Recent comments

  • Attendance Shortfalls at Steamtown National Historic Site Prompt Calls for Privatization   6 years 5 days ago

    Dear Superheater,

    As much as I understand your points, I must argue. Although Pevsner and Rowland may be all talk and don't really know what they're talking about, their points are true. I've been a loyal fan of Steamtown since its dedication in 1995 and I know that, despite the amount of money the government pours into it and the number of volunteers that give up countless hours to it, Steamtown hasn't really changed at all since its creation. I know that money doesn't go that far and that the NPS is doing their best, but with all due respect, the National Park Service could do better.

    First of all, if Steamtown is trying to tell the story of railroading in the US, why are the only two operational locomotives at the site Canadian. Wouldn't you think to story of railroading would be better told with American locomotives, especially some of the more famous ones at Steamtown, like Nickel Plate #759 and Reading #2124?

    Secondly, if Steamtown only exists to tell that story, a 15 minute train ride around the site full of rusting and rotting rolling stock doesn't portray that story very well. Railroads in their day took care of their rolling stock; if it needed repair, it got it; if it needed new paint, it got it. I know something on that scale isn't cheap, but in the long run, it would do a lot for Steamtown. In relation to mainline excursions, I found the one comment in the other article about Steamtown existing to tell the story of railroading, not for excursions, ridiculous. With the types of engines that Steamtown uses, the story would be better told out on the mainline. Part of the story of railroading are those long excursions. Throughout this entire country, if a railroading museum has live steam or diesel, they have a good expanse of track to run it on.

    Thirdly, since Steamtown is given $5.2 million a year by the government, is it really that hard to save some of it and restore another American locomotive? Think about it. Boston & Maine #3713 costs about 1.3 million to restore and she's not very well known Considering the fame of Nickel Plate #765 and the amount of attention Ohio Central is getting for the restoration of Nickel Plate #763, don't you think their would be more support, donations and volunteers, and in the long run be worth it to restore Nickel Plate #759? She alone would bring a whole lot more people to Steamtown. The only thing really wrong with #759 is that she needs new flues and tubes. You could probably get a couple of those off of NKP #757 in Strasburg. The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania has no intentions of restoring her; I'm pretty sure they wouldn't mind a few things being removed. That alone would bring so many more people to Steamtown, money would soon not be an issue anymore.

    Fourthly, why does Steamtown always submit to other railroads in the area. You're a Federal Park; I think the Federal Government has some influence. Take, for example, the mainline from Scranton north to Binghamton and the wye at Norfolk Southern's Portland yard. You would think the the NPS would really be pushing to use the wye. I know my steam engines and I know running tender-first up a grade like the Pocono Summit grade does more harm than good for a steam engine. It wouldn't even cost that much for the government to step in and say to Canadian Pacific or Norfolk Southern, "You're going to let Steamtown do these things." Especially with Canadian Pacific. After all, Steamtown did give Canada its National Locomotive, Empress 2816.

    In conclusion, I would just like to reiterate that I do understand where you are coming from. Money doesn't grow on trees, and especially for an operation the size of Steamtown, every penny has to be pinched. I just feel that in the long run, things would be a lot better for Steamtown if some things were changed

    Thank You

  • Brady Campaign Sues Interior Department over Concealed Carry in National Parks   6 years 5 days ago

    Gee, 2nd amendment, I can be legally armed but choose not to. Does that make me unpatriotic or soft on crime? I notice that anon above says that the second amendment is somehow connected to God so I must be unreligious, also. And, to top it all, I am defenseless. Think I will go eat a worm.

    Rick Smith

  • Brady Campaign Sues Interior Department over Concealed Carry in National Parks   6 years 5 days ago

    Another bumbling butt-headed mistake by a ANTI-Self defense group. The Brady Campaign against gun violence is a joke. They might as well change their name to The Brady Campaign for Criminal Protection. Anyone who's going to do anything 'Bad' with a gun isn't going 2 give a crap about the laws. I would not visit areas where wild animals live with out a trusty sidearm to defend myself, not to mention there are so few law enforcement officers in our nations parks that calling 911 would only give then a heads up as to where to find your body if you were being attacked. Some people need to stop living in lala land and realize that the person who is most responsible for their-own safety is themselves and that every citizen who can be legally armed should be at all times in order to take back this country from criminals who prey on the defenseless (those who don't carry a gun). This suit is a waste of money and time.

    Editor's note: This comment was edited to conform with the Traveler's code of conduct.

