Hot Springs, Arkansas

Photo above: A poster of vintage Hot Springs, the oldest protected land by the federal government, since 1932, in the United States, courtesy Library of Congress. Right: Just one spectacular scene from Yellowstone National Park, the oldest National Park.


National Park Service 100th Anniversary

There are now four hundred and seven national park units of various kinds across the United States as of May of 2015, but there weren't this many a hundred years ago. So when the National Park Service begins its 100th year this August, pointing toward the actual date of August 25, 2016 as the actual date it meets its anniversary, celebrations will begin. Yes, plans are still afoot, and many of the plans will be park oriented, particularly so at the thirty-three national parks and a bit more than a dozen other parks (depends if you count sub-units) that have been around for all one hundred years. The variety is amazing, from national battlefields and Hot Springs to parks where the springs pop up from the ground and paint pots. Yes, Yellowstone, the first true national park designated on March 1, 1872. Although there was another park, known as a reservation at the time, that actually predates that. Hot Springs Reservation was protected on April 20, 1832, prior to Civil War times. So for those of you, and us, who are a bit nonplussed about the end of the celebrations honoring the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, take notice. Here's another fun and historic milestone to celebrate and visit. Get your GPS ready for lots of travel and national park fun.

  • The 100th anniversary year can be confusing in and of itself. As a quick explanation, some in the park service consider the year prior to the anniversary date, August 25, 2016, as the 100th year, and others, well, think it's just part of a two year anniversary period that will host events at the various parks around since that date one hundred years ago in 1916. We'll try to keep you updated on the events of the specific parks that were around in 1916, both the original 33 (see the National Park history tab for more on that number), and the 20 that were part of another agency in the government at the time and later transferred to the National Park Service.

    Stop back for their event schedules, planned dates, and special tours that will be available at all of the original thirty-three, or so, and the other one hundred year parks. Once we have more info, hit the MORE tab next to each park for times and dates.

    The Original 33

    Hot Springs National Park (Arkansas) - Protected as Hot Springs Reservation on April 20, 1832 and known as Hot Springs National Park since 1921.

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  • Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming, Montana, Idaho) - Designated a National Park on March 1, 1872.
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  • Casa Grande Ruins National Monument (Arizona) - Designated Case Grande Ruin National Reservation on March 2, 1889.
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  • Sequoia National Park (California) - Designated National Park September 25, 1890.
    Kings Canyon National Park (California) - Originally designated section as General Grant's National Park October 1, 1890.
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  • Yosemite National Park (California) - Originally designated as National Park October 1, 1890.

    Mount Rainier National Park (Washington) - Originally designated as National Park March 2, 1899.
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  • Crater Lake National Park (Oregon) - Originally designated as National Park May 22, 1902.

    Chickasaw National Recreation Area (Oklahoma) - Originally designated as Sulphur Springs Reservation July 1, 1902, included in Chickasaw NRA 1976.
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  • Wind Cave National Park (South Dakota) - Originally designated as National Park July 9, 1903.
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  • Mesa Verde National Park (Colorado) - Originally designated as National Park June 29, 1906.
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  • Devil's Tower National Monument (Wyoming) - Originally designated as National Monument September 24, 1906.
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  • El Morro National Monument (New Mexico) - Originally designated as National Monument December 8, 1906.
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  • Montezuma Castle National Monument (Arizona) - Originally designated as National Monument December 8, 1906.
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  • Petrified Forest National Park (New Mexico) - Originally designated as National Monument December 8, 1906.
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  • Chaco Culture NHP (New Mexico) - Originally designated as Chaco Canyon National Monument March 11, 1907.

    Muir Woods National Monument (California) - Originally designated as National Monument January 9, 1908.
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  • Natural Bridges National Monument (Utah) - Originally designated as National Park April 17, 1908.
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  • Tumacacori NHP (Arizona) - Originally designated as Tumacacori National Monument September 15, 1908.
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  • Navajo National Monument (Arizona) - Originally designated as National Monument March 20, 1909.

    Zion National Park (Utah) - Originally designated as Mukuntuweap National Monument July 31, 1909.
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  • Salinas Pueblo Mission National Monument (New Mexico) - Originally designated as Gran Quivera National Monument November 1, 1909.

    Sitka National Monument (Alaska) - Originally designated as National Monument March 23, 1910.

    Glacier National Park (Montana) - Originally designated as National Park May 11, 1910.
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  • Rainbow Bridge National Monument (Utah) - Originally designated as National Monument May 30, 1910.

    Pinnacles National Park (California) - Originally designated as National Monument March December 12, 1910. In Agriculture Department since 1910.
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  • Colorado National Monument (Colorado) - Originally designated as National Monument May 24, 1911.

    Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado) - Originally designated as National Park January 26, 1915.
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  • Dinosaur National Monument (Colorado/Utah) - Originally designated as National Monument October 4, 1915.
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  • Acadia National Park (Maine) - Originally designated as Sier de Monts National Monument July 8, 1916.
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  • Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (Hawaii) - Originally designated as Hawaii National Park August 1, 1916.
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  • Capulan Volcano National Monument (New Mexico) - Originally designated as Capulan Mountain National Monument August 9, 1916.

    Lassen Volcanic National Park (California) - Originally designated August 9, 1916. In Agriculture Department since 1907.
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  • Other 1916 Parks

    Bandelier National Monument (New Mexico) 2-11-1916.

