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NPS Tours of Downtown Oyster Bay Illuminate Theodore Roosevelt’s Life

Others encouraged to participate in Park Ranger Tours of Oyster Bay

Looking to get some fresh air and exercise with some great company while also enjoying an entertaining learning experience? I highly recommend the new walking tour the National Park Service is offering in downtown Oyster Bay. The tours meet at the train station and then meander throughout the town, stopping in front of many historic buildings in downtown Oyster Bay.

We had the extreme pleasure of taking one of these hour-long walks on Sunday, Feb. 19. Our tour was led by Park Ranger Howard Ehrlich, who took a few moments before the tour began to help us become acquainted with the other participants so that we all felt in the company of friends as we began our walk.

We started our sightseeing at the old train station and as we went from building to building, Ranger Ehrlich showed us photos of the way the buildings appeared in President Roosevelt’s day and then described the activities that went on in those times.

Our tour guide proved to not only be extremely knowledgeable about T.R.’s history and able to answer all questions from participants, he also included little extras about other historic sites we passed not directly related to T.R., including a stop in the railroad museum to see the plans for that organization’s expansion. There was truly “something for everyone” on the tour.

While walking from place to place we chatted about topics such as world’s fairs, antiques we owned, and childhood memories of Oyster Bay, cementing some new friendships.

Being well read on T.R.’s history and frequent visitors to Sagamore Hill, we were frankly surprised how many new facts and interesting stories we learned on the tour. I won’t share the stories so I don’t spoil the tour for others, instead I urge you to check out this new local adventure yourself.

We’ll never see a President like T.R. again, one who was not only a great statesman but such a devoted family man as well. And he raised his family to be just like him. One of my most prized possessions is a letter I received from his daughter Ethel. Back when I was in high school I wrote her a note about visiting Sagamore Hill and she answered me with a handwritten note on her personal note card! I’m willing to bet no former President’s daughter would do that today—you’d be lucky to get a standardized reply with a signature stamp sent by a secretary!

The Park Service has said if these tours prove popular they hope to expand them in the future, including tours of other sites such as T.R.’s gravesite. I would love to see that happen!

Park Ranger Josh Reyes said of the tour scheduling, “It’s been such a fluke winter that it has been hard to schedule them. The walks should be on every Sunday starting in March at 2 p.m.They will also occasionally be held on Saturdays. We are checking the staffing for that now. When we see how popular the tours are, we will consider adding to them for the summer.”

For tour information call 922-4788 or check into the website, www.nps.gov/sahi.

“We’ve already seen some buds on trees,” said Mr. Reyes, looking forward to spring weather.