It is such a long drive from Missouri to Maine. We broke up the trip with a little shopping (of course!) and stops at three National Park Service properties in New York.
The Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls commemorates the first Women’s Rights convention in 1848. It only took 72 more years before women were granted the right to vote! The museum was well-done but they almost lost us with the introductory video. It was a reenactment of the Women’s Convention but was interspersed with clips of teens and kids talking about gender stereotypes. The problem was the film was obviously made in the 1980’s and the kids looked like the worst of DJ and Kimmie from Full House. So distracting!
In Rome, New York, we stopped at Fort Stanwix National Monument. The fort was significant during the 1700’s and was known as the fort that never surrendered during the Revolutionary War. The fort itself is a re-creation. The most interesting thing to me were the exhibits about the decision to rebuild the fort. The decision to do so was part of a massive urban renewal partnership project between the community and the National Park Service. The vision included the fort re-creation as well as development of museums and period pieces in the downtown, trying to build a tourist destination that would revitalize the community. Part of that downtown revitalization included a parking deck and pedestrian mall a la Kalamazoo, Michigan and Springfield, Missouri. It’s not immediately clear whether Rome implemented the whole vision and it didn’t succeed or if they didn’t do enough to make a difference. In any event, the fort was recreated and there’s a City parking deck across from it (although it was closed the day we visited) but downtown otherwise was pretty dead. Another interesting thing was the fact that the community and NPS were sponsoring community talks about the urban renewal process and what went wrong.
My favorite stop was the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site in Buffalo. TR was inaugurated at a private home in Buffalo after President McKinley died from a gunshot wound he suffered while speaking at the Pan-American Fair in Buffalo in 1901. The private home is magnificent but it is only a backdrop to a really good guided tour that describes the Fair, President McKinley’s assassination, TR’s inauguration and the policies and ethics he brought to the presidency.
I’ve always been a big fan of Teddy Roosevelt’ s conservation ethic, particularly for how he contributed to the preservation of some of our great natural areas such as Crater Lake, the Grand Canyon and the Petrified Forest as well as cultural areas such as Mesa Verde. He sought refuge in the great outdoors in times of despair and defeat. There are some great books out there about him, particularly River of Doubt, written about his journey down an uncharted Brazilian river after he lost the presidential election. That being said, some of his views were unquestionably racist. I think it was the same day that we visited this site that VP Pence compared the current president to TR. It’s hard for me to fathom how someone who is trying to de-list National Monuments and treasures such as Grand Staircase Escalante can be compared to Teddy Roosevelt who truly appreciated our natural resources and took positive action to protect them. Perhaps it was the less positive TR attributes VP Pence was thinking of???
Here’s a silly picture of me in the mock-up of TR’s White House office to end my political rant.