Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute Home

Outdoor Museums: History and Parks

Benjamin A. Gorman

Contents of Curriculum Unit 90.03.02:

To Guide Entry

“Museum”, a place for the Muses those nine goddesses who presided over literature and the arts and sciences in Greek mythology; a place for study, a place or preserving.

“Nature in full genius, full of the divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand”.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

For Americans in the Republic of 1776, what was to become the vastness of our nation was something to be conquered, not preserved. Annexing horizon after horizon, pioneers penetrated forests, grasslands, deserts and mountains as they swarmed westward. To those who settled, the fertile earth gave forth abundantly to meet the needs and dreams of the growing nation. Over two hundred years later, the land remains as big a challenge as ever, but it is a challenge of conscience rather than of conquest. Where do we draw the line between using the land and using it up?

The perspectives of urban students are often limited to the cement and asphalt of their environment; their ability to travel and their vision of physical America are sometimes restricted by unfortunate circumstances.

How can they envision the natural beauty of the American landscape and understand the balance of preserving our unique areas with the demands of society and economics? This unit presents an opportunity to take students on a journey of study into different landscapes, snow-capped mountains, rock formations, deep river gorges, ancient redwoods, geysers, white sandy beaches-monuments to nature and to keeping the memory of people and events alive—a venture into the outdoor museums of America.

The U.S. National Parks are a system of 355 areas set aside by the federal government to protect the finest of our heritage in terms of landscape, historical experience or natural resource. The park system reflects a sense of pride in America’s wealth of wilderness and its significant history; it is a conscious commitment to hold an image of America for future generations to study and enjoy. The National Park Service is engaged in drawing the line of preservation and creating a wondrous patchwork quilt of American natural and historic treasures.

Unit Objectives:

1. to make students realize the role of the wilderness/ forest in early America.
2. to help students understand the history of the National Park service and our natural resources.
3. to make students aware of the inter-relationship between people and their national parklands.
The underlying purpose of this unit is to provide students with an awareness of our National Parks; they exist and they reflect American values regarding resources, unique landscapes and our history. Beginning with an emphasis on our forests and the advantages that this resource gave to our early settlers, this section will correspond with the study of the colonial period in U.S. history. As a general introduction to parks, the state park movement will be presented and a local park will be described in prose and in a narrative story. Next the evolution and role of the National Park Service will be surveyed with the changing attitudes toward protection of our natural landscapes. Parks do not exist by themselves and students should realize the importance of protecting our natural resources for their special value, public enjoyment and educational value. A “treeless” park will be visited in another fictional story to illustrate that our natural resources are limited and only will be preserved, if action is taken. The last section will emphasize that our parklands exist more than for scenic and scientific reasons. There is a relationship between our parks and our past; the parks can commemorate historic events and persons. A fictional journey to an historic site will parallel the coverage of the Revolutionary War. Students will realize that historic parks are preserved so that they can experience the past when they visit, thereby closing the gap of time.

This unit is designed to be used with eighth grade social studies students. It may be used to supplement the U.S. history portion of the curriculum or may be taught in parts as the topics are presented, e.g. colonial America, Revolutionary beginnings and natural resources. Thus the unit would weave into the class content throughout the year. The unit is aimed at middle achievers to help connect them to the landscape and history. As well, it would help students understand our national park system and widen their perspective of parks as places of historic interest, recreation and natural beauty.

Because the subject of our national parks is complex, this unit can only summarize the three major topics—wilderness values, the National Park formation and the National Park System’s diversity. Using this information as introductory, teachers may wish to focus on the related concepts, the role of state parks, the example of a seashore park or emphasize an historic park site. The fictional story that relates to each may be duplicated for students; follow up questions are available. But the students may achieve greater understanding through discussion than by answering the questions. These vignettes, read against the background information provided by the teacher, can lead into the related activities, actual visits or extended teacher designed projects.

Wealth of Wilderness

Primitive North America was an incredibly rich and beautiful place with masses of autumn foliage, crystal lakes and rivers, colored deserts, muddy prairie streams and glittering mountains. There existed teaming herds of buffalo, stately moose along lake shores, plentiful fish, deer and wild turkeys abundant. There were grouse, ducks and geese; the shellfish were large and weighty. The land for perhaps 30,000 years between the coming of the Indians and the arrival of the Europeans was a different environment from what their successors would experience. The forest was dominated by oak and hemlock, about 8,000 years ago, in a climate warmer and drier than today’s. As the warming trend continued, a variety of plants grew and people shifted from hunting and fishing to gathering and later, to agriculture. The forest began to fill in with laurels, viburnums and rich ground covers. By the time of Christ, the trees that we see today were present. The landscapes of this early paradise were wholly unspoiled.

The American Northeast was covered with trees except where the marshes abutted the ocean and in the meadows along the rivers. Central Hardwood Forest extended from the prairies west of the Mississippi River to the Atlantic coastal area and from the Northern Forest nearly to the Gulf of Mexico, divided only by the Appalachian Mountain range where grew the northern evergreens. It was a wilderness that waited for the civilization from the east.

The Woodland Indians influenced their environment only slightly. Their use of fire to clear land, drive animals and improve visibility allowed the oaks, hickories and chestnut trees to become dominant in the eastern forests and in cleared areas, the fertile soil produced tall grasses. The Indians planted to supplement their diet, but it was the forest that provided for and sustained their life.

The European colonists arrived with their bias against the wilderness, its uncultivated landscape and savage inhabitants. The Rev. John Davenport’s first sermon in April, 1628 to the New Haven, Connecticut settlers was titled “Temptations in the Wilderness”. For these newcomers, the second Eden was hostile, an enemy to be subdued. They moved against the wilderness with the determined steps of survivors. The ringing of their axe and crosscut saw put their mark on the environment; chip by chip, the trees were falled, the forest cleared and the corn planted.

The role of the forest was enormous in the newly settled America. Its firewood gave warmth, light and fuel. It provided a wood for many needs—for building, transportation, furnishings, pasturing—from cradle to coffin. In the earliest days, by necessity, it was wood that was used for many fashioned articles of living. Even so, most of the trees were burned because the land was needed for crops. A strong man could clear three acres a year, cutting, allowing to dry over the winter and burning the trees in the spring. Surrounded by forest, the settlers found a world rich in wood which seemed endless.

New England architecture used wood as its building material despite the available quantities of stone. Only twelve houses of stone or brick were built in New England before 1700. The English builders were acquainted with wood and lime for mortar was scarce. Thus with the oak, chestnut and pine, they built their brace-frame houses. Inside the structures, walnut, maple and sycamore was made into tables, chairs and wainscot; cedar was used for chests, cupboards and baskets. As more land was cleared and towns grew, those who needed timber went to hilly upland areas to cut. The rivers made it easy to float the logs downstream to saw mills. As the demand for bigger and newer houses and furniture in towns grew, coupled with an increased need for building materials to trade with England and the West Indies, the first business in America was born. The forest formed the basis for the major colonial industries of lumber products, shipbuilding, naval stores and potash. The forest fed the industries as raw materials, but also as energy for forges and kilns allowing people to produce more and more products.

Yet there was more profit in shipbuilding. England’s increasing merchant marine and navy brought more demands for ships’ timbers, masts and yardarms. The tall pines and spruces were marked by royal woodsmen to be cut as masts for the King’s navy. The white pine, which grows straight, easy to cut and shape, was of great value. The wood of the oak was soaked so that it could be bent into curved shapes to make the ship’s ribs. With the forest close to the coastline, ships could be built in America cheaper than in England. By the end of the colonial period, at least one third of all the ships under English flag were built in the colonies. Add to that number, the thousands of fishing boats built and owned in New England alone.

