LEAD is robust, one-of-a kind youth leadership program that utilizes immersive experiences to empower emerging leaders to develop leadership qualities. We specifically select students who have the potential to be leaders, but may not see it in themselves. Participants spend a full week exploring the qualities that made Abraham Lincoln such a great leader in his day. They learn why those same qualities are so important in our leaders today, and how, as individuals, they can apply those qualities as they develop their own leadership skills for the future.

During LEAD, the emerging leaders learn about Lincoln’s life and times by visiting various historic sites throughout the National Heritage Area to see how individuals were able to make a difference in their communities and affect change in their state and their nation. They examine how people in today’s world face many of the same challenges as those faced by Lincoln and other leaders of his day. The emerging leaders discuss the leadership qualities of honesty, empathy, humility and perseverance and developed a plan for incorporating those qualities into their own lives as they return home.

Clinton, a 2017 participant in the program said; “I learned to be a better leader this week because I was taught how to make my own footsteps.” Anna, another 2017 participant described her experience this way; “I loved the group debriefs, a period at the end of the day where we sat in our mentor groups and discussed what stood out to us about the places we visited or about Lincoln’s life and what lessons we could draw from that.”

LEAD is a public/private partnership between Looking for Lincoln, Union Pacific Railroad, Illinois College, 4H University of Illinois Extension, Lincoln Home National Historic Site/National Park Service, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum, Abraham Lincoln Association, Niemann Foods (County Market), the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
 

LEAD is robust, one-of-a kind youth leadership program that utilizes immersive experiences to empower emerging leaders to develop leadership qualities. We specifically select students who have the potential to be leaders, but may not see it in themselves. Participants spend a full week exploring the qualities that made Abraham Lincoln such a great leader in his day. They learn why those same qualities are so important in our leaders today, and how, as individuals, they can apply those qualities as they develop their own leadership skills for the future.

During LEAD, the emerging leaders learn about Lincoln’s life and times by visiting various historic sites throughout the National Heritage Area to see how individuals were able to make a difference in their communities and affect change in their state and their nation. They examine how people in today’s world face many of the same challenges as those faced by Lincoln and other leaders of his day. The emerging leaders discuss the leadership qualities of honesty, empathy, humility and perseverance and developed a plan for incorporating those qualities into their own lives as they return home.

Clinton, a 2017 participant in the program said; “I learned to be a better leader this week because I was taught how to make my own footsteps.” Anna, another 2017 participant described her experience this way; “I loved the group debriefs, a period at the end of the day where we sat in our mentor groups and discussed what stood out to us about the places we visited or about Lincoln’s life and what lessons we could draw from that.”

LEAD is a public/private partnership between Looking for Lincoln, Union Pacific Railroad, Illinois College, 4H University of Illinois Extension, Lincoln Home National Historic Site/National Park Service, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum, Abraham Lincoln Association, Niemann Foods (County Market), the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

 

A well-worn, hand-written land deed from 1925 sits in an archive. It shows the transfer of 45 acres for $600 in DeKalb County, Georgia. This slip of paper seems unremarkable, but it reflects a promise that continues to be fulfilled today through the partnership of the Flat Rock Archives and the Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance.

It wasn’t the purchase that was remarkable, but the purchaser – T. A. Bryant, Sr. His acquisition of 45 acres of red Georgia clay freed him from the bounds of sharecropping. It was the beginning of a promise to sustain, nourish, and preserve Flat Rock, one of the oldest African American communities in Georgia. Over 40 years, Mr. Bryant sold nearly 30 parcels of land to community members so they could have a stake in the South while many fled to northern cities during the Great Migration.

The Archives and the Alliance ensure that Bryant’s promise endures, and is celebrated.

Lyon Farmhouse Stabilization | The oldest and only remaining intact homestead in DeKalb County, the Lyon Farm was built by a Revolutionary War veteran after the Creek secession in 1821. The vernacular house reflects the westward expansion of a new nation and nearly two centuries of white settlement; slavery and emancipation; reconstruction and Civil Rights. The Flat Rock Archives offers tours of the grounds but the house has fallen into serious disrepair. More than a decade of advocacy work by the Alliance has resulted in a commitment of over $200,000 by the county to stabilize the historic farmhouse. Through a cadre of local and national partners, the Alliance will lead stabilization efforts and identify an adaptive reuse that will engage the community with its vibrant past.

Flat Rock Slave Cemetery Preservation | Obscured by trees on a high ridge, sits a parcel of land marked by simple fieldstones. This is Flat Rock Slave Cemetery. Generations walked a worn quarter-mile dirt path to bury their dead. Due to incomplete property records, the heavily sloped tract has been threatened by insensitive development. The Alliance and The Archives are close to an agreement with a private developer to secure the land and permanently deed it to the Archives, where this story will be shared with future generations.
 

A well-worn, hand-written land deed from 1925 sits in an archive. It shows the transfer of 45 acres for $600 in DeKalb County, Georgia. This slip of paper seems unremarkable, but it reflects a promise that continues to be fulfilled today through the partnership of the Flat Rock Archives and the Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance.

It wasn’t the purchase that was remarkable, but the purchaser – T. A. Bryant, Sr. His acquisition of 45 acres of red Georgia clay freed him from the bounds of sharecropping. It was the beginning of a promise to sustain, nourish, and preserve Flat Rock, one of the oldest African American communities in Georgia. Over 40 years, Mr. Bryant sold nearly 30 parcels of land to community members so they could have a stake in the South while many fled to northern cities during the Great Migration.

The Archives and the Alliance ensure that Bryant’s promise endures, and is celebrated.

Lyon Farmhouse Stabilization | The oldest and only remaining intact homestead in DeKalb County, the Lyon Farm was built by a Revolutionary War veteran after the Creek secession in 1821. The vernacular house reflects the westward expansion of a new nation and nearly two centuries of white settlement; slavery and emancipation; reconstruction and Civil Rights. The Flat Rock Archives offers tours of the grounds but the house has fallen into serious disrepair. More than a decade of advocacy work by the Alliance has resulted in a commitment of over $200,000 by the county to stabilize the historic farmhouse. Through a cadre of local and national partners, the Alliance will lead stabilization efforts and identify an adaptive reuse that will engage the community with its vibrant past.

Flat Rock Slave Cemetery Preservation | Obscured by trees on a high ridge, sits a parcel of land marked by simple fieldstones. This is Flat Rock Slave Cemetery. Generations walked a worn quarter-mile dirt path to bury their dead. Due to incomplete property records, the heavily sloped tract has been threatened by insensitive development. The Alliance and The Archives are close to an agreement with a private developer to secure the land and permanently deed it to the Archives, where this story will be shared with future generations.

ARABIA MOUNTAIN NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA — GEORGIA (ARABIAALLIANCE.ORG)

Glowing in the torchlight, the faces of 125 enslaved people shone with piety and excitement. As they made their way through the darkened streets of Augusta, Georgia that night in 1840, no one in the procession could have known they were lighting the way to the birth of a major religious denomination.

Augusta’s historic Mother Trinity Church, the birthplace of the Christian Methodist Episcopal denomination, has many stories to tell. Yet, after 158 years of worship at its original location near the banks of the Augusta Canal, the Trinity congregation abandoned their historic sanctuary. The reason: contamination from a defunct manufactured gas plant had poisoned the ground beneath the church. In 1997 Atlanta Gas Light Company bought the church property, the congregation rebuilt and relocated, and Mother Trinity stood empty for almost twenty years. It became clear the utility planned to demolish the old building.

The Augusta Canal National Heritage Area (ACNHA) stepped in, spearheading the “Save Mother Trinity” initiative. With guidance from Partners for Sacred Places, a national non-profit that specializes in repurposing of historic worship spaces, ACNHA convened more than fifty community stakeholders to look at how the church could be reused for a meaningful, sustainable purpose. “But first and foremost, we needed to save and stabilize the structure,” explained ACHNA Executive Director Dayton Sherrouse.

The clock was ticking. The gas company was under orders to clean up the property by 2019. As an alternative to demolition, ACNHA sought permission to move the structure onto an adjacent parcel, but the gas company resisted. Finally, a formal mediation between the company and Augusta’s Historic Preservation Commission yielded an agreement; the gas company would deed both the church and nearby land to the Augusta Canal Authority (ACNHA’s management organization) and contribute $300,000 toward the cost of relocation–provided the move is completed by mid-June 2018.

“We’ve contracted with an experienced building mover and he is currently hard at work,” Sherrouse said. “We’re now hopeful that one day Mother Trinity will again shine her light in this community and beyond.”
 

Glowing in the torchlight, the faces of 125 enslaved people shone with piety and excitement. As they made their way through the darkened streets of Augusta, Georgia that night in 1840, no one in the procession could have known they were lighting the way to the birth of a major religious denomination.

Augusta’s historic Mother Trinity Church, the birthplace of the Christian Methodist Episcopal denomination, has many stories to tell. Yet, after 158 years of worship at its original location near the banks of the Augusta Canal, the Trinity congregation abandoned their historic sanctuary. The reason: contamination from a defunct manufactured gas plant had poisoned the ground beneath the church. In 1997 Atlanta Gas Light Company bought the church property, the congregation rebuilt and relocated, and Mother Trinity stood empty for almost twenty years. It became clear the utility planned to demolish the old building.

The Augusta Canal National Heritage Area (ACNHA) stepped in, spearheading the “Save Mother Trinity” initiative. With guidance from Partners for Sacred Places, a national non-profit that specializes in repurposing of historic worship spaces, ACNHA convened more than fifty community stakeholders to look at how the church could be reused for a meaningful, sustainable purpose. “But first and foremost, we needed to save and stabilize the structure,” explained ACHNA Executive Director Dayton Sherrouse.

The clock was ticking. The gas company was under orders to clean up the property by 2019. As an alternative to demolition, ACNHA sought permission to move the structure onto an adjacent parcel, but the gas company resisted. Finally, a formal mediation between the company and Augusta’s Historic Preservation Commission yielded an agreement; the gas company would deed both the church and nearby land to the Augusta Canal Authority (ACNHA’s management organization) and contribute $300,000 toward the cost of relocation–provided the move is completed by mid-June 2018.

“We’ve contracted with an experienced building mover and he is currently hard at work,” Sherrouse said. “We’re now hopeful that one day Mother Trinity will again shine her light in this community and beyond.”

AUGUSTA CANAL NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA — GEORGIA (AUGUSTACANAL.COM)

The 2017-18 school year is the third year of the Baltimore National Heritage Area’s highly successful Kids in Kayaks program. The program gets Baltimore City Public School eighth graders out on the water, many for the first time in their lives. Students learn the basics of kayaking while simultaneously exploring the history of Baltimore and ecology of the Chesapeake Bay. Despite the fact that Baltimore is a maritime community and port city, many residents have very little access to the water. Children grow up without strong connections to the water and with no understanding of how their daily actions impact the health of the bay and the entire Chesapeake ecosystem. Some participants come back to land very emotional after seeing all of the pollution along the shoreline.

The Baltimore National Heritage Area brought partners together in 2015 after initial conversations with Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks staff. Today’s partners include Baltimore City Public Schools, Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks, Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail, Tree Baltimore, National Park Conservation Association, National Park Service – Chesapeake Bay office, Baltimore Museum of Industry, Outward Bound, Chesapeake Bay program and the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House. This program would not be possible without the Baltimore National Heritage Area serving as the “glue” that connects all of the partners.

To date, more than one thousand city students have participated in the program. With this yearly tradition now in place, seventh graders and younger students hear about what the eighth graders get to do and they look forward to the opportunity when they reach eighth grade.

The program has won four awards, including:

Baltimore National Heritage Area Organization Partner of the Year 2015 – Baltimore City Recreation and Parks
The Maryland Recreation and Parks Association, “Creative Programming Award” – Baltimore City Recreation and Parks (2017 & 2018)
The Maryland Recreation and Parks Association, “Writing, Research or Audio Visual Award (Specialty Award)” – Chesapeake Bay Program (video-2017)
 

The 2017-18 school year is the third year of the Baltimore National Heritage Area’s highly successful Kids in Kayaks program. The program gets Baltimore City Public School eighth graders out on the water, many for the first time in their lives. Students learn the basics of kayaking while simultaneously exploring the history of Baltimore and ecology of the Chesapeake Bay. Despite the fact that Baltimore is a maritime community and port city, many residents have very little access to the water. Children grow up without strong connections to the water and with no understanding of how their daily actions impact the health of the bay and the entire Chesapeake ecosystem. Some participants come back to land very emotional after seeing all of the pollution along the shoreline.

