Some park names are derived from geographic, geologic, or topographic features in their regions while others are based on names given to those features by Native Americans. Still other parks are named for state and national level politicians, landowners, celebrities, pioneers, and war heroes. Almost always, park names are steeped in local tradition, lore, or landmarks. While a park’s primary purpose is to provide protection to important resources and wildlife habitats, there is also a place for historical preservation or legacy in nature in the long list of benefits that our state and national parks give us. Here are a few parks named for historical figures to whet your appetite for adventure!
Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park–Earlimart, CA
This park is named for Lieutenant Colonel Allen Allensworth, a man born into slavery who escaped and fought for the Union during the Civil War. Allensworth was the first African American to rise to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army. In 1908, he founded the town of Allensworth, CA in the hopes of establishing a “Tuskegee of the West.” Allensworth succeeded, and California’s first African American founded, financed, and governed city blossomed for a few generations. Though the sudden passing of Colonel Allensworth in 1914 ultimately caused the decline of the town, its importance in California is unmistakable. It’s been a state park and in the National Register of Historic Places since the 1970s, and its 240 acres of preserved buildings and open space are an excellent place to take in some American history as well as the vast and fertile San Joaquin Valley.
Pulaski State Park and Recreational Area–Chepachet, RI
Casimir Pulaski was a Polish nobleman and one of two “fathers of the American cavalry.” As a young man in the 1760s and ’70s, Pulaski fought for the Bar Confederation in Poland as the country resisted Russian control. While his participation in the Polish uprising got him exiled from his homeland, Pulaski remained sympathetic to the tones of rebellion and freedom, and was recruited by Benjamin Franklin to fight in the American Revolution. In addition to many instances of valor, Pulaski saved George Washington’s life and later gave his own for the American cause in the Battle of Savannah. In all, this rambunctious champion of liberty has a number of things named after him in the United States, but perhaps best of all is the 100-acre Pulaski State Park and Recreation Area in Rhode Island. It provides a pleasant and secluded place for relaxing, contemplative activities like hiking or fishing, a far cry from the battlefields of its past.
Charles A. Lindbergh State Park–Little Falls, MN
Charles A. Lindbergh State Park is named for the famous aviator’s father who was a Minnesota Congressman during the early part of the 1900s. The park features a museum made up of the farm and boyhood home of the younger Lindbergh as well as an additional 560 acres of Minnesotan forest and prairie to admire as one hikes, cross-country skis, camps, or picnics. The park also bears access to the shoreline of the Mississippi River where, except for dams raising the water level, not much is altered from the days when young Lindbergh may have seen it shortly after observing an airplane for the first time or the statesman experienced it as he took in the morning paper.
If you’re feeling motivated to go out and see for yourself the many historical sites and features preserved at a park near you, download any of our Pocket Ranger® apps! Many of the apps feature park histories that detail the park or geographic region where the park is situated, putting not only outdoor adventure but thousands of years of human history right at your fingertips. Start planning your trip today!