The shipbuilding produced related industries, such as the making of tar, pitch, rosin and turpentine. These naval stores became a leading business in the Southern colonies. Also the ashes from burning hardwoods, like ash, birch and oak, were boiled to obtain a residue called “pott ashe”. It was used for soap-making, glass making and in bleaching.

The majority of colonists were farmers who cleared the land, but still turned to a nearby forest for sugar from the maple sap, berries of bay and myrtle for making candles, leaves and roots for teas, elderberries for wine and to hunt the game for food. Without the materials and products which the forest provided, permanent settlement would have been almost impossible. The land, forest and streams generously supplied the early settlers and builders with ingredients to satisfy their needs and contributed to the colonial economy. There was no need to conserve them. Always just beyond their settlements, to the west, lay vast resources still to be harvested. As colonists gained their foothold in nature, over one-fourth of our forest would be lost and replaced with farms and pastures. The Europeans came to war against the wilderness; it was an obstacle to their civilization’s progress and with God’s help, it would surrender.

In time, the wilderness did vanish as the Indians knew it to be. Yet in our shrunken modern woodlands, we have preserved a little and with the help of our imagination, we can almost feel transported back across the centuries.

Closer to Home

While a backcountry trail in Yosemite National Park or the colossal granite heads of Mount Rushmore have great appeal for the park traveler, closer to home, exist state parks. In every state, there are a variety of intriguing attractions including monuments, forests, beaches, historic and scenic areas. For the day tourist, vacationer, hiker, history buff or naturalist, America’s state parks offer natural beauty, cultural heritage, recreation and inspiration. It is the state park that often suits the need of the urban dweller; it is usually reachable, especially in the eastern states, affordable in terms of camping or parking fees, and serves the same purpose as our National Parks, but on a state-wide scale.

The state park movement started to gain momentum as a result of a conference of conservationists in Iowa, in 1921. From that meeting, an effort progressed to create a system of recreational areas within the states. A number of states had already begun to preserve their landscape assets; Connecticut, at that time, had 22 park areas set aside including the 2300 acre Macedonia Brook Park near Kent. It features examples of glacier invasion, peaks of 1,400 feet, old forges of past ironworks, wildlife and conifered woodland. A perfect place for campers and visitors to enjoy the solitude of nature.

State parks are more than picnic and camping grounds, they are store houses of memories, preserves of natural curiosity and windows of history. Pennsylvania maintains Valley Forge State Park where George Washington and his ragged Revolutionary army wintered in 1777-78. The state parks vary in size, yet the fact that they are smaller than many of the well-known National Parks, is an advantage for the visitor, who can then view the scenic or scientific elements at a relaxed pace and on a limited schedule. In Rocky Hill, Connecticut there can be studied more than 500 dinosaur footprints preserved from the Lower Jurassic period at Dinosaur State Park, while Gillette Castle State Park in East Haddam offers a spectacular view of the Connecticut River.

State parks are reminders of beauty and history, providing enjoyment and recreational facilities close to our urban centers. It is the state’s legislature that decides on the places to be preserved as expressions of that state’s character—reflections of the state’s natural and human heritage. The state beaches, parkways along the road system and their waysides, as well as the larger parks are a part of where you live and exist for the people of the state. Look, listen and smell the uniqueness because nature does not exactly repeat and each place has its own special beauty to enjoy.

Formed over 170 million years ago, as a result of volcanic eruptions, is a trap rock ridge about six miles north of New Haven, Connecticut. Viewed from a distance, what is really a series of five ridges, appears as the silhouette of a giant sleeping on his back. One Indian legend relates how a spell was cast on the evil spirit, Hobbomock, because he changed the course of the Connecticut River to the east. Another tells how the greedy spirit ate so many oysters from the waters off New Haven that he was overcome with a sleep, from which he never awoke.

It was from the colony of New Haven that Joel Munson acquired two acres in 1735, so that he could build a dam on the river that flowed around the western ridge. Within a year, he constructed a grist mill and a saw mill which saved the nearby farmers the long trip into town. Soon along the Mill River sprang houses as more farmers moved north; a congregationalist village was established called Mt. Carmel. By 1786, it became part of Hamden when the area became independent from its larger neighbor, New Haven. Originally the ridges were called the Blue Hills, so named by seamen viewing them from New Haven harbor, from that distance, the dense pine tree cover appeared to have a blue tinge.

Mt. Carmel experienced the progress of time with the building of the Farmington-New Haven canal which was soon replaced by railroad tracks. Munson’s old dam was taken over by the Mt. Carmel axleworks which made axles for the peddlers’ wagons in the mid 1800’s. Although other enterprises were established, the shadow of the Hills was cast over a largely farming community.

On the flat land to the south, lived John H. Dickerman, farmer, poet and editor. He owned much of the Blue Hills and came to know every natural spring, every trail and outcropping on the trap rock ridge. Inspired by a question made by William P. Blake in his History of the Town of Hamden, that the Blue Hills become a great public park, Dickerman decided to develop a recreational area in 1888. According to his daughter, Carolyn, 200 people attended the park’s opening in 50 carriages or wagons and ice cream was served. Dickerman had built a pavilion with tables at the summit for climbing parties; he added a stone house as an improved shelter. During the decades that followed, summer cottages and cabins were built by local and New Haven residents and at least ten houses existed by 1913. But Dickerman’s idea of a resort park had to be abandoned because of the lack of water which had to be hauled from the springs at the base of what was by now referred to as Sleeping Giant.

In 1912, the Mt. Carmel Traprock Company began quarry work at the base of the Giant’s head, blasting the trap rock and carrying it on a spur line to the Mt. Carmel rail depot for Connecticut towns to be used in building roads. Pleas to save the Giant and protests were unheeded during the war years and it was not until 1924 that a group of concerned citizens formalized The Sleeping Giant Park Association.

. . . to secure, acquire, preserve, and maintain land in the towns of Hamden, North Haven, and Wallingford on or in the vicinity of Mt. Carmel with whatever improvements there may be upon it, for use as a park, forest, or game preserve . . . and with the eventual purpose of transferring the same for the use and benefit of the public.

Articles of the Sleeping Giant Park Assoc.

Professor James W. Tourney of the Yale School of Forestry, the Association’s first president expressed his desire in the park’s 1928 brochure that “The Sleeping Giant, unposted, unfenced, open for all to enjoy to have in common ownership; the Sleeping Giant, yours, mine, and everybody’s dedicated to the upbuilding of moral and physical health through the recreational opportunities which it affords.” Many land owners donated tracks of land, money and resources to make the Giant public; by 1929, 845 acres had been acquired. The Blakeslee Associates now operated the Trap Rock Company. The year before their lease expired, the Association bought the Giant’s head and then turned to the courts to stop the quarrying on grounds that the mining would show from Mt. Carmel Avenue which had been a restriction in the original lease. The quarry operation was then moved to the northside of the Head and continued. Fortunately the circumstances of the Depression, public outrage and the dynamic fundraising of Helen Porter, forced an agreement for $30,000 as payment for the lease and quarrying stopped at once in 1933.

The work of the volunteer Association was not complete, although all their land was donated to the Connecticut State Park Commission, there were small private holdings to be purchased, nature trails to be marked and vigilance against vandalism to be maintained. By the 1930’s, most of the cottages were gone with the changing lifestyles brought by the Depression. A Works Projects Administration (W.P.A.) task was begun to build a 10% grade foot path to the highest peak, 739 feet, and construct a Romanesque style observation tower. The Depression-era relief project worked during 1936 and 1937 under the supervision of Harry Webb, whose father had been an original member of the park’s Association. Dedicated in 1939, the four story tower has a winding inside ramp leading to the parapet with spacious openings and two fireplaces. Through the following decades, the Sleeping Giant Park Association has defended the Giant against corporate intrusion, built 30 miles of trails and increased the park’s area to over 1,400 acres.