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  • Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona) 1-11-1908.
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  • National Capital Parks (DC) 7-16-1790. Included between 1790 and 1916 were the National Mall, White House, Ford's Theatre, Rock Creek Park, Potomac Park, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial.
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  • Statue of Liberty (NY/NJ) 3-3-1877.

    Cabrillo National Monument (California) 10-14-1913.
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  • Abraham Lincoln Birthplace (Kentucky) 7-17-1916.
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  • Chickamauga and Chattanooga NMP (Georgia/Tennessee) 8-19-1890.
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  • Antietam NB (Maryland) 8-30-1890.

    Shiloh NMP (Tennessee) 12-27-1894.
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  • Gettysburg NMP (Pennsylvania) 2-11-1895.
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  • Vicksburg NMP (Mississippi) 2-21-1899.

    Jean Lafitte National Historic Park (Louisiana) 3-4-1907.
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  • Big Hole Battlefield NB (Montana) 6-23-1910.

    Gila Cliff Dwellings NM (Arizona) 11-16-1907.
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  • Tonto National Monument (Arizona) 12-19-1907.

    Jewel Cave National Monument (South Dakota) 2-7-1908.
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  • Olympic National Park (Washington) 3-2-1909.
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  • Oregon Caves NM (Oregon) 7-12-1909.

    Devil's Postpile National Monument (California) 7-6-1911.

    Walnut Canyon National Monument (Arizona) 11-30-1915.

  • National Park Service

    While most folks think of the beginning of the National Park movement as starting with Yellowstone in 1872, the actual National Park Service didn't begin until August 25, 1916. Prior to that, the various lands that had been set aside for conservation or public use, actually from that 1832 date of the Hot Springs Reservation, were spread among various departments of the government. At first, some were managed by the Agriculture Department, with later transfer to the NPS. For most of these lands, that actually occurred after the 1916 date, although there were exceptions. Nine National Monuments were in the Agriculture Department as of the 1916 date and are among the others listed outside the original 33 (plus 5) that should be considered, and are by the parks themselves, as part of the Centennial Parks group. Seven national battlefields were also outside the National Park Service in 1916, many in the War Department until the 1933 reorganization. They are in that other category as well, but certainly Centennial Parks as we would think of them today. This group includes Gettysburg, Antietam, and Shiloh, among others. It's a total of twenty, if you don't count their subunits.

    So what's that talk about the original 33 plus 5. Well, there are today thirty-three national parks left in the National Park Service that were in the original 1916 declaration as part of the NPS. Five parks are no longer part of the service or considered a National Park, including Mackinac Island, which had been protected since 1875 as a National Park, but transferred to the state of Michigan in 1895 prior to the 1916 date. There were also four parks that made it to 1916, but were later decommissioned; Sully's Hill National Park in North Dakota was transferred to the Agriculture Department as a Game Preserve in 1931, Lewis and Clark Cavern National Monument in Montana was abolished in 1937, Shoshone Caverns National Monument in Wyoming was abolished in 1954, and Pagago Saguaro National Monument in Arizona was abolished in 1930. So how did all this National Park Service stuff start, even prior to 1916? Well, it actually began a long time before the NPS itself, with visionaries such as artist George Catlin, and public officials such as California Senator John Conness, who convinced federal authorities to set aside and transfer lands in the Yosemite Valley to the state for preservation. None other than President Abraham Lincoln signed that act on June 30, 1864, in the middle of the Civil War as Grant chased Lee to Richmond and Petersburg. Some of lands would be set aside after expeditions to the region uncovered wonder not often seen, such as those in Yellowstone, then prompted by railroads who wanted a destination for their travelers to visit, a tourist draw, were set aside. This did not occur without some opposition, but on March 1, 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant would sign Yellowstone and its two million acres into preservation law.

    At the beginning of 1916, the Interior Department was in charge of fourteen national parks, twenty-one national monuments, plus two reservations at Hot Springs and Casa Grande. Competing interest from business and conservation were often at odds on just how to manage the areas. This led to Congress passing an act to create the National Park Service, which President Woodrow Wilson would sign into law on August 25, 1916. The bureau would be responsible for the 36 national parks and monuments then in the Interior Department, plus the Hot Springs Reservation.

    Growth in Visitation

    In total, it's been amazing, from the twelve reporting sites in 1916 that saw a total attendance of 326,000 now reaching toward 300 million. For the individual parks, it's been just as dramatic.

    Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
    1916 - 1,909
    2014 - 63,698

    Crater Lake National Park
    1916 - 12,265
    2014 - 535,508

    Glacier National Park
    1916 - 12,839
    2014 - 2,338,528

    Hot Springs Reservation/National Park
    1916 - 118,740
    2014 - 1,424,484

    Kings Canyon National Park
    1916 - 15,360
    2014 - 502,268

    Mesa Verde National Park
    1916 - 1,385
    2014 - 501,563

    Mount Rainer National Park
    1916 - 23,989
    2014 - 1,264,259

    Rocky Mountain National Park
    1916 - 51,000
    2014 - 3,434,751

    Sequoia National Park
    1916 - 10,780
    2014 - 1,039,137

    Wind Cave National Park
    1916 - 9,000
    2014 - 547,022

    Yellowstone National Park
    1916 - 35,849
    2014 - 3,513,484

    Yosemite National Park
    1916 - 33,390
    2014 - 3,882,642

Photos of 1916 Parks

Hawaii Volcanoes