The Baltimore National Heritage Area brought partners together in 2015 after initial conversations with Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks staff. Today’s partners include Baltimore City Public Schools, Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks, Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail, Tree Baltimore, National Park Conservation Association, National Park Service – Chesapeake Bay office, Baltimore Museum of Industry, Outward Bound, Chesapeake Bay program and the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House. This program would not be possible without the Baltimore National Heritage Area serving as the “glue” that connects all of the partners.

To date, more than one thousand city students have participated in the program. With this yearly tradition now in place, seventh graders and younger students hear about what the eighth graders get to do and they look forward to the opportunity when they reach eighth grade.

The program has won four awards, including:

Baltimore National Heritage Area Organization Partner of the Year 2015 – Baltimore City Recreation and Parks
The Maryland Recreation and Parks Association, “Creative Programming Award” – Baltimore City Recreation and Parks (2017 & 2018)
The Maryland Recreation and Parks Association, “Writing, Research or Audio Visual Award (Specialty Award)” – Chesapeake Bay Program (video-2017)

BALTIMORE NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA — MARYLAND (EXPLOREBALTIMORE.ORG)

For more than a decade, the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area (BRNHA) has provided seed monies to develop heritage and recreation assets for Hayesville, a town of 300 residents.

The Clay County Communities Revitalization Association has created a Cherokee Homestead exhibit with replicas of winter and summer homes that the Cherokee lived in for 10,000 years in this region. Nearly 14,000 students have visited the exhibit, which is home to an annual Cherokee Heritage Festival each fall.

The Clay County Historical and Arts Center installed a native plant botanical garden along the Cherokee Heritage Trails.
Recreation has drawn 2,000 avid cyclists a month to the 15-mile Jackrabbit Trail system south of town.
Hayesville is currently renovating its 1888 courthouse as an event space, craft market and small business center. The Town Square boasts a new Music Heritage sculpture, which marks Hayesville’s renovated Peacock Playhouse as a must-see stop on the regional Blue Ridge Music Trails.

“The BRNHA has helped us to host a community theater, the quality of which rivals Atlanta, but where you feel like you know the artists and are listening to the stories of old friends,” says Mayor Harry Baughn. “People want to know about places they’re visiting,” says Rob Tiger, a local merchant and CCRA volunteer. “A lot of our success is due to the help we have gotten from the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area.”
  

For more than a decade, the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area (BRNHA) has provided seed monies to develop heritage and recreation assets for Hayesville, a town of 300 residents.

The Clay County Communities Revitalization Association has created a Cherokee Homestead exhibit with replicas of winter and summer homes that the Cherokee lived in for 10,000 years in this region. Nearly 14,000 students have visited the exhibit, which is home to an annual Cherokee Heritage Festival each fall.

The Clay County Historical and Arts Center installed a native plant botanical garden along the Cherokee Heritage Trails.
Recreation has drawn 2,000 avid cyclists a month to the 15-mile Jackrabbit Trail system south of town.
Hayesville is currently renovating its 1888 courthouse as an event space, craft market and small business center. The Town Square boasts a new Music Heritage sculpture, which marks Hayesville’s renovated Peacock Playhouse as a must-see stop on the regional Blue Ridge Music Trails.

“The BRNHA has helped us to host a community theater, the quality of which rivals Atlanta, but where you feel like you know the artists and are listening to the stories of old friends,” says Mayor Harry Baughn. “People want to know about places they’re visiting,” says Rob Tiger, a local merchant and CCRA volunteer. “A lot of our success is due to the help we have gotten from the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area.”

BLUE RIDGE NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA — NORTH CAROLINA (BLUERIDGEHERITAGE.COM)

Attracting and engaging volunteers is a key component of success for National Heritage Areas. The Heritage Culturalist Program (HCP) is an ambassador program that educates volunteers in the rich history and recreation opportunities of the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area through interactive presentations and site visits. These initiatives focus on the Poudre River’s integral role in the birth of western water law, and its impact on the agriculture, recreation, and environment of the Northern Colorado community.

Once trained, HCP volunteers share their expertise with the public to educate and increase awareness of the Cache la Poudre River NHA by leading bike tours along the Poudre Trail, engaging the public at community events, organizing speakers’ bureaus at local libraries, and more.

Currently, 31 people have been trained through the program over the last two years. Specific sites selected for study during the HCP training include ditches/diversions on the river, historic houses/settlements, and important historical/cultural landscapes.

Judy Firestien, a 2017 Heritage Culturalist Volunteer, had this to say about the program: “The Heritage Area is so special to me because a portion of our farm lies within the Heritage Area, and I have many fond childhood memories of times along the river, mostly exploring with my dog, Duke. I became a volunteer to further solidify the knowledge I have gained over the past years with regard to history of the area, water history and water law, and historic preservation. I hope to further use this knowledge on our farm to educate the public on history, water, and our community’s heritage” 
 

Attracting and engaging volunteers is a key component of success for National Heritage Areas. The Heritage Culturalist Program (HCP) is an ambassador program that educates volunteers in the rich history and recreation opportunities of the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area through interactive presentations and site visits. These initiatives focus on the Poudre River’s integral role in the birth of western water law, and its impact on the agriculture, recreation, and environment of the Northern Colorado community.

Once trained, HCP volunteers share their expertise with the public to educate and increase awareness of the Cache la Poudre River NHA by leading bike tours along the Poudre Trail, engaging the public at community events, organizing speakers’ bureaus at local libraries, and more.

Currently, 31 people have been trained through the program over the last two years. Specific sites selected for study during the HCP training include ditches/diversions on the river, historic houses/settlements, and important historical/cultural landscapes.

Judy Firestien, a 2017 Heritage Culturalist Volunteer, had this to say about the program: “The Heritage Area is so special to me because a portion of our farm lies within the Heritage Area, and I have many fond childhood memories of times along the river, mostly exploring with my dog, Duke. I became a volunteer to further solidify the knowledge I have gained over the past years with regard to history of the area, water history and water law, and historic preservation. I hope to further use this knowledge on our farm to educate the public on history, water, and our community’s heritage”

CACHE LA POUDRE RIVER NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA — COLORADO (POUDREHERITAGE.ORG)

Trenton, NJ elementary school students are discovering the pivotal history in their own backyard thanks to an innovative program created by Crossroads of the American Revolution National Heritage Area. On a recent visit to the Old Barracks Museum, fourth graders from Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School learned that the 18th century structure served as a military hospital during the Revolution, and was among the places where Continental Army soldiers received smallpox inoculations.

The Old Barracks visit was part of a year-long class project during which students learn about the American Revolution and produce videos about the impact on the war on 18th century Trenton residents. The community was the site of the December 1776 Battle of Trenton and the January 1777 Battle of Assunpink Creek that followed Washington’s Christmas crossing of the Delaware River. Historians consider these battles as the turning point of the American Revolution.

“While the Old Barracks regularly gets visits from school groups around the state, students from Trenton rarely make visits here,” said Crossroads Executive Director Janice Selinger. “History becomes so much more real when you see it happened in your own neighborhood. We’re hoping this project will spark a lifelong interest and pride in Trenton’s Revolutionary history among these youngsters.”

The fourth graders will continue their research through classroom visits from historians and re-enactors, and then will create video themes and scripts for the final product, which they will produce on iPads. The student videos will be shown in the spring at a special red-carpet premiere at Martin Luther King Elementary School.

Trenton, NJ elementary school students are discovering the pivotal history in their own backyard thanks to an innovative program created by Crossroads of the American Revolution National Heritage Area. On a recent visit to the Old Barracks Museum, fourth graders from Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School learned that the 18th century structure served as a military hospital during the Revolution, and was among the places where Continental Army soldiers received smallpox inoculations.

The Old Barracks visit was part of a year-long class project during which students learn about the American Revolution and produce videos about the impact on the war on 18th century Trenton residents. The community was the site of the December 1776 Battle of Trenton and the January 1777 Battle of Assunpink Creek that followed Washington’s Christmas crossing of the Delaware River. Historians consider these battles as the turning point of the American Revolution.

“While the Old Barracks regularly gets visits from school groups around the state, students from Trenton rarely make visits here,” said Crossroads Executive Director Janice Selinger. “History becomes so much more real when you see it happened in your own neighborhood. We’re hoping this project will spark a lifelong interest and pride in Trenton’s Revolutionary history among these youngsters.”

The fourth graders will continue their research through classroom visits from historians and re-enactors, and then will create video themes and scripts for the final product, which they will produce on iPads. The student videos will be shown in the spring at a special red-carpet premiere at Martin Luther King Elementary School.

Crossroads of the American Revolution National Heritage Area | RevolutionaryNJ.org

When the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor partnered with St. Luke’s University Health Network for Get Your Tail on the Trail, it was a win-win for our community’s health, the D&L mission, and the local environment. Over the past five years, 6,100 participants have logged over 4.1 million miles along the D&L Trail, which spans five counties from northeast Pennsylvania through the Lehigh Valley and Bucks County.

“I started to walk on the trail for my health,” says Amy Hollander, a participant from Pohatcong Township, NJ. “The [Tail on the Trail] app kept me on track, and I lost about 10 pounds.”

St. Luke’s University Health Networks was established 150+ years ago to care for the Corridor’s iron and steel workers, as well as those who toiled in coal mines. Today, Tail on the Trail is an integral part of St. Luke’s “Healthy Living Initiative,” addressing the national mandate for nonprofit hospitals to conduct Community Health Needs Assessments every three years. The program got people up, outdoors, and moving through guided bike rides, walks, and runs along the spine of the 165-mile National Heritage Corridor.

By linking St. Luke’s health expertise with D&L’s leadership, participants have not only shown increased health—they are more creative and happier.

“I found that the real benefit was to my writing,” Hollander says. “All my best ideas come when I am walking on the trail. Whenever I am blocked, a mile or two on the path and I can let go of all the day-to-day details, and the story just comes to me.”
 

When the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor partnered with St. Luke’s University Health Network for Get Your Tail on the Trail, it was a win-win for our community’s health, the D&L mission, and the local environment. Over the past five years, 6,100 participants have logged over 4.1 million miles along the D&L Trail, which spans five counties from northeast Pennsylvania through the Lehigh Valley and Bucks County.

“I started to walk on the trail for my health,” says Amy Hollander, a participant from Pohatcong Township, NJ. “The [Tail on the Trail] app kept me on track, and I lost about 10 pounds.”

St. Luke’s University Health Networks was established 150+ years ago to care for the Corridor’s iron and steel workers, as well as those who toiled in coal mines. Today, Tail on the Trail is an integral part of St. Luke’s “Healthy Living Initiative,” addressing the national mandate for nonprofit hospitals to conduct Community Health Needs Assessments every three years. The program got people up, outdoors, and moving through guided bike rides, walks, and runs along the spine of the 165-mile National Heritage Corridor.

By linking St. Luke’s health expertise with D&L’s leadership, participants have not only shown increased health—they are more creative and happier.

“I found that the real benefit was to my writing,” Hollander says. “All my best ideas come when I am walking on the trail. Whenever I am blocked, a mile or two on the path and I can let go of all the day-to-day details, and the story just comes to me.”

PENNSYLVANIA | Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor | DelawareAndLehigh.org

Every 4th grader in New York State learns about the Erie Canal, but not all get a chance to see and experience it. Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor’s Ticket to Ride and Every Kid in a Park programs are turning that around so that students learn firsthand about the vision, innovations, and perseverance that have characterized the legendary NYS Canal System.

Erie Canalway’s Ticket to Ride and Every Kid in a Park programs provide non-competitive grant support to schools for field trips to canal-focused museums and historic sites and to four National Park sites located within the Corridor. More than 45,000 students from 250 schools, and 110 districts, have participated since 2012. To date, more than 64% of participating students have been from lower-income schools (majority enrollment in the federal free/reduced lunch program) located in both urban and rural districts.

