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May 18, 2016 by Sophie Braccini

Local Spots Celebrate National Parks' Centennial

Since the late 1800s and the establishment of Yellowstone National Park, this country has been preserving land and historical sites. It was on Aug. 25, 1916, that President Woodrow Wilson created a unique federal administration to manage all the federally owned properties for the enjoyment of the people, the National Park Service. This year parks all over the country are celebrating the centennial. It is also an opportunity to rediscover the 11 national parks of the Bay Area.

Tom Leatherman is National Park Service (NPS) Superintendent at four National Park Service historic sites in the East Bay. He spoke at the Lafayette Library and Learning Center on May 4 to kick off the local celebration.

Leatherman highlighted that the NPS not only manages large parks and wilderness areas, but also preserves and promotes sites that can bring history of this country alive. Right here in the Bay Area, the city of Richmond was chosen to be part of the Urban Park program - there are only 10 urban areas nationwide, aimed at connecting people to their parks every day, not only while they're on vacation.

The closest site to Lamorinda that is part of the Richmond urban park is Eugene O'Neill's home in Danville, Tao House, his last "home and harbor" as the Noble prize-winning playwright called it. The house that O'Neill and his wife left in 1944 has been completely restored and can be accessed through a shuttle departing from downtown Danville. Information is available at

Many have already visited the Rosie the Riveter Homefront National Historic Park. On Saturday, Aug. 13, the Richmond site will hold a "Rosie Rally" hoping for a turnout of 5,000 people dressed up as Rosie. Details are available at the

The other sites that are part of the urban area are the Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial- the most recent addition to the NPS in 2009 - and the John Muir National Historic Site that includes the home John Muir shared with his wife and daughters in Martinez, as well as Mt. Wanda, where Muir liked to take his daughters on nature walks. Mt. Wanda was purchased for preservation by the John Muir Land Trust in the 1990s. The trust is one of the many partners NPS works with to preserve and manage the sites.
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