Halfway down the mighty Mississippi, a model of engineering greets the world to the Lion of the Valley, the Gateway to the West, St. Louis, Missouri. Today on America’s National Parks, Gateway Arch National Park, and its namesake architectural wonder that is like no other on earth. The Gateway Arch has always inspired me. I’m
80 percent of the world’s population lives under what’s called “skyglow.” In the United States and Europe, 99 percent of the public can’t experience a natural night. Light is helpful to people, of course, but it’s also one of our greatest pollutants. Artificial light brings disastrous consequences to wildlife, especially birds, bats, insects, and sea
The Savannah river twists and turns for 301 miles in the Southeastern United States, forming most of the border between Georgia and South Carolina, before it’s divided into channels by several islands near Savannah Georgia, and then spills into the Atlantic. The last of those islands holds a storied past, having played a role in
For more than 100 years, no national memorial had been contemplated for any president except George Washington, yet talk of building one to honor the monumental legacy left by Abraham Lincoln began even as he lingered on his deathbed.
Rising high above the prairies of the Blackhills stands a tower of astounding geological feature. Considered sacred by indigenous people, it’s an impressive and striking monument against the flat lands of Northeastern Wyoming. Hundreds of parallel cracks make it one of the finest climbing areas in North America, and for decades this remarkable wonder has
The Emancipation Proclamation has been called one of the two most important American contributions to the world by Martin Luther King, Jr., yet was said to possess “all the moral grandeur of a bill of lading” by historian Richard Hofstadter. Its force and form have been the subject of countless books and papers. Was it a
Nestled at the top of Wisconsin sits a cluster of islands on Lake Superior that have been home to Native Americans, pioneer farmers, commercial fisherman and more. Today it’s a land that is mostly reclaimed by the wilderness, it is also home to what some call the finest collection of lighthouses in the country.
If you’re of a particular generation, you’re likely to remember the Oregon Trail video game. Long before kids were master Minecraft builders, or zipping around corners in MarioKart, they were leaders guiding settlers as they traveled from Independence, Missouri, to Oregon’s Willamette Valley. The road was tough, and you had to make life-altering decisions, decisions
During the Cold War, a vast arsenal of nuclear missiles was placed across the Great Plains. Hidden in plain sight, for thirty years 1,000 missiles were kept on constant alert; hundreds remain today. The Minuteman Missile remains an iconic weapon in the American nuclear arsenal. It holds the power to destroy civilization, but is meant as a nuclear deterrent to maintain peace and prevent war. Today on America’s National Parks, the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site near Wall, South Dakota.
Nestled among some of the most rugged mountains in the southeastern United States is an isolated valley that was home to 1200 people in 1910, who made their living first at farming, and then, as tourism developed, by welcoming weary travelers to the Smoky Mountains. On today’s episode – the Cataloochee Valley in Great Smoky
Barbecued meat has played a surprisingly important rule in United States presidential politics over the years. George Washington was a Virginia-style barbecue enthusiast. Recently, archaeologists discovered a barbecue pit on the south lawn of Montpelier that was in use during Madison’s lifetime. After the civil war, and before television, when many Americans weren’t guaranteed three solid meals a day, a free barbecue dinner was a compelling incentive to listen to a politician pitch for votes. But one President made barbecue an art form.
In 2007, a young bald eagle took flight from its nest along the Cuyahoga River. It was the first successful nest in Cuyahoga County in more than 70 years. The eaglet grew up eating fish from the Cuyahoga River, where, throughout most of the 1900s, fish could not survive due to the pollution. Neither could
When we think of America’s National Parks, we often don’t think of the oceans or the Gulf of Mexico, but along our shores are some of the most incredible places our country has to offer. Seven barrier islands along the southern coast protect the mainland, nature, and mankind as they form a damper against ocean
On May 10th, 1869, two sets of ordinary railroad tracks met under extraordinary circumstances. Before that day, a single person would pay $1000 to travel from east to west in the United States. On a steam engine train, it only cost $150. More than 1700 miles of track were laid in just seven years, across deserts, over plains, and through mountains. Its completion was one of the most defining moments in our nation’s history.
