Thomas Edison National Historical Park

Overview

American inventor Thomas Edison still holds the record with 1,093 U.S. patents awarded during his lifetime. Most of those came while running the massive laboratories in West Orange, New Jersey from 1887 until his death in 1931. After perfecting the incandescent lightbulb in 1879, it was here he employed hundreds to work on improving his phonograph, motion picture camera, alkaline storage battery, and Portland cement (one of his most profitable ventures). The park also includes the family estate, Glenmont, located one-mile away (a tour ticket is required to enter the house).

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Highlights

Historic laboratories and workshops, inventions on display, house tour

Must-Do Activity

The multi-story Main Laboratory is handicap accessible and contains 400,000 artifacts from Edison’s prolific career. On display are some of the world’s first electric coffee-makers, waffle irons, and toasters marketed by his company Edicraft in the 1920s.

Best Trail

A self-guided walk around the grounds of Glenmont includes Edison’s gravesite.

Instagram-worthy Photo

At the West Orange laboratory is a replica of “Black Maria,” the world’s first movie studio originally built in 1893 on a track that allowed it to pivot for better lighting.

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Peak Season

Open year round, but not every day of the week

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/edis/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

$15 per adult or America the Beautiful pass

Road Conditions

All roads paved

Camping

None

Entrance to the park

Tiff in the heavy machinery lab

Inside Edison's office/library

Tiff at the West Orange lab

Tiff with Thomas
Edison famously said “genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.”

Explore More – On the day of Thomas Edison’s funeral, how was homage paid nationwide?

 

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Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site

Overview

The only site in New Hampshire administered by the National Park Service (NPS) is dedicated to Augustus Saint-Gaudens, an Irish born immigrant that studied art in Paris and Rome.  On this country estate he utilized beginning in 1885, he converted a barn into his sculpture studio.  Other artists flocked to “Aspet” until his death in 1907.

Gaudens

Highlights

Home and sculptures of famous 19th-century artist, sculptor-in-residence program

Must-Do Activity

A tour ticket is required to enter the house and is included with your admission fee.  While you are waiting, explore the many marble, plaster, and bronze castings of Saint-Gaudens’ work located around the property, including his famous Shaw Memorial whose original can still be found in Boston.  A new cast of one of his Abraham Lincoln statues was added in 2016 during the NPS Centennial.

Best Trail

The quarter-mile Ravine Trail starts at the Ravine Studio, the workshop of the sculptor-in-residence.  Blow-Me-Down Trail runs 2 miles between the Temple and a swimming hole.

Instagram-worthy Photo

Take a photo of “Aspet” house from the porch of Little Studio framed by the vine-draped arbor.

View of the house from the patio of the studio
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Peak Season

Summer as exhibit buildings are closed November through late May

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/saga/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

$10 per adult or America the Beautiful pass

Road Conditions

All roads paved, but parking is limited.

Camping

None at this site, but Mt. Ascutney State Park is short drive away across the border in Vermont.

Covered bridge connecting New Hampshire and Vermont
Covered bridge connecting New Hampshire and Vermont
Scott with a huge honeylocust
Scott with a huge honeylocust tree

Tapestry inside Saint-Gaudens house

This historic cast of Abraham Lincoln by Saint-Gaudens was installed in 2016

Shaw Memorial can also be seen in Boston Common
The Shaw Memorial took Saint-Gaudens 14 years to complete.  This cast was completed in 1997.
Tiff in the studio with a Diana sculpture also found on Madison Square Garden
Diana sculptures like this top Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Victory

Explore More – Why does the gift shop sell a stuffed animal goat named Seasick?

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Scotts Bluff National Monument

Overview

If the names of Scotts Bluff and Chimney Rock sound familiar, it is perhaps because you grew up playing The Oregon Trail computer game on a Macintosh in the early 1990s.  The massive 800-foot tall sandstone cliffs enclosed within Scotts Bluff National Monument were once the unofficial one-third mark along the historic trail, as well as a landmark along the California Trail, the Mormon Pioneer Trail, and the short-lived Pony Express Trail.

