5 National Parks that Celebrate Innovation

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If there's one thing that stands out in the lifelong history of our national parks, it's the continued innovation that the parks represent. As we look back at 100 years of the National Park Service, we're reminded that the people to whom some of these parks are dedicated — individuals like the Wright Brothers, Thomas Edison, and George Washington Carver — didn't look back, they looked forward. So here's to the innovators, to the past hundred years, and to the future hundred.

WRIGHT BROTHERS NATIONAL MEMORIAL

The eventual importance of powered flight over the last century can't be overstated. On Dec. 17, 1903, after four years of experimentation, brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright achieved what was thought to be unimaginable on an unassuming stretch of beach on the coast of North Carolina. Today, the site of that massive achievement is preserved as Wright Brothers National Memorial

STEAMTOWN NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE


Trains took us west and brought incalculable changes to every aspect of American life. Learn about the trains, their history, and the people who built them at Steamtown National Historic Site. Workshop tours and passenger rides on vintage locomotives make this park a can't-miss. 

THOMAS EDISON NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK


Thomas Edison was many things, among them a ruthless businessman and a shrewd self-promoter, but his status as a great American innovator is beyond dispute. In addition to perfecting the incandescent light bulb, Edison was behind advancements that range from the phonograph record to the alkaline battery. His home and laboratory are now open to the public at Thomas Edison National Historical Park.  

SAUGUS IRON WORKS NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE

Touring the waterwheels, active forges, and mills at Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site is a transportive experience, taking you back to the very beginning of the iron and steel industry in North America. It was here, along a trickling stream in the young Massachusetts Colony, that European iron workers in the Seventeenth century brought their unusual skill and innovation to the first prosperous iron works in the New World.

GEORGE WASHINGTON CARVER NATIONAL MONUMENT

Renowned for more than 100 uses for the peanut, George Washington Carver was likewise an influential educator, botanist, and humanitarian whose advances in agricultural science helped countless families sustain themselves by growing their own crops. George Washington Carver National Monument preserves this innovator's childhood home, surrounded by woods, where he developed his lifelong passion for the natural world.

BONUS: MORE HISTORIC PLACES

Lots of other places across the country reflect our history of innovation. While they are not actually national parks, these locations on the National Registry of Historic Places are, in many ways, just as important: 
  • Motor Cities National Heritage Area - A collection of historical sites in the Detroit area, Motor Cities National Heritage Area includes the factory where Henry Ford created the Model T. 
  • Voila Laboratory & Bureau - This national historic landmark in Washington, D.C., was constructed in 1893 under the direction of Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone. 
  • Locust Grove - Overlooking the Hudson River in Poughkeepsie, New York, Locust Grove Estate includes the laboratory of inventor Samuel Morse. 
When you visit these parks and historic sites, be sure to share your memories at FindYourPark.com. Who knows — the record of your travels might still be floating around somewhere in another hundred years.

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