As we take a moment to celebrate and reflect on the teachings of Martin Luther King, Jr. today – something which seems more relevant than ever – it is also a good time to give thanks in knowing that the National Park Service continues to grow and preserve important historical and cultural landmarks.
In the last few months, the National Park Service has added, and elevated, several within the system, bringing the total number of parks, or units, to 423. The list includes Ste. Genevieve National Historical Park, Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Monument, Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial, Mill Springs Battlefield National Monument and the elevation in naming to “national park” status for the New Gorge River National Park.
New River Gorge National Park & Preserve
One of the oldest river systems on Earth is famous for a relatively young sport: whitewater rafting. Unlike West Virginia’s Gauley River, the ironically named New River is friendly to novices as well as experts: the upper river has comparatively tame Class I-III rapids, while the challenging lower river features churning Class V stretches of whitewater. The 72,189 acre New River Gorge National Park & Preserve offers five primitive campgrounds to river-runners, and the cliffs in the gorge are popular with rock-climbers, as well. Learn more here.
Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Monument
The monument commemorates the legacies of two civil rights activists who, from their modest, 3-bedroom ranch home, devoted their lives to ending racial injustice and improving the quality of life for African Americans. Learn more here.
Ste. Genevieve National Historical Park
The park commemorates the early French settlement of Ste. Genevieve, which was the first organized European settlement west of the Mississippi River. In addition to telling the story of farming and community life on the frontier, the park also preserves the largest grouping of still-standing buildings in the iconic French Colonial architecture style that makes the area unique. Learn more here.
Mill Springs Battlefield National Monument
The battlefield site memorializes the Union’s victory on Jan. 19, 1862, which led to the collapse of the eastern sector of the Confederate Army@s defense of the Upper South. The Battle of Mill Springs helped to maintain Kentucky’s Union affiliation throughout the war and offered more than a strategic victory for the Union Army. It served as a national rallying call heralded by the Union and provided a much-needed boost to morale, helping to re-energize Northern war interests. Learn more here.
Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial
The memorial honors Eisenhower’s legacy as the World War II Supreme Allied Commander and the nation’s 34th president. The memorial features three bronze statues of Eisenhower, including one featuring General Eisenhower with troops from the 101st Airborne the day before the invasion of Normandy, another sculpture depicting President Eisenhower in the White House surrounded by civilian and military advisors, and a third portraying “Little Ike” in his boyhood. Learn more here.