Archive for August, 2021


NP Unit Trip to Washington DC

August 20, 2021

7/26 M – 7hrs to Gettysburg National Military Park

I did a complete tour here in 1966 with a friend.  Here are two photos:

Little Roun Top
The Angle

In 2016, Helen and I did an abbreviated tour and then experienced the “Cyclorama” (light and sound show), which is a 360o painting of the Battle of Gettysburg.  This is one small view of battle; Little Round Top is in the background.

One View of Cyclorama

This year, we did the 24-mile car tour stopping at all sixteen “official” tour stops plus many others.  Gettysburg 1863 –

Gettysburg 1863

On July 1, 1963, Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Confederate forces (70K) attacked Gen. George G. Meade’s Union forces (90K) defending Gettysburg on Oak Ridge.  He was successful in driving the Union forces back through Gettysburg to Cemetery Ridge and Culp’s Hill.

Oak Ridge Observation Tower
Oak Ridge PA Infantry

The Confederate forces set up positions on Seminary Ridge.

Seminary Ridge

On July 2nd they attacked the Union forces on Cemetery Ridge. At the end of the day, it was a stalemate.

Cemetery Ridge PA Memorial

On July 3rd, Lee sent 12,000-infantry (Pickett’s Charge) to break the Union Line on Cemetery Ridge.  In 1966, I ran Pickett’s charge, about a mile uphill.  I can only imagine the physical effort carrying weapons and gear; then, the hand-to-hand combat at “The Angle”!  This is referred to as “The High Watermark of the Confederacy.” 

High Watermark of the Confederacy
The Angle

PA Infantry Statue and PA Quarter

PA Infantry
2011 America The Beautiful Quarters Coin Gettysburg Pennsylvania Uncirculated Reverse

This three-day Civil War Battle of Gettysburg holds the record for being the largest battle in the Western Hemisphere.  There were 10,000 killed, 30,000 wounded, and 10,000 captured or missing!  Gettysburg Soldier’s National Cemetery –

Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address took place on November 19, 1863.

Gettysburg Address
Soldiers’ National Monument

It was a one-hour drive to Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.  It is in the NE part of WV where the Shenandoah River enters the Potomac River.  On the other side of the Potomac is Maryland, a Union State.  On the other side of the Shenandoah River is Virginia, a Confederate State.  Harpers Ferry was a very important place during the first 100 years of our nation’s history.    

Helen and I had a nice visit here in 1970.  We did the trail to the Maryland Heights overlooking Harpers Ferry and the convergence of the rivers and then toured the town.

C & O Canal and Potomac River from MD Heights – 1970

We arrived about 6pm today and did a short tour of the Lower Town. 

The John Brown Monument is located where the Federal Armory fire station where he was captured was located.  A reconstruction of the fire station (John Brown’s Fort) can be seen in the background with VA (across the Shenandoah River) in the distance.

John Brown Monument

Meriwether Lewis was here in 1803 to gather supplies for the Lewis & Clark Expedition.

We walked to The Point where the Shenandoah River enters the Potomac River

The Point

And then across the Potomac River RR Bridge into MD to take photos of Lock 33 of the C & O Canal.  Three National Trails Meet Here: The Appalachian Trail, the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Trail, and the Potomac Heritage Trail.

Three National Trails
Mom and Falcon Chicks
C & O Canal – Lock 33

7/27 Tu – We started back in the Lower Town today.

Lower Town

John Brown’s Fort (Federal Armory Fire Station)

2016 America The Beautiful Quarters Coin Harpers Ferry West Virginia Uncirculated Reverse

Various buildings and museums were now open – e.g., Frankels Clothing Store, Provost Marshal Office, Stipes’ Boarding House, John Brown Museum, Dry Goods Store, etc.

Followed the stairs to St Peter’s Catholic Church (1833).  Only church not destroyed during Civil War.

And onward to Jefferson Rock

Jefferson Rock

After the Civil War, Baptist missionaries founded Storer College (1867-1955) on Camp Hill to educate students of any race, male or female. 

The Niagara Movement

In 1963, the NPS acquired the campus.  It is now one of four major NPS training centers.  It is named for Stephen T. Mather, the Service’s first director.  