The robust programs reinforce classroom learning about the Erie Canal with hands-on experiences at authentic canal sites. Pre- and post-visit activities strengthen important lessons learned and make key connections between the Erie Canal and critical social issues such as women’s rights, the Underground Railroad, and immigration. Overall, the programs provide greater access to New York’s rich historic and cultural experiences.

Reinvigorating a passion for place and championing the value of the Erie Canal as a relevant part of the lives of Corridor students are primary goals of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor’s Ticket to Ride and Every Kid in a Park programs.  
 

Every 4th grader in New York State learns about the Erie Canal, but not all get a chance to see and experience it. Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor’s Ticket to Ride and Every Kid in a Park programs are turning that around so that students learn firsthand about the vision, innovations, and perseverance that have characterized the legendary NYS Canal System.

Erie Canalway’s Ticket to Ride and Every Kid in a Park programs provide non-competitive grant support to schools for field trips to canal-focused museums and historic sites and to four National Park sites located within the Corridor. More than 45,000 students from 250 schools, and 110 districts, have participated since 2012. To date, more than 64% of participating students have been from lower-income schools (majority enrollment in the federal free/reduced lunch program) located in both urban and rural districts.

The robust programs reinforce classroom learning about the Erie Canal with hands-on experiences at authentic canal sites. Pre- and post-visit activities strengthen important lessons learned and make key connections between the Erie Canal and critical social issues such as women’s rights, the Underground Railroad, and immigration. Overall, the programs provide greater access to New York’s rich historic and cultural experiences.

Reinvigorating a passion for place and championing the value of the Erie Canal as a relevant part of the lives of Corridor students are primary goals of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor’s Ticket to Ride and Every Kid in a Park programs.

NEW YORK | Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor | Eriecanalway.org

A summer job can be a game changer for a teenager. It boosts self-confidence and self-reliance; builds work experience and confidence; and promotes life-long skills in teamwork, responsibility, and leadership. The Future Leaders program that Essex Heritage offers is more than just a job.

Each summer Essex Heritage hires 40 young people to work in their Future Leaders program. The teens learn trades and specialty skills, such as carpentry, farming, shipbuilding, and the ancient art of gilding. They also acquire skills in historic preservation, building maintenance, natural resource management, interpretation, and visitor operations. For many of these teens this is their first job experience, so they receive guidance in workplace expectations, resume preparation, and career development.

Furthermore, historic, cultural, and natural sites in Essex County benefit from the assistance that the Future Leaders provide by helping with projects, supporting their guest services, and engaging with their programs. Future Leader Ryan Duggan learned the art of blacksmithing at the Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site under the direction of Park Ranger Curtis White. After his summer experience, Ryan said, “Getting to be an apprentice blacksmith has been spectacular. I’ve learned the basics of a fascinating trade, and honed my teaching skills with demonstrations for the visiting public. It’s helped me visualize what I would like to do as an adult and has developed my appreciation for history.”

A summer job can be a game changer for a teenager. It boosts self-confidence and self-reliance; builds work experience and confidence; and promotes life-long skills in teamwork, responsibility, and leadership. The Future Leaders program that Essex Heritage offers is more than just a job.

Each summer Essex Heritage hires 40 young people to work in their Future Leaders program. The teens learn trades and specialty skills, such as carpentry, farming, shipbuilding, and the ancient art of gilding. They also acquire skills in historic preservation, building maintenance, natural resource management, interpretation, and visitor operations. For many of these teens this is their first job experience, so they receive guidance in workplace expectations, resume preparation, and career development.

Furthermore, historic, cultural, and natural sites in Essex County benefit from the assistance that the Future Leaders provide by helping with projects, supporting their guest services, and engaging with their programs. Future Leader Ryan Duggan learned the art of blacksmithing at the Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site under the direction of Park Ranger Curtis White. After his summer experience, Ryan said, “Getting to be an apprentice blacksmith has been spectacular. I’ve learned the basics of a fascinating trade, and honed my teaching skills with demonstrations for the visiting public. It’s helped me visualize what I would like to do as an adult and has developed my appreciation for history.”

ESSEX NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA — MASSACHUSETTS (ESSEXHERITAGE.ORG)

Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area has undertaken a challenging task: interpreting a divisive history of segregation and its legacy. Students participating in Race Project KC explore the history, causes, and potential solutions to segregation and racism. In recent years, the National Heritage Area has led this partnership effort, leveraging funds on a 5:1 basis to serve more than 1,000 students.

The project gives students a chance to share their own unique stories, break down barriers between diverse groups of students and use their diversity to understand collective strengths. The catalyst for the project was the book, Some of My Best Friends are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America by Tanner Colby. The book provides history about the geographical racial divide in Kansas City around which students come together for discussion.

Now in its third year, the project has connected students from wealthier suburban schools and majority minority schools in economically depressed areas. One participant commented, “Getting to know people from other parts of the city has been awesome. To learn the history of our city was shocking and makes me want to get more involved.” 

 

Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area has undertaken a challenging task: interpreting a divisive history of segregation and its legacy. Students participating in Race Project KC explore the history, causes, and potential solutions to segregation and racism. In recent years, the National Heritage Area has led this partnership effort, leveraging funds on a 5:1 basis to serve more than 1,000 students.

The project gives students a chance to share their own unique stories, break down barriers between diverse groups of students and use their diversity to understand collective strengths. The catalyst for the project was the book, Some of My Best Friends are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America by Tanner Colby. The book provides history about the geographical racial divide in Kansas City around which students come together for discussion.

Now in its third year, the project has connected students from wealthier suburban schools and majority minority schools in economically depressed areas. One participant commented, “Getting to know people from other parts of the city has been awesome. To learn the history of our city was shocking and makes me want to get more involved.”

FREEDOM’S FRONTIER NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA — KANSAS AND MISSOURI (FREEDOMSFRONTIER.ORG)

What does the Declaration of Independence mean today, and what did it mean to citizens throughout the Freedom’s Way National Heritage Area when it was first conceived and debated during their lifetime? These are the questions considered in the public program Declaring Independence: Then & Now.

The program tells the story of people living within the 45 communities of the heritage area in the spring and summer of 1776 and portrays how they debated and celebrated the declaring of independence from Great Britain. Offered in partnership with community organizations, each presentation includes a narrated reading of the Declaration of Independence, interspersed with the words spoken by local individuals as researched by citizen historians.

As the 18th century words and ideas are performed, the narrator explores their meaning to challenge the audience to consider the promises made in that foundational document through the lens of both the past and the present. Presentations are held in historic venues, often the same one in which the original discussions occurred.

Declaring Independence: Then & Now continues to evolve as each community explores its part in the story of American Independence and in our expanding aspirations for freedom and equality. Audiences are inspired and challenged by hearing the Declaration of Independence anew. Civic engagement and interest in our country’s founding principles are high, and Declaring Independence provides an interactive forum in which to explore both.
 

What does the Declaration of Independence mean today, and what did it mean to citizens throughout the Freedom’s Way National Heritage Area when it was first conceived and debated during their lifetime? These are the questions considered in the public program Declaring Independence: Then & Now.

The program tells the story of people living within the 45 communities of the heritage area in the spring and summer of 1776 and portrays how they debated and celebrated the declaring of independence from Great Britain. Offered in partnership with community organizations, each presentation includes a narrated reading of the Declaration of Independence, interspersed with the words spoken by local individuals as researched by citizen historians.

As the 18th century words and ideas are performed, the narrator explores their meaning to challenge the audience to consider the promises made in that foundational document through the lens of both the past and the present. Presentations are held in historic venues, often the same one in which the original discussions occurred.

Declaring Independence: Then & Now continues to evolve as each community explores its part in the story of American Independence and in our expanding aspirations for freedom and equality. Audiences are inspired and challenged by hearing the Declaration of Independence anew. Civic engagement and interest in our country’s founding principles are high, and Declaring Independence provides an interactive forum in which to explore both.

MASSACHUSETTS/NEW HAMPSHIRE | Freedom’s Way National Heritage Area | FreedomsWay.org

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941, fear and panic swept through the country, particularly on the West Coast. President Roosevelt issued Executive Order # 9066, which effectively stripped Japanese Americans of their Constitutional rights, as they were ordered to be relocated to internment camps in the nation’s interior. The Topaz Camp in Delta, Utah was home to more than 11,000 internees on one square mile of bleak, desert landscape. At war’s end, the internees were released and the makeshift camp was disassembled, with only concrete footings a reminder of this era.

By the 1980’s, President Reagan and the Congress offered a formal apology and reparations, but that is only the beginning of the story. Jane Beckwith, a Delta school teacher, began researching the story of Topaz with her Journalism students and became determined to create a permanent memorial to this tragic episode in American history. For three decades Jane maintained her focus and gathered support for her dream. On July 8, 2017, Jane, her dedicated Board of Directors, key partners including the Great Basin National Heritage Area, and hundreds of former internees and their families celebrated the opening of the Topaz Museum.

The ceremony brought together a diverse group of supporters to commemorate this event. Congressman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) was particularly moved by the occasion, making the point that we must never forget these lessons of untrammeled executive action which circumvent the checks and balances of our Constitution. The Topaz Museum is a perfect example of citizen action—supported by a National Heritage Area as well as the National Park Service—to tell this compelling story that will live on for generations to come.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941, fear and panic swept through the country, particularly on the West Coast. President Roosevelt issued Executive Order # 9066, which effectively stripped Japanese Americans of their Constitutional rights, as they were ordered to be relocated to internment camps in the nation’s interior. The Topaz Camp in Delta, Utah was home to more than 11,000 internees on one square mile of bleak, desert landscape. At war’s end, the internees were released and the makeshift camp was disassembled, with only concrete footings a reminder of this era.

By the 1980’s, President Reagan and the Congress offered a formal apology and reparations, but that is only the beginning of the story. Jane Beckwith, a Delta school teacher, began researching the story of Topaz with her Journalism students and became determined to create a permanent memorial to this tragic episode in American history. For three decades Jane maintained her focus and gathered support for her dream. On July 8, 2017, Jane, her dedicated Board of Directors, key partners including the Great Basin National Heritage Area, and hundreds of former internees and their families celebrated the opening of the Topaz Museum.

The ceremony brought together a diverse group of supporters to commemorate this event. Congressman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) was particularly moved by the occasion, making the point that we must never forget these lessons of untrammeled executive action which circumvent the checks and balances of our Constitution. The Topaz Museum is a perfect example of citizen action—supported by a National Heritage Area as well as the National Park Service—to tell this compelling story that will live on for generations to come.

GREAT BASIN NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA — NEVADA & UTAH (GREATBASINHERITAGEAREA.ORG)

On a humid night in early June, a group of chefs and their guests came together on a Johns Island, South Carolina farm owned by third-generation Gullah Geechee farmer, Joseph Fields. Gullah chef B.J. Dennis served traditional Gullah Geechee dishes like okra soup and Charleston red rice. A pit barbecue held a whole lamb and pig sourced from neighboring Wadmalaw Island. Many at the dinner were familiar with the dishes but likely knew much less about the deep relationship between their Gullah Geechee hosts and the very land where they stood balancing their plates of barbecue and cornmeal fritters.

The Gullah Geechee are direct descendants of people who came from sophisticated agricultural societies along Africa’s west coast, countries now known as Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. Trafficked across the Atlantic into Charleston and Savannah, the enslaved brought their knowledge of tidal rice cultivation, enabling the region to grow wealthy as rice production took off in the late 17th century.

Tidal rice cultivation, though labor-intensive and technically difficult, flourished once West African technology was introduced. Intricate systems of canals, dikes, sluices, and trunks redirected fresh water as it was pushed upstream by rising tides. While slaves endured dangerous conditions, working in mosquito-filled swamps where malaria and yellow fever flourished, European planters were absentee owners who spent much of their time in the pine lands and cities. This led to highly “Africanized” plantations, where the enslaved managed the rice production under the direction of a white overseer.

The Gullah Geechee are best understood through their relationship to the land, which is widely considered the most valuable of all Gullah Geechee cultural assets and has always been the base for economic and social development. After slavery ended, family farms like the Fields Farm were often the primary source of income. Gullah Geechee land owners were able to develop a self-sustaining economy based on the small-scale production of cotton, subsistence agriculture, and truck farming supplemented with fishing and harvesting shrimp and oysters. As a result, many were able to avoid the hazards of tenant farming and sharecropping. Today, the Gullah Geechee face new hazards with each hurricane that barrels down on the land that defines them.

