Tag Archives: National Memorial

Top 10 National Memorials

We recently posted about Saint Francis Dam Disaster National Memorial and Monument, so now feels like the perfect time to release this Top 10 List.  That is the only National Memorial managed by the U.S. Forest Service, but there are 31 in the National Park Service (NPS) system, and it only seems like all of them are in Washington, D.C. where the Dwight D. Eisenhower National Memorial opened in 2021.  There are many others not run by the NPS, and we have not been to all of them yet, but these are our favorites.  Click here to see all our Top 10 Lists.

10. Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial (District of Columbia)

Opened in 1997, this series of sculptures is appropriately wheelchair-accessible

9. Fort Caroline National Memorial (Florida)

The original French fort has never been found (and is probably underwater), but you can tour a one-third scale reconstruction of the triangular structure based upon a drawing from 1564

8. General Grant National Memorial (New York)

Often referred to as Grant’s Tomb, this 150-foot tall marble and granite rotunda is the largest mausoleum in North America

7. Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial (Ohio)

This 352-foot tall memorial tower is located on South Bass Island in western Lake Erie

6. Lincoln Memorial (District of Columbia)

This iconic building at the west end of the National Mall receives around 7-million visitors annually

5. Flight 93 National Memorial (Pennsylvania)

As far we are aware, the only National Memorial representing the 21st century

4. Wright Brothers National Memorial (North Carolina)

The brothers’ momentous 12-second flight occurred here on December 17, 1903

3. Coronado National Memorial (Arizona)

There is no statue of Coronado, but there is a steep three-quarter mile trail to a 600-foot long limestone cave

2. Pearl Harbor National Memorial (Hawaii)

The memorial built atop the sunken U.S.S. Arizona is tasteful and beautiful

…and finally our #1 National Memorial:

1. Mount Rushmore National Memorial (South Dakota)

Inspiring during the day, but for the full effect do not miss the Evening Lighting Ceremony offered May through September

Honorable Mentions

Theodore Roosevelt Island National Memorial (District of Columbia)

Washington, D.C. is full of memorials (even the Washington Monument counts), but this one is the most unique

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial (District of Columbia)

Simple yet stunning, this statue of MLK is surrounded by some of his best quotes

Hamilton Grange National Memorial (New York)

Alexander Hamilton’s house is the only memorial built by the person it honors, though it has been moved twice since his death

Saint Francis Dam Disaster National Memorial and Monument

Saint Francis Dam Disaster National Memorial and Monument

California

Managed by U.S. Forest Service, Angeles National Forest

353 acres

Website: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd872458.pdf

Overview

Saint Francis Dam Disaster National Memorial and Monument was authorized on March 12, 2019 to commemorate the 431 lives that were lost when an 185-foot tall concrete gravity dam failed on the same date 91 years earlier only two years after its completion. The death toll is second in the history of California to the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco.  Other dams from that time period remain in use as part of the Los Angeles aqueduct system.  Currently, a California Historical Landmark is located 1.5 miles south at Powerhouse No. 2, but there is nothing developed at the actual site.

A detailed historical account is available on Wikipedia.

Highlights

Ruins of dam, California Historical Landmark #919

Must-Do Activity

There are plans to build a National Memorial at the dam, but currently it is a pile of rubble heavily spray-painted by local teenagers.  After its fall in 1928, authorities further toppled the structure with dynamite, bulldozers, and jackhammers to discourage sightseers and souvenir hunters.  The site is located in a scenic canyon where the leaves were just turning yellow for winter during our mid-November visit.  It is less than a mile walk to the site from the unmarked pulloff on the east side of San Francisquito Canyon Road in Angeles National Forest.  The pathway is the heavily overgrown original roadbed that was abandoned after a storm in 2005 and it reeked of urine.  It will be interesting to see how the Forest Service cleans up the area in the future.

Best Trail

There is no official trail, and it is quite a steep drop from the paved remnants of old San Francisquito Canyon Road to the actual rubble pile down at creek level.

Instagram-worthy Photo

The dam disaster site is not much to look at right now, but there are some angles where you can avoid getting graffiti in your photo.

Peak Season

Spring and fall

Fees

None

Road Conditions

San Francisquito Canyon Road is paved, but exercise caution as there is currently no sign for the parking areas nor is there a turn lane on this high-speed two-lane highway.

Camping

There are numerous Forest Service campgrounds in the area, with Spunky Canyon and South Portal being the closest to the north.

Related Sites

Santa Gabriel Mountains National Recreation Area (California)

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (California)

Sand to Snow National Monument (California)

Nearest National Park

Channel Islands (California)

Explore More – How many billions of gallons of water were released when the St. Francis Dam failed in 1928?

Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve

Overview

The Timucuan Indians inhabited northeastern Florida’s coastal wetlands and maritime hammocks when French colonists first arrived in 1562.  The settlers constructed Fort Caroline (a National Memorial established in 1950), which the National Park Service (NPS) administers as a unit of Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve (established in 1988).  Start your visit at the NPS museum at Fort Caroline National Memorial, which provides information on the indigenous Timucuan, as well as the European colonization efforts.  Then you can tour a one-third scale reconstruction of the triangular Fort Caroline based upon a drawing from 1564 by French artist Jacques le Moyne.