Sleeping Giant Park is a unique state park because citizens created it and continue to care for it. The Park’s trail system is part of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail; the first in Connecticut to be so designated. Attracting over 300,000 visitors annually and with open spaces lessening, the Sleeping Giant remains a priceless inheritance. Its beautiful woodland of mixed trees, the views from its rock crags and the quiet pine groves provide a restful and challenging recreational asset for the community close to home and for those not so far away.


“I hate field trips. Sure you get out of school, but the work has to be made up . . . And you still have to learn stuff . . . And this bus ride is gross . . . ”

Jerry interrupted, “We’re here. There’s the Park. Come on!”

“Big deal; why not Riverside Amusement Park, Hershey Park, Action Park? . . . No, we get a state park.”

“Welcome to Sleeping Giant State Park,” a uniformed woman said.

“Must be the parking attendant,” I thought as we left the bus.

“I’m the park ranger,” she said, “and we will be walking up to the highest ridge, 739 feet. We will follow an easy trail to the tower and I’ll tell you about the Park as we go. Follow me and stay on the trail, please.”

“Look at those trees,” Jerry commented. “Nothing but pine trees and rocks . . . How quiet it is.”

“Hope they sell soda up there.”

The Ranger spoke over her shoulder, “Sleeping Giant State Park has over thirty miles of trails which were cleared, marked and are maintained by a volunteer organization who were important to this Park’s making. Back in the 1920’s, a group of concerned citizens began to collect money to buy the land and preserve it; they later gave it to the people of Connecticut.”

“What would they want it for?” I muttered to myself.

The Ranger continued as we followed the wide but winding, upward trail. “Over 300,000 people visit the Giant each year; they come to picnic, hike, camp, birdwatch and explore the 1,400 acres of parkland. In the late 1800’s, a farmer named John Dickerman tried to develop the area for recreational use and other people built summer cabins along the top. Most of the places were for weekend use; one house was built like a railroad tower to get the view, another was anchored by cables because it was open to the winds and had a porch overhanging the cliff. Early in this century, most became abandoned because water had to be constantly hauled up and people found that cars could take them to more comfortable places. Let’s stop at this view area for a rest.”

“Rest! I need a nap,” I said to Jerry. “This hiking is too much like work.”

“Look out there,” the Ranger said pointing. “That’s Quinnipiac College; all that flat land was farming area in the colonial days. Down to the right, you can see a red house that was built in 1792. It used to be in the Park, but was moved across the street in the 1960’s by the Hamden Historical Society. You should visit it sometime and see how people lived in the early 1800’s. Time to move on.”

And so we moved on and up, up and up with the Ranger talking. “The Giant is really a series of five trap rock ridges formed millions of years ago. Its shape—a sleeping giant—according to Indian legend was that of an evil spirit, Hobbamock, who was put into a deep sleep because he stamped his foot and changed the course of the Connecticut River to the east. Another legend tells how a greedy chief ate so many oysters from Long Island Sound that he fell asleep and never awoke. Here we are at the tower.”

“If you want you can climb up inside the tower,” the Ranger said. “It was built in the 1930’s as a federal government work project to help unemployed people during the Great Depression. They built the 1.6 mile trail up here too. The man’s name who supervised the work was Webb; he left mark on the tower..see the spider web made of iron in that opening. The four story tower was designed by Bancel La Farge to represent an old English battlement. He too left his mark in stone on the other side . . . a dog’s head; see if you can spot it. The view from the top is great. You can see East Rock, New Haven Harbor and north to Wallingford.”

“I want to see,” said Jerry jumping up and running toward the tower. I sat.

The Ranger turned to me and said, “You know besides the many trails and this tower . . . there’s Dead Man’s cave.”

I looked at her with interest and said, “Who’s cave?”

“A couple of boys were exploring in 1873; it was Good Friday and there wasn’t any school. They were on the Third Ridge of the Dead Indian as everyone called the Giant then. They came to a cave near Devil’s Chute, a drop of 120 feet. The cave had a boot sticking out of it. In the boot was a foot attached to the body of a clothed man. The boys ran, scrambled down the rocks like rabbits for home. The body, it turned out, was that of Edward Barnum, the nephew of showman P. T. Barnum and he had committed suicide because of financial problems. That was one adventure that the boys retold for years. This state park has a lot of history woven into its natural beauty; it’s more than just a recreational place. There’s the story of the Quarry fight and Arnold Dana’s 200 foot fall . . . He lived . . . But there isn’t time now. Go tell the class to come down from the tower; we have to go back to the bus.”

“But,” I stammered. “I just got here. I want to hear.”


Race Against Time

The idea of saving something for the public domain for the nation’s future was advanced in 1870, when a group of explorers spent almost four weeks investigating the Yellowstone country. The expedition, led by General Henry D. Washburn, surveyor general of the Montana Territory, decided that this frontier region should be preserved as a national park to benefit the public forever. It was a revolutionary idea, but through the promotion of the expedition’s members, Congress established Yellowstone National Park in 1872, the world’s first national park.

Meanwhile, John Muir was leading a fight to preserve the giant sequoias of Yosemite, California. Muir was an unusual man, who as an inventor in a carriage factory suffered an eye injury in 1867. At age 29, he promised himself that if he recovered, he would devote his life to studying the “inventions of God”. Scottish born, he spent his youth on a Wisconsin farm and became an amateur expert on nature. A science student in college, Muir took long walks to observe the forest, plants and contours of the land. After he left the carriage factory, he traveled from Indiana to the Gulf of Mexico recording his observations in a diary. In 1868, he arrived in San Francisco and set out for the Yosemite Valley in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Staying for six years, often living off the land, Muir concluded that nature had a right to be left alone. He criticized the California State Park Commission for allowing hotel owners to improve the area to draw tourists. He called for control of the hundreds of thousands of sheep that grazed in the valley and became enraged at the tourists who carved their names in the sequoia trees. To Muir, these world’s largest trees, were national treasures, yet loggers were laying the forest bare with their cutting. Getting married in 1880, Muir turned into a successful fruit grower but a return trip to Yosemite toward the end of the decade, launched him into action again. By writing articles and lecturing, he promoted federal protection for the Sierra wilderness. He mapped out the area for a national park and received the support of railroad owners because they thought a national park would increase tourist travel. In 1890, the Congress set up the Sequoia National Park and the General Grant National Park to protect the Sequoias. The slight, bearded Muir became the best known enthusiast about nature and through his efforts, the Yosemite Act was the first consciously designed legislation to protect wilderness.

The echoes of wilderness protection had been heard throughout the 1800’s. The voices of writers, historians, painters, poets and naturalists including Washington Irving, Francis Parkman, Henry David Thoreau, George Catlin and John Aududon became a shout for preservation by the end of the century. After 1889, “the ending of the frontier prompted many Americans to seek ways of retaining the influence of the wilderness in modern civilization.” (Roderick Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind, p. 147.) The wild frontier was gone and with the cities growing more crowded, the wilderness began to look idyllically attractive. The sentiment for saving had matured and the idea that an area should be preserved for its own sake became easier to accept by the public and by the politicians.

John Muir’s views of wilderness preservation helped shape the government’s action and he influenced President Theodore Roosevelt regarding the need for more forest reserves and parks. During Roosevelt’s seven and a half years in office, he initiated a program of conservation and reclamation which amounted to more that 151 million acres, almost the size of Texas, being federally protected. Included were national parks, national monument sites and wildlife refuges. Under the Antiquites Act of 1906, Roosevelt put landmarks and regions of special scientific or historic interest under government control. By passing a Congress reluctant to conserve wilderness, Roosevelt applied the Antiquites Act to create more national parks, simply by calling them national monuments. The first national monument set aside in 1906 as an historic site was the 865 foot Devils Tower in Wyoming.

