Park Number: 28/59
First Visited: July 31, 2011
Mesa Verde is important in the history of American preservation as it helped instigate the Antiquities Act—a bill which now allows presidents to bypass Congressional approval and preserve land as national monuments.
What happened was that, in the 1890s, a foreign archeologist helped to uncover the ancient ruins of Mesa Verde, and when he went to leave the country with artifacts of antiquity, the United States government had no laws in place to stop him from taking them home to Sweden.
Congressman John Lacey helped spearhead the Antiquities Act, adding to his impressive list of achievements. Theodore Roosevelt was the president when this act came into effect (1906), to which he then began protecting thousands of acres of land under the premise of having “historic and scientific value.”