Go Take a Hike! The Appalachian Trail Turns 96 Years Old

March 2019 marked the 96th anniversary of the opening of the first section of the Appalachian Trail which ran from Bear Mountain, New York, to Harriman State Park in Arden, New York. The brainchild of forester Benton MacKaye, the Appalachian Trail, or the “A.T.” as it is widely known, started out as an idea for … Continue reading Go Take a Hike! The Appalachian Trail Turns 96 Years Old

Holdings Highlight! RG 167: Submissions to the National Inventors Council

Every so often, I come across items in our holdings which are so delightfully bizarre that they have to be shared.  The drawings below come from RG 167: Submissions to the Inventor's Council.  This group was founded in 1940 as part of the Department of Commerce's Office of Technical Services.  The intention was that this … Continue reading Holdings Highlight! RG 167: Submissions to the National Inventors Council

Recalling the Devastating Patent Office Fire of 1836

December 15th marks the anniversary of the first of several major fires to impact the United States Patent Office.  In 1836, the Patent Office was being housed in the Blodget Hotel in Washington, D.C.  Employees of the patent office stored firewood in the basement near where they also disposed of hot ashes and, during the … Continue reading Recalling the Devastating Patent Office Fire of 1836

Oddments From the U.S. Series of RG 77: Civil Works Map Files

From time to time, we find things among the archives holdings that are so unexpected that we just have to share them! The following images come from a series of maps that are currently in the process of being digitized to be added to the catalog.  The maps below all contain examples of doodles and … Continue reading Oddments From the U.S. Series of RG 77: Civil Works Map Files

What’s In a Name? American Vessels Called Enterprise

This Saturday, September 8th, marks the 52nd anniversary of the debut of the “Star Trek” series on television. For over two hundred years, ships called Enterprise have been helping us “Boldly Go”.  From vessels that sailed the Great Lakes of the United States in the War of 1812 to the most decorated ship of World … Continue reading What’s In a Name? American Vessels Called Enterprise

Shining a Light on Montauk Point Lighthouse in Honor of Lighthouse Day

National Lighthouse Day is celebrated annually in the United States on August 7th.  This holiday marks the day in 1789 when Congress approved an act to establish and support lighthouses, buoys, beacons, and public piers. Since that time, the United States has constructed more than a thousand lighthouses, light stations, range lights, and pier head lights. … Continue reading Shining a Light on Montauk Point Lighthouse in Honor of Lighthouse Day

Ah, Summertime! You Have the Best Utility Patents!

Summertime seems to have been created to be three months of time to play, rest, relax, and, in general, do the things that make us happy.  In the years between 1898 and 1908, inventors were very creative in their efforts to make summertime spectacular, interesting, and somewhat bizarre!  So, whether you prefer to spend your … Continue reading Ah, Summertime! You Have the Best Utility Patents!

Hiding in Plain Sight: The FDR Interstate Highway Map

Sometimes, the most extraordinary maps can be “hiding” in plain sight, passed by, overlooked because they are a bit plain on the surface.  However, once you know the real story behind the map, it can take on a whole different meaning and look completely new and exciting.  One such map that fits this description can … Continue reading Hiding in Plain Sight: The FDR Interstate Highway Map

I’ve Been Working On the Railroad, and You Can, Too!

Under the Valuation Act of 1913, the federal government of the United States directed the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) to assess the value of railroad property located inside the United States.  This information was to be used to determine rates for transportation of freight via those rail lines.  This law was an amendment to the … Continue reading I’ve Been Working On the Railroad, and You Can, Too!