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is located in town as well.

Appalachian Trail through Harpers Ferry

A 1.5hr drive took us to Fort McHenry NM and Historic Shrine outside of Baltimore MD.  This was Helen’s first visit this “Star Fort;” I had visited in 1967 and 1994.

America declared War on England in 1812 for, among other things, impressing American seamen into the British Navy during their war with France.  After their war with France was over in August 1814, the British attacked Washington DC and burned both the White House and Capital.  In September, they tried to take Baltimore.  Maj. George Armistead, commander of the fort, had a 42ft x 30ft flag with 15 stars and stripes made to rally his troops – “The Star-Spangled Banner.“  After a 25-hour bombardment by its fleet, the British attempted to take Fort McHenry and Baltimore but were unsuccessful.  Francis Scott Key, imprisoned on a British ship, watched the bombardment, and wrote the words for what would become the “The Star-Spangled Banner.” 

Kate, Chad, Frankie, Anthony 1994
Parade Ground
Orders from Maj. Armistead
Rodman Guns
2013 America The Beautiful Quarters Coin Fort Mchenry Maryland Uncirculated Reverse

We were then off to Philadelphia for additional photos at Thaddeus Kosciuszko N MEM

and Edgar Alan Poe NHS – see Blog for August 2016 for our first visit to these two NP Units. 

Afterward, we revisited Independence NHP to add that NP Unit to this Blog.  I was here in 1967 (with Bob’s Dad, Clark, and Bob), our family was here in 1983 (I am holding Kate), and here I am in 2021 by the Commodore Barry statue on the South side of Independence Hall.  


Background – The First Continental Congress was held in Carpenters’ Hall in Philadelphia in 1774 after the British Navy blockaded Boston Harbor.  The Revolutionary War is considered to have started on April 19, 1775, when MA militia harassed the British Army at Lexington and Concord.  The Second Continental Congress was held in the Pennsylvania State House (1775-1776).  On July 4, 1776, representatives from the original thirteen colonies signed the final wording of the Declaration of Independence.  Congress approved the Articles of Confederation in 1777 in York PA during the Revolutionary War.  Maryland was the last state to ratify the Articles in 1781.  The 1783 Treaty of Paris officially ended the Revolutionary War.  The Confederation Congress called a convention in the old PA State House Philadelphia (Independence Hall) in 1787 to revise the Articles of Confederation.  They created the U.S. Constitution, which established a “Constitutional Presidential Republic” with 3 branches of government.  That document was presented to Congress sitting in NYC (1785-1789).  It was ratified on June 21, 1888, and became effective March 4, 1789.   George Washington was inaugurated as the nation’s first president 8 weeks later, on April 30 on the balcony of Federal Hall in NYC.  On August 2, 1790, Congress passed the Residence Act of 1790.  The government would move from NYC to Philadelphia (Independence Hall), which would serve as the temporary capital for 10 years.  The U.S. Bill of Rights was ratified here in 1791 as was the approval for the First Bank of the U.S.  The Federal Mint was established in 1792.  The second inauguration of George Washington took place here in 1793.  The first peaceful transfer of power took place here with the inauguration of John Adams in 1797.  The Department of the Navy was established in 1798.  In 1800 the government would again move, this time to its permanent location in Washington, D.C.  So, here we are in 2021 at Independence Hall!  This is the North side with the George Washington statue.

State’s Rights vs Federal Rights (Human Rights as envisioned in the Constitution) battles continue to be fought today.  I believe you have the “freedom” to reject the COVID vaccine BUT you then forfeit (your federal right) to medical care for COVID infection.

We started with a ranger tour of Independence Hall.  It was built in 1753 and served as the capital of the Commonwealth of PA.  The rooms are presented as they were in 1775 for the governance of PA.  My photo is in the PA Supreme Court Room and the next photo is in the PA Assembly Room.  That room was used by the Second Continental Congress for the Declaration of Independence from Britain (July 4, 1776).  

PA Supreme Court
PA Assembly Room

We then did the ranger tour of the 1789 Philadelphia County Court House, which became the seat of the U.S. government from 1790 to 1800 and is now called Congress Hall.

