America's Historylands: Touring Our Landmarks of Liberty

America's Historylands: Touring Our Landmarks of Liberty

America's Historylands: Touring Our Landmarks of Liberty

America's Historylands: Touring Our Landmarks of Liberty

Excerpt

A vigorous and growing nation such as ours must preserve its historic heritage and pass it on to succeeding generations. This heritage tells the story of America's growth, trials, accomplishments, and goals. It provides the key to understanding the present and planning wisely for the future. How well we safeguard and interpret this priceless legacy will determine the kind of nation we shall be tomorrow.

Interest in the American story is surging -- we see this in the millions of our citizens who visit historic places all over the land. Beginning with passage of the Antiquities Act in 1906, the federal government has become the custodian of many of these sites. Now the National Park System includes not only Jamestown and Independence Hall but a host of places as varied as the White House in Washington; Hopewell Village, an early ironmaking center in Pennsylvania; and Fort Union, a cavalry post on the Santa Fe Trail.

Today the National Park Service continues to survey historic areas and buildings to select those that best represent the many-sided story of our nation. We register these as National Historic Landmarks to encourage their preservation and bring them to the attention of the American people. Many landmarks will remain in private hands -- and appropriately so. Individuals and associations were preserving historic sites long before the federal government entered the field. They continue to administer many of the places you will visit in this book.

Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington, was purchased years ago by the Mount Vernon Ladies Association, which still maintains it. The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation is guardian of Monticello. Colonial Williamsburg has been restored in all its glory through an organization founded and financed by John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

Utah, the Southern Pacific Railroad, and the Golden Spike Association have held in safekeeping the spot where transcontinental rails met in the desert west of Salt Lake City. The Edison Laboratory in West Orange, New Jersey, was preserved by the Edison family until they transferred it to the National Park Service. Texas joins with the Roman Catholic Church in supporting San José Mission in San Antonio. And the National Trust for Historic Preservation, composed of historical groups throughout the country, uses private funds to secure for the American people many of our treasured sites and keepsakes.

The representative landmarks covered in this book tell the story not just of statesmen and military heroes. Here you will find the blacksmith, farmer, merchant, frontier woman. America's Historylands has been organized to show how our people lived and struggled, and to make clear the meaning of what they did.

Independence Hall, home of the Liberty Bell and birthplace of the United States, has witnessed more than 225 Philadelphia winters. The National Park Service, the State of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and private organizations joined hands to create Independence National Historical Park and restore its historic buildings.

J. BAYOR ROBERTS, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC STAFF

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