For hundreds of years, the Gullah Geechee have resided along the coasts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Their ancestors, though all West African, were culturally, linguistically, and spiritually diverse. Over time, a new creole culture and language – now known as Gullah Geechee – emerged on these isolated island and coastal plantations and is now recognized as one of the great, foundational cultures of the United States. Here you will find hand-crafted sweetgrass baskets that reflect ancient West African weaving traditions; century-old praise houses hosting “ring shouts” (the oldest surviving African-American performance tradition); and dishes, like Chef Dennis’ red rice, that connect today’s Gullah Geechee chefs to the cook pots of their ancestors. And here you will find acres of rice fields, silent and verdant memorials to the unfathomable sacrifices and inspiring perseverance of the Gullah Geechee people.
 

On a humid night in early June, a group of chefs and their guests came together on a Johns Island, South Carolina farm owned by third-generation Gullah Geechee farmer, Joseph Fields. Gullah chef B.J. Dennis served traditional Gullah Geechee dishes like okra soup and Charleston red rice. A pit barbecue held a whole lamb and pig sourced from neighboring Wadmalaw Island. Many at the dinner were familiar with the dishes but likely knew much less about the deep relationship between their Gullah Geechee hosts and the very land where they stood balancing their plates of barbecue and cornmeal fritters.

The Gullah Geechee are direct descendants of people who came from sophisticated agricultural societies along Africa’s west coast, countries now known as Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. Trafficked across the Atlantic into Charleston and Savannah, the enslaved brought their knowledge of tidal rice cultivation, enabling the region to grow wealthy as rice production took off in the late 17th century.

Tidal rice cultivation, though labor-intensive and technically difficult, flourished once West African technology was introduced. Intricate systems of canals, dikes, sluices, and trunks redirected fresh water as it was pushed upstream by rising tides. While slaves endured dangerous conditions, working in mosquito-filled swamps where malaria and yellow fever flourished, European planters were absentee owners who spent much of their time in the pine lands and cities. This led to highly “Africanized” plantations, where the enslaved managed the rice production under the direction of a white overseer.

The Gullah Geechee are best understood through their relationship to the land, which is widely considered the most valuable of all Gullah Geechee cultural assets and has always been the base for economic and social development. After slavery ended, family farms like the Fields Farm were often the primary source of income. Gullah Geechee land owners were able to develop a self-sustaining economy based on the small-scale production of cotton, subsistence agriculture, and truck farming supplemented with fishing and harvesting shrimp and oysters. As a result, many were able to avoid the hazards of tenant farming and sharecropping. Today, the Gullah Geechee face new hazards with each hurricane that barrels down on the land that defines them.

For hundreds of years, the Gullah Geechee have resided along the coasts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Their ancestors, though all West African, were culturally, linguistically, and spiritually diverse. Over time, a new creole culture and language – now known as Gullah Geechee – emerged on these isolated island and coastal plantations and is now recognized as one of the great, foundational cultures of the United States. Here you will find hand-crafted sweetgrass baskets that reflect ancient West African weaving traditions; century-old praise houses hosting “ring shouts” (the oldest surviving African-American performance tradition); and dishes, like Chef Dennis’ red rice, that connect today’s Gullah Geechee chefs to the cook pots of their ancestors. And here you will find acres of rice fields, silent and verdant memorials to the unfathomable sacrifices and inspiring perseverance of the Gullah Geechee people.

SOUTH CAROLINA | Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor (GullahGeecheeCorridor.org)

The Hudson River Valley Ramble is an annual event series that celebrates the history, culture, and natural resources of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, as well as the amazing landscape, communities, and trails throughout the region. Every September, ‘Ramblers’ come not only from the Hudson Valley region and New York State, but from other regions of the country as well to discover the riches our Valley has to offer.

The Newburgh Open Studios tour was a Ramble event that offered a unique opportunity to see the work and meet many of the artists in the City of Newburgh’s burgeoning arts community. The studios are located in some incredibly preserved historic structures, most of which are rarely open to the public. This self-guided tour provided an intriguing connection between the art culture and historical significance that the Hudson River Valley is known for.

The Newburgh Open Studios tour was scheduled to coincide with the Ramble as an additional way to reach a broad audience. Last year close to 2,000 visitors experienced the studio tour, and Ramble Event Leader Michael Gabor anticipates an increase in participating artists and turnout at future events. “Our artists loved the event!” said Gabor, and “ as a historic community that was used as a location/viewing point for many Hudson River School paintings, it is appropriate and encouraging that once again Newburgh is becoming an arts community tied closely to its history, architecture and views that have changed little.”
 

The Hudson River Valley Ramble is an annual event series that celebrates the history, culture, and natural resources of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, as well as the amazing landscape, communities, and trails throughout the region. Every September, ‘Ramblers’ come not only from the Hudson Valley region and New York State, but from other regions of the country as well to discover the riches our Valley has to offer.

The Newburgh Open Studios tour was a Ramble event that offered a unique opportunity to see the work and meet many of the artists in the City of Newburgh’s burgeoning arts community. The studios are located in some incredibly preserved historic structures, most of which are rarely open to the public. This self-guided tour provided an intriguing connection between the art culture and historical significance that the Hudson River Valley is known for.

The Newburgh Open Studios tour was scheduled to coincide with the Ramble as an additional way to reach a broad audience. Last year close to 2,000 visitors experienced the studio tour, and Ramble Event Leader Michael Gabor anticipates an increase in participating artists and turnout at future events. “Our artists loved the event!” said Gabor, and “ as a historic community that was used as a location/viewing point for many Hudson River School paintings, it is appropriate and encouraging that once again Newburgh is becoming an arts community tied closely to its history, architecture and views that have changed little.”

NEW YORK | Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area | HudsonRiverValley.com

At a curve along Alaska’s Kenai River, known for silver salmon fishing and named for its color, Turquoise Bend was recently discovered as an 800-year-old, semi-permanent winter village site of the Denai’na Athabaskans. To the Kenaitze Indian Tribe, this site is not only a cultural landmark and direct link to their ancestral heritage, but also represents a deep spiritual connection to a place that represents a holistic way of life that has persisted for generations.

So what does one do, today, when such a sacred place is located on private property?

The Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area coordinated with many partners to address the challenges of preserving cultural heritage sites in a way that respects indigenous peoples while educating and assisting private land owners in protecting these places.

As a result of the initiative, elders, youth, landowners, and archaeologists teamed up to excavate the Dena’ina settlement site at Turquois Bend. Teams used non-invasive Ground Penetrating Radar and discovered a semi-subterranean log home built to house multiple families. Their work also included surveying cultural plants, examining the condition of the river bank, and performing site restoration activities
“There were some cultural differences that [landowners] were very willing to hear about, learn about, and work with. I feel like we could have a good conversation that was respectful of the land,” said Joel Isaak, Cultural Coordinator of the Kenaitze Indian Tribe.

This project illustrates how members of various cultural communities can collaborate, listen, and be heard as the stories of our nation unfold.

THE KENAI MOUNTAINS-TURNAGAIN ARM NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA — ALASKA (KMTACORRIDOR.ORG)

At a curve along Alaska’s Kenai River, known for silver salmon fishing and named for its color, Turquoise Bend was recently discovered as an 800-year-old, semi-permanent winter village site of the Denai’na Athabaskans. To the Kenaitze Indian Tribe, this site is not only a cultural landmark and direct link to their ancestral heritage, but also represents a deep spiritual connection to a place that represents a holistic way of life that has persisted for generations.

So what does one do, today, when such a sacred place is located on private property?

The Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area coordinated with many partners to address the challenges of preserving cultural heritage sites in a way that respects indigenous peoples while educating and assisting private land owners in protecting these places.

As a result of the initiative, elders, youth, landowners, and archaeologists teamed up to excavate the Dena’ina settlement site at Turquois Bend. Teams used non-invasive Ground Penetrating Radar and discovered a semi-subterranean log home built to house multiple families. Their work also included surveying cultural plants, examining the condition of the river bank, and performing site restoration activities
“There were some cultural differences that [landowners] were very willing to hear about, learn about, and work with. I feel like we could have a good conversation that was respectful of the land,” said Joel Isaak, Cultural Coordinator of the Kenaitze Indian Tribe.

This project illustrates how members of various cultural communities can collaborate, listen, and be heard as the stories of our nation unfold.

THE KENAI MOUNTAINS-TURNAGAIN ARM NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA — ALASKA (KMTACORRIDOR.ORG)

MDNHA Executive Director Rolando Herts was clearly inspired by Alysia Burton Steele’s book, Delta Jewels: In Search of My Grandmother’s Wisdom, a collection of oral histories and portraits of African American church mothers from the Mississippi Delta. Church mothers are revered in their communities. Appointed by their church pastors based on years of dedication, study of the Bible, worship, and prayer, church mothers counsel families and youth and model good spiritual practices. The Delta Jewels church mothers, in particular, did this in the face of racial discrimination during the Jim Crow Era and social upheavals of the Civil Rights Movement.

The MDNHA created venues to share these stories throughout the Delta—the very communities where the Delta Jewels church mothers have lived for decades. Collaborating with The Delta Center at Delta State University, the MDNHA arranged a series of community gatherings featuring the author and the Delta Jewels church mothers in Clarksdale, Charleston, Indianola, Yazoo City, Ruleville, and Mound Bayou. “This remarkable group of strong women inspired me with their wisdom and humor,” commented Dr. Myrtis Tabb, Chair of the MDNHA Board of Directors.

These initial community gatherings fostered even more presentations throughout the Heritage Area, the state of Mississippi, and the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum in Washington, D.C., engaging over 1,000 participants. The significance of this project is best noted by receiving a 2016 National Park Service Centennial Award.

MISSISSIPPI DELTA NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA — MISSISSIPPI (MSDELTAHERITAGE.COM)

MDNHA Executive Director Rolando Herts was clearly inspired by Alysia Burton Steele’s book, Delta Jewels: In Search of My Grandmother’s Wisdom, a collection of oral histories and portraits of African American church mothers from the Mississippi Delta. Church mothers are revered in their communities. Appointed by their church pastors based on years of dedication, study of the Bible, worship, and prayer, church mothers counsel families and youth and model good spiritual practices. The Delta Jewels church mothers, in particular, did this in the face of racial discrimination during the Jim Crow Era and social upheavals of the Civil Rights Movement.

The MDNHA created venues to share these stories throughout the Delta—the very communities where the Delta Jewels church mothers have lived for decades. Collaborating with The Delta Center at Delta State University, the MDNHA arranged a series of community gatherings featuring the author and the Delta Jewels church mothers in Clarksdale, Charleston, Indianola, Yazoo City, Ruleville, and Mound Bayou. “This remarkable group of strong women inspired me with their wisdom and humor,” commented Dr. Myrtis Tabb, Chair of the MDNHA Board of Directors.

These initial community gatherings fostered even more presentations throughout the Heritage Area, the state of Mississippi, and the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum in Washington, D.C., engaging over 1,000 participants. The significance of this project is best noted by receiving a 2016 National Park Service Centennial Award.

MISSISSIPPI DELTA NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA — MISSISSIPPI (MSDELTAHERITAGE.COM)

This past October, the Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area (MGCNHA) held a series of events to recognize the first group of nature-based tourism businesses who have qualified for the Gulf Coast Outpost program. Gulf Coast Outpost (GCO) is a business recognition program developed and implemented by the MGCNHA. The program raises awareness of nature-based businesses who go above and beyond to protect and conserve the environment on which their businesses depends.

Gulf Coast outpost was created following a year-long process of working with industry stakeholders to determine ways to grow economic development in nature-based tourism while balancing conservation. The program targets companies whose primary business is dependent on the natural environment in Mississippi’s six coastal counties. This includes eco-tours, locally-owned outfitters, charter boat operators, tour guides, eco-lodges and agritourism entities.

Eight business thus far have received the GCO distinction which provides the customer with a sense of confidence that the businesses prioritizes customer safety and works hard to protect and conserve the natural environment of South Mississippi. This program also demonstrates the Heritage Area’s collaborative approach, as it works with other organizations— such as Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast, the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain, and the USM Marine Education Center—to achieve a healthy, nature-based tourism economy and environment.

