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Weekly Column: Centennial Celebration For Craters Of The Moon--An Extraordinary Idaho Landscape And Living Laboratory

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

A Boise taxidermist by trade, Robert Limbert’s explorations and depictions of Idaho one hundred years ago helped to establish one of Idaho’s most unique and vast monuments and preserves.  “The 'Valley of the Moon' lies in a region literally combed with underground caves and passages, bewildering in their immensity, mystifying in their variety of strange formations, where there are natural bridges as yet unknown to geographers, where bear tracks hundreds of years old may be traced for miles across cinder flats,” he described.

Two months after Limbert’s prominent National Geographic article, “Among the ‘Craters of the Moon’,” President Calvin Coolidge, on May 2, 1924, made the proclamation that 54,000 acres of heavily volcanized land in south-central Idaho would become the Craters of the Moon National Monument.  Craters of the Moon has become a bastion for tourism and geological preservation ever since. 

Since the construction of the first visitor center in 1925, Craters has brought in thousands of people from around the world, peaking at an incredible 285,227 visitors in 2017.  This year, as we celebrate the Monument’s centennial, we take a moment to reflect on its history.

The landscape of Craters of the Moon is like no other.  It is a place where one can walk on the same ground that was once molten lava, flowing from deep within the Earth.  The vast lava fields, with their remarkable formations, create a moonscape that has captured the imagination of all who visit.  It is a living laboratory for scientists and a classroom without walls for educators and students.

Our celebration of Craters of the Moon's centennial is not merely a commemoration of the past.  It is a reaffirmation of our ongoing commitment to conservation, education and recreation.  It is a recognition of the monument's role in our understanding of volcanic activity, ecological resilience and the broader questions of planetary science.  As we look to the stars and aspire to explore other worlds, places like Craters of the Moon remind us of the wonders and mysteries that lie within our own planet.

Over the past century, Craters of the Moon has been a place of discovery and adventure.  It has welcomed hikers, campers, scientists and tourists from around the world, offering an exceptional experience that cannot be found elsewhere.  The monument has also been a place of solace and reflection, where the vastness of the landscape and the silence of the wilderness speak to the heart in ways words cannot convey.

I invite all Americans to join in the celebration of Craters of the Moon's centennial.  Whether you visit in person or explore through stories and photographs, I encourage you to reflect on the importance of this monument and what it represents--a legacy of sustaining this extraordinary Idaho landscape, a beacon of scientific inquiry and a symbol of the enduring beauty and strength of the natural world.

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