Posted 4 months ago
By John Axtell
The National Park Service celebrates its 97th birthday on Sunday and is waiving entrance fees to all its 400-plus units around the country. In this area, only Scotts Bluff National Monument and Badlands National Park have entrance fees.
Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, between Mitchell and Harrison, is getting a jump on the anniversary by holding its Founders Day celebration on Saturday with a full day of events from 9-5 that include talks, music, cultural demonstrations and art are planned in the visitor center and under a big tent.
In for the full weekend is Native American artist Guss Yellow Hair, who will be joined Saturday by his daughter, Tianna, to present the Lakota Creation Story twice, at 11 a-m and 3 p-m.
Park rangers will present talks throughout the day, starting at 10:00 with Kelly Teale’s program on Eleanor Barbour Cook…the first geology professor at Chadron State College.
Her father taught at the University of Nebraska and was head of the Nebraska State Museum for 40 years, while her husband’s family ranch included what is now the park. Teale’s talk will include a caravan to the Bone Cabin where she worked with scientists.
At noon, Mark Hertig will present “The Second-most Famous James Cook You’ve Never Heard Of,” a talk on the pioneering homesteader who was Eleanor Barbour Cook’s father-in-law, while Ann Lundgreen will talk about trace fossils at 1:00.
Singer-songwriter-poets Lyn Messersmith and Deb Carpenter-Nolting will perform under the tent at 2:00 and 4:00, focusing on pioneer women and other legends and leaders of the West.
Jewel Cave National Monument and Wind Cave National Park are marking Founder’s Day with free cave tours on Sunday.
Jewel Cave will have 3 different cave tours available: Discovery, Scenic, and Historic Lantern Tours. Each tour is offered at multiple times throughout the day and exposes visitors to different interpretive experiences and lengths of time underground.
Wind Cave will offer its Natural Entrance Tour about every 20-to-30 minutes with the first tour beginning at 9:20 a.m. and the last leaving at 5 p.m. It involves 300 stairs, most of which go down and is considered moderately strenuous.
Although it’s not connected to Founder’s Day, Scotts Bluff National Monument has a special speaker Saturday afternoon Amanda Filipi of the Wildcat Hills Nature Center wraps up the monument’s summer guest speaker series with a presentation on bighorn sheep.
Filipi, who was Education Coordinator for the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory before joining Nebraska Game and Parks, will speak at 3:00 in the visitor center.
The United States was the first country in the world to set aside its most significant places as national parks so they could be enjoyed by all, with President Woodrow Wilson signing the act creating the National Park Service on August 25, 1916.