  • NRA Appeals Ruling Blocking Concealed Carry in National Parks   6 years 5 days ago

    "The best tool of self-defense for women and the elderly is the gun."

    Columbia, SC • June 9, 2008. A 4-year-old girl shot herself in the chest after grabbing her
    grandmother’s handgun while riding in a shopping cart in a Sam’s Club store.

    The best tool of self defense for women and the elderly is common sense; and possibly a course in self defense or a can of pepper spray.

  • Spring Openings on Tap for Shenandoah National Park   6 years 5 days ago

    Well, Dave, with some of the bizarre weather we've seen lately -- here in Park City we had 70-degree weather about three weeks ago, now it's raining and there's snow forecast for tonight into Thursday -- I'd hate to venture much, but judging from the photos of past wildflower weekends, I'd say the park will indeed be green, though probably not as green as in mid-June or July.

  • Spring Openings on Tap for Shenandoah National Park   6 years 5 days ago


    Any idea when Shenandoah might be in bloom? I'm wondering if the leaves will be on the trees and things green by the first of May? I know the wildflower bloom festival is the next weekend but was just curious if you thought the park might be green by then?


  • NPCA: Climate Change Greatest Threat Facing the National Park System   6 years 5 days ago

    Wow, Frank C. gives me a link to a paper written in 1998, someone else tries to rephrase my question, but changes it entirely. Hey Frank C. Here is a link for you:

    Original Anonymous: I did not ask if CO2 changed the climate, I asked what the naysayers thought happened when we raised the CO2 levels.

  • Sky Diving at Denali National Park? A Florida-Based Company Thinks It's a Great Idea   6 years 5 days ago

    NPS gets the shaft on park concessionaire's like a giant buffet for the giant companies.

  • Sky Diving at Denali National Park? A Florida-Based Company Thinks It's a Great Idea   6 years 5 days ago

    Companies conduct for-profit business in our National Parks every day.

    Sadly this abuse of Our National Parks is true.
    Personally I will not be satisfied until all such profits are added to Our National Parks coffers for the benefit and enjoyment of all citizens.

  • Sky Diving at Denali National Park? A Florida-Based Company Thinks It's a Great Idea   6 years 6 days ago

    Companies conduct for-profit business in our National Parks every day. At Denali, climbing companies make money escorting people up the mountain and air taxi services make money selling flightseeing tours over the park. Perhaps the elitists are those who think our National Parks belong to them and them alone. In reality, national parks are for the use and enjoyment of all citizens....including those who can afford a $25,000 skydive.

  • Orchards Being Replanted at Gettsyburg National Military Park to Recreate 1860s Appearance   6 years 6 days ago

    Actually, this replanting has been going on is amazing to stand near the battlefields and picture what it must have been like. This is not to mention the strong spiritual feeling of standing where so many fellow Americans and relatives fell. Finally, the Dept of Interior is getting it right.

  • Brady Campaign Sues Interior Department over Concealed Carry in National Parks   6 years 6 days ago

    Dave -

    Despite your stated intentions, I still hope you'll follow the park's excellent advice:

    If you see any activity which looks illegal, suspicious, or out of place, please do not intervene.

    Therein lies one of the possible pitfalls for people carrying concealed weapons. I believe you'll be hard-pressed to find many cases of visitors actually observing some of that drug smuggling activity - and cases of visitors being threatened by such activity at Big Bend are even rarer (if they exist at all.) However, a guaranteed way to make any such encounter worse is for an untrained citizen to pull out his concealed handgun.

    I understand your point is to be able to use your concealed weapon in self-defense, but drug runners in remote locations aren't looking for a fight, and the last thing they want to do is attract attention to themselves by accosting park visitors. Follow the park's advice, stay out of the middle of such situations, and pass the information along as soon as possible.

  • Aging Activists Gather at Congaree National Park to Recall a Nick-of-Time Rescue   6 years 6 days ago

    Lots of people have never heard of Congaree National Park, Jess. Publicity has been stepped up since the park was redesignated (from National Monument) nearly six years ago, but Congaree is still one of the better kept secrets. Since you're interested in photographing big trees, you should be aware that light conditions are apt to be a bit tricky because the canopy is closed over extensive areas, leaving just filtered light on the forest floor. Another problem is the sheer size of the forest giants. Often, getting it all in is just not possible, so it's common for photographers to have somebody stand near the base of a tree "for scale" when they take the picture. To see the best giant trees you'll need to float the Cedar Creek Canoe Trail or walk one of the dirt trails (which is not to say that the trees you can see from the boardwalk are slouches). Heavy rains in the Congaree-Broad-Saluda watershed can put the dirt trails underwater or leave them too muddy to use, so if your travel schedule is flexible it's always a good idea to phone ahead. Have fun! Bob

