Tag Archives: history in state parks

A Visit to Milltown State Park

Back in November we talked about Milltown State Park in Missoula, Montana, and how a state park is made. A short while ago, we paid a visit to Milltown to see how it is shaping up.

Good sky!

Seems fair to say that, though still not fully open, the park and its overlook certainly have merit.

During this visit on a resplendent June weekday, there were relatively few others at the park, and most of those were Montana Conservation Corps workers who were focused on a project off the paved overlook walkway. The overlook is the focal point of the park’s facilities, and it’s no small wonder why.

Good day for readin' outside.

The view of some of the mountains visible at the park foregrounded by interpretive materials and the railing that lines the Milltown State Park Overlook.

The park’s interpretive material details the history of the river confluence and the people who depended on its waters. It also elaborates on the building of the Milltown Dam in 1908, as well as the massive flood that buried heavy metals, arsenic, and other mining waste at the base of the dam, months after it was constructed. Some of the best information details the incredible effort it took to remove the dam and poisonous sediments, and restore the confluence to the Place of Big Bull Trout, as it is traditionally known to the Salish, who fished the confluence long before pioneers and businessmen settled and dammed it up.

A gorgeous, sunny day for river viewing.

The main overlook showcases the open, sweeping grandeur of the restored confluence of the Clark Fork River.

In addition to the overlook, there is a two-table picnic area and trails that amble into the wooded hills that frame the confluence. In all, the views from the overlook are expansive; the views from the trail are in touch with the quiet wooded parts of western Montana, shaded by large and often young conifers. The trail extends about two miles down, and deeper into the park toward the river.

Dirt path through pines!

The unpaved trail extends through the trees and down toward the river. It shoots cleanly off the paved pathway to the overlook.

Milltown State Park, though still building toward its total fruition, is a marvel of modern habitat and environmental rehabilitation. Through the hard work and perseverance of park staff, community members and organizations, volunteers, and local tribal leadership in the face of local, state and federal-level hurdles, the confluence has become a wonderful vista, well worth the jot from Interstate 90. Milltown is not just beautiful and improving all the time, but represents wholesomeness achievable to all of us, if we endeavor for the good of future generations, and the health of our natural resources.

Speaking of natural resources, there’s no time like the present to get out and enjoy them! Pocket Ranger® mobile apps make trip planning easy, and app features make exploring the parks you visit a delight.

American History Through State Parks

Ever want to step into American history by visiting state parks? Well then read on.

While the United States’ official foundation is July 4, 1776, its history began well before the American flag flew high in the skies. In the years that followed its official independence date, the United States went on to its more formative years, which contributed to shaping the country’s massive culture and history. History was made when the first explorers stepped foot into what is now commonly referred as “The Land of the Free,” and it continues to be made today.

Check out these important historical and cultural sites that contributed to American history!

Trail of Tears State Park

The Trail of Tears was the forced removal of various Native American tribes in the southeastern U.S. to “Indian Territory,” a designated area west of the Mississippi River. While there was a preexisting treaty between the federal government and the Native Americans that served to honor the interests of both sides, the Indian Removal Act of 1830 signed by President Andrew Jackson made this obsolete. Largely due to a desire to acquire more land in the Midwest, which was occupied mostly by the Five Nations, the Trail of Tears became one of the darkest parts of U.S. history.

The forced relocation caused thousands of Native American deaths due to terrible conditions they faced. These relocations happened during the coldest and hottest days of the month in closed quarters, which led to exposure to communicable diseases; depleted rations led to starvation; and horrible treatment from soldiers, which included extortion and violence, were the leading causes of death. The death march significantly reduced the Native American population in the United States.

Trail of tears

Trail of Tears [Image: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/]

You can delve into this part of American history by visiting the Trail of Tears State Park in Missouri. The visitor center tells a more comprehensive breakdown of this time, and hiking is available for those that want to walk a day in the shoes of the Native Americans. Picnic sites, horse trails, camping, and fishing activities are also available alongside the majestic views of the park.

More information can be found by visiting the Missouri State Park website.

Fort Phoenix 

Located in Fairhaven Massachusetts, Fort Phoenix was involved three times in United States history: The American Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War. It was brought down during the American Revolutionary War when British troops sent 4,000 troops to New Bedford and raided the harbor on September 5–6, 1778.

Following the attack, the fort was rebuilt and renamed “Fort Phoenix” after the mythical phoenix bird that rises from its ashes after death. Later, the fort helped the American troops repel a British attack in June 1814.

Fort Phoenix

Fort Phoenix [Image: http://www.fortwiki.com/]

It officially went out of service in 1876 and was registered in the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. The fort is a state reservation that features picnicking, hiking, swimming, and scenic viewing areas.

Visit Massachusetts’ Energy and Environmental Affairs website for more information.

Robert Frost’s Farmhouse 

On the other side of history, visit the connected farm and home of one of America’s most distinguished literary poets. Robert Frost was a highly-regarded American writer who was known for his realistic depictions of rural life, in addition to his command of colloquial speech. Famous for his works, Fire And Ice and The Road Not Taken, he was the winner of four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry, was a Congressional Gold Medal awardee for his poetic works in 1960, and was heralded as the Poet Laureate of Vermont in 1961.

Robert Frost Farmhouse

Robert Frost’s Farmhouse in fall. [Image: http://www.english.illinois.edu/]

The Robert Frost Farmhouse is located in Derry, New Hampshire and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1968. It is currently managed by the New Hampshire Parks and Recreation department.

For more information, visit their website.

These three sites are only part of a plethora of historic sites located within our various state parks in the country. The United States’ history is colorful, embedded with stories of the past and how it formed our present country, and these sites are certainly worth a visit. Pack your bags, and visit a historic state park today!