Roosevelt was also influenced by Gifford Pinchot, who favored use rather than protection. Pinchot, as the first chief of the U.S. Forest Service, crusaded against useless waste and the special privileges of big business. Under his leadership, the Forest Service safeguarded millions of acres of wilderness. By his direction the woodlands were conserved, foresters were trained and the nation’s timberland reserves were added to Pinchot’s forest management efforts began effective preservation and careful use of the timberland. In 1916, two years after Muir’s death, Congress created the National Park Service as a bureau of the Department of the Interior. Stephen T. Mather was its first director and when he retired in 1929, the National Park System had expanded to include 25 national parks, 32 national monuments and controlled an area of more than 16,000 square miles.

A forester trained under Pinchot, Aldo Leopold, expressed the wilderness protection principle of Muir and Thoreau. He emphasized the value of the land and became the ecological conscience for man’s responsibility to the earth. Until his death in 1947, Leopold was a force in preservation and founder of the Ecological Society of America. In 1933, Franklin Roosevelt reorganized the executive branch of the federal government; under his orders, all national parks, national monuments, military parks, national cemeteries, national memorials and the parks of the National capital were consolidated under the National Park Service. Roosevelt valued nature and the outdoors, and his New Deal provided a massive thrust to restore land. Forestry and park expansion, game protection, soil conservation and fisheries were programs that received attention. Since World War II, the history of conservation has been a race against destruction of natural resources. Thick strands of timber tempted lumbermen, water needy locations coveted canyons for reservoirs, high speed transportation demanded bigger highway systems and the general pressure of economic development, all conflicted with the value of preservation. It seemed that destruction proceeded more rapidly than protection or restoration. Yet the public supported the National Parks by their use; between 1942 and 1950, visitation to the parklands increased from 6 million to 33 million and more than doubled in the next twenty years.

By 1964, the National Park System had three formal administrative divisions: natural, historic and recreational. The next nine years witnessed an addition of 69 areas to the system. The Park System remained expansionist in its attempts to include areas for people to see the natural landscape and to learn their heritage of history. Of particular importance was Congressional action in 1964, which passed the Wilderness Act, making the United States the first country to recognize wilderness as part of its culture and legacy to the future. Nine million acres were declared permanently wild. This legislation underscored the mission of the National Park Service by emphasizing the concept of preservation, not just conservation. In 1978, the Carter administration added 50 million acres of land in Alaska to the Park System. The remarkable park growth to 333 units in 1980 came to a halt with a new federal administration. The Park Service turned to consolidation which included designation of land within parks as wilderness, defending against external pressures, incorporating private donations and acquiring lands already studied for national park status. The contemporary challenges which face the Park Service include managing, protecting resources and accommodating visitors. As a federal agency, it is subject to congressional appropriations and as a part of the Department of Interior, it must adjust to presidential appointments and political winds. The tradition of the National Park Service remains in protecting historical and cultural resources, but it must exercise a leadership role in expanding the vision of the parks that reflect evolving values. The land is not just a commodity to be bought and sold, but a limited national resource whose rescue is a race against time.

Sand and Salt Breezes

Among the popular images of a national park are the grove of coastal redwood trees which constitute Muir Woods in California, the colorful canyons and mesas of Zion in Utah, and the Cumberland Gap in Kentucky where westward bound settlers traveled on the Wilderness Road. But the picture of national landscapes also includes seascapes and the catalogue of the National Parks contains ten such units designated as National Seashores. One such park was the first of a new generation of national conservation projects which concerned a significant bioregional resource.

Fifty miles from Boston, as the seagull flies, is found the Great Beach, the longest stretch of unspoiled seashore on America’s North Atlantic coast, on Cape Cod. Like much of New England, Cape Cod was shaped by geological history. What was formed by glacial ice continues to interact with the ocean and wind moving sand along the shoreline, tearing away and building up in another place. The result comprises seven distinct types of landscape within the Cape Cod National Seashore. The Great Beach extends from Provincetown to Chatham and can provide an unusual sense of isolation with dunes and marsh that separate the beach from civilization. Eight square miles of sand dunes are concentrated between Provincetown and Truro, some more than eighty feet in height. Upon the plain are pine trees, scrub oak and wild beach plum. Farther south is Nauset Marsh with an abundant wildlife. A fifth area is the offshore environment which is rich and productive because of the sand bars and rips created by the wave action. Inland are fresh water ponds which are strikingly peaceful as compared to the nearby constant ocean. On the Cape Cod Bay side is a very different landscape; thirteen miles of beaches, fresh water marshes, and bayberry and saltgrass covered hilltops facing westward awaiting the setting sun.

The landscape recalls earlier moments in history, such as the explorations of Captain Gosnold, Samuel Champlain and John Smith. The “Mayflower” anchored in Provincetown on November 11, 1620 and the English Pilgrims drew up the Mayflower Compact. As part of Plymouth Colony, the cape was absorbed into the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Inhabited by primarily subsistence farmers and herders, they turned to growing cranberries and fishing. Over time the greatest asset of the lower cape was the landscape which drew tourists who demanded vacation properties. Uncontrolled development threatened the seashores and its natural beauty; some sort of conservation action was necessary but local and state legislation proved inadequate to protect its future well-being.

A National Park Service study in 1955 determined that the Cape was one of the most outstanding areas on the Atlantic Ocean; it combined picturesque interior area and unbroken sweep of beach with a wide array of sea and shore birds, and fish and shellfish along bay and sea. It was certainly not a wilderness; in 1961, there were over 22,000 residents and a summer population of over 54,000. Cape Cod Park was unique because it was not created from lands already in the public domain. The legislation that authorized the national seashore’s creation in 1961 appropriated funds to buy land from private owners. Since large areas of the park were within town boundaries, the Interior Department had to establish a special relationship with the local governments. Thus the legislation lifted the federal power to condemn properties, if the towns passed compatible zoning regulations that met federal standards. The result was that ownership of the 43,500 acres in the park is mixed; the federal government owns more than half with the rest held by Massachusetts, the towns and private citizens. Cape Cod National Seashore was the first government conservation project that provided for a statutory Advisory Commission consisting of representatives of the affected area. The formation of the Seashore was a lesson in how to overcome local parochialism and perform a role in the management of an important resource.

The Cape Cod Seashore presents a picture as grand as any inland park. Nature and history are woven together for the visitor. The remaining lighthouses illustrate the Cape’s struggle with the sea and a tradition of lifesaving activities. The spectacular whale watch off of Provincetown brings to mind images on an industry since ceased. The architecture of the dwellings reflects the residents association with the sea and New Englander’s simple tastes. It is a place where nature renews itself with the constant ocean changing to 40 miles of coastline and the winds shifting the sand dunes shaping and reshaping them in nature’s timeless fashion.

Sand and Time

It was the perfect summer day. The warm sunshine mixed with the steady seabreeze; the white sandy beach stretched as far as I could see; the waves crashed and pulled themselves back into the ocean . . . and the girls . . . lots of girls. Summer vacation was here and school seemed a long time ago. Maybe a vacation with the family wasn’t a bad idea: Relaxation, beach, sun, girls . . .

“Come on, get up: You can’t waste all day lying ‘round.”

Blinking as I looked up! a figure in a flowered dress and huge hat was blocking out the sun. “Let’s go!” my aunt bellowed, “Time’s wasting.”