Congress Hall

House of Representatives

House of Representatives

The U.S. Senate was on the second floor.  Note the 15 stars on the ceiling representing the 13 original colonies plus KY (1792) and TN (1796).  The 13 shields in the carpet also represent the 13 original colonies, plus a 14th that contains the Liberty Cap on a pole and the Balance Scale of Justice.

Senate Room

It is interesting that the adjacent Committee rooms contain portraits of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette of France, gifts to the U.S. after the American Revolution.  They were executed in 1793 during the French Revolution (1789-1799).

Our final tour (self-tour) was at the Liberty Bell Center across the street.  The Liberty Bell was hung in the PA State House in 1753 – a thin crack appeared sometime after the Revolution.  It cracked irreparably in 1846 when an attempt was made to fix it.  

Liberty Bell

From there we drove to the John Dickinson Plantation outside of Dover DE.  It is a unit of First State NHP.  John Dickinson was a Quaker who supported Liberty and freed his slaves by 1786.

Our next stop was the Ryves Holt House in Lewes DE, which was my 7th and final unit of First State NHP.  Built in 1665, it is thought to be the oldest building in DE.  It served the early Dutch maritime industry.

Stayed in Rockville MD with our good friend Lilian

7/29 Th – We were supposed to tour the White House and the Capitol with the National Park Travelers Club (NPTC)today, but both were canceled due to the pandemic.  Lilian was able to make us last minute reservations at the National Museum of African American History & Culture.  It is one of the Smithsonian Museums.  I believe a great deal of understanding and healing could be had if all Americans were willing to go through this museum with an open mind.

We wore our masks and social distance as we ascended three stories starting at the lowest (C3) of three underground History Galleries.  That was the Slavery and Freedom Gallery 1400-1877.

How do you cover 477 years of black history?  Here is a sampling –

Revolutionary War – Black Loyalists and Black Patriots

Slavery and Civil War

23, 29

Reconstruction, Jim Crow Laws, and Black Leaders

Defending Freedom, Defining Freedom: The Era of Segregation 1876-1968 was located on C2.

“1968 and Beyond,” was on level C1 and Explore More was on level L2

Community Galleries were located on level L3 including Sport

Culture Galleries were on level L4, including Cultural Expressions and Musical Crossroads.  There was also a nice view of DC looking west.

We then revisited the Washington Monument, this photo taken in 1986. 


My first visit here was in 1967.  This photo was taken from the Jefferson Memorial.  My white 1962 Chevy Impala sedan can be seen in the photo.

In 1968, I ran up the 896 steps inside the monument (555ft tall) to the observation area and took photos out of each of the four windows.  Note the tent city called “Resurrection City” that was set up for the Poor People’s March.  Martin Luther King (April 4) and Robert Kennedy (June 6) were assassinated that same year.  We were married on June 8th.  There was extensive rioting in Washington DC.


Jefferson Memorial, also see Blog for Oct 2018

White House Visitor Center.  We have lots of photos of the White House across several years (e.g., see Blog for Dec 2020), and I took the White House tour in 1967.

Lafayette Park 1970

World War I Memorial.  In 2017, the World War I Centennial Commission held a ceremonial groundbreaking event at Pershing Park.  The Memorial was completed this year.  See Blog for Oct 2018 and Dec 2020 for additional photos.

Next, across the Potomac River to VA and Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery.  With my visit here on November 8, 2020, I achieved my goal of experiencing ALL 422 National Park Units (see Blog for Dec 2020).  On this trip, Ranger Aurelia arranged passes for me to drive through two security posts in Arlington Cemetery and park on the hill near the mansion.  We met her shortly after our arrival and she presented me with some NP gifts for achieving my goal at this NP Unit, which is administered by George Washington Memorial Parkway of the NPS.  Pictures were taken and placed on their Facebook page. 


