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Hot Springs National Park was established on this day in 1921.

Actually, Hot Springs Reservation was initially created by an act of Congress on April 20, 1832 — even before the concept of a national park existed — and was the first time that a piece of land had been set aside by the federal government as an area for recreation.
For centuries, the hot spring water was believed to possess medicinal properties — and the subject of legend among several Native American tribes. Following federal protection, the city developed into a successful spa town and has been home to Major League Baseball spring training, illegal gambling, speakeasies and gangsters such as Al Capone, horse racing at Oaklawn Park, the Army and Navy Hospital, and 42nd President Bill Clinton.

The park includes portions of downtown Hot Springs, making it one of the most accessible national parks (nearly 1.5 million visitors in 2015). Bathing in spring water is available in approved facilities and the entire Bathhouse Row area is designated as a National Historic Landmark District. It contains the grandest collection of bathhouses of its kind in North America, including many outstanding examples of Gilded Age architecture. The row’s Fordyce Bathhouse serves as the park’s visitor center and Buckstaff and Quapaw still operate as bathhouses.

I’ll be traveling to Hot Springs National Park this month, kicking off a flurry of trips to National Parks as I begin to work on the next round of WPA-style National Park Posters!

I’ll also be heading to Washington, DC, at the end of the month — hoping to time the peak bloom of the cherry blossoms — and have been offered a chance for a behind-the-scenes tour of the Museum Resource Center in Landover, MD, where all the archeological collections from the National Capital Region are stored. Sounds a bit like “National Treasure” — I’m stoked!

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March 1st is Yellowstone National Park’s 144th Birthday!

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park was established by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872. Yellowstone, the first National Park in the U.S. and widely held to be the first national park in the world, is known for its wildlife and the world’s greatest concentration of geysers, especially Old Faithful Geyser, one of the most popular features in the park.


These geothermal features are the main reason the park was established in as America’s first national park—and sparked a worldwide national park movement. Today more than 100 nations contain some 1,200 national parks or equivalent preserves. A mountain wilderness, Yellowstone is home to grizzly bears, wolves, and herds of bison and elk. The park is the core of one of the last, nearly intact ecosystems in the Earth’s temperate zone.

Straddling the borders of Montana and Wyoming, according the the act, Yellowstone was established “as a public park or pleasuring-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people” and placed it “under exclusive control of the Secretary of the Interior.”

Prior to the establishment of the National Park Service, the U.S. Army protected Yellowstone between 1886 and 1918 from Fort Yellowstone at Mammoth Hot Springs.

People have spent time in the Yellowstone region for more than 11,000 years. Many tribes and bands used the park as their home, hunting grounds, and transportation routes prior to and after European American arrival.

Today, Yellowstone National Park’s cultural resources tell the stories of people and their connections to the park. And, the protection of these resources affects how the park is managed.

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