“Go . . . go where? This is vacation. Time to relax.”

“You relaxed enough,” she said and pulled the blanket out from under me. “Time to learn something.”

My Aunt Jessica was not somebody to argue with. So I brushed off the sand. She was already halfway up the stairs against the sand dunes. I started to follow. “Cape Cod, Massachusetts was a place for vacation, not learning,” I thought as I ran up the stairs.

Catching up to her, she said, “You ever see a real lighthouse?” Not waiting for an answer, she continued, “We’re going to walk over to Nauset Beach Light. It was built in 1923 and is one of five along the coast in the National Seashore; people used to live in them and keep the light on to guide ships at night and in storms. The lighthouses are now automated, but serve the same purpose. Cape Cod had a history in life saving with all the whaling, fishing and ship transport that took place here. The whole town would turn out to help and save people when a ship wreck happened. There’s forty miles of seashore in this Park.”

“Park? I thought that it was just a beach. Speaking of beach, isn’t it time to go back?”

“Never mind the beach for now,” Aunt Jessica said in her school teacher voice. “You should know that Cape Cod National Seashore is one of hundreds of parks in our country’s National Park System. This Park was made in 1961 by combining open land, town and private properties; it took a lot of effort to get the people, the towns and the national government to work together. Fortunately many townspeople were afraid that the natural beauty of the Cape was being ruined by over-development, too much building without regulations. It was time to do something. There was a study made of the area, town meetings held and an Advisory Commission set up. Of course, there was controversy; not everyone wanted a National Park. But it was accepted and the U.S. Congress passed legislation that involved the local people in the Park’s formation and protected local property owners from loss of their homes. The National Seashore Park now offers a variety of land and water recreational activities, and protects its special environment for all the people.”

Aunt Jessica seemed to know a lot about this place, so I asked, “What else is around here besides the beaches?”

She adjusted her hat and replied, “About four miles from here, along the beach, is the Marconi Wireless Station in South Wellfleet. An inventor named Gugliemo Marconi built a tower there in 1901 and two years later transmitted his first wireless trans-Atlantic message. He sent the message in code, through the air, by means of electric waves; like a telegraph message, but without wires. His invention helped develop radio. There’s a small scale model that marks the spot now.”

“But what about fun things?” I asked.

“Would you like to go biking? There are three bicycle trails from almost two to over seven miles. Would you like to see how cranberries grow? Horseback riding? Surfing? How about surffishing or shellfishing? But we would have to get a license to go clamming. Let’s do that tomorrow at Salt Pond Bay and then we’ll make clam chowder—New England style. After that we can drive up to Provincetown where the Pilgrims landed in 1620 on their ship, the “Mayflower.” On the way, we’ll stop and climb up the sand dunes in Truro; the dunes are next to the road and rise up over eighty feet. They are always changing because of the winds. If there’s time, we can go to Race Point Beach and walk over to the Old Harbor Life Saving Museum. Well tomorrow will take care of itself; it’s now time to head back.”

“To the beach? What about that other stuff that you were telling me about?”

“You’re right. Let’s go to the Salt Pond Visitor Center and see the movie and exhibits; maybe we’ll be in time for a nature walk with a Park Ranger as the guide. The job of the National Park Service at Cape Cod Seashore is not only to provide recreation but understanding as well. Many visitors like watching birds or whales, visiting historic homes or to learn about marine life in the tidal marsh areas. I think that you should walk the Buttonbush Trail; it is a special trail for the visually handicapped with a guide rope and information written in braille.”

As we walked back toward Coast Guard Beach, I thought that this Seashore Park was a mix of natural and human history. A place with different things for people to see and also have fun. I wondered if there would be any girls at the Visitor Center.


Wealth of Diversity

The odd beauty of Arizona’s Petrified Forest with its rainbow-colored logs and tree trunks are millions of years old and have turned to stone. What may appear as upsidedown forests of icicles in Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico are rock formations reaching from floor to ceiling in the great underground cave. A subtropical wilderness of fresh and salt water areas mark Florida’s Everglade prairies and mangrove forests with its rare and colorful species of birds. These are scenes of America’s natural beauty, but they are only a few among the many parklands that are protected under the National Park System.

The Park System consists of three basic kinds of areas: natural, historical and recreational; the categories are informal because each area often contains diverse units with more than one distinctive attribute. Most of the Park System’s acreage belongs to units established primarily to protect unique natural resources. The 48 national parks are a minority of the total number of units but consist of 60 percent of the acreage. The natural areas are preserved chiefly for the distinctive beauty or scientific importance of their natural features. The great western parks, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Sequoia and Mount Rainier were established before the National Park System was created in 1916. In the east, Arcadia on the Maine coast, the Great Smoky Mountains, Mammoth Cave and the Everglades were added as counterparts to the western natural areas. Many of the national monuments also contain outstanding geological or scenic natural formations. Ice Age National Scientific Reserve, an affiliated area in Wisconsin, contains significant features of continental glaciation.

New types of units beginning in the 1930’s have been added to natural areas and wilderness monuments; the first was recreational which provide outstanding land and water resources for outdoor activities. Lake Mead, for example, on the Colorado River in Nevada is one of the largest man-made lakes in the world and is a popular place for water sports. Other types include parkways, such as the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia and North Carolina, and the National Seashores of Cape Hatteras, Cape Code, Point Reyes in California and Fire Island near Long Island, New York. As well, National Lakeshores and urban parks have been designated putting over 60,000 acres of parklands near to or in metropolitan areas.

Although the system is best known for its scenic parks and recreational aspects, more than half of the areas preserve places and commemorate persons, events and activities important in our history. The classification of individual areas by their various labels, e.g. national military parks, national battlefields, national monuments, historic sites or park, is vague and may defy logic. Many parks of course, are a mix of historic, scenic and scientific elements. This diversity, while unsystematic in its nomenclature, is a reflection of what is important in America to preserve. They are “the national symbols people choose to preserve . . . the visible reminders of how a nation came to be what it is . . . (and) serve as useful keys to understanding values . . . ” (Robin Winks, Journal of Forest History, July, 1983, p. 142.) It is interesting to note that while Americans consider themselves to be a peaceful people, our Battlefields and Military Parks (24) attest to America’s military history. Our 23 national memorials which primarily commemorate sites or structures are associated with historic subjects. America has selected to preserve in its memory these memorials for inspiration and education as a record of national achievement.

As parks that reflect our heritage, almost sixty percent are classified as historic. These historical areas are preserved for their cultural or archaeological features. Battlefields, cemeteries, canals, memorials even the White House are protected as a resource to be commemorated in terms of their value. Historic units include American Indian ruins and sites of major historical events, such as the Civil War battlefield of Gettysburg and Custer Battlefield at the Little Big Horn River in Montana. Others honor birthplaces or homes of famous Americans. Still others preserve a structure like the Statue of Liberty or Saugus Iron Works in Massachusetts. Chapters of America’s past are reflected from Colonial National Historical Park at Jamestown and westward settlement at the Chesapeake and Ohio Park that follows the 184 mile-long canal to our cultural diversity as illustrated in George Washington Carver’s birthplace, a chain of Catholic Spanish missions in San Antonio, Texas, and Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, New York. The Park Service’s responsibility to protect historic objects was part of its original mission in 1916. Directly, the Service preserves, restores and maintains the historic elements within its park system, but also it administers the National Register of Historic Places and the National Landmarks Program. The Park Service, while conserving natural scenery and wildlife, has a role as steward of our historic resources. Thus the Park Service is engaged with cultural resource management which includes interpretative programs, questions of quality restoration or demolition, selective acquisition, and integration of the historic feature into a larger cultural context.

