NHAs: Lifting all boats!

Congress designates National Heritage Areas (NHAs) to recognize their contribution to American history and culture. But that’s just the start. NHAs are grassroots, community-driven projects that leverage a region’s national significance to benefit all the communities in the region. Whether showcasing a significant landscape, theme, or historic event, each NHA contributes its own unique perspective to our national heritage.

Here are some ways NHAs are benefiting their communities:

National Aviation Heritage Area: Wright Company Factory

The Wright Company Factory was the Wright brothers’ original airplane plant. The National Aviation Heritage Area is collaborating with the City of Dayton to restore the original factory, and convert the hangars into an entrepreneurial ecosystem consisting of business development partners, low-cost leasable space, a 20,000-sq. ft. food hall, urban market, and community space.

Essex National Heritage Area: Trails and Sails

Trails and Sails features everything from scenic nature walks and historic home tours to lectures and cultural demonstrations. Whether you are interested in art and design, history, ecology—or yes, even the occult—Trails and Sails has something for you.

In addition to showcasing cultural resources in the region, over the last 20 years Essex Heritage has awarded $1.6 million to community projects in every town in Essex County, MA.

Pictured here The House of the Seven Gables, Salem, MA.

Erie Canalway National Heritage Area Corridor: Water Trails

450 Miles of water trails through New York state

Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area: Innovative Archaeology

At the Housatonic Heritage Area in western Massachusetts, the Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of Mohicans is undertaking two archaeology projects using ground penetrating radar and magnetometer equipment to locate and identify the original footprint of the 1739 Stockbridge Meetinghouse and the 1783 Mohican Ox Roast/King Solomon Homesite, the site of an historic feast sponsored by George Washington to thank Mohican warriors for service in the Revolutionary War.

The project allows youth to get involved in Mohican heritage work and archeological study.

Blue Ridge National Heritage Area: Craft Trails

The Blue Ridge Craft Trails program showcases the craft traditions and artists of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.

Travel along any one of four Blue Ridge Craft Trails through the National Heritage Area to visit with artists in their studios, shop galleries full of local, handmade artwork, and discover scenic treasures and cultural gems along the way.

Pictured here: Rickenbacker Violins. Kate Rickenbacker comes from a family of musicians and carpenters

Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area: Pollinator Initiative

The Appalachian Forest NHA Pollinator Initiative offers resources on how to support pollinators, either by creating your own pollinator habitat, adding to the knowledge base for pollinators in the Appalachian Forest region, or by spreading awareness in your community. 

The AFNHA hosted the national Pollinator Conservation Conference in 2021.

Schuylkill River Greenways National Heritage Area: Bike Repair Stations

If you’ve ever ventured out on what you thought would be a refreshing bike ride, but instead found yourself seven miles from home with squishy tires, Schuylkill River Greenways has your back.

The NHA is collaborating with community partners to install six bike repair stations along the 75-mile Schuylkill River Trail. Each station will feature an air pump, bike rack, and all the tools cyclists need to adjust and repair common bike problems on the go.

A bike sits next to a bright green bike repair station at the Schuylkill River Greenway’s office in Pottstown, along the Schuylkill River Trail.

Augusta Canal National Heritage Area: Power Generator

The Augusta Canal National Heritage Area in Augusta, GA, tells the story of the Industrial Revolution in the American South by providing interactive exhibits and music cruises, and history and nature tours around the canal. The Augusta Canal Authority, which manages the NHA, derives most of its revenue from the hydro-electric power generated by diverting waters from the Augusta Canal back into the Savannah River. By selling power back to the grid, the NHA can cover its heritage programming without drawing on the city’s general revenue property tax. It’s a self-sustaining, economic driver for the Augusta community.