The natural resources collections offer centuries of evidence about how Americans have used the bounty of the American continent and coastal waters. Artifacts related to flood control, dam construction, and irrigation illustrate the nation's attempts to manage the natural world. Oil-drilling, iron-mining, and steel-making artifacts show the connection between natural resources and industrial strength.
Forestry is represented by saws, axes, a smokejumper's suit, and many other objects. Hooks, nets, and other gear from New England fisheries of the late 1800s are among the fishing artifacts, as well as more recent acquisitions from the Pacific Northwest and Chesapeake Bay. Whaling artifacts include harpoons, lances, scrimshaw etchings in whalebone, and several paintings of a whaler's work at sea. The modern environmental movement has contributed buttons and other protest artifacts on issues from scenic rivers to biodiversity.
- Few episodes in United States history helped forge today’s culture of environmental awareness more than a controversial proposal to build dams within Grand Canyon National Park.
- The Grand Canyon’s unique beauty and immense scale have impressed generations of Americans, making the Northern Arizona landmark one of the nation’s most symbolically rich natural landscapes.
- The Canyon is formed by the Colorado River, a water system running from the Rocky Mountains into the Gulf of California. The Colorado is one of the largest sources of fresh water and hydro-electric power available to arid portions of the western United States. The river’s resources have been taxed by ever-increasing populations. Dams had already been built on much of the Colorado when the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation proposed erecting new dams within the Grand Canyon in the mid 1960s. The dams were proposed despite the Grand Canyon’s designation as a federally protected National Park (1919.)
- Currently not on view
- Big Ed's Buttons
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- National Museum of American History