MISSISSIPPI | Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area | MSGulfCoastHeritage.ms.gov

This past October, the Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area (MGCNHA) held a series of events to recognize the first group of nature-based tourism businesses who have qualified for the Gulf Coast Outpost program. Gulf Coast Outpost (GCO) is a business recognition program developed and implemented by the MGCNHA. The program raises awareness of nature-based businesses who go above and beyond to protect and conserve the environment on which their businesses depends.

Gulf Coast outpost was created following a year-long process of working with industry stakeholders to determine ways to grow economic development in nature-based tourism while balancing conservation. The program targets companies whose primary business is dependent on the natural environment in Mississippi’s six coastal counties. This includes eco-tours, locally-owned outfitters, charter boat operators, tour guides, eco-lodges and agritourism entities.

Eight business thus far have received the GCO distinction which provides the customer with a sense of confidence that the businesses prioritizes customer safety and works hard to protect and conserve the natural environment of South Mississippi. This program also demonstrates the Heritage Area’s collaborative approach, as it works with other organizations— such as Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast, the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain, and the USM Marine Education Center—to achieve a healthy, nature-based tourism economy and environment.

MISSISSIPPI | Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area | MSGulfCoastHeritage.ms.gov

Of the many relationships the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area (MPNHA) has fostered, none is more successful than its partnership with Wasatch Academy–the birthplace of Utah’s modern education system. Located in Mt. Pleasant, Wasatch Academy was founded by Presbyterian minister and teacher Duncan McMillan shortly after he arrived in Utah in 1875. Wasatch Academy went on to become a great success and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

With seed money of $85,000 from MPNHA, the school generated approximately $4 million toward restoration of its historic buildings, exemplifying how heritage areas can develop partnerships to improve their community and leverage funds.

Paul Applegarth of Wasatch Academy credits MPNHA for catalyzing the vital preservation efforts. “The first grant that we received from the MPNHA sparked the interest of another donor, who funded the renovation of the original Wasatch Academy School building called Liberal Hall,” Applegarth says. “Prior to the renovation, Liberal Hall was in bad shape. Without the grant, we may have ultimately lost Liberal Hall, a valuable piece of history.”

Wasatch Academy’s mix of academic excellence and storied heritage has also improved its community by attracting talented students from all over the world. Wasatch students hail from 38 countries and 28 American states. Students from China, Pakistan, Mali, Afghanistan and Germany, for example, come to the small community of Mt. Pleasant, which proudly serves the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area.”

UTAH | Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area | MormonPioneerHeritage.org

Of the many relationships the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area (MPNHA) has fostered, none is more successful than its partnership with Wasatch Academy–the birthplace of Utah’s modern education system. Located in Mt. Pleasant, Wasatch Academy was founded by Presbyterian minister and teacher Duncan McMillan shortly after he arrived in Utah in 1875. Wasatch Academy went on to become a great success and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

With seed money of $85,000 from MPNHA, the school generated approximately $4 million toward restoration of its historic buildings, exemplifying how heritage areas can develop partnerships to improve their community and leverage funds.

Paul Applegarth of Wasatch Academy credits MPNHA for catalyzing the vital preservation efforts. “The first grant that we received from the MPNHA sparked the interest of another donor, who funded the renovation of the original Wasatch Academy School building called Liberal Hall,” Applegarth says. “Prior to the renovation, Liberal Hall was in bad shape. Without the grant, we may have ultimately lost Liberal Hall, a valuable piece of history.”

Wasatch Academy’s mix of academic excellence and storied heritage has also improved its community by attracting talented students from all over the world. Wasatch students hail from 38 countries and 28 American states. Students from China, Pakistan, Mali, Afghanistan and Germany, for example, come to the small community of Mt. Pleasant, which proudly serves the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area.”

UTAH | Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area | MormonPioneerHeritage.org

Michigan has been defined by its leadership in the auto industry. But the road to that success was filled with struggle and strife, often between management and labor. MotorCities National Heritage Area has teamed up with the Michigan Labor History Society to commemorate some of the defining historical events which led to the formation of the United Auto Workers during the Great Depression of the 1930’s. Through publications, lectures, and community events, these are some of the pivotal events that are recalled:

1932 Ford Hunger March, Dearborn: Winter in Detroit in the depths of the Great Depression. Unemployed workers organized a hunger march from Detroit to the Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn where they were met by police and Ford’s security force, resulting in the deaths of five workers. The MotorCities National Heritage Area is working to create an urban park and memorial to the 1932 Hunger March near the original gathering point of this historic event.

Flint Sit-Down Strike, Dec. 1936 – Feb. 1937: Historic 44-day occupation resulting in recognition of the UAW by the first of the Big 3 automakers and the first UAW-GM contract.

1937 Battle of the Overpass, Dearborn: Walter Reuther leads an attempt to distribute union leaflets at the Ford Rouge Plant in May, atop a public overpass leading to the factory gates. He and several others are severely beaten. Coupled with the results of a hearing in front of the Fair Labor Relations Board, Ford Motor Co. finally signs a contract with the UAW in 1941.

MOTORCITIES NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA — MICHIGAN (MOTORCITIES.ORG)

Michigan has been defined by its leadership in the auto industry. But the road to that success was filled with struggle and strife, often between management and labor. MotorCities National Heritage Area has teamed up with the Michigan Labor History Society to commemorate some of the defining historical events which led to the formation of the United Auto Workers during the Great Depression of the 1930’s. Through publications, lectures, and community events, these are some of the pivotal events that are recalled:

1932 Ford Hunger March, Dearborn: Winter in Detroit in the depths of the Great Depression. Unemployed workers organized a hunger march from Detroit to the Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn where they were met by police and Ford’s security force, resulting in the deaths of five workers. The MotorCities National Heritage Area is working to create an urban park and memorial to the 1932 Hunger March near the original gathering point of this historic event.

Flint Sit-Down Strike, Dec. 1936 – Feb. 1937: Historic 44-day occupation resulting in recognition of the UAW by the first of the Big 3 automakers and the first UAW-GM contract.

1937 Battle of the Overpass, Dearborn: Walter Reuther leads an attempt to distribute union leaflets at the Ford Rouge Plant in May, atop a public overpass leading to the factory gates. He and several others are severely beaten. Coupled with the results of a hearing in front of the Fair Labor Relations Board, Ford Motor Co. finally signs a contract with the UAW in 1941.

MOTORCITIES NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA — MICHIGAN (MOTORCITIES.ORG)

On October 21, 2017, over four hundred people gathered at Sacred Way Sanctuary to celebrate the opening of their new museum and education center in Florence, Alabama. Years of work by Dr. Yvette Running Horse Collin and Sean Collin led up to this exciting event. The museum focuses on the relationship between native peoples of the Americas and the horse.

Over one hundred horses associated with many tribes make up Sacred Way Sanctuary’s foundation herd. These horses were gathered from across the country. At the Sanctuary they live in natural family herds consisting of a stallion and a group of mares. The horses help to tell a story that challenges the dominant narrative of conquest, which claims that all of the horses throughout the Americas died out during the last Ice-Age period and horses were reintroduced by the Spanish to the Americas. The oral histories brought forward by Dr. Collin under the guidance of elders from tribes across the country present a compelling counter narrative, which argues that the horse has always been in the Americas. The markings, bone structure, and behavior of horses that roam the pastures of Sacred Way are very different from the domesticated horse that traces its roots back to the eastern hemisphere. Horses at the Sanctuary breed naturally. Foals are available for adoption in breeding pairs or small herds.

The Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area has strengthened the relationship with the Sanctuary in recent years. The museum and education center also serves as an interpretive center for the MSNHA’s Native American heritage theme.

MUSCLE SHOALS NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA — ALABAMA (MSNHA.UNA.EDU)

On October 21, 2017, over four hundred people gathered at Sacred Way Sanctuary to celebrate the opening of their new museum and education center in Florence, Alabama. Years of work by Dr. Yvette Running Horse Collin and Sean Collin led up to this exciting event. The museum focuses on the relationship between native peoples of the Americas and the horse.

Over one hundred horses associated with many tribes make up Sacred Way Sanctuary’s foundation herd. These horses were gathered from across the country. At the Sanctuary they live in natural family herds consisting of a stallion and a group of mares. The horses help to tell a story that challenges the dominant narrative of conquest, which claims that all of the horses throughout the Americas died out during the last Ice-Age period and horses were reintroduced by the Spanish to the Americas. The oral histories brought forward by Dr. Collin under the guidance of elders from tribes across the country present a compelling counter narrative, which argues that the horse has always been in the Americas. The markings, bone structure, and behavior of horses that roam the pastures of Sacred Way are very different from the domesticated horse that traces its roots back to the eastern hemisphere. Horses at the Sanctuary breed naturally. Foals are available for adoption in breeding pairs or small herds.

The Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area has strengthened the relationship with the Sanctuary in recent years. The museum and education center also serves as an interpretive center for the MSNHA’s Native American heritage theme.

MUSCLE SHOALS NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA — ALABAMA (MSNHA.UNA.EDU)

As a young boy in Amsterdam, Bill Albers was witness to one of the most epic scenes in World War II: massive streams of U.S. B-17 and British Lancaster bombers crossing high over Holland on their way to targets in Germany.

Albers isn’t sure he remembers seeing the bombers—he was five when the war ended—but his mother spoke of them so often she etched an indelible image in his mind’s eye. It reminds him not just of the bombers, but of the thousands of airmen who flew them—and the thousands who perished.

An aviation heritage group in the National Aviation Heritage Area has given him a chance to repay those airmen by building a flying memorial and sharing his story with younger generations.

Albers grew up in Holland and served in the Royal Dutch Air Force, but he’s lived most of his life in the United States. Now a retired engineer and aerospace executive, he lives in Sidney, Ohio and volunteers for the nonprofit Champaign Aviation Museum in nearby Urbana. He’s one of more than 100 volunteers who are building the Champaign Lady—a real, flyable B-17G Flying Fortress, the same kind of bomber that filled Holland’s sky when Albers was young.

Albers said he learned of the museum about seven years ago and quickly joined. “As an engineer, I fit right in there,” he says. Besides working on the airplane itself, Albers speaks frequently to community groups about the project and about B-17s, enriched by his personal memories and extensive research.

The project means much more to Albers than a chance to build a classic airplane. “We are building a memorial for the 24,000 young men who died in this airplane,” he says.

NATIONAL AVIATION Heritage Area — OHIO (AVIATIONHERITAGEAREA.ORG)

As a young boy in Amsterdam, Bill Albers was witness to one of the most epic scenes in World War II: massive streams of U.S. B-17 and British Lancaster bombers crossing high over Holland on their way to targets in Germany.

Albers isn’t sure he remembers seeing the bombers—he was five when the war ended—but his mother spoke of them so often she etched an indelible image in his mind’s eye. It reminds him not just of the bombers, but of the thousands of airmen who flew them—and the thousands who perished.

An aviation heritage group in the National Aviation Heritage Area has given him a chance to repay those airmen by building a flying memorial and sharing his story with younger generations.

Albers grew up in Holland and served in the Royal Dutch Air Force, but he’s lived most of his life in the United States. Now a retired engineer and aerospace executive, he lives in Sidney, Ohio and volunteers for the nonprofit Champaign Aviation Museum in nearby Urbana. He’s one of more than 100 volunteers who are building the Champaign Lady—a real, flyable B-17G Flying Fortress, the same kind of bomber that filled Holland’s sky when Albers was young.

Albers said he learned of the museum about seven years ago and quickly joined. “As an engineer, I fit right in there,” he says. Besides working on the airplane itself, Albers speaks frequently to community groups about the project and about B-17s, enriched by his personal memories and extensive research.

The project means much more to Albers than a chance to build a classic airplane. “We are building a memorial for the 24,000 young men who died in this airplane,” he says.

NATIONAL AVIATION Heritage Area — OHIO (AVIATIONHERITAGEAREA.ORG)

For the group of residents who gather monthly around a table in the back room of the Corner Restaurant in Pax, WV, Paint Creek is more than a creek—it’s their heritage. Ensuring its health and telling its story have been the two primary goals of the Paint Creek Scenic Trail Association for over two decades. Most members grew up on Paint Creek and remember it as it was in coal’s heyday, when small communities like Mahan and Kingston enjoyed a vibrant social life centered around the church, school, company store, and town hall.