  • Brady Campaign Sues Interior Department over Concealed Carry in National Parks   6 years 6 days ago

    We were planning a trip to Big Bend National park in Texas, which borders Mexico. One of the things it says right on the NATIONAL PARK website:

    "Visitors should be aware that drug smuggling routes pass through the park. If you see any activity which looks illegal, suspicious, or out of place, please do not intervene. Note your location. Call 911 or report it to a ranger as quickly as possible." --

    I'm excited about the Brady Campaign because they will make it illegal for drug smugglers to carry guns through the national park, which means everyone in Big Bend should be safe. I guess there's going to be some bins or something at the border where the smugglers can deposit their guns. And after they make gun laws maybe the Brady Campaign could focus on some illegal drug laws too, maybe setup some more bins at the border for the runners to drop off their pot and cocaine.

    But until then, I'm headed out to Big Bend to enjoy nature and I'll be carrying a concealed handgun with me in case one of the "safest places in the nation" ends up being not so safe. And the best part is, you'll never know, because it's concealed :)

  • Designations Just One Example of Disparities Within the National Park System. Web Sites Are Another   6 years 6 days ago

    Thanks to everyone for this engaging conversation and for your interest in the design and information quality of park websites on I manage the NPS web team, which works to make certain that every park, regardless of resources or size, has at least a basic web presence to help visitors get to and enjoy their parks. Although I formerly worked at a park, I cannot speak to how parks choose what or how much content that they provide since the choice of how each park's resources is allocated lies with their management. However, since I've been with the NPS web team for a decade, work with every park and office and see behind the scenes, I thought that it might benefit this dialogue if I clear up some of the confusion about our site.

    It is true that we have begun to use a content management system (CMS) to manage our site, primarily because it provides our park and national program subject matter experts the ability to more quickly develop content rather than focus their resources on web development and design. Thus, instead of having a single web expert versed in web technologies (HTML, etc.) who is the only person that can manage a park's website, we now have some parks with up to 20-25 authors adding content to their sites (including employees, volunteers, partners and contractors), and there is no limit to how much content they can provide (some parks now have sites with a thousand or more pages). For those parks that do have web expertise at their disposal, those skills are now focused on more advanced content, such as flash features, webcams, video and podcasts.

    While this system can seem a bit constraining to the aspiring designer, the consistent design allows our visitors to focus on the information rather than constantly relearning the look and feel, which should be (and is) one of our usability goals. When you are serving many millions of visitors a month, many of them first timers to, consistency can be key to their experience. However, this post originated as a discussion on information quality, and any variations in that quality are now more apparent because of our consistent presentation. This has not gone unnoticed by NPS management and our team, and thus, we have started working with offices and parks to address the issue.

    In addition, as one poster pointed out above, there are numerous legal requirements to which we are bound to adhere. Trying to manage those requirements across 600,000+ pages and approximately 2,000 web authors can be extremely difficult without a CMS. Now, though, as an example, if we have to address a Section 508 issue in a design, we can do it once to a handful of templates that then automatically correct the issue throughout the site. It's impossible to automate every requirement, but the more pressure that we can take off of our parks and allow them to focus more on serving the visitor and caring for the resources, the better.

    We have only just begun to reap the benefits of moving to a CMS. Since we're still in transition, we've got a ways to go before all of the tools are in place.There are some legal and policy barriers that affect our ability to do so more quickly, but our management is working to address those issues as well. This system puts us in a good position, though, to respond to the public's desire for more interaction, transparency and sharing of data. The NPS is the steward of a wealth of information about our national treasures, some of it managed by the individual parks and some of it not. When our site was static HTML, it was often not easy to find all of this information. Slowly but surely, though, we are making all of this information more discoverable and at the fingertips of our stakeholders, the American public (and our global audience, as well).

    As I've indicated, there is often more at play than meets the eye, and sometimes even a bit of confusion about what we are doing (for example, we have not removed any park content from unless requested by the managing park or park's regional office). However, I can assure you that we work diligently on the parks and national programs' behalf, looking for ways that we can help them achieve their goals and the NPS mission, while at the same time working within the framework provided to us by Congress, OMB and our Department.

