Before Ellis Island by Dave Hileman

For generations people arrived in the US in various ports, some of my ancestors arrived via Germantown in Pennsylvania. One of those in NYC in use until Ellis Island was Castle Clinton. Built as a fort during the War of 1812, it was also a warehouse and an opera house but for 30 years immigrants were processed here, including Cindy’s Grandmother is the late 1880’s. While the outer structure has been restored to its 1812 appearance it is currently little more than a place to buy tickets to the Statue of Liberty. The history is an afterthought in one dim room. Sad that it would have National Park Status and be so neglected. This statue next to it was the best part of the visit.


77 Years Ago by Dave Hileman

“Yesterday, December 7th, — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” FDR


Inspire by Dave Hileman

This is Two Medicine Lake in Glacier National Park. We were here for three cold, windy and snowy days in June and it was still amazing. We intend to visit again in 2019. Maybe with better weather but maybe not. Does not really matter, we now have proper clothing for inclement weather so, just anxious to walk again in the paths here that inspire and delight.

 Do you notice I captured the brother of the loch ness monster?

Do you notice I captured the brother of the loch ness monster?

Protection by Dave Hileman

This is the light in the Old Point Loma Lighthouse in the Cabrillo National Monument across the bay from San Diego. It is now a museum but has a long history of standing over the entrance to the bay. It was, I believe, built in about 1880. Lovey place to visit, sit and watch the waves and the pelicans. (Reprocessed in Luminar 18)

“My life is an example to many, because you have been my strength and protection.

That is why I can never stop praising you; I declare your glory all day long.” Psalm 71:7, 8 NLT


Teal & Grass by Dave Hileman

It has been too long between birds. So, today a Blue-wing Teal in breeding plumage I photographed at the Canaveral National Seashore last spring. I just loved the look between the random grasses. CNS is a super place to see and photograph a variety of birds.


Explorer by Dave Hileman

This statue represents Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo who in 1542 was the first of the European explorers to navigate the coast of California. The statue is on a promontory overlooking San Diego. The park, Cabrillo National Monument, also has nice lighthouse and fabulous views of the ocean and the city skyline. Four photos were added to the National Park Gallery page for the monument.


Snow Day by Dave Hileman

We were to be in Hershey for a convention but the snow stopped us well short of our destination. The next day driving up from DC we took an hour to drive a small portion of the Gettysburg Battlefield (not all of it was open) and took a couple of photos. Meade statue was posted the day before yesterday and this barn on a farm just east of Little Round top and slightly south of the Union line. Like most of the structures around the battlefield, it was pressed into service as a hospital.


Meade by Dave Hileman

George Meade was the Union commanding general at Gettysburg but gets blamed as often for “letting” Lee escape as for the victory he achieved having been appointed to the post three or so days before the battle. Here he is shown on his horse, Old Baldy, who was wounded on three different occasions and still out lived the general by ten years and was the riderless horse at General Meade’s funeral procession.


Mural by Dave Hileman

In 1848 women could not inherit property, sign contracts, serve on juries or vote in elections. Job prospects were virtually non-existent with few exceptions. The most controversial plank in the convention was women’s suffrage. Many thought that was an impossible dream and would diminish the whole effort. Many of the participants were also in the anti-slavery movement as well. This mural is on the wall of the museum for Women’s Rights in Seneca Falls, NY.


Burnside Bridge by Dave Hileman

This stone bridge was the focal point of the late hours of the battle at Antietam. The Union finally crossed the bridge with great losses but it was not the complete victory they anticipated as the last reinforcements from Harpers Ferry arrived to allow the Confederates to withdraw from the field. The tree on the far side was growing here at the time of the battle.


Allegheny Portage Railroad NHS (2 photos) by Dave Hileman

Our final new park on this journey was in the mountains of central Pennsylvania. A system of five steam engines on each side of the mountains, 10 in all, lifted canal barges up one side and down the other. They were pulled short distances in between by very early steam locomotives. This was a major engineering feat completed in 1834 that allowed for goods and people to move more easily between the east and west sides of the state. This photo is of a reconstruction of one of the engine houses.

 Interior of the steam engine shed with brick boiler.

Interior of the steam engine shed with brick boiler.

