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Delaware Gets Its First National Park. Like, Ever.

Photo: NPR

The first state was the last one to get a national park.

On Monday, President Obama signed a declaration creating five new national monuments, including the First State National Monument. All 49 other states plus six territories already had some part of the National Park System  - excluding our smallest one.

On Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden, who is from Delaware, arrived in Old New Castle with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, the director of the National Park Service, and Sen. Thomas Carper to celebrate the fact the Diamond State was recognized as the 400th member of the Park Service.

The effort to bring a national park to Delaware was a lengthy one and was done at no cost to taxpayers, thanks to about 350 volunteers who spearheaded the project. Sen. Carper joked that their original idea for the Great Cypress Swamp in the southern part of the state was killed by hunters who use it frequently. They cobbled together a collection of historic sites and conservation areas, one straddling the border with Pennsylvania called the Woodlawn Conservation Area, to unite as one historic area. Recognition was given to Congressman Pat Meehan of Pennsylvania for his support of the project.

Old New Castle was the site of Tuesday's event and was meaningful. If you ever wondered about the arc that serves most of the Pennsylvania/Delaware border, it was drawn as a 12-mile circle from the New Castle Courthouse.

Additional new monument sites: Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in New Mexico; Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument in Maryland; Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Ohio; and San Juan Islands National Monument in Washington State.

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