When we think about the people that help keep the gears turning in National Parks, it’s easy for us to think about the wonderful rangers that keep us safe and help us interpret and protect these incredible places. But we often overlook the thousands and thousands of other workers that make our visits possible. The
The Yellowstone Supervolcano snores through the geysers and mud pots, and restlessly tumbles as multiple earthquakes hit the region nearly every day. We don’t hear a lot about Yellowstone earthquakes, but each year one to three thousand hit the park and surrounding area. Most can’t even be felt, but there have already been four this
If you’re a National Park buff—and you probably are if you listen to this podcast—you probably know of some of the famous people responsible for the very creation of many of our greatest parks. People like John Muir, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Teddy Roosevelt, and Stephan Mather. But we’re guessing you haven’t heard of Minerva Hamilton
Twenty-four years ago, a Ryder truck packed with nearly 5,000 pounds of explosives was parked in front of Oklahoma City’s Alfred P. Murrah Federal building by Timothy McVeigh — a Gulf War veteran who, two years prior, had driven to Waco, Texas, during the siege of the compound belonging to the Branch Davidians to show
On December 8, 1941, the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivered his famous “Day Of Infamy Speech.” The United States had entered World War II. That evening, his wife would call on all Americans to focus on the war effort and to support the nation’s leaders in the
In 1848, gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill in California and people from all over the United States packed their belongings and began to travel by wagon to what they hoped would be a new and better life. Since most of these pioneers began their exodus to California in 1849, they are referred to as
The Alamo is certainly San Antonio’s most famous landmark, perhaps even the most famous building in Texas, due to its pivotal role in the 1836 Texas Revolution. But the Alamo was built over a century prior as Mission San Antonio de Valero by Spanish settlers on the banks of the San Antonio River. Beginning in
In 1833, a small organization formed with the purpose to fund and build a monument “unparalleled in the world” in honor of once commander-in-chief of the Continental Army and the first President of the United States. Its completion, and its history, not unlike the Statue of Liberty, were fraught with funding issues, construction delays, and
Ridge upon ridge of forest straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, where ancient mountains, covered in pine, glow in purple, pink and blue hues, as a smoky mist rises from their thick cloak of trees. World-renowned for its diversity of plant and animal life, this is also a place to explore what remains
As we release this episode, the longest government shutdown in American history is still underway, and 800,000 government workers are on furlough, including rangers and other protectors of our wildlife and national treasures. Those that remain on the job, mainly law enforcement rangers, are working without paychecks, and are facing protecting federal lands that remain
One of the very symbols of our nation is a residence for our highest elected official, designed by Irish-born architect James Hoban in the neoclassical style, using sandstone painted white. When Thomas Jefferson moved into the house in 1801, he and architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe added low colonnades on each wing that concealed stables and
Each spring, an abundance of winter-weary locals and tourists flock to our nation’s capital, hoping to see the blossoming beauty of the famed Japanese cherry trees. You may know that the original trees were a gift from Japan in 1912 symbolizing international friendship, but you may not know that they are also a testament to
Otto Lilienthal was a German pioneer of aviation who became known as the “flying man.” He was the first person to make well-documented, repeated, successful flights with gliders. Photographs of his attempts were published worldwide, sparking a fever over the possibility of powered flight in many, including Orville and Wilber Wright. Capitalizing on the national bicycle
In July of 1982, 5 men set out to conquer the highest peak in Texas, Guadalupe Peak at Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Every day, many people take the 8.5-mile trip that summits the 8,749′ peak, but this party was different—they were all in wheelchairs. For the next 5 days, they climbed their way to the top,
The day this episode is released, December 7th, 2018, marks the 77th anniversary of the event that would send the United States into World War II, the devastating surprise attack on Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor. The U.S.S. Arizona, a Pennsylvania class battleship had been moved from California to Pearl Harbor in an effort to ward off
On July 11, 1848, a local newspaper ran an advertisement announcing a meeting that would happen a week later at the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, New York — the first American Women’s Rights Convention. Today on America’s National Parks – The Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, New York.
