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Preserving Our Heritage
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Experiencing Our Heritage



















Experiencing Our Heritage

“The improvements we've made along the Augusta Canal bring alive 160 years of history, and allow people to experience and enjoy it in ways that they otherwise couldn't."

--Dayton Sherrouse, Augusta Canal National Heritage Area

Experiencing heritage is not just looking and listening; it is also about reflecting and responding. The programs created by the National Historic Preservation Act have encouraged government and citizens to preserve, protect, and think about history. Experiential learning can inspire people to reflect on their relationship to the past and its role in their future. New methods of interpretation and education are prompting us to ask how are we different from past generations? How do we identify with the past? How does our collective heritage reflect our nation’s development? How can we communicate the ways we understand the past to younger generations?

Experiencing our nation’s heritage can be as easy as visiting the National Park Service website – or those of our partners. But there is no replacement for a visit to a real place, where real history happened. Use the National Park Service’s Discover Our Shared Heritage online travel itineraries to discover properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places that are significant in American history. Visit a National Heritage Area where communities are working with the National Park Service and others to invite residents and visitors to learn more about a region’s unique character. Explore a Preserve America community, or a historic battlefield, site, or park. Ask questions wherever you go!

Experiencing our nation’s heritage can also mean volunteering with your local historic preservation group, working with your community to document a National Register-eligible property, or researching a historic place, event, object, or memorial that you see every day.

Learn more about places where you can experience heritage firsthand. Try an 1845 industrial power canal on the Savannah River, or the Creole culture of Louisiana, explore eastern Pennsylvania’s Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, or the battlefields of the Shenandoah Valley.

The National Register of Historic Places, Preserve America, and the federal responsibility to administer and support heritage education and interpretation programs were all authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.

Fast Facts:

  • Since 1984, Congress has designated 37 National Heritage Areas.
  • There are more than 40 National Park Service Discover Our Shared Heritage online travel itineraries.
  • More than one-third of America’s nearly 400 national parks are primarily historic sites.
Augusta, Georgia canal area
Cane River, Louisiana

Natchitoches, Louisiana

Landsford, Pennsylvania

Eastern Pennsylvania

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Image of abandoned machinery at a heritage area

Did You Know?
In 2005, 68 million people experienced national heritage areas and local residents volunteered over 201,000 hours.