Acadia National Park is not alone in celebrating its centennial this year. The entire National Park Service is also 100-years young.
The parks are, in the words of environmentalist and writer Wallace Stegner, as immortalized in the title of the seminal Ken Burns documentary on public television, “the best idea we ever had.” He continued that the parks are “Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.”
The first national park Yellowstone, was created by an Act signed by President Ulysses Grant on March 1, 1872. The park service as it is known today didn’t exist. Overseeing those lands fell to the U.S. Army.
The National Park Service was created by President Woodrow Wilson on Aug. 25, 1916. The service was charged with caring for the nearly three dozen national parks and monuments then in existence.
That presidential act was nearly a month after the creation of Lafayette National Monument which later became Acadia.
The service now oversees nearly 400 areas across the US, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and islands in the Pacific. In all some 84 million acres is protected.
Over the past century, visitation has increased greatly. In 2015 the total number of visitors reached 307,247,252.
It wasn’t until 1951 that the service adopted the distinctive arrowhead logo as its official symbol.
For more on the National Park Service Centennial visit: www.nps.gov/.
Ten most-visited National Parks in 2015
Rank Name Visitation
1 Great Smoky Mountains NP 10,712,674
2 Grand Canyon NP 5,520,736
3 Rocky Mountain NP 4,155,916
4 Yosemite NP 4,150,217
5 Yellowstone NP 4,097,710
6 Zion NP 3,648,846
7 Olympic NP 3,263,761
8 Grand Teton NP 3,149,921
9 Acadia NP 2,811,184
10 Glacier NP 2,366,056