her two friends who assisted her with lots of her philanthropy. Her home when FDR was in town was in the main home and when he was not, it was in the former furniture factory on the property that she started to create employment for local men. When it closed she converted it into her home, office and rooms for some of her staff. Warm and cozy inside it is not the home you would first assume was the First Lady of the United States from outward appearance. This was a revisit for us and the second time to try and get acceptable photos. I think there will be a third because I am not happy with those of her home.

 Her office

Her office

 Her home

Her home

 Stone Cottage for her two friends.

Stone Cottage for her two friends.

Vanderbilt Home in Hyde Park NY by Dave Hileman

This is a re-visit for us but the first time I have photographed any portion of the estate. It is on the Hudson River and is designed to impress. It was built by the famous firm in NYC that included Stamford White and he picked the interior decor from all around the world. They pieces were there to say, “I have lots of money” and in contrast to George Eastman’s home in Rochester, nothing in the house - photos, portraits or furniture, were personal. Everything was just to express great wealth and privilege. The house feels uncomfortable and cold. (It was also damp during our visit but so was everything else in the region.) Even the view of the house (in photo) as you negotiated the curving driveway took you to a place where the lawn seemed endless before wrapping around to the back portico.

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Martin Van Buren - New York (2 photos) by Dave Hileman

Home of our eighth president is in Kinderhook, NY and it is well preserved, a nearly forgotten piece of history. He was the first president born under the American flag and his home, Lindenwald, is a picture of life in 1840’s and 50’s in the rural north. Located on the Post Road from Albany to NYC, the home was always full of guests and usually from the world of politics. Van Buren dealt with critical issues with Spain, Great Britton, the Republic of Texas, a severe recession and tried to limit the expansion of slavery. The ranger presented a fascinating picture of an obscure president in an overlooked time of our history. Excellent day spent here and in the small town of Kinderhook. This was a first time park for us.

 His son added the back and tower shortly after a visit to Europe. MVB lived here years after this was added to the house.

His son added the back and tower shortly after a visit to Europe. MVB lived here years after this was added to the house.

 inside view of the five story stairwell with very low ceilings as you climb upward.

inside view of the five story stairwell with very low ceilings as you climb upward.

Upper Delaware Scenic River - New York by Dave Hileman

I have only one perspective on this long park. The park is disjointed. In places it is merely the river in others it is land around the river. We intended to drive to two places but the first stop was atop a narrow, curvy two lane road with a stone wall on one side and a cliff on the other. There were wide spots where you could pull off against the stone wall and see the river below. We were there just as it was getting dark and the road was full of import cars and motorcycles racing up and down the three or four miles of winding road -and us, pulling a travel trailer. I did get one place where buses turn around and was able turn around there and to pull in a sort of wide spot barely off the road to get this photo. Cars were five and six in a line going very fast two feet from the side of our truck and trailer. So we did not stay too long. And since I had turned around I was headed back the way we came with no opportunity to turn again for five miles. By then the anxiety of driving back up the mountain and in the mix of the racers meant I was not going to go further into the park. So, while technically we did visit the park, it was not very satisfying. The area is one we will be back to as there are hikes and two other parks in the area with nice camping and other interesting places to visit. But for now, this is it. This was a first time park for us.

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Steamtown - Pennsylvania by Dave Hileman

This is a National Park Service site dedicated to the steam locomotive and the trains they pulled. It is set in an old roundhouse in Scranton,, PA. There are informative exhibits on how steam was used, cut-a-ways of locomotives and lots of history on display.. You can take short rides in the yard or longer excursions during limited times. This was a new park for us.

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Antietam - Maryland (2 photos) by Dave Hileman

There are famous images made on this battlefield, Burnside’s Bridge and the Sunken Lane are the two you would find most often from this September 1862 battle on a day of heavy overcast skies - the same conditions as I had here on September 2018. This battle took place when Lee first invaded the north and although it was a stalemate in many ways, the north forced the south to withdraw so it is considered a northern victory. Three firsts happened here where more American causalities occurred until June 6, 1944. It is still the second or third most costly single day battle in American history.

First number one, because of the victory, Lincoln was able to issue the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation on September 22.

First number two, Clara Barton who had been working with and pestering the government to be allowed on the front line was given that permission in late August of 62 and arrived during the fighting here saving lives and bringing comfort to many. This is her monument and the farm where she did much of her work.

First number three: Matthew Brady’s men, Alexander Gardner and his assistant James Gibson arrived at the immediate end of the fighting and took photos of the dead that startled the world. No one could miss the death and destruction any longer.

 Bricks from her home form the red cross

Bricks from her home form the red cross

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