James Rada, Jr.
You don’t have to travel out west to visit a national park; you can find five National Park Service sites in Frederick County, Maryland (described below), plus the Gettysburg National Military Park located to our north just over the Pennsylvania state line. This year would be a great year to visit these parks because the National Park Service is celebrating its centennial!
“America’s national parks are beautiful, emotional places,” Ed. W. Clark, superintendent of Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site, said in a park news release. “Places like Gettysburg National Military Park, Flight 93 National Memorial, and the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail tell us more about who we are and help us understand history. Many parks are natural wonders that offer scenic getaways, wildlife viewing, and other adventures. The centennial is about celebration, discovery, and making new connections.”
The National Park Service (NPS) began when President Woodrow Wilson signed the “Organic Act” on August 25, 1916. This legislation not only created the NPS, but it give the NPS the job “…to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”
“It had far-reaching ramifications, which continue to impact 6,815,195 park visitors per year in Maryland alone. Even individuals who have never visited a park, if such people do exist, are impacted by the tourism dollars that are derived from NPS sites in their communities,” said Mary Mannix, Maryland Room Manager with the Frederick County Public Libraries.
In 1916, there were 35 parks and monuments under National Park jurisdiction; today there are over 400. They are located on over 84 million acres of land throughout our 50 states, along with DC, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Saipan, and the Virgin Islands. Maryland is home to 16 of these national parks. More than 300 million people visit national parks in the United States annually. This is roughly 1,000 times the number of people who visited U.S. national parks in 1916.
With such a large anniversary for the NPS, you can be sure that more than the parks will be holding celebrations in its 407 national parks. Many individuals will host cookouts and celebrations, and in Frederick County, the Frederick County Public Libraries (FCPL) is hosting a series of talks and activities in conjunction with the NPS.
“To celebrate the 100th anniversary of this momentous act, Frederick County Public Libraries is partnering with several of Frederick County’s NPS sites for a year-long celebration of events, unique programs, and informational displays,” said Mannix.
Patrons can join in storytime walks in Catoctin Park; hear a talk about James “Snap” Rouzer, a 19th century bounty hunter; brush up on outdoor skills; or learn about moonshining in the area.
In Emmitsburg, patrons can view the art of Catoctin Artists in Residence and come face-to-face with some of the birds and animals from Catoctin Mountain.
To encourage participation in these events, the library system and NPS are offering a free overnight stay in the Canal Quarters at Point of Rocks (Lockhouse 28).
For every NPS/FCPL Centennial partnership program you and your family attend in 2016 in the parks and libraries, you will have a chance to enter into the drawing for the overnight stay.
Visit www.fcpl.org for more information. The drawing will take place on December 31, 2016, and the winner will be notified.
Find out more about what’s going on to celebrate the National Park Service anniversary in your local library at http://fcpl.org/programs/programs-events/national-park-service-centennial.