Trailblazing: 100 Years of Our National Parks

National Postal Museum
May 12, 2016
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Handwritten postcard
National Postal Museum

Scorched Kilauea postcard, March 12, 1913
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, Hawai’i

Tourism to the active volcano at Kilauea on the island of Hawaii took off when it became a national park in 1916, just a few weeks before the National Park Service was created. A popular early tourist activity was walking out onto the hard crust of an active lava flow and using a stick to thrust their postcards into a fissure and scorch it before mailing. Even in the age of Twitter and Facebook, postcards remain a popular way to let people know you were really there—and prove it with a postmark!

Credit: National Postal Museum