Highlights

Fort Caroline, Kingsley Plantation, Theodore Roosevelt Area

Must-Do Activity

The second place the NPS manages a visitor center is at Kingsley Plantation on Fort George Island east of Jacksonville, Florida.  Established in 1798, it is the oldest remaining plantation house in Florida.  Slaves here harvested Sea Island cotton, which is still grown in a small garden alongside indigo, another regional cash crop.  Visitors can take a self-guided trail around the property, but tours inside the main plantation house are only offered on weekends and require a reservation.

Best Trail

The 1.5-mile Willie Browne Trail winds through the 600 undeveloped acres at Theodore Roosevelt Area, donated by the trail’s namesake to the Nature Conservancy in 1969.  The Spanish Pond Trail connects this trail with Fort Caroline National Memorial.

Instagram-worthy Photo

The tabby walls of 23 of the original 32 slave quarters still stand in a row at Kingsley Plantation. 

Peak Season

Winter

Hours

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

Fees

None

Road Conditions

All major roads are paved, but the fastest route between Fort Caroline and Kingsley Plantation is probably via the St. Johns River Ferry.

Camping

The NPS does not have a campground, but nearby Little Talbot Island State Park, Huguenot Memorial Park, and Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park all do.

Related Sites

Fort Caroline National Memorial (Florida)

Fort Matanzas National Monument (Florida)

Castillo de San Marcos National Monument (Florida)

Explore More – Florida had “relatively liberal” racial policies under Spanish rule, but that changed when it became a U.S. territory in what year?

Hamilton Grange National Memorial

Overview

Anyone who has watched the musical Hamilton is familiar with the life story of Alexander Hamilton.  Hamilton Grange National Memorial is the only National Park Service (NPS) site dedicated to this “founding father.”  It is also the only one of 45 National Memorials built by the person it honors.  What you may not know is that his historic home in New York City has been moved twice, once in 1889 and again in 2008.

Highlights

Museum, tour, statue at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church

Must-Do Activity

The Grange gets its name from the Hamilton family’s ancestral home in Scotland.  Built in 1802 on a 32-acre estate in Upper Manhattan, Hamilton only lived there two years before being shot and killed in an infamous duel with Aaron Burr.  Today you enter the home through the basement where the NPS runs a museum.  Access upstairs is available on guided tours or during daily “open house” hours, but you must leave large items in lockers.

Best Trail

None

Instagram-worthy Photo

The Grange was tucked between St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and an apartment building until 2008 when the NPS moved it to St. Nicholas Park, part of the original 32-acre estate.  A statue of Alexander Hamilton still stands where the house resided for more than a century.

Peak Season

Summer

Hours

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

Fees

None

Road Conditions

It is easiest not to drive into New York City, instead opt to take public transportation.

Camping

None

Related Sites

African Burial Ground National Monument (New York)

Federal Hall National Memorial (New York)

Saint Paul’s Church National Historic Site (New York)

Explore More – After resuming his law practice in 1795, Hamilton represented free and enslaved African Americans and defended a newspaper editor sued for slander by which future president?

Flight 93 National Memorial

Overview

One of the most emotionally difficult places we have ever visited is the Flight 93 National Memorial in southwest Pennsylvania.  Most readers remember the details of September 11, 2001 vividly and the feelings of that day still resonate.  Thanks to the courage of the 40 passengers and crew aboard United Flight 93, the airplane crashed only 18 minutes short of its target in Washington, D.C.

Highlights

Museum, Memorial Plaza, Wall of Names

Must-Do Activity

Even if you never saw the Hollywood film, the story of Flight 93 is well known.  The National Park Service (NPS) has put together a high-quality museum near the airplane crash site and the memorial itself is simple yet strong.  One wall is inscribed with this excellent quote: “A common field one day.  A field of honor forever.”  The focus is on the bravery of the 33 passengers and seven crew members that stood up to the four hijackers that tragic morning.  Since it is essentially a mass grave, the actual crash site is off limits except to family members of the victims, but it is marked by a large boulder visible from the Memorial Plaza.  We left after our visit feeling both saddened and empowered.

Best Trail

An allée (formal walkway) leads from the NPS visitor center past the 40 Memorial Groves of trees (planted in 2012) to the Memorial Plaza and the Wall of Names.  You can also drive to the parking lot at the visitor shelter next to the Memorial Plaza.

Instagram-worthy Photo

The names of the Flight 93 passengers and crew are on the 40 marble panels of the Wall of Names (the NPS visitor center is visible in the background).

Peak Season

Summer and the September anniversary

Hours

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

Fees

None

Road Conditions

All roads paved

Camping

We camped on state forest land near Stoystown, Pennsylvania.

Related Sites

Johnstown Flood National Memorial (Pennsylvania)

Fort Necessity National Battlefield (Pennsylvania)

Gettysburg National Military Park (Pennsylvania)

Explore More – Where was the United Airlines flight from Newark, New Jersey bound for on September 11, 2001?