Why, hello there! Long time, no write. Can you believe it is only five days until Christmas?? Where has this year gone?
I have one more DC/Shenandoah-related post to go. It stems from my inability to travel without purchasing many souvenirs. This makes my work trips to Walt Disney World incredibly dangerous.
On this recent trip, I did some shopping at the National Archives gift shop, and I showed good restraint at the shop in Shenandoah’s Dickey Ridge Visitor Center. Other than the all important Shenandoah National Park sticker for my National Parks Passport, I only made one other purchase: a book.
The Undying Past of Shenandoah National Park by Darwin Lambert provides a very thorough overview of the human history in the Shenandoah area. Before visiting the park, I really didn’t know much about it. Actually, the parks I know the most about were those focused on in the Ken Burns film, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea – Yosemite, Yellowstone, Acadia, Crater Lake, Biscayne Bay, and a handful of others. Shenandoah was not highlighted in the series. It’s nearby cousin, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, was. It turns out, their histories are rather similar.
The book starts as far back in human history as possible – with the “spear hunters.” Radiocarbon dated materials found in Pennsylvania can be traced to 18,950 B.P. (Before Present). If there were humans in the Shenandoah area at that time, it means they would have experienced…wait for it…the Wisconsin Ice Age. I thought that was a fun little tidbit 🙂
While I enjoyed the book, it was a little too thorough. I absorbed much more from the second half of the book, when the “story” got to the Civil War period and beyond. I took much more interest in learning about the farmers and tenants who lived in the park area in the 1800’s, the “mountain folk,” and their subsequent removal from their land for purposes of the park.
If you are planning a trip to Shenandoah and would like a comprehensive overview of park history, this would be a great book to read. I enjoyed reading it after the trip, but I wish I had read it beforehand. Then when you visit, stop at the Byrd Visitor Center near Big Meadows and walk through their exhibit chronicling the establishment and development of the park. It’s an excellent exhibit, and it nicely compliments the book.
Now that I’m finished with this book, I have started reading the other book I picked up on the trip, The People’s History of the United States: 1492 to Present. Just a little light reading for the holidays…