Harriet Tubman NHP by Dave Hileman

What an amazing woman and a fitting place to spend some time appreciating her life. This was her final home but the house in the photo was not where she lived. It was a home she designed as the “Tubman Home for Aged and Indigent Negroes,” primarily women who had no place to live out their years anywhere else in the country. Funding was a serious issue so she deeded the house to the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church she attended to complete her vision. All of this happened AFTER her 74th birthday. What a testimony and what perseverance. She and her husband rebuilt their home after it burned by themselves when she was in her 80’s making the bricks by hand. The new park is not near finished but worth the visit. They are rebuilding a VC in the manse and the church about a mile from this location. Both early in the project. Her home’s exterior is almost done and they are started on the interior. We visited the grave and the outsides of the church, home and the grounds. Excellent tour by a committed ranger, K. Szewczyk, who went out of her way to allow us to see the home even though we were late for the last tour. Inspirational story - inspirational place. A new park for us, number 13 on this trip.


Raging Seas by Dave Hileman

Walking along the beach near sunset at Assateague Island National Seashore is always a joy. I love the waves and the air and the birds. Just being here is renewing. It is also a powerful force.

“But mightier than the violent raging of the seas, mightier than the breakers on the shore — the Lord above is mightier than these!” Psalm 93:4 NLT


Women's Rights National Historical Park by Dave Hileman

Seneca Falls was the site of the first convention to secure women’s rights held in July of 1848. The park has a museum and the former church where the convention was held. The story of why events and people converged on this small town is intriguing and included abolitionists and anti-slavery factions too. Important story well explained here. The statues in the main hall are life size and are used to introduce you to each of the primary people in the story. New park number 12.


Fort Stanwix (Two photos) by Dave Hileman

This is a reconstructed fort (1976) on an urban area that was leveled to create a space on the original site for the re-built fort. As such it is rather difficult to get great photos here. The modern city rises up over the walls, the walls are very low and the fort built lower than the surrounding ground and, on our trip, half of the fort was being rebuilt again so lots of construction and yellow tape. This place played a role in the Revolution holding off a siege but never seriously engaged it provided protection for troops supplies moving in the Mohawk Valley. Nice ranger tour here with a well-informed guide. New park eleven on the journey.

 Fort’s outer gate

Fort’s outer gate

Saratoga National Battlefield by Dave Hileman

This was our first visit to this well-preserved crucial battlefield of the American Revolution. We were here three days shy of the 241st anniversary of the battle and on the same type of day, heavy overcast with periodic rains. The battlefield consists of two primary battles one on 9/19 and one in early October. The Americans held their own in September at Frazier’s farm and turned the latter battle into a complete victory. This is the first time in history a British army surrendered. It allowed France to enter the war on the American side and is seen as the military turning point of the war. Good place to tour, lots of places to walk and super scenery along the Hudson River. This structure, the Neilson House, is original to the battle and about 60% of the structure is dated to the battle. It was the center of the American line of defense. New park number 10 for this vacation.

 A touch of fall color and a threatening storm cloud approaching.

A touch of fall color and a threatening storm cloud approaching.

Saint Croix Island International Historic Site (2 photos) by Dave Hileman

My friend Dennis ( asked me the other day were there parks that I did not think ought to be parks. The answer is a clear “yes.” However I understand politics enter into the decisions (First State in Delaware when Biden was VP or Tupelo Battlefield that makes no sense to me) and I might put Saint Croix into that category or at least leave it solely to the Canadians. The island in the river is the site of a short-lived effort in 1604 by the French to establish a permanent settlement. It failed and by spring of 1605 it was deserted. You cannot ordinarily even visit the island but there is a small park, maybe three acres on the riverbank with some statues and interpretation signs. The ranger was enthused and very nice but I did not capture that excitement with my visit. Again, a very rainy deeply overcast day may have contributed to the lack of excitement. Samuel Champlain was a young man and part of the exploration and his name is associated with several places in New England along with the leader of the group, Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Mons, for whom a spring is named in Acadia NP. This was a new park for us, number nine on this trip.

 Saint Croix and the 1880’s boat house from the park

Saint Croix and the 1880’s boat house from the park

 This statue shows a native bringing food that saved many of the men.

This statue shows a native bringing food that saved many of the men.