Greetings from Colonial National Historical Park

I still remember when I fell in love with US History. It was April 8, 1957, at the Hamilton Redoubt at Yorktown. I know this because my dad numbered, indexed, and date stamped his slides. We were there for the Jamestown 350th. I remember scrambling up that redoubt and thinking what it would have been like to do that for real. I was hooked.

And ever since, I’ve thought traveling to the place is the best way to learn about history. Fortunately, my parents indulged this habit. Later that year we made our first trip to Gettysburg and later yet we went to Boston and did all the Johnny Tremain places: Old North Church, Faneuil Hall, Lexington Green, Concord Bridge, etc.

These visits had long-lasting effects. I always used history in my work, I’ve continued to travel to parks, and I spent the last 10 years of my career teaching US History to English as a Second Language students. When it came time to retire last year, no place made more sense: we bought a house whose back property line is the Gettysburg National Military Park. Now I’m a regular volunteer with the park’s resource room and education department and am writing a book about my family’s 76+ year experience exploring national parks.

Leon Reed

Colonial National Historical Park

Colonial National Historical Park contains several sites of critical importance in the history of America. Historic Jamestown is where the story of Captain John Smith and Pocahontas actually happened, and where the roots of American government first took hold. Yorktown Battlefield was the site of the Colonial victory over British forces in the American Revolution, and where visitors can still view some of the original earthworks constructed by George Washington’s troops. These two sites are linked together by the 23-mile long scenic Colonial Parkway, specifically designed to limit the impacts of the roadway on the surrounding landscape.

State(s): Virginia

Established: 1930

“There is no place on earth where you can see the national wonders or come face to face with the historic events that you can in the national parks. In my encounters with Park Staff, ranger campfire talks, guided walks and at information desks, I have found them to be sincere, knowledgeable, and dedicated. Without national parks, we literally would have lost our history and our greatest scenic wonders.”

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