Growing up, the creek was the center of everything. They gigged for fish, cooled off in swimming holes, and played games along its banks. But most also have sadder memories of a creek that ran many colors—black from coal slurry, red from acid mine runoff, and muddy brown from sedimentation. Thanks to the members’ environmental restoration efforts, the state now stocks Paint Creek with thousands of trout every year, attracting fishing enthusiasts from across the region.

Through their partnership with the Paint Creek Scenic Trail Association, the National Coal Heritage Area has established 26 informational kiosks along the route. They are also developing the Paint Creek Scenic Trail Audio Driving Tour, available as a CD, app, and on their web site. On this tour you’ll hear about the history of Paint Creek from the voices of West Virginians who call it home. The tour is about a place and a time….but mostly it’s about a people. To hear the stories of the people of Paint Creek visit PaintCreekWV.org.

NATIONAL COAL HERITAGE AREA — WEST VIRGINIA (COALHERITAGE.ORG)

For the group of residents who gather monthly around a table in the back room of the Corner Restaurant in Pax, WV, Paint Creek is more than a creek—it’s their heritage. Ensuring its health and telling its story have been the two primary goals of the Paint Creek Scenic Trail Association for over two decades. Most members grew up on Paint Creek and remember it as it was in coal’s heyday, when small communities like Mahan and Kingston enjoyed a vibrant social life centered around the church, school, company store, and town hall.

Growing up, the creek was the center of everything. They gigged for fish, cooled off in swimming holes, and played games along its banks. But most also have sadder memories of a creek that ran many colors—black from coal slurry, red from acid mine runoff, and muddy brown from sedimentation. Thanks to the members’ environmental restoration efforts, the state now stocks Paint Creek with thousands of trout every year, attracting fishing enthusiasts from across the region.

Through their partnership with the Paint Creek Scenic Trail Association, the National Coal Heritage Area has established 26 informational kiosks along the route. They are also developing the Paint Creek Scenic Trail Audio Driving Tour, available as a CD, app, and on their web site. On this tour you’ll hear about the history of Paint Creek from the voices of West Virginians who call it home. The tour is about a place and a time….but mostly it’s about a people. To hear the stories of the people of Paint Creek visit PaintCreekWV.org.

NATIONAL COAL HERITAGE AREA — WEST VIRGINIA (COALHERITAGE.ORG)

For centuries, Niagara Falls has captured people’s hearts and imaginations. It has been long recognized as a natural phenomenon that is considered awe-inspiring and majestic. However, the sheer power of Niagara Falls goes far beyond the Falls themselves. For those escaping slavery in the American South, the Niagara River, presented a final boundary before entering Canada.

The United States was founded on the ideal that “all men are created equal.” Yet four million people lived in slavery in the United States in 1860. Between the American Revolution and the Civil War, thousands of people fled enslavement to find new lives of freedom, often crossing the Niagara River into Canada at several access points within the City of Niagara Falls.

African American hotel waiters formed the core of Underground Railroad activism in Niagara Falls providing a network of assistance for freedom seekers who arrived seeking a safe passage across the border. Within the flourishing hotel and tourism industry, African American waiters lived double lives, openly serving hotel guests and secretly helping freedom seekers cross into Canada.

Their effort made Niagara Falls one of the most important locations of the powerful struggle between slavery and freedom.

In May 2018, the much-anticipated Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center opened. The Heritage Center reveals authentic stories of Underground Railroad freedom seekers and abolitionists in Niagara Falls and inspires visitors to recognize modern injustices that stem from slavery and take action toward an equitable society.

The Heritage Center is a project of the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Commission, in partnership with the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area.

NIAGARA FALLS NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA — NEW YORK (DISCOVERNIAGARA.org)

For centuries, Niagara Falls has captured people’s hearts and imaginations. It has been long recognized as a natural phenomenon that is considered awe-inspiring and majestic. However, the sheer power of Niagara Falls goes far beyond the Falls themselves. For those escaping slavery in the American South, the Niagara River, presented a final boundary before entering Canada.

The United States was founded on the ideal that “all men are created equal.” Yet four million people lived in slavery in the United States in 1860. Between the American Revolution and the Civil War, thousands of people fled enslavement to find new lives of freedom, often crossing the Niagara River into Canada at several access points within the City of Niagara Falls.

African American hotel waiters formed the core of Underground Railroad activism in Niagara Falls providing a network of assistance for freedom seekers who arrived seeking a safe passage across the border. Within the flourishing hotel and tourism industry, African American waiters lived double lives, openly serving hotel guests and secretly helping freedom seekers cross into Canada.

Their effort made Niagara Falls one of the most important locations of the powerful struggle between slavery and freedom.

In May 2018, the much-anticipated Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center opened. The Heritage Center reveals authentic stories of Underground Railroad freedom seekers and abolitionists in Niagara Falls and inspires visitors to recognize modern injustices that stem from slavery and take action toward an equitable society.

The Heritage Center is a project of the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Commission, in partnership with the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area.

NIAGARA FALLS NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA — NEW YORK (DISCOVERNIAGARA.org)

At the heart of community interaction is the recognition of story… the acknowledgement of participation… the honoring of contribution. Some events are minor; others can change the course of history.

During World War II, the U.S. government established the Manhattan Project (1942 to 1946). At its center were the project itself and the community of scientists and support teams that came together in a created village on an isolated mesa to create a weapon that would bring an end to the war. Many can recite the story of the bomb and the likes of Robert Oppenheimer and Enrico Fermi. The stories less told are those of the common local populace who helped create and maintain the project at the ground level.

After the explosion of the bomb at Trinity Site, one scientist asked, “What have we done?” The answer to that question would be worldwide change in global politics, the United States’ role in the world, and the beginning of a new atomic age.

At a local level, the project contributed to a significant change to the local culture. The established dependence on subsistence farming and occupations gave way to paid employment, daily travel outside of the community for work, and a new dependence on fixed wages. The growth of “the Lab” and the economic engine of Los Alamos also gave rise to new possibilities for education and technology, and for those who could not seek them, a deeper divide in income and social standing.

The Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area joined with the Northern NM College to present the Historias de Nuevo Mexico conference. The conference theme was, “Querencia Interrupted: Hispano and Native American Experiences of the Manhattan Project”. Its purposes were to create a new dialogue —recognizing contributions of locals, allowing participants to share their own stories, opening the discussion of continuing issues, and honoring the surviving participants with a specially commissioned Story Protectors medal. The conference is propelling intercommunity discussion and the inclusion of local oral history profiles in documentation of the project.

NORTHERN RIO GRANDE NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA — NEW MEXICO (RIOGRANDENHA.ORG)

At the heart of community interaction is the recognition of story… the acknowledgement of participation… the honoring of contribution. Some events are minor; others can change the course of history.

During World War II, the U.S. government established the Manhattan Project (1942 to 1946). At its center were the project itself and the community of scientists and support teams that came together in a created village on an isolated mesa to create a weapon that would bring an end to the war. Many can recite the story of the bomb and the likes of Robert Oppenheimer and Enrico Fermi. The stories less told are those of the common local populace who helped create and maintain the project at the ground level.

After the explosion of the bomb at Trinity Site, one scientist asked, “What have we done?” The answer to that question would be worldwide change in global politics, the United States’ role in the world, and the beginning of a new atomic age.

At a local level, the project contributed to a significant change to the local culture. The established dependence on subsistence farming and occupations gave way to paid employment, daily travel outside of the community for work, and a new dependence on fixed wages. The growth of “the Lab” and the economic engine of Los Alamos also gave rise to new possibilities for education and technology, and for those who could not seek them, a deeper divide in income and social standing.

The Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area joined with the Northern NM College to present the Historias de Nuevo Mexico conference. The conference theme was, “Querencia Interrupted: Hispano and Native American Experiences of the Manhattan Project”. Its purposes were to create a new dialogue —recognizing contributions of locals, allowing participants to share their own stories, opening the discussion of continuing issues, and honoring the surviving participants with a specially commissioned Story Protectors medal. The conference is propelling intercommunity discussion and the inclusion of local oral history profiles in documentation of the project.

NORTHERN RIO GRANDE NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA — NEW MEXICO (RIOGRANDENHA.ORG)

As a managing organization of the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area, the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition plays an active role in connecting community members with the cultural, historical, and recreational assets of the Ohio & Erie Canal and Towpath Trail, and creating stewards to carry on the legacy to future generations.

During the fall of the 2018, the organization had the privilege of hosting its annual Fishing Derby, where more than 150 children and their families from Akron Public schools spent an afternoon fishing in the Ohio & Erie Canal. The children worked with volunteers to bait hooks, cast their lines, and catch fish – blue gill, catfish, and more – before releasing them back into the canal.

Over nearly 20 years, this program has welcomed thousands of children, offering an opportunity to interact with the natural resources in their own neighborhoods. This program also offers the opportunity to engage local businesses who support the mission of the Ohio & Erie Canalway and take hands-on roles in cultivating future stewards of our natural resources. More than 50 businesses and individuals sponsored this program in 2018, including core sponsors Cargill, PNC Bank, and Huntington Bank, with many other local organizations volunteering to support the staff and children.

The Fishing Derby is just one example in a year of programming designed to bring awareness and support to the cultural, historical, and recreational assets of the Ohio & Erie Canalway. We’re excited to continue connecting with the communities that call our National Heritage Area home.

OHIO | Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area | OhioAndErieCanalway.com

As a managing organization of the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area, the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition plays an active role in connecting community members with the cultural, historical, and recreational assets of the Ohio & Erie Canal and Towpath Trail, and creating stewards to carry on the legacy to future generations.

During the fall of the 2018, the organization had the privilege of hosting its annual Fishing Derby, where more than 150 children and their families from Akron Public schools spent an afternoon fishing in the Ohio & Erie Canal. The children worked with volunteers to bait hooks, cast their lines, and catch fish – blue gill, catfish, and more – before releasing them back into the canal.

Over nearly 20 years, this program has welcomed thousands of children, offering an opportunity to interact with the natural resources in their own neighborhoods. This program also offers the opportunity to engage local businesses who support the mission of the Ohio & Erie Canalway and take hands-on roles in cultivating future stewards of our natural resources. More than 50 businesses and individuals sponsored this program in 2018, including core sponsors Cargill, PNC Bank, and Huntington Bank, with many other local organizations volunteering to support the staff and children.

The Fishing Derby is just one example in a year of programming designed to bring awareness and support to the cultural, historical, and recreational assets of the Ohio & Erie Canalway. We’re excited to continue connecting with the communities that call our National Heritage Area home.

OHIO | Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area | OhioAndErieCanalway.com

The story of the Native American experience in the United States is a difficult and painful one. The Oil Region National Heritage Area is working with the Seneca Nation to heal historic wounds. Part of that healing process took place when Oil City’s Mayor proclaimed October 14, 2017 as “Chief Cornplanter Day” throughout this northwestern Pennsylvania community, unveiling permanent commemorations about this 18th – 19th century diplomat from the Seneca Nation.

The plaque reads: “Cornplanter (1738 – 1836), a defender of Seneca land and culture, allied the Iroquois Confederacy with the fledgling United States after fighting for the British during the American Revolution. He arbitrated conflicts between Native Americans and settlers, though he later became disillusioned when the Nations were not treated equally and fairly. In 1796, Cornplanter and his heirs were granted three tracts of land by the state, one at present-day Oil City.”

Representatives of today’s Seneca Nation were guest speakers and musicians/dancers at free public events introducing a new two-story outdoor mural as well as a blue/gold outdoor Commonwealth of Pennsylvania historical marker. Both the marker text and artwork for the mural were approved in advance by SNI leadership.

The historical marker is strategically placed along Allegheny River and the Erie to Pittsburgh Multi-Use Trail, which draws tens of thousands of avid bicyclists ever year.

OIL REGION NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA — PENNSYLVANIA (OILHERITAGE.org)

The story of the Native American experience in the United States is a difficult and painful one. The Oil Region National Heritage Area is working with the Seneca Nation to heal historic wounds. Part of that healing process took place when Oil City’s Mayor proclaimed October 14, 2017 as “Chief Cornplanter Day” throughout this northwestern Pennsylvania community, unveiling permanent commemorations about this 18th – 19th century diplomat from the Seneca Nation.

