Meet Mark Dowdle, the new Chief Park Ranger for Boston National Historical Parks, including the Navy Yard and Bunker Hill Monument. He's also one of Charlestown's newest residents.
(This was written by Mark Dowdle for Patch.)
Boston National Historical Park is part of the National Park Service system that encompasses nearly 400 natural and cultural sites throughout the United States. Charlestown is home to several of these important sites.
The first major battle of the Revolutionary Wa was fought on Breed’s Hill on July 17, 1775. I cannot walk the grounds around the without thinking of the heroic events of the battle, the sacrifice and courage displayed by the patriot soldiers, and the symbolism of freedom the park’s monuments represent.
Each of the sites around the City of Boston that make up Boston National Historical Park is persevered and protected to tell each new generation the story of our nation’s founding. The Freedom Trail connects two of these sites that are right here in Charlestown: The Bunker Hill Monument and the Charlestown Navy Yard.
I was born near another Revolutionary War battlefield, Guildford Courthouse in North Carolina, and my family’s traditional farm site is near the battlefield at Kings Mountain, South Carolina.
My early introduction to these historic sites and my early days of backpacking in the Carolina wilderness naturally drew me towards national parks. The day after I graduated from college I moved to Yellowstone National Park where I began my experiences with the National Park Service.
Over the past 21, years I worked in many national park areas and lived in such diverse environments as Alaska, Florida, Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Georgia, California, and, now, Massachusetts.
I moved to Charlestown in December after having spent the past seven and a half years in Yosemite National Park in California. This is my first experience in a large city and I love it. My first impressions have been of how welcoming, friendly and helpful the people of Charlestown and Boston are. This made all the difference in getting settled and starting in a new job, in a new home, in a new part of the country.
In my position as the Chief Park Ranger I oversee the park’s visitor and resource protection program. This includes law enforcement, the park’s safety program, physical security, telecommunications, and cultural resource protection and preservation.
Our law enforcement police officers are some of the finest with which I have worked. In addition to being fully commissioned federal law enforcement officers, our police staff performs a diverse array of public outreach and community service programs. From working with kids at the Charlestown Boys & Girls Club, to promoting employee and visitor safety, to attending community events and meetings, our motto is “Be a Good Neighbor.”
We are a part of the Charlestown and Boston communities and we want to get to know our neighbors, understand their perspectives, educate our neighbors about the rich history that is right here in their own backyards, and share in the triumphs and challenges that are present in our community.
My open invitation to all members of our community is to visit Boston National Historical Park. If you have never been to the park’s visitor centers at the Charlestown Navy Yard or downtown at 15 State Street, or toured the USS CONSTITUTION Museum or the Bunker Hill Museum, experienced a tour of the USS Constitution with a US Navy sailor as your guide, walked the decks of the battleship destroyer USS Cassin Young, or walked up the 294 steps to the top of the Bunker Hill Monument for the incredible panoramic view, toured the Old State House, Old South Meeting House, Faneuil Hall, Paul Revere House, the Old North Church, and the other sites along the Freedom Trail, or walked with a National Park Service interpretative ranger on a tour of the park -- then you are missing out on some of the very best that our community has to offer.
Early next year the park will open a new visitor center in the market level of Faneuil Hall. This is a phenomenal partnership with the City of Boston that will help visitors from all over the world, and, yes, visitors from our own neighborhoods, get to know the stories and the sites where history was made right here in our own backyard.