What could be more magical than Christmas at a National Park lodge? Grand log-beamed lobbies, decked out in real pine trimmings, the crackling of massive stone fireplaces, and decadent holiday feasts, while far away from civilization with the glories of snow-blanketed nature in every direction. On this episode of America’s National Parks, we take you
Even before the California Gold Rush of 1849, prospectors were finding gold in Southern California. As the rewards from the mines in the Sierras began to wither, miners headed toward the deserts, where hot summers, scarce water, limited wood sources, and the difficulty and high cost of transporting equipment and provisions created a challenging mining
Before dawn on what would become a perfect October day in Utah, I set out to attempt a solo hike. It wasn’t the type of hike that would have been a big deal to an avid hiker, but for me, it was bound to be. On this episode of America’s National Parks, host Jason Epperson’s
If you listened to The Curse of the Petrified Forest, our episode on the strange happenings surrounding people who stole rocks from Petrified Forest National Park, you know that the park faced a major identity crisis – people thought all the petrified wood was gone. It isn’t, of course, it’s pretty much all still there
In 1881, Jesse and Tom Bingham heard a whistling noise coming from a beach-ball-sized hole in a rock formation near Hot Springs, South Dakota. Wind was blowing out of the hole, just as it does today, with such force that it blew off Tom’s hat. As the story goes, a few days later, when Jesse
When we left off last time Meriwether Lewis had just looked over the crest of the largest mountain range he had ever seen (or summited), hoping to see the Columbia River, and an easy path to the Pacific Ocean. Instead, there were mountains as far as the eye could see.
Canoes were useless now, and the Corps of Discovery would need horses. It was Sacagawea’s moment.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System we’re following the Journey of Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery, their quest to explore the newly expanded United States and their search for a route to the Pacific Ocean.
On this episode of America’s National Parks, three short stories from the glistening dunes of White Sands National Monument: A spirit from the 16th century who roams the dunes after sunset, searching for her lost love, a legendary gunslinger of the southwest, and a daring record-setter who made high-altitude aviation safer.
In the mountains of western Arkansas, there’s a place where rain waters are absorbed through crevices in the earth’s surface, then warmed and enriched with minerals, percolating deep underground. The water then flows back to the surface in steaming hot springs, filling the cool mountain air with steam in the winter. It’s a place that
Over the past century, the United States has led the world in dam construction. There are at least 90,000 dams over six-feet tall in this country and over 2 million shorter than six feet. More than a quarter have passed their 50-year average life expectancy; by 2020, that figure will reach 85 percent. On average,
Strange weather patterns set in 1947 in the state of Maine, as a quick and early spring thaw preceded months of endless rain. Finally, at the end of June, the sun broke through the clouds as temperatures climbed bringing about a warm summer. Mother nature had apparently used up all the rain in the spring,
In the late 1840s, the U.S. government seized control of California from the Republic of Mexico and immediately went to work on protecting the new land. Located in the middle of the San Francisco Bay, an island called Alcatraz was identified as a place of exceptional military utility. Nearly surrounded on all sides, it was
In a small section of the painted desert of Arizona, you can find forests of crumbled trees, preserved as stone. Over 200 million years ago, these large conifers were uprooted by floods, then washed down from the highlands and buried by silt. Water seeping through the wood replaced decaying organic material cell by cell with
Elevators might seem like a strange topic for a National Park Podcast, but today we’re going to talk about a special elevator. In 1931, the National Park constructed what was then the second highest (or shall we say deepest) elevator shaft in the world — descending tourists 754′ into the wonders of Carlsbad Caverns National
On April 6th, 1846, Dred and Harriet Scott walked into the unfinished St. Louis Courthouse in downtown Saint Louis, Missouri, and in an act of bravery, filed separate petitions against Irene Emerson for their freedom. On that day, one of the most important lawsuits in American history, one that would ultimately hasten the start of
The Statue of Liberty stands out in New York Harbor, bearing her torch, welcoming tourists and immigrants with the American spirit of Liberty. Her story is complicated, and many apocryphal tales abound of her sitting disassembled for years while Americans tried to figure out how to assemble it. The truth is much more interesting. Today
On the northern shores of Minnesota lies a remote waterscape steeped in history, nature, and tradition. Named for the wild men who paddled its waterways in the Canadian fur trade, Voyageurs National Park is home to nesting bald eagles, moose, grey wolves, black bear, loons, owls, otter, and beaver. Most of its hidden waterways are
Two years before the creation of our first National Park, Truman C. Everts got lost in Yellowstone. He lost not one, but two horses. He set not one, but two forest fires. He waited out a mountain lion in a tree. He slept in a bear’s den. He fell through the crust of a hot
At the southern tip of Florida lie the Everglades, a crucial ecosystem to America and the world. Everglades National Park has spent its entire life under siege, with Marjory Stoneman Douglas out front as its chief warrior.
Deep within Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave National Park, one can find so much more than rock formations. The shale-capped mass of 400 known miles of caverns holds the history of America, told by the Black enslaved cave guides that made it one of the country’s top tourist attractions, then and now.