Setting for History

The National Parks collectively represents the best of our national estate. As America is a diverse nation, the diversity of our parks is a reflection of the many assets and events that have shaped its being. The National Park Service has a complex management responsibility because of the parks’ diversity and can be proud of its dedication to protecting the system’s resources. While preserving what is unique to America’s landscape and commemorating our heritage, the Park Service also has the challenge of communicating the value of each park through interpretation to the public. Thus, the parks through their interpretation are teachers to the world. Minute Man National Historical Park is one such example that is preserved and managed in order to interpret a significant chapter in American History.

Established in 1959, the park falls within the towns of Concord, Lincoln and Lexington, Massachusetts. Its 750 acres have three sections; Battle Road, where the running battle which opened the American Revolution began; the North Bridge, site of the “shot heard ‘round the world”; and the Wayside Unit, which includes the homes of three prominent 19th century literary families including the Hawthornes, Alcotts and Lothrops. Minute Man Park was the first example of significant congressional appropriation of funds for land acquisition; over $10 million was involved to purchase private lands in Concord to recreate the landscape of the first battle of the Revolution.

On the night of April 18, 1775, the British General, Gage, sent a force of 700 soldiers to the town of Concords, some eighteen miles from Boston. He hoped to destroy arms and ammunition collected by the Patriots there and capture Patriot leaders, Samuel Adams and John Hancock, who were staying in the town of Lexington between Boston and Concord. The operation depended upon secrecy but the Patriots were watchful and Paul Revere and William Dawes rode to warn Adams and Hancock in Lexington that the British were on their way. Local militia or minutemen soldiers that could assemble quickly from their homes, began to gather. Early on the morning of April 19th, the British soldiers reached Lexington and found the local militia lined upon the Common. Shots were fired and eight colonists were killed. As the British continued the six miles along the road to Concord, news spread to neighboring communities and more militiamen rushed towards Concord.

The British conducted a house to house search for arms and torched the courthouse; several companies of soldiers were sent by Lt. Col. Francis Smith across the North Bridge to seize the supplies hidden at a farmhouse. Three British companies were left to guard the bridge; the militiamen advanced and Major Battrick of Concord gave the order to fire. This was the first time that Americans fired a volley at British soldiers. The outnumbered British retreated to the town and two hours later, Smith began to march his troops back to Boston. Near the Meriam house and barn the road crosses a narrow bridge, reinforced by companies from other towns the Americans began a running, 16 mile battle with the British along the road to Boston. British soldiers fell at every hill or curve in the road where Americans had positions. Near panic, the British reached Lexington about mid-afternoon, where they were met by reinforcements. The fighting continued until the British reached Bunker Hill across the Charlestown after nightfall. The British lost 73 dead and 174 wounded; the American losses were 49 dead and 40 wounded. By the evening of April 20, perhaps as many as 20,000 American militiamen had gathered around Boston; the Americans were ready to defend their rights and ultimately create a new nation.

The dirt road of 1775 is now a modern highway with high density residential and commercial development. Minute Man National Historic Park presents special management problems; the region around the Park’s three sections has grown and developed from a semirural area to a suburban one. Increased traffic, noise and economic growth detracts from the visitors’ visual experience. Decisions regarding the Park affect the neighboring towns and their decisions impact on the Park as well. Yet the Park Service must provide the public with a cultural environment of 1775 and assist visitors in understanding the social and political thoughts that led to this historic event.

Along Battle Road, between Lexington and Concord, the Service must provide an interpretation of the physical conditions that existed when the battle raged. This includes restoring the 18th century landscape character in selected areas and preserving twelve historic buildings. The Battle Road Visitor Center provides visitors with a visualization of the events of April 19, 1775 and information about the fighting, its context and historic issues. The North Bridge section is commemorative in nature because the structures and landscape features have changed since 1775. It is an area that contains monuments which include The Minute Man statue by Daniel Chester French, The British Soldiers’ Grave, The North Bridge (rebuilt in 1958), The 1836 Battle Monument, and memorial paintings. These are owned by the town of Concord, but are maintained by the National Park Service. To maximize a quality visit, the Service must provide adequate parking, maintain safe access and improve site circulation. The Wayside historic house, which emphasizes Concord’s literary tradition, requires restorative work and an improvement to its historic grounds. The Park Service’s management must also consider the natural watershed areas, vegetation and wild life populations. Because over one million visitors view Minute Man Park annually with the summer and fall being peak periods, the Service must attend to interpretive staffing, vehicular problems, indoor exhibits, visitor services, tours and walks. Successful park management involves a plan of strategies that combines preservation of the park’s cultural significance and opportunities for visitor understanding of the past.

An Outdoor Museum

“Battle Road is the most important cultural resource at Minute Man National Historical Park. In the 1800’s, it was called the Concord Road which connected Concord, the first inland colonial settlement in Massachusetts, with Boston and the ocean.”

The Park Ranger had a voice that was loud and clear. He was speaking to a crowd of visitors outside the Battle Road Visitor Center.

“It was along this road that the American colonists fought a running battle with British soldiers on April 19, 1775. The fighting on that day began the American War for Independence. It was here that the Americans demonstrated that they were willing to die in order to preserve their rights.”

“My brother pushed in front of me . . . Brat . . . He was fourteen and getting weird. When we were visiting Cape Cod, he was always looking for something new to do and was off my back. Now he was itching to get home to Connecticut. The seashore had been fun; I had gotten a suntan and collected some seashells. When we were leaving the Cape, Aunt Jessica had said that we were going to take a long way home; first a night’s stay over in Boston, here, then home. I had gotten good at reading the road map; from Boston, we traveled northwest along Route 2 and stopped at Lexington. That was where the 700 British soldiers, who had marched at night from Boston, ran into some colonists gathered in the center of town. Shots were fired and eight colonists were killed. Samuel Adams and John Hancock had escaped because Paul Revere had ridden from Boston to warn everybody that the British were coming. After Lexington, we drove to Route 2A and stopped to . . . ”

“What was that? Listen!” my brother said.

“That’s just a jet plane,” Aunt Jessica responded. “The U.S. Air Force has an airbase nearby and so is Hanscom Field, a public airport.”

The Ranger continued his talk. “The British soldiers marched toward Concord to capture guns and ammunition that had been hidden by the local militiamen. Warned of their coming, the guns were moved and the British house search found nothing. From Concord, some of the soldiers were sent to seize supplies hidden at Col. James Barrett’s farm. Three companies of soldiers were stationed to guard the North Bridge while the others went to the farm. At the bridge, the colonists advanced and the British fired their muskets. The militia then shot back; this was the first time that Americans had openly fired on British troops. The soldiers retreated to Concord and after regrouping, Lt. Col. Francis Smith commanded their return to Boston.”

“When the news of the shooting at Lexington spread to neighboring towns, hundreds of colonists gathered along the line of march,” the Ranger said. “They were called “Minute Men” because they could be ready to fight at a minute’s notice. Less than three miles from Concord, at Meriam’s Corner, the British had to cross a narrow bridge and the colonists began shooting again. The battle would continue for 16 miles back to Boston. The Americans attacked the British flanks and set up ambushes until the British reached Lexington in the late afternoon. There they met 1000 British reinforcements but still continued their retreat with the Americans following and shooting all the way to Bunker Hill outside Boston. The British had nearly 300 killed, wounded or missing; the Americans had fewer than a hundred casualties.”

The Ranger paused . . . and everyone was silent, like in church. “The events along Battle Road in 1775 showed that Americans were willing to fight and die to defend their rights, homes and towns against British rule. What began here would lead to American independence eight years later.”

