National Park Service celebrates 100 years this week
This week marks the 100th birthday of the National Park Service, and the Shenandoah National Park, just like all 59 of the United States national parks, is offering many different ways to celebrate.
The National Park Service was born on August 25, 1916 when President Woodrow Wilson signed the legislation that created the National Park Service "to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for future generations.".
Today, there are 59 national parks, in addition to 50 National Historical Parks, 79 National Monuments, 20 National Preserves, 10 National Seashores, and so many more designated protect areas throughout the country. And each one tells an important part of the American story. Some commemorate notable people and achievements, others conserve magnificent landscapes and natural wonders, and all provide a place to have fun and learn.
---HOW THE COUNTRY IS CELEBRATING---
The National Park Service invites visitors of all ages to join in the celebration of its 100th birthday throughout the month of August.
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Woodrow Wilson's signing the service into existence, and to look ahead to the next 100 years, in early 2015 the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation launched the Find Your Park movement. Inspiring people from all backgrounds to celebrate and support America's national parks and community-based programs, #FindYourPark invites people to discover and share their own unique connections to our nation's natural landscapes, vibrant culture, and rich history.
As in all parks across the country, from August 25 through August 28, the entrance fee to Shenandoah National Park will be completely waived.
In addition to that, the National Park Service is hosting a number of events locally to celebrate. You can find a list of those below, by date:
***Friday, August 26, 2016***
9:00 a.m., Loft Mountain Amphitheater (mile 79.5 Skyline Drive):
- Coffee with the Superintendent – Join Superintendent Jim Northup for an informal gathering to chat about Shenandoah National Park.
10:00 a.m., Upper Hawksbill Parking Area (mile 46.7 Skyline Drive)
- Centennial Hike: Hike to the Highest Peak – Explore a high-elevation forest on the way to the summit of Shenandoah's tallest mountain, Hawksbill. 2 hours, moderate 2.1-mile hike
***Saturday, August 27, 2016***
11:00 a.m., Byrd Visitor Center (mile 51 Skyline Drive)
- “Time Travel with Bubba Jones & Family” – Time travel to meet President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Civilian Conservation Corps boys. Come prepared for a short stroll with Jeff Alt, outdoor recreation expert and award- winning author.
4:00 p.m., Big Meadows Lodge (mile 51 Skyline Drive)
- “Walk for Sunshine: Appalachian Trail” – Jeff Alt will present his acclaimed Walk for Sunshine Appalachian Trail program.
4:00 p.m., Big Meadows Amphitheater (mile 51 Skyline Drive)
- Centennial Hike: Highest Point at Big Meadows – Take a short walk along the Appalachian Trail to the spectacular view from the Blackrock viewpoint. 1 hour, easy
***Sunday, August 28, 2016***
10:00 a.m., Pocosin Trailhead (mile 59.5 Skyline Drive)
- Centennial Hike: Hike Through History - Travel back in time to learn about some of the Park's human history and visit the ruins of an Episcopal mission. 2 hours, moderate 1.9-mile hike
---NOT ALL IS HAPPY---
This year's centennial celebration of the National Park Service may be a celebration for many, but for others in our area, it brings back memories that are far from festive.
From 1926, when the park was authorized, to 1935, when the park was fully established, families from about 500 homes were forced to leave in order to make way for the park. Many of those families came from Madison County, Page County, and Rappahannock County.
Now, communities in the Valley are working to honor those families who lost their homes with new monuments, including eight planned by the Blue Ridge Heritage Project.
You can find extensive coverage of these efforts in the 'Related Stories' section of this article.