100th anniversary of the U.S. National Park Service

Old Faithful Geyser erupts approximately every 91 minutes. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)
Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone National Park erupts approximately every 91 minutes. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

On this date in 1916, the U.S. National Park Service was formed.

Here are some things you may not have known about the national parks of the United States.

If you remember our first, episode, back in March 2015, you’ll know that the first national park in the world was Yellowstone.

The idea of national parks predated the exploration of Yellowstone however. Artist George Catlin noted the destruction of native civilizations, wildlife and wilderness as he traveled the northern plains in 1832. His idea wasn’t taken seriously at first. At the time, the dominant idea in the East was that wilderness was a challenge to overcome. But the works of writers like James Fenimore Cooper and Henry David Thoreau and painters Thomas Cole and Frederick Edwin Church, led to the acceptance of the idea of saving natural areas of the West.

In 1864, the Yosemite Valley of California was granted to the state by the federal government for use as a park.

Yellowstone became the first true national park in 1881 when the U.S. Army established a fort in the area and began protecting the park. One of the main reasons the federal government took this responsibility was that there was no state government, as Montana, Wyoming and Idaho didn’t become states until the end of that decade.

Mackinac National Park was the second national park, although the state of Michigan took over the park as its first state park in 1895.

In 1906, the federal government took over Yosemite National Park.

1906 also saw the creation of the Antiquities Act, which allows the President to protect landmarks, historic structures and other historic objects on already public land by proclamation as national monuments.

Needless to say, by this point the roster of protected sites was getting a bit unwieldy.

President Woodrow Wilson created the National Park Service on August 25, 1916. It brought the management of the 30 national parks and monuments under one agency in the Department of the Interior.

Eventually, the system would be expanded to include national memorials, military parks, national cemeteries, national capital parks, and national recreational areas.

There are now more than 450 areas managed by the National Park Service. The service has about 21,000 employees.

Our question: Besides Yellowstone, which two national parks cover parts of more than one state?

Today is Independence Day in Uruguay; Liberation Day in France and Soldier’s Day in Brazil.

It’s unofficially National Whiskey Sour Day and National Banana Split Day.

It’s the birthday of athlete Althea Gibson, who was born in 1927; actor Sean Connery, who is 86; and musician Elvis Costello, who was born Declan MacManus, is 62.

Because our topic happened before 1960, we’ll spin the wheel to pick a year at random.

This week in 1979, the top song in the U.S. was “My Sharona” by The Knack.

The No. 1 movie was “Apocalypse Now,” while the novel “Sophie’s Choice” by William Styron topped the New York Times Bestsellers list.

Weekly question

Who was the only sitting U.S.  president to travel on a regularly scheduled commercial airline flight?


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