A little while later we found ourselves in front of the North Bridge after walking from the parking lot. Before the bridge was a statue of a Minute Man; musket in hand, the citizen soldier stood next to a farm plow. On the base of the sculpture were the words from a poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson; the last line was “And fired the shot heard ‘round the world.” I thought about those words as we walked across the bridge; I guess that the battle for independence that started here inspired people in other countries to fight for their freedom.

Aunt Jessica reminded us of what the Ranger had told us. “The North Bridge area is commemorative, it preserves the memory of what happened. The area is not exactly like 1775; for example, the existing bridge was built in 1956, and the plantings and other monuments were not always here. The place is important because it celebrates colonial resistance to British rule in America.”

She paused . . . like the danger had. Just the quiet sound of the river below the bridge was heard. “Remember,” she said “that the National Park Service works to restore and preserve structures and places which are important for the interpretation of historic events. As well, the National Park Service protects the best of our natural landscape and resources for recreation and for us to learn about our heritage. We have really been visiting museums . . . outdoor museums. And you have just started.”


Time to Care

Conservation, environmentalism or just, responsibility for nature, their beginnings were inherent among our early inhabitants. The independence of living was a theme repeated from the primitivism of the Indians through the Transcendentalism of Thoreau and Emerson to the ecology of Aldo Leopold and Rachel Carson. For the conservationalists, Pinchot fostered the management of nature through science to supply our practical needs. John Muir, for the preservationalists, advocated leaving nature untouched by commercialism. The National Park Service weaves these threads into its mission to conserve the scenery, the natural and historic objects and the wildlife in various tracts of public land for the enjoyment of future generations. In doing so, the Park Service manages and preserves the best examples of the American landscape and its heritage for the ages.

While the image of our national parks may portray a pristine wilderness or a variety of recreational opportunities and cultural resources, the reality is often very different from the ideal vision. In some national parks, what may have been considered scenic wilderness has become a public playground complete with traffic snarls, smoky campfires, rowdy visitors, noise pollution, commercial intrusions, garbage dumping and over-crowdedness. The reality illustrates that the national parks are not indestructible. It is a time to care, promote personal responsibility and examine regulations. Thus the Park Service has initiated crowd-and-car-control by issuing permits to regulate the number of visitors. It marks and numbers campsites to restrict campground use and prohibits the use of cars and other vehicles in certain park areas. Using these limits in sensitive areas, increasing public educational efforts and providing effective management, the Park Service actively is de-developing some parks to insure their biological health and natural beauty.

As the national park system feels the stress of use, the state parks are also threatened with similar problems. Both must face the issue of contamination by pollutants from industry and home products in the air and water. Besides the natural weathering of monuments, their decay is hastened by sulfur dioxide emissions or acid rain which also results in deforestation. There are the issues of increasing recreational facilities to accommodate visitors and of accessibility to parks for all regardless of economic or physical ability. The professionalism of park management must be maintained to insure proper planning and resource protection, adequate staffing and training, and the balancing of the parks’ integrity with public demands. At the top of the list, of course, is sufficient funding by the legislatures. Funding in Connecticut for acquisition and capital development has decreased by ten percent in 1985 from 1980. It is time for people to care and for the leadership in government to support the parks for future generations.

It must be remembered that the acreage of approximately 80 million including 355 units of the Park Service is only a part of our national system of parks which includes a network of local, regional and state parklands. Collectively they are a national asset giving an urban population access to the natural world, recreation and heritage. For those who may never experience Utah’s Bryce Canyon, see the colossal presidential heads on Mount Rushmore or walk the masonry fortifications of San Juan National Historical Site, the feeling of solitude, adventure and respect can be found in our state parks. Connecticut can boast of over eighty state parks with offerings to satisfy their nearby city dweller. The ocean beaches at Hammonassett in Madison and Rocky Neck State Park near South Lyme, the waterfall at Kent Falls, the nature and history of West Rock Ridge State Park adjacent to New Haven and the view of the Farmington’s farmlands from Talcott Mountain’s 165 foot Heublein Tower are a few of Connecticut’s wonders. Within the city borders of New Haven are Fort Nathan Hale Park on the harbor which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the panoramic view from the 647 acre East Rock Park, and Lighthouse Point Park with swimming, picnic grounds and its 1840 lighthouse. These parks exist for public use and are maintained, like the national parks, to serve recreational needs and to preserve nature and culture.

Our parks, national, state or local, are places where time has been stilled, where visitors can capture a moment of our past. The parklands give us a time and a place to care because they reflect a pride of a nation; they are the people’s outdoor museums. As the National Park Service is the guardian of the parks’ values and resources, it is appropriate that in celebration of its 75th diamond anniversary, 1916-1991, a jewel represents the beauty and rarity of our parklands.

Outdoor Museums: History and Parks

This unit should be taught with an emphasis on the enjoyment and adventure that are available in the nation’s park system; awareness is the key to motivate a visit to an outdoor museum. The following class activities may be used after reading each of the fictional stories as they relate to those topics. Teachers may wish to have students write to various states for information on their state parks or to the National Park Service for brochures. Follow up activities may be designed by the teacher.

Activity I—Daytripping to Connecticut’s State Parks.
The objective is for students to follow the instructions by using directions and routes to state park locations; awareness of the parks’ location, major highways and the parks’ purpose will be attained.

Activity II—Cape Cod Crossword.
The objective is to reinforce information and vocabulary after reading the story, Sand and Time.

Activity III—North Bridge-An Outdoor Museum.
The objective is to illustrate the North Bridge and Minuteman statue, and for students to use critical viewing to discover the hidden items. The picture may then be colored by the students.

An extended activity might be for students to design their own park by listing what it would include and even to draw a park plot plan.

Story Answers:


1. d   2. b     3. c     4. a     5. b

Sand and Time

1. c     2. c     3. d     4. a     5. b

An Outdoor Museum

1. a     2. b     3. c     4. b     5. a
(figure available in print form)

Daytripping to Connecticut’s State Parks

Instructions  Using the Connecticut map, answer the following questions by filling in the blanks.

1. Start at Sleeping Giant State Park and travel south along Route _____.
2. What state park would be to your west? _____ _____ _____ .
3. From New Haven travel _____ (direction) to Hammonasset State Park, Connecticut’s largest oceanfront park.
4. Continue on Route 95 and you cross the _____ River before reaching Fort Griswold State Park where British soldiers led by Benedict Arnold captured the fort and burned the cities of New London and Groton in 1781.
5. Return west along Route 95 and take Route 9 northeast to _____ _____ on the Connecticut River, the former home of William Gillette, a famous actor who portrayed Sherlock Holmes.
6. Proceed on Route 9 to Dinosaur State Park where 500 dinosaur footprints have been preserved. The park is _____ (direction) of what city.
7. Go north to Hartford and then southwest along Route _____ to reach a State Park on Lake Waramaug for camping.
8. Continue until you reach Route 7 and head _____ (direction) Macedonia Brook State Park and see the work of glaciers and the old ironworks.
9. Travel south to Weir Farm, a proposed National Park and to Putnam Memorial State Park where General Israel Putnam and his soldiers spent the winter of 1778-79 during the Revolutionary War. Follow Route 58 to _____ (city).
10. Travel _____ (direction) on Route 95 to New Haven.
(figure available in print form)
1. “Over-developed” means too 1. Guided ships at night.
much _____.
2. _____ Cod National Seashore. 2. Worker for the National Park System.
3. State where Cape Cod is 3. Pilgrim’s ship.
4. Marconi invented a _____ 4. An instructor or Aunt Jessica.
5. A place for studying objects. 5. The past.
6. Soup made from clams. 6. Hills of sand.

North Bridge—An Outdoor Museum

(figure available in print form)
Locate and color the following objects: a musket, a powder horn, a king crown and the Liberty Bell. Challenge: Locate the word, Minuteman.


