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U.S. Census Bureau History: America's National Parks and Forests

Calvin Coolidge
President Calvin Coolidge signed legistlation
establishing Grand Teton National Park on
February 26, 1929.

Since Yellowstone became the nation's first national park in 1872, American presidents have signed legislation protecting approximately 768 million acres of land and water within national parks, grasslands, forests and monuments. Preservation of these areas' natural beauty and historical significance is the responsibiltiy of several federal government agencies, including the National Park Service, which oversees 401 national parks and the majority of America's 110 national monuments; the U.S. Forest Service, which manages 154 national forests, 20 grasslands, and 439 wilderness areas; and the Bureau of Land Management, which oversees Washington's San Juan Islands and Arizona's Sonoran Desert national monuments and millions of acres of government-owned land.

February is a significant month for America's wilderness and natural wonders. Many of its most majestic national parks, forests, and monuments celebrate anniversaries this month. Below, you can learn more about these and other protected sites through the statistical data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau and other federal agencies.

  • National parks established in February include: Denali (AK) on February 26, 1917; Acadia (ME) and Grand Canyon (AZ) on February 26, 1919; Bryce Canyon (UT) on February 25, 1928; and Grand Teton (WY) on February 26, 1929.
  • President Benjamin Harrison signed legislation creating Colorado's Pike National Forest on February 11, 1892. One year later, he established California's Sierra National Forest on February 14, and the Cleveland, Angeles, and San Bernadino National Forests on Febrary 25, 1893.
  • On February 22, 1897, President Grover Cleveland protected more than 18.2 million acres when he established the Bighorn (WY), Bitterroot (MT/ID), Black Hills (SD/WY), Mount Baker-Snoqualmie (WA), Flathead (MT), Bridger-Teton (WY), Lewis and Clark (MT), Olympic (WA), Stanislaus (CA), and Uinta-Wasatch-Cache (UT/WY/ID) National Forests.
  • During his presidency, Theodore Roosevelt signed legislation establishing 5 national parks; 150 national forests (including North Carolina's Nantahala National Forest on February 6, 1907, and Minnesota's Superior National Forest on February 13, 1909); and 18 national monuments (including South Dakota's Jewel Cave, on February 7, 1907.)
  • According to the National Park Service, more than 273 million people visited America's national parks and monuments in 2013. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that between fiscal years 2010 and 2012, nearly 137 million [PDF 36KB] people visited America's national forests.
  • Millions of Americans visit national parks and forests every year, and the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation (sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau) collects data on their participation in a variety of outdoor recreational activities. In 2011, 90.1 million [PDF 4.32MB] U.S. residents age 6 and older participated in wildlife-related recreational activities. Fishing was a popular pastime, with expenditures amounting to $41.8 billion. Approximately 13.7 million people went hunting, with the majority (11.6 million) seeking big game such as deer, wild turkey, elk, and bear. The survey also found that 71.8 million reported observing, photographing, and/or feeding wildlife at home or at parks and natural areas.
  • Along with elk, deer, bison, and waterfowl, many U.S. residents also live in or near America's national parks and forests. For example, during the 2010 Census, Grand Canyon Village, AZ was home to 2,004; bordering Denali National Park, Healy, AK counted 1,021; the 9,577 people living in Jackson, WY, are nearly surrounded by Grand Teton National Park; Wrightwood, CA's 4,525 inhabitants live within the borders of the Angeles National Forest; and many of the 2,053 people living in Mount Desert, ME enjoy visiting nearby Arcadia National Park.
  • President Barack Obama signed legislation establishing the most recent addition to America's roster of national parks—Pinnacles National Park—on January 10, 2013. Near Soledad, CA, and residing within San Benito and Monterey counties, Pinnacles National Park participates in California's Condor Recovery Program, with 25 free-flying condors calling its 26,606 acres home.

Bryce Canyon
Utah's Bryce Canyon became a national monument in 1923 and was designated a national park on February 25, 1928.
Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.

Historic census records from 1790 to 1940 are maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration, not the U.S. Census Bureau.

Visit the National Archives Website to access 1940 Census records
1940 Census Records

Online subscription services are available to access the 1790-1940 census records. Contact your local library to inquire if it has subscribed to one of these services.

This Month In Census History

On February 18, 1907, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that automobile manufacturing grew 461 percent between 1900 and 1905.

The 1905 Census of Manufacturing found that of the 22,830 automobiles built in 1905, 86.2 percent were gas operated, 7.2 percent used steam, and 6.6 percent were driven by electricity.

1903 Winton

Early motorists found the nation's road network consisted of little more than muddy cart paths once they drove beyond the borders of major cities. When Horatio Nelson Jackson completed the first transcontinental automobile trip between San Francisco [PDF 15KB] and New York City in 1903, the journey in his 1903 Winton (pictured above) took 63 days to complete! Today, a family can comfortably drive from coast to coast in 3 to 4 days and daring rally drivers have (illegally) made the journey in less than 32 hours!

Tips for Genealogists

Interested in the 1790 to 1940 census records of our nation's presidents, movie stars, and other celebrities? Check out our Famous and Infamous Census Records page!

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Census History Staff | Last Revised: January 30, 2015