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Wind Cave National Park: A most unusual cave and wildlife preserve

Wind Cave Entrance

Wind Cave Entrance

Fun Facts About Wind Cave National Park

Wind Cave National Park is located in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Tom and Jesse Bingham are credited with the discovery of Wind Cave in 1881.

Exploration has revealed 87 miles of passageways to date, which makes Wind Cave the fifth largest cave system in the United States, and eighth in the world.

The Cave gets its name from the wind that blows through, which during March-August of 1985 was measured to be >75 mph (120 kph) is highest recorded measurement at Walk-In Entrance before revolving door was installed. The highest recorded measurement at the Natural Entance was 25 mph (40 kph). North Room 0.28-1.75 mph (.5-2.8 kph).

An average of 1,000,000 ft³ (28317 m³) of air from the cave is exchanged with the surface each hour.

The Park features the most boxwork of any known cave and the most complex 3D rectilinear maze cave (network maze).

The Park also features one of the most diverse mineralogical and speleothem assemblages and one of the largest barometric wind caves in the United States.

Boxwork - a rare rock formation, or "speleothem"

Boxwork - a rare rock formation, or "speleothem"

Other natural features of the Cave are helictite bushes, quartz rinds, logomites, hydromagnesite ballons, dogtooth and nailhead spar, quartz, christmas trees, button popcorn, sawtooth flowstone, gypsum luster, flowers, starbursts, and hair conulites.

Wind Cave is over 300 million years old, making it one of the oldest in the world. Besides extreme age, other features make Wind Cave unique. The cave is large and extremely complex, the 81 miles of known cave (1998) fit under one square mile of land. The boxwork is rare and found in few other caves. Wind Cave has undergone many geological changes and the processes continue.

The Cave’s boundaries are within a 1.1 by 1.3 mile rectangle (370.4 ha) on the surface.

The park was heavily exploited during it’s early days. Many features were removed, names carved on walls, and a lot of trash and outside debris was brought in.

On Jan 3, 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt signed the bill creating Wind Cave National Park. It was the seventh national park and the first one created to protect a cave. The parklands at that time were small and there were no bison, elk, or pronghorn. They came later as the park boundaries expanded.

In 1912, the American Bison Society was looking for a place to reestablish a bison herd. Because of the excellent prairie habitat around the park, a national game preserve was established bordering Wind Cave. It was managed by the U.S. Biological Survey. In 1913 and 1914, the animals began to arrive. Fourteen bison came from the New York Zoological Society, twenty-one elk arrived from Wyoming and thirteen pronghorn came from Alberta, Canada.

In July of 1935, the game preserve became part of Wind Cave National Park. During the early years of the preserve, the animals were kept in small enclosures. Eventually, it was realized that they needed more space. The bison and elk needed additional forage and the pronghorn needed room to escape from predators. With the help of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), fences within the park were removed. And in 1946, 16,341 additional acres were added, enlarging the park to 28,059 acres.

Aside from the Cave, the park is a nature preserve for bison and other fauna

Aside from the Cave, the park is a nature preserve for bison and other fauna

Serious exploration of the caves did not begin until 1956, and during 1963 to 1965 major additions to the known territory of Wind Cave were made.

In the 1970’s and 80’s, managers continued to focus on caring for the wildlife and rangeland by building an understanding of how the natural systems should function. The reintroduction of fire as a natural means to improve the range and to limit the expansion of the forest onto the prairie was researched. An active fire program was started, with the first prescribed fire occurring in 1972.

Exploration is still on going today (and the ranks of which cave is largest changes frequently).

Wind Cave National Park is open year round with visitation the highest in June, July and August and lowest in December, January and February.

The length of the surveyed cave is 135 miles (217.26 kilometers).

The deepest point surveyed are the underground lakes, which are 654 feet (199.3 m) below the highest point in the cave.

On the banks of Wind Cave's underground lake

On the banks of Wind Cave's underground lake

Not only does Wind Cave National Park protect the 87 miles of passageways below it, but is home to a host of Black Hills features including mountains, ponderosa forest, prairies, and the most miles of established, maintained, hiking trails of all of the National Park facilities located in South Dakota.

Wind Cave National Park by default is also an excellent jumping off point to see other Black Hills attractions like Custer State Park, Mt. Rushmore National Memorial, Jewel Cave National Monument, and the Crazy Horse Memorial.

Calcite Rafts, a thin layer of calcite stone, floats on the top of the lakes.  The unusual stone formation will sink when the surface tension of the water is broken.  These formations have been found in dry parts of the cave, adding to the evidence that the water levels in the Black Hills have rose and receded over the millennium, creating the numerous caves we can see today.

Wind Cave National Park also offers a wider variety of tours and programs for visitors than it’s smaller sibling to the west, Jewel Cave National Monument.

