NPS National Landmark Studies

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NPS National Landmark Studies 2016-12-05T22:23:22+00:00

The U.S. Government recognizes cultural properties of exceptional significance as historical, archaeological or architectural landmarks important to the nation through the National Historic Landmarks Program. Only a handful of sites are studied and then designated by the Secretary of the Interior as a National Historic Landmark.  As of 2010, approximately 2,500 National Historic Landmarks in the United States. As head of the National Park Service’s National Maritime Initiative in the 1980s, Jim oversaw the study and designation of many of America’s historic ships and maritime properties.  He personally prepared the studies for 54 properties, including the wrecks of USS Monitor and USS Arizona, lightships, fireboats, tugboats, submarines and other warships, the Stanford University home of former President and First Lady Lady Herbert and Lou Henry Hoover, and San Francisco’s famous Aquatic Park.  Here are links to some of his studies:

Virginia V

1922 Excursion Steamer
Designated October 5, 1992

Excerpt: The earliest use of the steamboat in the United States was the adoption of steam for small passenger and cargo carrying vessels. Dating to the first decades of the 19th century, these craft in time dominated the American steam excursion fleet. One of two surviving members of the American “mosquito fleet,” the large, unlicensed steamers that flitted around like mosquitoes on the inland waters of the United States, Virginia V is the only survivor of these small excursion steamers built on the Pacific Coast. The other mosquito fleet vessel, Sabino, is the sole surviving East Coast-built small excursion steamer. These two vessels alone represent a fleet that in June 1932 was documented at an astounding 260,983 vessels. The fact of their survival, and a contributing factor in their significance is the fact that both continue in operation, keeping alive a tradition and a technology now vanished.

Ernestina, ex-Effie M. Morrissey

1894 Two-Masted Schooner
Designated December 14, 1990

Excerpt: The 1894-built schooner Ernestina, ex-Effie M. Morrissey, is the oldest surviving Grand Banks fishing schooner, the only surviving 19th century Gloucester-built fishing schooner, and one of two remaining examples of the Fredonia style schooners, the most famous American fishing vessel type, and is the only offshore example of that type. The schooner is also one of only two sailing Arctic exploration vessels left afloat in the United States, the other being the schooner Bowdoin, a National Historic Landmark. After a long and distinguished fishing and cargo-carrying career,Effie M. Morrissey was purchased in 1926 by Capt. Robert A. Bartlett, Canadian-born Arctic explorer and companion of Robert E. Peary. Bartlett navigated Peary and Matthew Henson to the North Pole in 1909, and was considered the greatest ice captain of the 20th century. Under “Bob” Bartlett, “the little Morrissey” made 20 regular voyages north, at one time reaching within 600 miles of the Pole, documenting the frozen north, its flora and fauna, and people for patrons ranging from the National Geographic Society, the Smithsonian Institution, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, the Museum of the American Indian, and others.

Governor Stone

1877 Two-Masted Schooner
Designated 1990

Excerpt: The “freight trucks” of their time, the coasting schooners carried coal, bricks, iron ore, grain, oysters, and numerous other bulk products between ports. There are now only five surviving two-masted coasting schooners in the United States–Lewis R. French(1871); Stephen Taber (1871); Governor Stone (1877); Grace Bailey(1882); and Mercantile (1916); all subjects of separate studies. Of all of these vessels, Governor Stone is the only surviving Gulf-built schooner of thousands constructed and employed in the busy and nationally important Gulf fishing and general freight trades. Governor Stone is the sole known survivor afloat of the indigenous sailing schooners of the American South. After more than a century in service, including time as an auxiliary-powered oyster buyboat, Governor Stone was restored and placed in operation as a museum-operated historic vessel, carrying passengers on charters and sail training cruises along the Gulf coast.


Arctic Exploration Schooner
Designated December 20, 1989

Excerpt: The 1921 auxiliary schooner Bowdoin is a unique vessel in the annals of American maritime history and the saga of Arctic exploration. The brainchild of Adm. Donald Baxter MacMillan (1874-1970), an Arctic explorer, educator, aviator, author, anthropologist, and philanthropist who made 29 voyages to the Arctic between 1908 and 1954, for which he was awarded the National Geographic Society’s coveted Hubbard Medal, Bowdoin was the setting for much of MacMillan’s achievements. He made 26 of his Arctic voyages inBowdoin. Bowdoin is the only auxiliary schooner ever built in the United States specifically for Arctic exploration and the only surviving historic vessel in the United States associated with Arctic exploration except the nuclear submarine Nautilus, a much more recent vessel. Bowdoin is one of a handful of historic Arctic vessels left in the world and exemplifies the rugged conditions and the hardy navigators who braved the frozen north to unlock its secrets.


