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National Park Quiz 54: Authors

Ed Abbey once worked in a national park. Do you know which one? Wikimedia photo.

1. True or false? Edward Abbey, author of The Monkey Wrench Gang and Desert Solitaire, worked as a park ranger in Zion National Park.

2. True or false? Civil War General Lew Wallace, author of Ben Hur, led Union troops on the battlefield now preserved at Shiloh National Military Park.

3. True or false? Stuart Woods’ novel Palindrome (1991) was set in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

4. True or false? Publicity associated with the publication of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas book The River of Grass helped to convince Congress that a large area of South Florida should be preserved as Everglades National Park.

5. True or false? Jim Burnett’s book Hey Ranger 2: True Tales of Humor and Misadventure from the Great Outdoors, which was released in May 2007, was a selection for the 2007 Barnes and Noble Father's Day Gift Guide and a First Place Winner in the Outdoor Book Category for the Texas Outdoor Writers Association 2008 Excellence in Craft Awards.

6. Which national park has a lodge named for Englishman Izaak Walton, author of the classic fishing book The Compleat Angler?

7. The book Grand Canyon: A Different View (Tom Vail, editor) created quite a stir in 2003 when it was made available for public sale in Grand Canyon National Park. Why did critics argue that it should not be sold in a national park?

8. A section of James Michener’s 900-page mega-novel Centennial (1987) describes a brutal massacre of Indians encamped along a small watercourse on the high plains of Colorado. What National Park System unit preserves the site of the actual massacre on which Michener based his fictionalized account?

9. Henry Martyn Robert, the man who wrote Robert’s Rules of Order, supervised the construction of fortifications at a site that is now part of
a. Fort Scott National Historic Site
b. Fort Vancouver National Historic Site
c. Colonial National Historical Park
d. San Juan Island National Historical Park

10. Best selling author Nevada Barr, who writes national park-based novels starring ranger Anna Pigeon, has written novels based in all of the following National Park System units EXCEPT: (Choose the one that “does not belong.”)
a. Natchez Trace Parkway
b. Grand Canyon National Park
c. Guadalupe Mountains National Park
d. Statue of Liberty National Monument

Extra Credit Question:

11. What author with a National Historic Site established in his honor wrote a prize winning book about another person with a National Historic Site established in his honor?

Super Bonus Question:

12. A book that many literary historians consider to be the first modern detective mystery – the genre which has an eccentric detective using rational thinking to solve murders -- was written in a National Park System unit. Can you name the book, the author, and the National Park System unit?


(1) False. Ed Abbey was a seasonal ranger at Arches National Monument (since redesignated Arches National Park). Ed's rangering experiences at Arches in the late 1950s provided the fodder for his 1968 book Desert Solitaire, now a desert literature classic.

(2) True. Wallace, a West Pointer, did lead Federal troops into battle at Shiloh. Many historians believe that he was quite possibly the slowest, least competent general officer that showed up for the fight.

(3) False. Woods chose Cumberland Island National Seashore as the backdrop for his Palindrome murder mystery. I suspect he did this so he could arrange for a certain villain to be dispatched by a reptile in a particularly gruesome way. Give yourself a bonus point if you knew that Nevada Barr also used Cumberland Island as the setting for one of her Anna Pigeon books, Endangered Species (1997).

(4) False. Douglas’ highly acclaimed book was published in 1947, fully 13 years after Congress authorized the creation of Everglades National Park. In that same year of 1947, President Truman formally dedicated the park. It had taken 13 years to acquire the land, get the boundaries defined, and perform many other tasks needed to get the park ready for public use.

(5) True. And aren’t you glad we’ve talked Jim into being a regular contributor to Traveler?

(6) Glacier National Park’s Izaak Walton Inn, which was constructed in 1939 to house snow removal crews for the railroad, has been operated as a hotel since the early 1980s. The Izaak Walton is considered one of America’s top cross-country ski resort hotels.

(7) This book, which consists mostly of essays, biblical quotations, and photos, espouses the belief that the Grand Canyon was carved by a great flood that God sent as punishment for human wickedness. Critics argued that visitors might think that the Park Service endorses the creationist viewpoint and considers it to be “science.” The National Park Service decided that bookstore shoppers can be trusted to tell the difference between reputable science and religious ideology.

(8) Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site preserves the site of the November 29, 1864, massacre of several hundred Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians (led by Chief Black Kettle) peacefully encamped about 80 miles southeast of Denver under the promise of U.S. protection. Michener fictionalized various aspects of the massacre, but had the basic facts straight in his Centennial novel.

(9) d – The redoubt constructed under Roberts’ watchful eye was built on Washington’s San Juan Island during the Pig War of 1859, a bloodless confrontation between the U.S. and the British. BTW, the rarely-cited full title of Robert’s famous book is Pocket Manual of Rules of Order for Deliberative Assemblies.

(10) b – Grand Canyon National Park is not on Ms. Barr’s resume. Not yet, at least.

(11) Carl Sandburg, whose Conemarra farm has been preserved as Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1940 in recognition of his remarkable contributions as a Lincoln scholar and biographer. Lincoln Home National Historic Site is one the four National Park System units honoring Abraham Lincoln. (In the new Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site was redesignated Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park.)

(12) Edgar Allen Poe is thought to have written his landmark book Murders in the Rue Morgue while living at a small brick house on North Seventh Street in Philadelphia, a structure now preserved as Edgar Allen Poe National Historic Site.

Grading: 9 or 10 correct, rest on your laurels; 7 or 8 correct, pretty darn good; 6 correct, passable fair; 5 or fewer correct, nothing to brag about.


Yahoo!! I am "pretty darn good" this week. I missed 2,3,6.9. You are a tough quiz master, Bob. Have you done one on feature films that use parks as part of the scenes?

Rick Smith

A small correction to the answer to Q1: Ed Abbey did not serve as a ranger at Arches National Park, he served at Arches National Monument. Arches did not receive the Park designation until some years after Abbey's service, during which he penned the classic, "Desert Solitaire." No doubt he'd be appalled at the extent of paved public access now available in his beloved inspiration.

Great quiz!

Ed Abbey did time at Arches National Monument, well before it was declared a park in the 1970s.

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