 

Special thanks to wind.cave.national-park.comoutdoorplaces.com and nps.gov

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Valley Forge: Washington’s Frost-bitten Army Encampment During the American Revolution

General George Washington at Valley Forge

General George Washington at Valley Forge

Facts About Valley Forge

 

“To see men without clothes to cover their nakedness, without blankets to lie upon, without shoes … without a house or hut to cover them until those could be built, and submitting without a murmur, is a proof of patience and obedience which, in my opinion, can scarcely be paralleled.”
-George Washington at Valley Forge,
April 21, 1778

 

  • General Washington's headquarters

    General Washington's headquarters

    g the winter of of 1777-1778 the prospect of more fighting during the war for Independence, was not possible because of the weather, and the poor condition of Washington’s troops. They had fought their last battle of 1777 at White Marsh, and he had decided to rest his troops at a relatively safe and secure position at Valley Forge.

  • Named for an iron forge on Valley Creek, the area was close enough to the British to keep their raiding and foraging parties out of the interior of Pennsylvania, yet far enough away to halt the threat of British surprise attacks.
  • The poorly fed, ill-equipped army, weary from long marches, struggled into Valley Forge, and the winds blew cold, as the 12,000 Continentals prepared for winter’s fury.
  • The first properly constructed hut appeared in three days. Within six weeks, more than a thousand huts were finished to provide shelter for the rag-tag army. But everything thing else, food, clothing, shoes, and medicines were left wanting.
  • Because of the harsh conditions, and lack of supplies, it is hardly remembered that over 2000 men died, without a shot being fired.
  • Disease at Valley Forge was rampant. Sanitary conditions in the 18th Century were very poor. Small pox, typhoid or typhus (known as putrid fever), pneumonia, and dysentery were some.
  • Valley Forge Arrival

    Valley Forge Arrival

    Most of the troops were inoculated for small pox at Valley Forge, but these men were usually on an inactive status because they were quarantined.

  • It is a little known fact, that more Americans died during this winter, than at the battles of Brandywine and Germantown combined.
  • It is also a little known fact, that over 5000 Americans of African descent served in Washington’s army. African American men were active members on the battlefield, a mixture of freed and enslaved men who took up arms.
  • After the war had ended, a resolution passed by Congress in 1779 decreed that any enslaved man serving with the Continental Army, upon the termination of their service, would be a freed man. And while a majority of men of African descent were freed, a large portion of them were not.
  • Also not widely known is the fact that a great number of Native Americans from the Oneida Indian Nation in particular had a crucial impact during the Valley Forge encampment.
  • Washington’s troops were the most racially integrated of any American army fielded, up until Vietnam.
  • So severe were conditions at times that Washington despaired that the army might have to be disbanded, and every man let go to forage for himself. But with the help of men like General Christopher Ludwig, Friedich Von Steuben, Henry Knox, and a host of Camp followers that consisted of the families, wives, children, mothers, and sisters of the soldiers, who were continually trying to help and raise the morale of Washington’s men, the army survived.
  • Huts for the soldiers

    Huts for the soldiers

    On June 19 1778, after training all winter and their ordeal finally over, they left Valley Forge to pursue the British, and continue the war for Independence.

  • One of Valley Forge’s first tourist attractions was the historic house now called Washington’s Headquarters, dedicated in 1879 by the Centennial and Memorial Association of Valley Forge.
  • One of the earliest people to come as a tourist (and write about the experience) was John Fanning Watson who visited in 1828.
  • The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania established its first state park at Valley Forge in 1893.
  • Valley Forge became a National Park in 1976, for the Bicentennial.

 

Special thanks to authorsden.com and ushistory.org

 

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Alaska: The United States’ 49th and Largest State

Alaska, 49th State of the United States

Alaska, 49th State of the United States

Fun Facts About Alaska

2 CentsIn 1867, United States Secretary of State William H. Seward offered Russia $7,200,000. How much was that per acre?

two cents.

Where does the word ‘Alaska’ come from?

An Eskimo word Alakshak meaning great lands or peninsula.

Rhode Island can fit into Alaska 425 timesHow many times could Rhode Island fit into Alaska?

425.

What is Alaska’s official state sport?

dog mushing. The Alaska Legislature adopted this in 1972.

Anchorage, AK

Anchorage, AK

What is Alaska’s largest city in population?

Anchorage. Alaska’s second largest city is Fairbanks. The third is Juneau.

Secretary of State, William Seward circa 1860-1865

Secretary of State, William H. Seward circa 1860-1865

On what date did Alaska officially became the property of the United States?

October 18, 1867. The purchase of Alaska was called ‘Seward’s Folly’ by many Americans.