1. Sleeping Giant State Park is a ?
____a. Series of ridges.
____b. Connecticut State Park.
____c. Place of history, nature and recreation.
____d. All of the above.
2. Which of the following best describes the Park’s formation?
____a. The efforts of John Dickerman.
____b. The efforts of concerned citizens.
____c. The work of the Hamden Historical Society.
____d. The work of the federal government.
3. Sleeping Giant State Park does not give people the opportunity for?
____a. Hiking and birdwatching.
____b. Picnicking and camping.
____c. Amusement rides and swimming.
____d. History and nature.
4. Which of the following pairs is not a match?
____a. Devil’s Chute—210 feet.
____b. Miles of trails—30 miles.
____c. Arnold Dana’s fall— 200 feet.
____d. Highest ridge—739 feet.
5. The major theme of this story is?
____a. Exploring Dead Man’s Cave.
____b. Learning about a state park.
____c. Learning an Indian legend.
____d. Hiking to the tower.

Sand and Time

1. The National Seashore at Cape Cod, Massachusetts was made in which year?
a. 1923 c. 1961
b. 1620 d. 1901
2. Which of the following is not true?
____a. The National Seashore is one of many U.S. National Parks.
____b. The National Seashore was the result of people, towns and the national government working together.
____c. People lost their homes when the National Seashore was formed.
____d. A variety of land and water recreational activities are found in the National Seashore Park.
3. Which of the following groups of words does the term “seashore” mean?
____a. Seacoast, seaside, inland.
____b. Seacoast, beach, lakeside.
____c. Inland, lakeside, coastland.
____d. Coastland, seacoast, seaside.
4. Gugliemo Marconi was?
a. An inventor. c. A lighthouse keeper.
b. A park ranger. d. A school teacher.
5. Which of the following pairs is a match?
____a. “Mayflower”—Visitor Center.
____b. Electric waves—Radio.
____c. Coast Guard—Park Ranger.
____d. Sand dunes—Buttonbush Trail.

An Outdoor Museum

1. Choose the correct order of places visited by the travelers in the story before going home to Connecticut.
____a. Cape Cod, Boston, Lexington and Concord.
____b. Cape Cod, Concord, Lexington and Boston.
____c. Concord, Lexington, Boston and Cape Cod.
____d. Concord, Boston, Cape Cod and Lexington.
2. The events at Battle Road took place?
a. In April 1956. c. 50 years ago.
b. In April 1775. d. 200 years ago.
3. The word “Minuteman” refers to a?
a. British soldier. c. Citizen soldier.
b. Park Ranger. d. Jet airplane.
4. The word “commemorate” means?
a. Restore as it really was. c. Command or lead.
b. Preserve the memory. d. None of the above.
5. At the North Bridge which of the following happened?
____a. The first shooting between the Americans and the British soldiers began.
____b. Paul Revere warned the colonists.
____c. The British were met by reinforcements.
____d. 300 British soldiers and 100 Americans were killed.

to top


Burling, Francis P. The Birth of the Cape Cod National Seashore. Plymouth, Massachusetts: Leyden Press, 1979. Considers the historical background and legislative process through the passage of Public Law 87-126 in August, 1961.

Cape Cod. National Park Service pamphlet, 1989.

Connecticut State Park and Forest Commission Report. Connecticut, 1966.

Relates story of Connecticut’s parks; listing included with brief background information.

Foster, Charles H.W. The Cape Cod National Seashore, A Landmark Alliance. Hanover: University Press of New England, 1985.

A study of resource management with emphasis on environmental and public policy issues.

Frome, Michael. “You Always Hurt the One You Love,” National Parks, Vol. 62, No. 1-2 (January-February, 1988), 1617.

Harmon, David (ed.). Mirror of America, Literary Encounters with the National Parks. Boulder, Roberts Rinehart, Inc. Publishers, 1989.

A collection of short writings concerning various parks from a literary perspective.

Hartzog Jr., George B. Battling For the National Parks. Mt. Kisco, N.Y., Moyer Bell Limited, 1988.

Deals with the relationship among the National Parks, the Park Service and Congress; career civil servants struggling with threats against the parks and political patronage.

Hogan, Neil. “Artist’s Dream of Sleeping Giant Tower,” New Haven Register, October 15, 1989.

Leopold, Aldo. A Sand County Almanac. New York, Oxford University Press, 1987. A strong case for wilderness conservation; stresses our relationship with the land by presenting changes in the Wisconsin countryside and addresses philosophical issues including the nature of sportsmanship and the land ethic.

Miller, Jr., G. Tyler. Living in the Environment, Concepts, Problems and Alternatives. Belmont, California, Wadsworth Publishing Company, Inc., 1975.

Easily read textbook; chapter 10 deals with use of forest, parks, wilderness, wildlife and estuaries.

Minute Man, General Management Plan. U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1989.

Outlines basic management strategies, use and development of the Massachusetts park.

Minute Man. National Park Service pamphlet, 1989.

Myers, Phyllis and Reid, Ann Christine. State Parks in a New Era, A Survey of Issues and Innovation. A research paper for The Conservation Foundation. June, 1986.

Nash, Roderick. Wilderness and the American Mind. 3d ed. New Haven, Yale University Press, 1982.

An informative study of changing attitudes towards America’s wilderness; provides historic perspective, impact of key personalities and deals with wilderness philosophy.

National Parks for a New Generation. A Report for The Conservation Foundation. Washington, D.C., The Conservation Foundation, 1985.

An analysis of the programs, policies and problems of the National Park Service and the National Park System.

Palm, Robert. “Ah, Nature!” Connecticut. Vol. 44 (June, 1981), 70-71.

Information regarding Connecticut’s state forests, some fun facts and descriptions of favorite parks.

“Parks Under Pressure: Three Aspects of the Problem,” Wilderness, Vol. 52, No. 185 (Summer, 1989). 17-38.

Deals with Yosemite and the problems caused by its popularity; pressure to biological resources and questions of management and economic threats.

Pine, Tillie S. The Indians Knew. New York, Scholastic Book Services, 1957.

Easy reading, explains some of the many things that the Indians used in daily living, with illustrations.

Runte, Alfred. National Parks: The American Experience. 2d ed. Lincoln, University of Nebraska Press, 1987.

Revised edition considers issues focusing on conservation and national parks; special themes include the worthless lands thesis and monumentalism.

Sachse, Nancy Davi. Born Among the Hills, The Sleeping Giant Story. Hamden, Connecticut, The Sleeping Park Association, 1982.

Brief account of the history and stories of this state park and the Park Association.

Sax, Joseph L. Mountains Without Handrails. Ann Arbor, The University of Michigan Press, 1980.

Presents protectionist view of park management to preserve wilderness.

Tilden, Freeman. Interpreting Our Heritage. 3d ed. Chapel Hill, The University of North Carolina Press, 1977.

A source book for teachers, professional park interpreters or visitors to parks, museums and historic places.

Tilden, Freeman. The National Parks. 3d ed. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1986.

A personal guidebook to individual National Parks, their values and features.

Tilden, Freeman. The State Parks: Their Meaning in American Life. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1962.

Personal study of hundreds of state parks relating information for tourist and researcher; divided according to U.S. regions. It reviews the state park movement, concept of recreation and management problems.


National Park Service

U. S. Department of the Interior

Washington, D. C. 20402

North Atlantic Region

National Park Service

15 State Street

Boston, MA 02109

Publication and Products Catalog

America’s National Parks

P. O. Box 47

Yorktown, VA 23690

State of Connecticut

Department of Environmental Protection

State Office Building

165 Capital Avenue

Hartford, CT 06106

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