Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Stephen Mather - Further Memorial Locations
In my Stephen Mather post of July 29, 2012 I said, "It is my goal to find the Mather memorials in the national parks I visit and pause to remember the 'Father' of the U.S. National Park Service and appreciate the good that he has done for us. Perhaps you will now also engage in this interesting quest."

On a just completed vacation from a Maine winter to a Georgia spring I looked for two Mather bronze-plaque memorials, one in Virginia and the other in New York. Before finding them, I stopped in Darien, CT to see the 1778 Mather Homestead, a national historic landmark, at 19 Stephen Mather Road. Nearby is the Mather Cemetery, where Stephen is buried.*1

Mather Homestead
The first memorial I located was in VA at the Petersburg National Battlefield, the Civil War site of the 9 1/2-month Union siege that led to Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. The memorial lies horizontally on a brick stand near the visitor center.*2

Mather Memorial - Petersburg National Battlefield
The second I found with some difficulty at an unexpected location. It was inside NY's Bear Mountain Zoo and affixed to a large boulder on a high prominence overlooking the Hudson River just south of the Bear Mountain Bridge.*3 The bridge, when it opened in 1924, was the world's longest suspension bridge.
Mather Memorial - Bear Mountain
This location raises a question, as the memorial is inside the 5,000-acre Bear Mountain State Park. Recall that Mather was the first director of the federal government's National Park Service. Following his death in 1930, his memorial plaque was placed in most national parks and likely in entities under NPS jurisdiction. I was unaware of a Mather memorial in a state park. Its location might be due to the underlying ground of the mostly demolished Revolutionary War's Fort Clinton or perhaps to President Roosevelt's program to preserve public lands during the 1930s Great Depression via the Works Progress Administration, which was engaged in the park at the time.
I have not come across a complete list of the Mather memorial locations. I hope you join me in this interesting and educational quest to fill in that list. If you do find one, please let me know.

* GPS locations:
1 Mather home - Darien: N41° 06.768'  W073° 28.468'
2 Mather memorial - Petersburg NB: N37° 14.627'  W077° 21.396'
3 Mather memorial - Bear Mountain SP: N41° 19.059'  W073° 59.278'