What is Alaska’s official state gemstone?

Jade.

Alaska State Flag

Alaska State Flag

In what year did Bennie Benson design Alaska’s state flag?

1926. Bennie Benson was only 13 years old when he designed Alaska’s state flag.

Mt. Augustine

Mt. Augustine

In what year did Mount Augustine erupt?

1986. Mt. Augustine is 104 miles southwest of Anchorage.

Tongass National Forest

Tongass National Forest

True or False? Alaska contains the largest national forest in the United States.

True . The name of this forest is the Tongass National Forest.

Juneau, capital of Alaska

Juneau, capital of Alaska

True or False? Juneau is only accessible by boat or plane.

True . It is the only capital city in the United States that is only accessible by boat or plane.

Prospect Creek Camp

Prospect Creek Camp

What is the lowest recorded temperature for Alaska?

-80 degrees F. This temperature was recorded at Prospect Creek Camp in 1971.

The Yukon River

The Yukon River

How many rivers does Alaska have?

Over 3,000. The largest of these is the Yukon, which flows for 1,980 miles into the Bering Sea.

Barrow, AK

Barrow, AK

What Alaskan city is the northernmost in the US?

Barrow. It’s only 800 miles from the North Pole. Wonder if Santa stops there first?

Libby Riddle

Libby Riddle

What is Alaskan Libby Riddles noted for?

First woman to win the Iditarod. In 1985 she won the Iditarod, Alaska’s famous 1,049-mile dogsled race. Her time, from Anchorage to Nome, was 18 days, 2 minutes, 17 seconds.

Sitka, former capital of Alaska

Sitka, former capital of Alaska

What was the capital of Alaska when it belonged to Russia?

Sitka.

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Which Alaskan National Park is the nation’s largest?

Wrangell- St. Elias. It encompasses 12.4 million acres, including ten of America’s highest peaks.

What’s the meaning of the term ‘Cheechako’?

Newcomer to Alaska. Term meaning first-time Alaskan traveler or newcomer to the area.

Muktuk, an Eskimo delicacy

Muktuk, an Eskimo delicacy

If you ordered muktuk, what would you be served?

Raw whale blubber. This is considered a delicacy by the Eskimos.

Juneau, AK

Juneau, AK

What is the capital of Alaska?

Juneau. Anchorage is the largest city, but Juneau is the state capital.

In Alaska the length of daylight is ___________ ?

more in the summer. The days are much shorter(darker)in the winter and, in the the summer the days are much longer(lighter). This is due to the tilt in the earth’s axis.

In 1998 which Alaskan High school won the 4A state championship for football?

Service. The Service Cougars won the state championship in 1997,1998,and 1999.

In 2002 Anchorage had a record snowfall for a 24 hour period. How much did they get?

30 inches. In the deepest spots it was inches but, the at the airport were the official depth is recorded it was 28 inches.

Mt. McKinley, US's largest mountain

Mt. McKinley, US's largest mountain

North America’s largest mountain (Mt. McKinley) is in Alaska. What is the name of the national park it is in?

Denali National Park.

From what country did the U.S buy Alaska?

Russia. It was bought from Russia in 1867 at two cents an acre. At the time it was known as “Seward’s Folly”, after the Secretary of State who arranged the purchase.

The forget-me-not

The forget-me-not

The Alaskan state flower is a_____ ?

forget-me-not.

The Alaskan oil pipeline

The Alaskan oil pipeline

Alaska is known for the great Alaskan pipe line. What runs through it?

Oil. The great Alaskan Pipeline carries oil from the north slope to Valdez. This is a distance of about 800 miles.

The Willow Ptarmigan

Willow Ptarmigan

What is Alaska’s state bird?

Willow ptarmigan. The origin of the word “ptarmigan” is unknown. One theory is that it comes from a Gaelic word meaning “mountaineer”. Feathered feet help this bird conserve heat and it can survive the winter by eating nothing more than willow buds. Also in the winter, the birds are camouflaged by turning completely white.

Sitka Spruce

Sitka Spruce

What is the state tree?

Sitka spruce. Spruce needles are usually sharp and four-sided and emit a pungent odor when crushed. The mature cones hang down from a branch, instead of erect like the cones of a fir. Spruces are typically tall and conical, but soil and climate can change their growth pattern.

Bowhead Whale

Bowhead Whale

What is the state sea animal?

Bowhead whale. Other wildlife found in Alaska are bears, moose, elk, deer, wolves, mountain goats, and many kinds of birds and fish.

What is the state fish?

King salmon. A salmon’s appearance is molded by the environment to an extraordinary degree; therefore, scientists do not know the exact number of species in the group. There are believed to be about 40 species native to North America.

Special thanks to www.funtrivia.com

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