The plaque reads: “Cornplanter (1738 – 1836), a defender of Seneca land and culture, allied the Iroquois Confederacy with the fledgling United States after fighting for the British during the American Revolution. He arbitrated conflicts between Native Americans and settlers, though he later became disillusioned when the Nations were not treated equally and fairly. In 1796, Cornplanter and his heirs were granted three tracts of land by the state, one at present-day Oil City.”

Representatives of today’s Seneca Nation were guest speakers and musicians/dancers at free public events introducing a new two-story outdoor mural as well as a blue/gold outdoor Commonwealth of Pennsylvania historical marker. Both the marker text and artwork for the mural were approved in advance by SNI leadership.

The historical marker is strategically placed along Allegheny River and the Erie to Pittsburgh Multi-Use Trail, which draws tens of thousands of avid bicyclists ever year.

OIL REGION NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA — PENNSYLVANIA (OILHERITAGE.org)

The Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area and the History Colorado State Historic Fund will provide funding for the interior and exterior restoration and rehabilitation of the original La Sociedad Protección Mutua de Trabajadores Unidos (SPMDTU) headquarters in Conejos County, Colorado. The SPMDTU is the oldest Hispanic civil rights organization in the United States. It was founded in Antonito, a small town located in the southern part of the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area, by Celedonio Mondragón and six others on November 26, 1900. In the mid-1900s, it had 65 concilios locales (local councils), in small towns throughout southern Colorado and northern New Mexico, including three in Utah. After World War II, it had a total of 3,000 members. The SPMDTU began as a mutual aid organization that sought, through nonviolent actions, to combat the exploitation of Hispanic workers by land barons, mine owners, and the railroads. The original SPMDTU meeting hall located is listed in the “State Register of Historic Properties” and the “National Register of Historic Places” in the areas of Ethnic Heritage and Social History. Today, the organization is still active. Its concilios locales conduct monthly meetings and functions, in order to further the organization’s vision. The SPMDTU is comprised of a diverse group of men and women committed to enriching Hispanic communities and families, with fund raising efforts aimed at providing and enhancing community services. The Sangre de Cristo National Heritage area is home to Colorado’s oldest Hispano, agricultural and railroad communities. With over 11,000 years of documented human inhabitation, this is where Colorado began.

COLORADO | Sangre

The Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area and the History Colorado State Historic Fund will provide funding for the interior and exterior restoration and rehabilitation of the original La Sociedad Protección Mutua de Trabajadores Unidos (SPMDTU) headquarters in Conejos County, Colorado. The SPMDTU is the oldest Hispanic civil rights organization in the United States. It was founded in Antonito, a small town located in the southern part of the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area, by Celedonio Mondragón and six others on November 26, 1900. In the mid-1900s, it had 65 concilios locales (local councils), in small towns throughout southern Colorado and northern New Mexico, including three in Utah. After World War II, it had a total of 3,000 members. The SPMDTU began as a mutual aid organization that sought, through nonviolent actions, to combat the exploitation of Hispanic workers by land barons, mine owners, and the railroads. The original SPMDTU meeting hall located is listed in the “State Register of Historic Properties” and the “National Register of Historic Places” in the areas of Ethnic Heritage and Social History. Today, the organization is still active. Its concilios locales conduct monthly meetings and functions, in order to further the organization’s vision. The SPMDTU is comprised of a diverse group of men and women committed to enriching Hispanic communities and families, with fund raising efforts aimed at providing and enhancing community services. The Sangre de Cristo National Heritage area is home to Colorado’s oldest Hispano, agricultural and railroad communities. With over 11,000 years of documented human inhabitation, this is where Colorado began.

COLORADO | Sangre

The headwaters of the Schuylkill River originate in rural Schuylkill County, PA, a region known for its once vibrant and proud economy stemming from a booming coal industry at the turn of the century. Today the area suffers from high unemployment, and approximately 20% of its youth live in poverty. Young residents are forced to leave to find work, which contributes to a steady decrease in population. In response to this dire situation, the Schuylkill River Greenways NHA has established the Heritage Conservation Corps (HCC) in partnership with several key organizations, including AmeriCorps Vista, the PA CareerLink job program, the Schuylkill Vision community group, the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Schuylkill County Community Foundation, the USDA and others.

HCC is a program designed to engage and employ local youth in order to teach them the marketable skill of trail construction in addition to exposing them to alternative careers in a variety of industries and community building. In the summer of 2017, four young men led by an adult supervisor built 1.4 miles of new trail in Schuylkill County, making progress toward closing a critical trail gap in that area. In addition to trail building, the group also worked with community members in Mahanoy City to establish a successful community garden on a vacant lot in this depressed city. Further, over the course of the twelve week program, the HCC team visited several worksites to learn about different career paths, including a construction site and a wind energy farm. The program was a resounding success and plans for 2018 are underway to hire a new round of youth who will focus on building another two mile section of the Schuylkill River Trail while learning about job opportunities and giving back to the community.

The Heritage Conservation Corps program marries several parallel goals that are common to Heritage Areas all over the United States: community building, economic development, trail building and conservation. With our partners in this challenged region, we are making progress by leveraging the relationships and resources available to SRG as a National Heritage Area and contributing to the positive improvement of the communities around us.

SCHUYLKILL RIVER NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA — PENNSYLVANIA (SHUYLKILLRIVER.ORG)

The headwaters of the Schuylkill River originate in rural Schuylkill County, PA, a region known for its once vibrant and proud economy stemming from a booming coal industry at the turn of the century. Today the area suffers from high unemployment, and approximately 20% of its youth live in poverty. Young residents are forced to leave to find work, which contributes to a steady decrease in population. In response to this dire situation, the Schuylkill River Greenways NHA has established the Heritage Conservation Corps (HCC) in partnership with several key organizations, including AmeriCorps Vista, the PA CareerLink job program, the Schuylkill Vision community group, the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Schuylkill County Community Foundation, the USDA and others.

HCC is a program designed to engage and employ local youth in order to teach them the marketable skill of trail construction in addition to exposing them to alternative careers in a variety of industries and community building. In the summer of 2017, four young men led by an adult supervisor built 1.4 miles of new trail in Schuylkill County, making progress toward closing a critical trail gap in that area. In addition to trail building, the group also worked with community members in Mahanoy City to establish a successful community garden on a vacant lot in this depressed city. Further, over the course of the twelve week program, the HCC team visited several worksites to learn about different career paths, including a construction site and a wind energy farm. The program was a resounding success and plans for 2018 are underway to hire a new round of youth who will focus on building another two mile section of the Schuylkill River Trail while learning about job opportunities and giving back to the community.

The Heritage Conservation Corps program marries several parallel goals that are common to Heritage Areas all over the United States: community building, economic development, trail building and conservation. With our partners in this challenged region, we are making progress by leveraging the relationships and resources available to SRG as a National Heritage Area and contributing to the positive improvement of the communities around us.

SCHUYLKILL RIVER NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA — PENNSYLVANIA (SHUYLKILLRIVER.ORG)

Too few people in America understand where food comes from (and the answer is not the grocery store). Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area is educating people about the rich culture of American farming by providing hands-on learning experiences at farms, museums and historic sites.

To reach the next generation, a Bus Grant program was set up to help teachers take more than 2,000 students on field trips in 2017. In fact, since the program was created, SSNHA has helped more than 12,000 students connect with America’s agricultural story and discover the importance of Iowa’s role in feeding the world.

Teacher Megan Murphy from Irving Elementary in Dubuque traveled with her third grade class to Reuter Dairy farm in Peosta, Iowa. Students went to the dairy farm to learn about the process farmers go through to support our local economy and their contribution to the national dairy supply. Murphy said that for many students, this is their first time on a farm. The “outdoor classroom” gave them a real-life picture of the hard work and dedication of dairy farmers.

“I was surprised that the calves were so big,” said student Adaya B. “I thought they would be the size of a dog.” Averee C. said, “I thought they would use their hands to milk a cow, but they use machines!”

SILOS & SMOKESTACKS NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA — IOWA (SILOSANDSMOKESTACKS.ORG)

Too few people in America understand where food comes from (and the answer is not the grocery store). Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area is educating people about the rich culture of American farming by providing hands-on learning experiences at farms, museums and historic sites.

To reach the next generation, a Bus Grant program was set up to help teachers take more than 2,000 students on field trips in 2017. In fact, since the program was created, SSNHA has helped more than 12,000 students connect with America’s agricultural story and discover the importance of Iowa’s role in feeding the world.

Teacher Megan Murphy from Irving Elementary in Dubuque traveled with her third grade class to Reuter Dairy farm in Peosta, Iowa. Students went to the dairy farm to learn about the process farmers go through to support our local economy and their contribution to the national dairy supply. Murphy said that for many students, this is their first time on a farm. The “outdoor classroom” gave them a real-life picture of the hard work and dedication of dairy farmers.

“I was surprised that the calves were so big,” said student Adaya B. “I thought they would be the size of a dog.” Averee C. said, “I thought they would use their hands to milk a cow, but they use machines!”

SILOS & SMOKESTACKS NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA — IOWA (SILOSANDSMOKESTACKS.ORG)

Deep in the heart of South Park National Heritage Area is a landscape that takes you back 150 years. The Tarryall Road was once a much-used trail for the mountain Paleo-Indians and more recently for the Ute tribes that held this landscape in high regard. With Westward Expansion came gold-diggers, miners, and ranchers. Despite centuries of use, the Tarryall Road is a treasured secret, lined with historic ranches, miner’s cabins, cemeteries, and archaeological sites and ruins.

Local ranchers, property owners, and preservationists have come together to save this idyllic landscape, where nature’s bounty and historic remains blend seamlessly together. With assistance from the State Historical Fund, the state Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, and outstanding experts from throughout Colorado, Park County residents worked to preserve this unique environment.

On November 1, 2017, the Tarryall Rural Historic District, which encompasses over 28,000 acres stretching along CR77 from Jefferson down to U.S. Highway 24, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. On August 25, 2018 a celebratory bus tour was organized for all Park County residents, with History Colorado presenting the National Register plaque! The preservation team will also be receiving a 2019 Stephen H. Hart Award for Historic Preservation, History Colorado’s premiere recognition of archaeology and preservation projects.

So if you find yourself wandering in South Park and come across an idyllic landscape of unmatched natural beauty and preserved reminders of a past long gone, then tip your hat to the grassroots partnerships that preserve our amazing heritage.

COLORADO | South Park National Heritage Area | SouthParkHeritage.org

Deep in the heart of South Park National Heritage Area is a landscape that takes you back 150 years. The Tarryall Road was once a much-used trail for the mountain Paleo-Indians and more recently for the Ute tribes that held this landscape in high regard. With Westward Expansion came gold-diggers, miners, and ranchers. Despite centuries of use, the Tarryall Road is a treasured secret, lined with historic ranches, miner’s cabins, cemeteries, and archaeological sites and ruins.

Local ranchers, property owners, and preservationists have come together to save this idyllic landscape, where nature’s bounty and historic remains blend seamlessly together. With assistance from the State Historical Fund, the state Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, and outstanding experts from throughout Colorado, Park County residents worked to preserve this unique environment.

On November 1, 2017, the Tarryall Rural Historic District, which encompasses over 28,000 acres stretching along CR77 from Jefferson down to U.S. Highway 24, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. On August 25, 2018 a celebratory bus tour was organized for all Park County residents, with History Colorado presenting the National Register plaque! The preservation team will also be receiving a 2019 Stephen H. Hart Award for Historic Preservation, History Colorado’s premiere recognition of archaeology and preservation projects.

So if you find yourself wandering in South Park and come across an idyllic landscape of unmatched natural beauty and preserved reminders of a past long gone, then tip your hat to the grassroots partnerships that preserve our amazing heritage.

COLORADO | South Park National Heritage Area | SouthParkHeritage.org

Not everyone can access the trails of The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor by foot. A team of volunteers for The Last Green Valley, Inc., the nonprofit that stewards the National Heritage Corridor, takes that personally.

