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Delaware's first national monument is the nation's 400th parkland

March 27, 2013|By Mary Forgione | Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger
  • Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) right, speaks during a ceremony in New Castle, Del., on Tuesday at First State National Monument. Seated behind Carper, from left, are Vice President Joe Biden, New Castle Mayor Donald Reese and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) right, speaks during a ceremony in New Castle,… (Patrick Semansky / Associated…)

Delaware has 689 historic places, 13 historic landmarks and now one national monument. President Obama created five new national monuments Monday, including the first one for Delaware and the 400th unit of the National Park Service.

First State National Monument (Delaware was first to ratify the U.S. Constitution) includes several colonial sites, starting with Dover Green, where the legislature met to make its historic vote in 1787, and the New Castle Court House, where the then colony voted to separate from Britain. 

The biggest part of the new parkland is what's called the Woodlawn Tract, 1,100 acres of woods that straddles the border with Pennsylvania. On the site are homes that date to early Quakers who settled the area as well as natural features such as the Brandywine River. The monument also tells the stories of the Finns and Swedes who came to live in the colony 375 years ago.

"Up until yesterday, the First State was the only state in our great nation without a unit of the national park system, and that was a loss not just for Delaware but for our entire country,” Delaware Sen. Tom Carper said Tuesday in a statement. "This national monument corrects that omission and tells a more complete story of our country by sharing Delaware's early colonial settlement and involvement in the birth of this great nation."

Other new sites designated Monday include two in the West: San Juan Islands National Monument in Washington state that protects a string of 450 "islands, rocks and pinnacles" in Puget Sound, and Rio Grande del Norte in New Mexico that covers more than 240,000 acres northwest of Taos.

Two others are tributes to African American heroes: Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument on the Eastern Shore in Maryland and Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Ohio.

To create the national parklands, Obama invoked the Antiquities Act of 1907, which allows him to recognize historically significant landmarks without Congress' approval.
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