New Philadelphia National Historic Site established as America’s 424th national park

New Philadelphia National Historic Site has been established as the newest national park to commemorate the history of early 19th century Black pioneers in Illinois. This milestone and several others were achieved after President Biden signed bills into law in recent days that will help preserve places, communities, and previously untold stories that tell a more complete history of our country through the National Park System.  

Located near Barry, Illinois, New Philadelphia is the first town known to be officially registered by an African American. Frank McWorter, once an enslaved man, bought his freedom and the freedom of 15 family members by mining for crude niter in Kentucky caves and processing the mined material into saltpeter, by hiring his time to other settlers, and by selling lots in New Philadelphia, the town he founded. The site became a National Historic Landmark on January 16, 2009. New Philadelphia National Historic Site is now the 424th park in the National Park System.  

The protection of the original town’s location as a national historic site will permanently safeguard it for future generations and help preserve the important stories of Frank McWorter and others from the first African American town in the United States. The National Park Service (NPS) will work to establish a presence at New Philadelphia National Historic Site so that visitors can journey to the park and learn from the legacy of Frank McWorter. 

“We welcome New Philadelphia National Historic Site as the 424th national park and invite all to learn about the town and those who lived there. The designation of New Philadelphia National Historic Site ensures that Frank McWorter’s struggle, sacrifices and legacy will never be forgotten,” said NPS Director Chuck Sams. “It is an honor to steward these parks and programs that preserve the diverse pieces of our nation’s history.” 

Other provisions in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 and other end-of-session bills that will add to the tapestry of natural, cultural, and historic resources the NPS protects, preserves, and interprets include: 

  • Redesignating Pullman National Monument as a National Historical Park. Pullman National Monument was established in 2015 to recognize the community’s influence on urban planning and designs as well as its importance in the United States labor movement, including the 1894 Pullman Strike and Boycott. The site’s redesignation as a National Historical Park recognizes the historical resources that reflect the industrial and labor history associated with the Pullman Company, including the rise and role of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and the history of urban planning and design, of which the planned company town of Pullman is a nationally significant example. The historical resources within this site are a testament to the evolution of American industry, the rise of unions and the labor movement, the lasting strength of urban design, and the remarkable journey of the Pullman porters toward the civil rights movement of the 20th century. 
  • Establishing the Japanese American World War II History Network in the NPS and making the Norman Y. Mineta Japanese American Confinement Education Grants Program part of the Japanese American Confinement Sites Program. The network and program work to preserve sites used to confine Japanese Americans during World War II and fund educative efforts of preserving the important history of Japanese American confinement. The work of the network and grant program helps honor the people who were incarcerated through the sharing of their stories and allows all park visitors to learn from the difficult stories of formerly incarcerated Japanese Americans.  
  • Designating the Ukraine Independence Park in Washington, DC. The park — bound by 22nd Street NW, P Street NW, and Florida Avenue NW — contains the Taras Shevchenko Memorial, which was dedicated in 1964. Shevchenko, a 19th Century Ukrainian poet and artist, spent many years imprisoned for his pro-Ukrainian independence activities in Tsarist Russia. He is revered for his literary works and self-sacrificing contributions to the people of Ukraine. The Ukranian Independence Park represents support for the Ukrainian people’s right to a free and independent state. 
  • Designating the Butterfield Overland National Historic Trail. The Butterfield Overland Mail Company, also known as the Butterfield Stage, held a United States Mail contract to transport mail and passengers over the “ox-bow route” between the eastern termini of St. Louis, Missouri, and Memphis, Tennessee, and the western terminus of San Francisco, California. The postal route and stagecoach service operated from 1858 to 1861. With the advent of the Civil War, this southern mail route was discontinued and moved farther north. The route served a critical need at that time, tying disparate parts of the country together and providing an overland route that ran entirely within the continent’s borders. 
  • Establishing the Chilkoot National Historic Trail within Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. During the Klondike Gold Rush from 1897 to 1898, thousands of men, women and children used the trail to travel from Dyea, Alaska, to Lake Bennett, British Columbia. Today, over 10,000 people a year enjoy this 33-mile recreational trail where they can find hundreds of artifacts left behind by gold seekers alongside the trail. Establishing this route as a National Historic Trail allows the NPS to preserve this trail and the surrounding artifacts for visitors to enjoy for generations to come.     
  • Designating seven new National Heritage Areas (NHAs): Alabama Black Belt, Bronzeville-Black Metropolis, Downeast Maine, Northern Neck, St Croix, Southern Campaign of the Revolution and Southern Maryland. The NPS intimately works with local communities in NHAs to preserve local history, support sustainable economic development and protect natural and cultural resources. These newly designated National Heritage Areas will build interest in local heritage and stories while boosting and supporting local economies. 
  • Adding to the protection of important historical and natural resources by expanding the boundaries of several existing parks, including: the addition of 97 acres to Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument in Arizona, the addition of the Nystrom Elementary School to Rosie the Riveter/WWII Homefront National Historical Park in California, the addition of 46 acres within the boundary of Cane River Creole National Historical Park in Louisiana, expansion of Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield to include Newtonia Battlefield in Missouri, authorization to acquire property for a visitor center at Ste. Genevieve National Historical Park in Missouri, and authorization to acquire 166 acres — including the remains of Fort Brown — as an addition to Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park in Texas. 
  • Addition of two new rivers to the Wild and Scenic Rivers System: the York River, in Maine, and the Housatonic River, in Connecticut, have been added to this collection of exceptional rivers that are designated to protect their free-flowing condition, water quality, and outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational values for the enjoyment of present and future generations. 

The NPS works closely with many stakeholders dedicated to the preservation of these important places. Their dedication helps the NPS tell new stories and share a more complete history of the United States. 

Source: National Park Service

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