Echo at Scotts Bluff

Highlights

Museum, vistas, historic trail, only road tunnels in Nebraska

Must-Do Activity

While we recommend the hike to the top from the visitor center, you should probably also drive up there, because these are the only three tunnels dug for a road in the entire state of Nebraska.

Best Trail

Saddle Rock Trail leads from the parking lot at the visitor center 1.6-miles up the 800-foot tall bluff through a tunnel carved in the sandstone for great views of distant Chimney Rock National Historic Site (an affiliated NPS unit), another prominent Nebraska landform noted by early emigrants.

Instagram-worthy Photo

Pose with the oxen sculptures pulling a wagon up Mitchell Pass in front of Scotts Bluff.

Where the Oregon Trail went

Peak Season

Summer, but watch for prairie rattlesnakes

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/scbl/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

$5 per vehicle or America the Beautiful pass

Road Conditions

All roads paved

Camping

There is not a campground within the monument, but the adjacent cities of Scottsbluff and Gering have RV parks.

You can also drive to the top (there are three tunnels)
The only road tunnels in Nebraska are in this National Monument.

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The trail on top of Scotts Bluff.
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Enjoy views of Scottsbluff, Nebraska and the North Platte River from atop the cliffs.
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Scott in the tunnel on Saddle Rock Trail.
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Drive east to Chimney Rock National Historic Site for another Nebraska landmark on the Oregon Trail.

Explore More – Did the U.S. Army abandon Fort Mitchell before or after completion of the transcontinental railroad?

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Big Hole National Battlefield

Overview

Big Hole National Battlefield is located in southwestern Montana, part of the larger Nez Perce National Historical Park, which spans four states.  Back in 1877, following violent clashes with white settlers, five bands of the Nez Perce tribe left the Wallowa Valley of Oregon and were followed east by the U.S. Army.  After the remaining 800 Nez Perce went over the mountains bypassing an Army blockade at Lolo Pass, they stopped to rest in the Big Hole Valley.  A surprise attack by the U.S. Army on the morning of August 9, 1877 led to bloodshed on both sides, with Nez Perce warriors forcing the troops to retreat, capturing a Howitzer cannon, and allowing their women and children to escape towards Yellowstone National Park.

Big Hole

Highlights

Overlook from visitor center, interpretive film, trail to site of Nez Perce Camp

Must-Do Activity

Start at the visitor center for the 26-minute film and an overview of the battlefield.  You are in for a treat if you happen to be around for a presentation by Dr. Bob Brown acting as Major Charles Rawn to describe his historic connection with the site.

Best Trail

The National Park Service visitor center overlooks the battlefield for orientation, and a paved road leads down to a trailhead to access the site of the attack (Nez Perce Camp), and a more strenuous climb to the Siege Area, army trenches, and the Howitzer capture site.  Interpretive booklets are available for only $1.00.

Instagram-worthy Photo

Montana is known for its Big Sky, which can be quite beautiful when pierced by the tale teepee poles set up at the site of the Nez Perce camp.

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Peak Season

Open year round, but winters are long and snowy in this part of Montana, making summer the best time to visit.

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/biho/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

None

Road Conditions

All roads are paved and the Nez Perce Camp Trail is wide and flat enough to allow for wheelchairs.

Camping

None in the park, but campgrounds and dispersed camping can be found in nearby Beaverhead-Deer Lodge National Forest.

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This monument was erected where U.S. Army troops were pinned down by sniper fire and dug trenches that are still visible today.
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The North Fork of the Big Hole River runs through the battlefield.
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The Howitzer capture site is at the end of a steep hike with great views.

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Explore More – How long was the journey between Wallowa Lake, Oregon and Bear Paw Battlefield in northeastern Montana where 432 Nez Perce were finally captured?

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