10 National Park History Facts

March 27, 2024

Since its founding in 1916, the National Park System protects and conserves America’s natural beauty and unique cultural history. Take a virtual trip around the country with these National Park history facts and discover some amazing stories of people and places that’ll be around for future generations to visit and enjoy.

A vintage black and white photo of two women working on a military aircraft.

1. Partnerships Between the National Parks and Local Organizations Enrich the Park Experience

The Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California, highlights women’s heroic work assembling massive warships when American men were called to military service. Thanks to the park’s partnership with Richmond Museum Association, park visitors can see and tour the enormous SS Red Oak Victory Ship, the last remaining ship built onsite by the Rosies.

The 'Friendship', a 171 foot reconstruction of a three masted ship built in 1797. The Salem Maritime National Historic Site is operated and maintained by the National Park Service.

2. There are 75 National Historic Sites across the National Park System, Preserving the Country’s Heritage

The Salem Maritime National Historic Site in Salem, Massachusetts, was the first NHS, created in 1938. The nine-acre park is flush with buildings and archeological sites dating back to European settlement of the New World. On a visit to the park, you’ll learn about the early cargo trade, hear whispers of revolution, and find your sea legs on board a replica tall ship.

View of historic fort reconstruction at Grand Portage National Historic Monument.

3. Some National Parks Bring History Alive with Docent-led Reenactments

At the Grand Portage National Monument in Minnesota, see and feel what it was like to do business at this fur trade center where native peoples and Europeans came together to form a community along what was to become the Canada—United States border.

Old wagons on display at Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site.

4. The National Park System Preserves Historical and Culturally Significant Sites

The Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site in Arizona has operated since 1878. The post sells supplies and Navajo-made fine woven rugs and silverwork. Walk the post’s wood floors with log beams overhead, perusing handcrafted baskets, pottery, and jewelry.

5. The Largest Archaeological Dig in America Happened in a National Park

The dig began in 1933 at Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park in Georgia. Eight hundred workers unearthed over 2.5 million artifacts, including pottery, arrowheads, and stone tools that date back to prehistoric times. Over twelve thousand years of human existence have been documented on the grounds of this National Park.

Red rock ruins sit under a cloudy sunset at Kin Kletso at Chaco Culture National Historical Park, New Mexico.

6. Along With Preserving Architectural Features, National Parks Protect the Spirit of a Place

Visitors to New Mexico’s Chaco Culture National Historical Park can experience the ruins of sprawling stone “Great Houses” where Pueblo people gathered and feel the spiritual heart of Chaco Canyon. Astronomical markers, door frames oriented to capture solar and lunar movements, within the ruins are throughout the park. Get to the park early on the spring and fall equinox and summer and winter solstice to watch the sun align through man-made design.

A small garden plot at George Washington Carver National Monument.

7. Some National Parks are Created to Honor the Legacy of Trailblazing Americans

George Washington Carver National Monument in Missouri recounts Carver’s life from the violence of slavery to his innate “plant doctor” skills, inventing ways to consume peanuts and other plant products, and teaching Black farmers sustainable agricultural practices. Walk the contemplative Carver Trail through the forest to his small cabin birthplace.

San Antonio, Texas, USA at Mission Concepcion.

8. A Few National Parks are Recognized as  UNESCO World Heritage Sites

The UNESCO World Heritage Site San Antonio Missions National Historical Park in Texas is a network of four Spanish missions along the San Antonio River. Mission San José, Mission Concepción, Mission San Juan, and Mission Espada date back to the late 1600s and are active Catholic churches today. A mix of Spanish and indigenous culture stem from the mission system focused around religion and farming. Water still flows from the river through the Espada Aqueduct to water mission row crops.

Independence Hall National Historic Park in Philadelphia during sunset.

9. The Birthplace of America is a National Park

Independence National Historical Park in the Old City of Philadelphia is where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were drafted and signed. The park encompasses significant American Revolution sites, including Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. The park’s historic buildings and symbolic artifacts encapsulate the nation’s founding principles of freedom and democracy.

10. Some National Parks are Formed to Honor the Historic Contributions of a Specific Group of People

The Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site in Alabama commemorates the brave Black men and women who fought racism at home and the enemy in war, winning respect on both fronts. The park preserves two WWII-era aircraft hangers and Morton Field, where the pilots and support crews proved their ability to fly aircraft.

Eva Barrows

Eva Barrows is a San Francisco Bay Area freelance writer. Eva writes about local places, people and events on her website She founded the online literary journal Imitation Fruit ( in 2007 and has enjoyed promoting fellow writers and artists ever since.





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