(Smithsonian) You Can Thank Scientists for the National Park System

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Photo by Nachama Soloveichik

My article “You Can Thank Scientists for the National Park System” appears in Smithsonian magazine. Here’s the lede:

The two volcanic rocks couldn’t be more different at first glance. The hyalo-liparite obsidian could be mistaken for a candy bar with large chocolate chips, while beside it inside the glass case, the geyserite more closely resembles white sidewalk chalk.

The rocks were collected on the expedition of scientists, photographers and painters that geologist Ferdinand Hayden led in 1871, the first federally-funded survey of the American west. They are on view in a new exhibition “100 Years of America’s National Park Service” at the National Museum of Natural History. They are examples of the many specimens that scientists, exploring the American West, sent back to the early Smithsonian Institution.

The show honors the scientific collecting that helped to lay the groundwork for the creation of the national park system one hundred years ago this summer.

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