    Thanks again, and if anyone has additional feedback that you feel would benefit our efforts (including constructive's all welcome!), please feel free to email me anytime.
    Tim Cash
    Acting NPS Web Manager

  • Interior Secretary Salazar Sends $15.2 Million to USGS Volcano Observatories to Improve Monitoring   6 years 6 days ago

    Volcano plumes also can bring airplanes down. It's essential for the safety of air traffic that we have up-to-date information on ash from volcanoes. I live about 50 miles from Mt. St. Helens, though I'm not in the path of any possible lahars.

  • Designations Just One Example of Disparities Within the National Park System. Web Sites Are Another   6 years 1 week ago

    Thanks for the insights from the inside, Tim. Providing templates is one thing, finding enough folks with the time to populate them is another;-)

    The additional multimedia content that more and more parks are providing hasn't been overlooked. Indeed, it's been a valuable resource for the Traveler and well-received by many of our readers.

    As you noted, the NPS stewards a wealth of information. Bringing much of that to the Internet is a great way to help educate and inform the public about those treasures in their backyards.

  • At the Lincoln Memorial, Marian Anderson Delivered an Easter Sunday Performance for the Ages   6 years 1 week ago

    Thanks for sharing, LD. I never got the chance to see Marian Anderson perform, much less get to meet her personally. Wow! That anecdote about the piano pedal is a hoot. Marian had a tremendous stage presence and seemed to know how to handle any situation.

  • At the Lincoln Memorial, Marian Anderson Delivered an Easter Sunday Performance for the Ages   6 years 1 week ago

    Random, I didn't even know that Eleanor Roosevelt was a DAR member. Not surprising that she resigned. She was an activist on a lot of fronts and was never afraid to speak her mind. Quite a lady.

  • Sky Diving at Denali National Park? A Florida-Based Company Thinks It's a Great Idea   6 years 1 week ago

    At incredible-adventures website tickets are already on sale.
    Our Wilderness, National Monuments and Parks are not a commodity to be sold for profit by private elitist corporations.

  • Sky Diving at Denali National Park? A Florida-Based Company Thinks It's a Great Idea   6 years 1 week ago

    Mr Burnett failed to mention the reason for my confidence in our jump team. Jump leaders are former members of the elite US Special Forces and train NATO forces from around the world in military freefall. A special forces medic/flight surgeon will jump with every group. Staff are highly trained in wilderness survival and will jump with their own arctic survival gear. The jump equipment they use is the same equipment trusted by our US military. They have sophisticated GPS and communication systems. He also failed to mention that this is to be a one time event. There is no plan to do this again. This isn't a normal skydive and the costs and challenges are high.

    Last year, some of these same jumpers were the first to skydive over Mt Everest. Government officials there welcomed jumpers with open arms and encouraged organizers to come back. Another Everest Skydive is being planned for this October.

  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   6 years 1 week ago

    i'm headed back to grant grove in two weeks for work, and would be really disapointed if i have to listen to cell phones all summer. if you need your phone that bad, stay home and out of nature.

  • Injuries From Fall Prove Fatal to 73-Year-Old Hiker In Great Smoky Mountains National Park   6 years 1 week ago

    I knew Robert and his wife, Judy. My wife and I have hiked many trails with them . They are excellent botanists and have wide knowledge of wildflowers in the southeast US. Knowing the two of them, I am sure they were on a hike to view pink and yellow ladyslippers which are known on that trail. I will miss Robert and his gentle kindness. My sympathies are with his family.

  • The Forge of Vulcan   6 years 1 week ago

    It is a classic. The guitar work in the background distinctly sets it apart as being made in the late 70's and early 80's. It was well written and very enjoyable. Thanks for making it available. I wonder how many such documentaries that have been made over the last century are lying in a vault or perhaps a cardboard box, waiting to be rediscovered. What treasures.


  • At the Lincoln Memorial, Marian Anderson Delivered an Easter Sunday Performance for the Ages   6 years 1 week ago

    Not long before I managed to start a Park Service career in Yellowstone, I had the great privilege of attending the last public concert given by Marian Anderson in Cleveland, Ohio. Through a mix-up by the ticket office, my date and I were seated in about the fifth row center directly in front of the stage. Surrounding us were many dignitaries of the time including Roy Wilkins of the NAACP. As she sang, Ms. Anderson was acutely annoyed because every time her pianist stepped on one of the pedals below the piano, it squeaked badly. She finally stopped the concert while a stage hand came forth with an old-fashioned pump oil can, applied a few drops and stopped the squeaking. After the concert, Roy Wilkins invited my date and I backstage where we had the grand opportunity to meet and greet Marian Anderson.

    It was one of those always-to-be-remembered moments.