November 18th, 2016

See America’s History on National Wildlife Refuges

See America’s History on National Wildlife Refuges

Lighthouses and forts, shipwreck treasures and long lost cultures: So much of America’s past is found on national wildlife refuges.

In Iowa, you can visit DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge visitor center and museum, where you can find fully-preserved bottles of pickles, brandied cherries and peaches and so many other artifacts from the Steamboat Bertrand. The boat was bound for Montana gold mining territory when it sank in the Missouri River in 1865. All the passengers survived as did some of their stories and belongings. Watch a video called, “Sunken Treasure: The Steamboat Bertrand”.

In Wisconsin, the lifesaving station built on Plum Island in 1896 may be the only one left on the Great Lakes. The Friends of Plum and Pilot Islands in 2007 helped to restore, preserve and manage the islands’ historic and cultural resources. A year later, Plum and Pilot Islands were added to Green Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

In Montana, Peter Whaley and his wife, Hannah, moved to the Bitterroot Valley in 1877. By 1885, they had completed a two-story house of square-hewn logs. The house still stands at Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge as a lasting example of craftsmanship of the late 19th century. Read more of the story.

In Washington, explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark visited Cathlapotle in 1805-1806. They saw one of the largest Chinook villages along the Columbia River and plankhouses that served as people’s homes. You can see a replica on Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.

(Photo: Friends of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge)

In Nevada in the late 19th and early 20th century, Jack Longstreet settled “arguments with a gun and championed those who could not protect themselves.” In 1896, he built his cabin into the side of a mound, giving him private access to an underground spring and food storage area. The stone cabin was restored and opened to the public in 2005.  Take this video walk along the boardwalk from at the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge visitor center to the cabin.

Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is the largest remnant of a million-acre swamp that once covered southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. For 200 years, the swamp was home to “maroons,” escaped slaves whose story is told in the refuge’s Underground Railroad Education Pavilion. (Photo: USFWS)

At the height of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), 64 CCC camps employed 13,000 men in Arkansas, some of them at Dale Bumpers White River National Wildlife Refuge, which had just been established in 1935.  The refuge housed the nation’s only floating quarter boats as living quarters for CCC crews.  Several CCC-era buildings still stand at the refuge.

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