Painted Columns

The previous name for this site was the Custis-Lee Mansion, The Robert E. Lee Memorial.  Here is the Story – Martha Custis (1731-1802) had four children.  After her husband died, she married George Washington (1732-1799).  They did not have children together but raised her two children who survived to adulthood.  Her son, John Parke Custis (1754 to November 5, 1781), named his son George Washington Parke Custis (April 30, 1781 to 1857).  George and Martha adopted him and raised him at Mount Vernon.  When they passed, he inherited the family wealth.  He had his slaves build Arlington House (1802-1818) to honor the first President.  He had one surviving white child, a daughter Mary Anna Randolph Custis (1808-1873).  She married Robert E. Lee (1807-1870) in 1831.  They had seven children.  They and their descendants are now considered part of the “First Family.”

White and Mixed Descendants

George Washington Parke Custis also had a daughter named Maria Carter (1803-1895) with Arianna Carter one of his black slaves.  She married Charles Syphax (black) in the Arlington House Parlor. They had ten children.  They and their descendants are now considered part of the “First Family.”  We started our tour with the newly renovated Slave Quarters.

We then did our 3:40 reservation for a 20-minute self-guided tour through the newly renovated South Wing of Arlington House.

After walking through the Conservatory, the first room was Robert E. Lee’s office.

Morning Room

White Parlor

Dining Room and Family Parlor

Center Hall

Kitchen Garden – Museum in background


Arlington Cemetery – 2,111 Civil War Unknowns are buried under this monument

Monument to 2,111 Civil War Unknown Soldiers

We then stopped at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove.  It is on an island on the south side of the Potomac River and is part of Washington DC.

After that we made our way to Captain White’s by the DC Wharf to by a dozen jumbo crabs for dinner at Lilian’s.

7/30 F – Helen spent the day with graduate school friend in Annapolis.  I left early for Rock Creek Park in DC.  My first stop was the Dumbarton Oaks mansion/museum adjacent to Rock Creek Park.  It is part of the Georgetown Historic District. The mansion was purchased in 1920 and donated to Harvard University for the Byzantine and Mediaeval Humanities Research Library and Collection.

Dumbarton Oaks

There is a 10-acre formal garden behind the mansion

In 1940, 27-acres beyond the formal garden were donated to the NPS for Dumbarton Oaks Park, which is now part of Rock Creek Park. It is a nice little park in the middle of a historic neighborhood. 

Many embassies are located just north of the park.  I happened by the Sri Lankan embassy and was invited in for tea and to see their Buddha.

I then walked up MA Ave to the Kahill Gibran Memorial

My next stop was the Peirce-Klingle Estate mansion (1823) on Linnaean Hill.  It houses the Headquarters for Rock Creek Park.  Peirce established a nursery and built a mill along Rock Creek.

Rock Creek runs 33-miles from its source in Montgomery County to the Potomac River (Herring Highway).  Many mills were built along the waterway in the early 1800s.  Peirce Mill has been preserved and is part of Rock Creek Park.  Helen and I would come here when we were graduate students at the University of Maryland.


Inside workings of Peirce Mill

I then revisited The Old Stone House in Georgetown.  A house that was in Maryland when it was built before the Revolutionary War and then became part of Washington DC when the U.S. Capital was established.  Check out the tree growth 1970 to 2021 (51 years).


I then walked to the start of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, which is located where Rock Creek enters the Potomac River.

That is Mile 0 of the C & O Canal where there was a Tide Lock for boats to enter and exit the canal.  Boats would enter the Potomac River and go downstream to the Branch Canal that ran down present-day Constitution Ave. for off-loading.  A Lock Keeper’s House is still standing on the corner of Constitution Ave and 17th St NW.

Start of C & O Canal – Mile 0

The fist several Locks for the canal are in Georgetown.

The C & O Canal Georgetown Visitor Center was not open and the boat ride through the locks was not available.

Afterward, I went to the Prince William Forest Park VA (Other) Visitor Center.  It was not open during my first visit here – see Blog for April 2017.

I then drove to Piscataway Park MD National Colonial Farm (Other NP Unit) to do some additional trails.  It is on the Potomac River opposite Mount Vernon (VA) – see Blog for October 2018.

Colonial Farm
Marsh Boardwalk to Mockley Point
Potomac River

I then revisited the farm (tobacco plantation) of Thomas Stone NHS – see Blog for April 2017.

