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  Chapter Seven:

  Professional Sports
  Track and Field
  National Parks
  Boy Scouts of America
  Land Speed Record
  Overseas Travel



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National Parks

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The growth of leisure activities that followed World War II included significantly increased usage of the National Park System.
Yellowstone National Park—established by an act of Congress in 1872 in the territories of Montana and Wyoming “as a public park or pleasuring ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people”—was the first national park anywhere in the world. It launched a movement that sparked the creation of national parks in more than a hundred countries, as well as a complex network of facilities in the United States. In 1998, the National Park System included 77 million acres, up from just 3 million acres in 1900. 

In addition to large national parks such as Yellowstone, the National Park System includes national battlefields and battlefield parks and sites, national military parks, national historical parks, national historic sites, national lakeshores and seashores, the national memorial at Mount Rushmore, national monuments, national parkways, national preserves, national recreation areas, national rivers, the national capital parks, national wild and scenic rivers, national scenic trails, and national wilderness areas—altogether some four hundred sites occupying about 3 percent of the nation’s land area. 

In 1998, Yellowstone attracted 3.1 million visitors, primarily during the warmer months. Although this represented an increase of more than 50 percent since 1980, it was not sufficient to earn Yellowstone a place among the twenty most visited sites in the National Park System. Sixteenth-ranked Grand Canyon National Park, accessible all year round, attracted 4.6 million visitors, nearly 50 percent more than Yellowstone. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the third most visited site in the system, drew 10 million visitors, more than twice as many as the Grand Canyon. Still, the trend in visitor traffic at Yellowstone, shown in the chart, does reflect the trend for the National Park System as a whole.

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Source Notes
Source Abbreviations

National Park Service, at (accessed August 25, 2000). For establishment and components of the park, see NYT 1999, pages 56–58. For the most visited sites in 1999, see WA 1999, page 565.


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