1909 Fireboat
Designated June 30, 1989

Excerpt: The 1909 fireboat Duwamish, owned and maintained by the City of Seattle Fire Department in a laid-up status and a City of Seattle Historic Landmark, is an excellent example of a typical, specifically-designed fireboat as could be found in any major American port city through much of the 20th century. Duwamish is also the second oldest known American fireboat following the substantially rebuilt Edward Cotter of 1900. While built and operated only on the Seattle waterfront, this well-preserved vessel is representative of most early 20th century fireboats which could be found throughout the United States. While earlier tugboats modified for fireboat use and employed as auxiliary fireboats may exist, Duwamish is the second oldest surviving fireboat built specifically as a fire-fighting vessel in the United States. Fireboats known to exist in other major American cities date to the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. As such, Duwamish, possessing a high degree of integrity, is of national significance as the best preserved, largely unchanged example of the historic American fireboat type of the early 20th century.

USS Arizona (BB-39)

1915 Steel-Hulled Battleship
Designated May 5, 1989

The battle-scarred and submerged remains of the battleship USSArizona (BB-39) are the focal point of a shrine erected by the people of the United States to honor and commemorate all American servicemen killed on December 7, 1941, particularly Arizona‘s crew, many of whom lost their lives during the Japanese attack on the United States Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Arizona‘s burning bridge and listing masts and superstructure, photographed in the aftermath of the attack and her sinking and emblazoned on the front pages of newspapers across the land, epitomized to the Nation the words “Pearl Harbor” and form one of the best known images of the Second World War in the Pacific. Arizona and the Arizona Memorial have become the major shrine and point of remembrance not only for the lost battleship but also for the entire attack. Indelibly impressed into the national memory, Arizona is visited by millions who quietly file through, toss flower wreaths and leis into the water, watch the irridescent slick of oil that leaks, a drop at a time, from Arizona‘s ruptured bunkers after more than forty years on the bottom, and read the names of Arizona‘s dead carved in marble on the Memorial’s walls.

Arthur Foss, ex-Wallowa

1889 Tugboat
Designated April 11, 1989

Excerpt: The 1889 tugboat Arthur Foss, ex-Wallowa, owned and maintained by Northwest Seaport, Inc. as an operating preserved historic vessel, is an excellent example of a typical late 19th-early 20th century American tugboat. Well-maintained, retaining her integrity of design and construction and restored in an accurate fashion, Arthur Foss is the only known wooden-hulled 19th century tugboat left afloat and in operating condition in the United States. Built in Portland, Oregon for a seemingly local use, Arthur Foss‘s career, nonetheless, was associated with trading and events of significance to the nation. Foss towed lumber and grain laden square-rigged ships across the treacherous Columbia River Bar and hence was a key participant in the nationally significant Pacific coast lumber trade and the internationally significant grain trade.


1913 Schooner
Designated April 11, 1989

Excerpt: Adventuress is significant as an excellent example of the “fisherman profile” designed yachts of Bowdoin B. Crowninshield, a noted early 20th century American naval architect whose work was influential in the development of American yachts and fishing schooners. Built for the purpose of private Arctic exploration and hunting, Adventuress was acquired by the San Francisco Bar Pilots in 1914 and worked from that year until 1952 as a pilot boat on the San Francisco Bar. Only two San Francisco Bar Pilot boats survive,California ex-Zodiac (1924), currently undergoing restoration and modification, and Adventuress which is both first in service and the older of the two vessels. Adventuress is significant through her association with the important role of the pilots which guided maritime traffic across the treacherous San Francisco Bar into the internationally-important and busy port of San Francisco.

Falls of Clyde

1878 Four-Masted Ship
Designated April 11, 1989

Excerpt: The 1878 ship Falls of Clyde is the world’s only surviving four-masted full-rigged ship. Built in Great Britain in the last quarter of the 19th century during a shipbuilding boom inspired in part by increased trade with the United States, Falls of Clyde made several voyages to American ports, notably San Francisco and Portland, Oregon, while under the British flag. Sold to American owners in 1898, Falls of Clyde gained American registry by a special act of Congress in 1900. Henceforth she was involved in the nationally important Hawaiian transpacific sugar trade for Capt. William Matson’s Matson Navigation Co., a shipping firm of international scope and significance that continues in business.