Archive for the ‘National Parks’ Category

Greetings, Kids!

Today’s piece takes us to the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park. (phew!) Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park is a fairly new part of the park system, officially opening in 1998, and according to the official website, “an entirely new kind of park,” where “human stories and the natural history are intertwined.”

The park is all about conservation, and is a “living symbol of three generations of conservationist thought and practice.”

The property was the childhood home of George Perkins Marsh, one of the first conservationists, later home to Frederick Billings, and finally the Rockefellers. Now I haven’t visited the park, though I’d love to should my travels take me to Vermont, but from what I can tell, it’s a home-site/farm/natural wonderland showcasing conservation history as well as the lives of the three families that lived on the site.

I know. This isn’t exactly atomic touristy, but wait! There’s more!

A FALLOUT SHELTER!

Photo Courtesy the National Park Service, NPS.gov

Photo Courtesy the National Park Service, NPS.gov

The fallout shelter was built in the early Sixties to house 46 people during the apocalypse. Supposedly it was built at the urging of Nelson Rockefeller, governor of New York, who was a Fallout Shelter Enthusiast (totally using that on my Tinder profile). From the photos I’ve seen and the descriptions I’ve read, it’s a pretty standard fallout shelter, except Rockefeller-ish; no there aren’t any gilded bunks or whale bone utensils, everything just looks–nice. And nice is something that is generally not present in fallout shelters.

The shelter has the standard blast doors, decontamination chamber, rows of bunks, foodstuffs, and ventilation system. However something that sets this shelter apart is the shelter’s manual (I want it!) noting that the ventilation system will not filter out fallout, and should simply be switched off during any “events.” Say what? Isn’t that the whole point of the shelter in the first place? I mean…come on, Rockefellers!

The family restocked and kept-up the whole place into the 90s, even though it was never used, which I kind of doubt. I mean, didn’t someone at least have a slumber party in there? I absolutely would have. This makes me wonder if there are similar shelters scattered around the country, being faithfully maintained and stocked in hopes that tomorrow never comes.

If you’re interested in vising, shelter tours are only held during the summer and fall, so you’ll have to wait until next year.

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Lagniappe: The Rockefellers donated the land to the National Park Service in 1998, and asked if the park service wanted the fallout shelter filled in with dirt before donation. Man I’m glad the park service said no!

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I mentioned the USS Cairo Gunboat and Museum and Vicksburg NMP in yesterday’s post. And although there’s nothing “atomic” about the sites, they are definitely worth visiting.

The USS Cairo was one of seven Union (the North–I still get the Union and Confederate confused…I know) gunboats used for the purpose of getting control of the Mississippi River from the Confederate (the South) forces. Now, I really, really don’t care for military history, particularly of the Civil War, so we I won’t really be mentioning much more about the military aspect of the place.

But as for the coolness factor. I’m certainly game to talk about that. The USS Cairo is quite possibly THE definition of steampunk, except, you know, real. You can practically see Will Smith and Kevin Kline coming up with some fantastic contraption beneath deck. And you can visit it!

800px-USS_Cairo_Vicksburg_NB

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