TLGV’s Trail Assessment Team is driven to help loved ones with mobility challenges get back on the trail. Gabe Sipson, a paraplegic who was once a forester and passionate outdoorsman, epitomizes what drives the team. An accident at work left Sipson in a wheelchair, and he could not find information about trails that might be suited to his abilities.

“When I’m out in the forest, it makes me feel like, I don’t know what the best word is — calmer, and more centered with myself,” said Sipson. “My perspectives are aligned better with what’s really important.”

Funded by two grants, the Trail Assessment Team has examined more than 35 miles of trail. The team was the first east of the Mississippi River to use new, advanced technology to assess trails. During the winter months, the team downloads the data and creates detailed trail access summaries to help trail users like Sipson understand their options.

But the work is far from done. Though Sipson is back on the trail, his choices are still limited. “There are many more miles of trail to assess,” said Lois Bruinooge, executive director of TLGV. “The work the team has done is incredible and we’re committed to doing more so people of all ages and abilities can enjoy the natural beauty of our National Heritage Corridor.”

CONNECTICUT & MASSACHUSETTS | The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor | TheLastGreenValley.org

Not everyone can access the trails of The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor by foot. A team of volunteers for The Last Green Valley, Inc., the nonprofit that stewards the National Heritage Corridor, takes that personally.

TLGV’s Trail Assessment Team is driven to help loved ones with mobility challenges get back on the trail. Gabe Sipson, a paraplegic who was once a forester and passionate outdoorsman, epitomizes what drives the team. An accident at work left Sipson in a wheelchair, and he could not find information about trails that might be suited to his abilities.

“When I’m out in the forest, it makes me feel like, I don’t know what the best word is — calmer, and more centered with myself,” said Sipson. “My perspectives are aligned better with what’s really important.”

Funded by two grants, the Trail Assessment Team has examined more than 35 miles of trail. The team was the first east of the Mississippi River to use new, advanced technology to assess trails. During the winter months, the team downloads the data and creates detailed trail access summaries to help trail users like Sipson understand their options.

But the work is far from done. Though Sipson is back on the trail, his choices are still limited. “There are many more miles of trail to assess,” said Lois Bruinooge, executive director of TLGV. “The work the team has done is incredible and we’re committed to doing more so people of all ages and abilities can enjoy the natural beauty of our National Heritage Corridor.”

CONNECTICUT & MASSACHUSETTS | The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor | TheLastGreenValley.org

The pastoral hills, forests, and fields of Massachusetts’ Berkshires are home to an innovative partnership that connects area youth with world-class culture. The Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area (Housatonic Heritage) and Greenagers have teamed up to create a unique opportunity to expose teenagers to places of historic and cultural significance.

Centered in and around Great Barrington, MA., the Greenagers program connects area youth with paid stewardship work, school-based field trips, and outdoor activities. Through its paid employment programs, internships, and apprenticeships, Greenagers engages teens and young adults in meaningful work in environmental conservation, sustainable farming, and natural resource management.

By adding cultural landscapes to the Greenagers’ programs, Housatonic Heritage has helped Greenagers to add an extra layer of meaning to their natural resource work and to explore how ‘connection to place’ builds stewardship among future generations.

On behalf of Greenagers, Housatonic Heritage works with cultural organizations to create meaningful interactions between the participants and the cultural site. Partners—including Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Norman Rockwell Museum, and Hancock Shaker Village—have embraced the host work crews and enjoyed the opportunities for youth engagement. With a “captive audience” of teens, the partners were also able to develop, revise, and refine their interpretive strategies to create compelling programs for teen audiences.

Across our nation, individuals and organizations strive to preserve our natural and cultural resources. The Housatonic- Greenagers partnership puts the next generation at the center of this work, and in doing so not only preserves our heritage but passes on the skills to continue this important work to future generations.

MASSACHUSETTS | Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area | HousatonicHeritage.org

The pastoral hills, forests, and fields of Massachusetts’ Berkshires are home to an innovative partnership that connects area youth with world-class culture. The Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area (Housatonic Heritage) and Greenagers have teamed up to create a unique opportunity to expose teenagers to places of historic and cultural significance.

Centered in and around Great Barrington, MA., the Greenagers program connects area youth with paid stewardship work, school-based field trips, and outdoor activities. Through its paid employment programs, internships, and apprenticeships, Greenagers engages teens and young adults in meaningful work in environmental conservation, sustainable farming, and natural resource management.

By adding cultural landscapes to the Greenagers’ programs, Housatonic Heritage has helped Greenagers to add an extra layer of meaning to their natural resource work and to explore how ‘connection to place’ builds stewardship among future generations.

On behalf of Greenagers, Housatonic Heritage works with cultural organizations to create meaningful interactions between the participants and the cultural site. Partners—including Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Norman Rockwell Museum, and Hancock Shaker Village—have embraced the host work crews and enjoyed the opportunities for youth engagement. With a “captive audience” of teens, the partners were also able to develop, revise, and refine their interpretive strategies to create compelling programs for teen audiences.

Across our nation, individuals and organizations strive to preserve our natural and cultural resources. The Housatonic- Greenagers partnership puts the next generation at the center of this work, and in doing so not only preserves our heritage but passes on the skills to continue this important work to future generations.

MASSACHUSETTS | Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area | HousatonicHeritage.org

In Wheeling, many important stories come together to form our identity. But we like to believe that our slogan, “The Friendly City,” was bestowed on the city based on observation of its residents.

Of course, Wheeling’s designation as a National Heritage Area took other things into account, including Wheeling’s role in commerce and industry. Wheeling’s manufacturing companies helped to build America, and La Belle Iron Works is a key component of this theme.
The company, which began in 1852 as Bailey, Woodward and Company, manufactured cut nails. Using an automatic nail machine, long, flat metal strips were cut and manipulated to form masonry nails.

In the 1870s, La Belle employed 900 people and operated 167 cut nail machines. Wheeling produced nearly a quarter of the nation’s supply of nails during this time – garnering Wheeling another nickname: “Nail City.”

However, innovation led to the industry’s downfall. The company was merged with many others throughout the years, and finally, in 2010, the much-smaller company closed its doors for good.

The building sat empty until 2015, when much of the interior equipment was put up for auction. Wheeling Heritage recognized the significance of La Belle’s paper records – and placed a bid on them. As the only bidder, Wheeling Heritage paid $5 for more than 100 boxes of documents, photos, architectural and engineering drawings.

With help from a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Wheeling Heritage hired an archivist to process these records. The organization then donated them to the Ohio County Public Library.

More than 130 community members came to a presentation announcing the collection in 2018, including a handful of past La Belle employees. They shared stories of their memories at the plant – how their fathers, who also worked there, told them about the horse that used to pull nail barrels across the factory’s floor. As a kid, one of them remembered his dad saying the horse knew when it was break time.

Since then, visitors stop by the reference desk a few times a week asking to see the collection. They want to learn more about the company that employed their families – and gave Wheeling one of its much-earned nicknames.

WHEELING HERITAGE — WEST VIRGINIA (WHEELINGHERITAGE.ORG)

In Wheeling, many important stories come together to form our identity. But we like to believe that our slogan, “The Friendly City,” was bestowed on the city based on observation of its residents.

Of course, Wheeling’s designation as a National Heritage Area took other things into account, including Wheeling’s role in commerce and industry. Wheeling’s manufacturing companies helped to build America, and La Belle Iron Works is a key component of this theme.
The company, which began in 1852 as Bailey, Woodward and Company, manufactured cut nails. Using an automatic nail machine, long, flat metal strips were cut and manipulated to form masonry nails.

In the 1870s, La Belle employed 900 people and operated 167 cut nail machines. Wheeling produced nearly a quarter of the nation’s supply of nails during this time – garnering Wheeling another nickname: “Nail City.”

However, innovation led to the industry’s downfall. The company was merged with many others throughout the years, and finally, in 2010, the much-smaller company closed its doors for good.

The building sat empty until 2015, when much of the interior equipment was put up for auction. Wheeling Heritage recognized the significance of La Belle’s paper records – and placed a bid on them. As the only bidder, Wheeling Heritage paid $5 for more than 100 boxes of documents, photos, architectural and engineering drawings.

With help from a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Wheeling Heritage hired an archivist to process these records. The organization then donated them to the Ohio County Public Library.

More than 130 community members came to a presentation announcing the collection in 2018, including a handful of past La Belle employees. They shared stories of their memories at the plant – how their fathers, who also worked there, told them about the horse that used to pull nail barrels across the factory’s floor. As a kid, one of them remembered his dad saying the horse knew when it was break time.

Since then, visitors stop by the reference desk a few times a week asking to see the collection. They want to learn more about the company that employed their families – and gave Wheeling one of its much-earned nicknames.

WHEELING HERITAGE — WEST VIRGINIA (WHEELINGHERITAGE.ORG)

The mission of the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area is to restore the riverfront of the Lower Colorado River at Yuma, Arizona. So how is it that restoring an historic bridge could help make restoration happen?

There had been a historic divide between the Yuma community and the Quechan Indian Tribe—ever since the U.S. military took control of the Yuma Crossing away from the Quechan in the 1850’s. Distrust and suspicion weighed heavily on the relationship.

Restoration was only going to happen through cooperation between the City and the Tribe. And more than 2/3 of the Yuma East Wetlands was tribal land. The East Wetlands project was also vtechnically challenging, with soil salinity, restricted river flow, and a jungle of dense non-native vegetation covering the waterfront.

“It was going to be difficult to undertake a complex 400-acre restoration effort without close cooperation, and we had not yet earned the trust of the Quechan Tribe”, says Charles Flynn, Heritage Area Director.

Fortunately, Flynn was able to focus on another project that both City and Tribe very much wanted: the restoration and re-opening of the historic “Ocean to Ocean Highway Bridge”. Built in 1915, the bridge connected tribal land to downtown Yuma, but was closed in 1989 for structural deficiencies.

The Heritage Area moved ahead with design and secured $1 million in grants but needed $400,000 in local match. The City agreed to provide $200,000 of the match but wanted the Tribe to enter into a complex Intergovernmental Agreement to assure the Tribe’s share of the match. Flynn worried that an overly legalistic approach would hinder the growing trust among the parties. His worries were put to rest when the Tribe voluntarily provided a check of $200,000, payable to the City of Yuma! “This was the moment when I knew we were building trust”, Flynn said.

Eighteen months later, tribal and city residents met on the bridge to celebrate the re-opening of the bridge which both literally and figuratively reconnected the communities. The partnership has grown ever stronger over the years.

YUMA CROSSING NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA — ARIZONA (YUMAHERITAGE.com)

The mission of the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area is to restore the riverfront of the Lower Colorado River at Yuma, Arizona. So how is it that restoring an historic bridge could help make restoration happen?

There had been a historic divide between the Yuma community and the Quechan Indian Tribe—ever since the U.S. military took control of the Yuma Crossing away from the Quechan in the 1850’s. Distrust and suspicion weighed heavily on the relationship.

Restoration was only going to happen through cooperation between the City and the Tribe. And more than 2/3 of the Yuma East Wetlands was tribal land. The East Wetlands project was also vtechnically challenging, with soil salinity, restricted river flow, and a jungle of dense non-native vegetation covering the waterfront.

“It was going to be difficult to undertake a complex 400-acre restoration effort without close cooperation, and we had not yet earned the trust of the Quechan Tribe”, says Charles Flynn, Heritage Area Director.

Fortunately, Flynn was able to focus on another project that both City and Tribe very much wanted: the restoration and re-opening of the historic “Ocean to Ocean Highway Bridge”. Built in 1915, the bridge connected tribal land to downtown Yuma, but was closed in 1989 for structural deficiencies.

The Heritage Area moved ahead with design and secured $1 million in grants but needed $400,000 in local match. The City agreed to provide $200,000 of the match but wanted the Tribe to enter into a complex Intergovernmental Agreement to assure the Tribe’s share of the match. Flynn worried that an overly legalistic approach would hinder the growing trust among the parties. His worries were put to rest when the Tribe voluntarily provided a check of $200,000, payable to the City of Yuma! “This was the moment when I knew we were building trust”, Flynn said.

Eighteen months later, tribal and city residents met on the bridge to celebrate the re-opening of the bridge which both literally and figuratively reconnected the communities. The partnership has grown ever stronger over the years.

YUMA CROSSING NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA — ARIZONA (YUMAHERITAGE.com)