Drying Tobacco

7/31 Sat – My first stop was St Paul’s Rock Creek Episcopal Church Cemetery (1719) in Washington DC.

 An Adams Memorial was authorized by Congress in 2001 to honor John Adams (2nd U.S. President), his wife and prolific writer, Abigail Adams; their son, the sixth President, John Quincy Adams; John Quincy Adams’ wife, Louisa Catherine Adams; and other members of the Adams family.  The memorial would also honor John Quincy Adam’s son, Charles Francis Adams, Sr., a Civil War diplomat, politician, and editor; and Charles’ two sons, Henry Adams, a noted historian and autobiographer, and academician Brooks Adams.  The deadline for construction has been extended several times.  An Adams Memorial Commission was approved in 2019 to complete the memorial in the vicinity of the National Mall by 2025.  To date, legislated appointments have not been made.

There is currently a well-known Adams Memorial in this cemetery.  It was erected in 1891 by author/historian Henry Adams, who was the son of Charles Adams, who was the son of President John Quincy Adams.   It is a memorial to his wife, Marian “Clover” Hooper Adams (1843-85).  Suffering from depression, she committed suicide.  Henry Adams commissioned prominent sculpture Saint-Gaudens to contemplate iconic images from Buddhist devotional art.  He cast an allegorical bronze sculpture of a seated shrouded figure.  There is a replica at his home in VT, which is a National Historic Site.

Helen and Tom Martin are memorialized with a nearby statue – notice that I am holding a football and Helen is depicted before her mastectomy.

In the afternoon I attended the annual convention of the National Park Travelers Club (NPTC) where I received the Platinum Lifetime Achievement Award for completing ALL 422 National Park Units.  These photos are from a Springfield News-Sun article that described my National Park journey.  It was published on 8/15/2021. 

The map contains roads driven (orange) and water paddled/traveled (blue).

Helen met me at Maggiano’s Little Italy restaurant in DC for the convention dinner.

8/1 Sun – It was a 3hr drive to Mays Landing NJ where we met our friends Dave and Carol.  Dave and I drove to a few sites along the Great Egg Harbor NSRR, which is within New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve (Affiliated NP Unit). See our Blog for June 2019.  First, here are two additional photos from the Weymouth Furnace site on the river.

Weymouth Iron Furnace

Mays Landing is located on the river as well.  The Lenape Indians were here when the settlers arrived.  This statue is in front of the County Court House.  There is a dam on the river in Mays Landing that forms Lake Lenape.  Dave and I paddled upriver from this point a few years ago.

Lenape Indian

Col. Richard Wescott, of Mays Landing, fought in the Revolutionary War.

Two views along the Egg Harbor River –

The ruins of the Estellville Glass Factory in Atlantic County Park are also along the river.

8/2 M – went to Ocean City NJ, walked the beach, bought Shriver’s Salt Water Taffy, played cards, etc.  It was a fun day.

 8/3 Tu – Joined Fred and Liz for crabbing at their Oyster Creek “Shack,” which is in the Pinelands Reserve.  It was another great day with a yummy and beautiful ending.

Oyster Creek
Going to Catch Crabs
Blue Tip Crab
Cleaning Crabs
Eating Crabs

8/4 W – It was a 5hr ride to Allegheny Portage Railroad NHS.  Chad and I visited here in October 2011 – see Blog.  On this trip, Helen and I spent more time in and around the Visitor Center.

Nice Model of the Summit Level.  The Allegheny Portage RR opened in 1834 and stopped operation in 1857 when railroads provided a more efficient and faster mode of transportation.

Engine House for pulling cars up inclines and lowering them down the other side under control

Engine House

In 1826, Samuel Lemon and his wife built and ran a log tavern on the old turnpike that crossed the gap in the mountains.  They then built a large sandstone building to accommodate passengers and crew on the inclined RR.

Lemon House
Fancy Parlor

The Johnstown Flood N MEM was only a half hour away.  Chad and I were here in October 2011 – see Blog.

Dam is now Gone

5hrs to Springfield – what adventure awaits?