Because the United States needed a, “Home Department” to focus on the needs of our growing nation.

Tucked into just two medium-sized rooms, I learned much about our fourth oldest agency (State, Treasury and Defense are the first three).

Chains for public land surveys in the mid- to late-1800s.

Benchmarks for map-making. They’re sprinkled around the U.S.

Sediment catchers for understanding erosion rates and water qualities in our nation’s rivers.

A Whooping Crane feeding puppet. Nearby in Maryland the U.S. Geological Survey maintains the nation’s largest breeding program for this endangered bird.

Not just for listening to the ocean.

Beautiful and practical items made my Native Americans. Carved ivory arctic snow goggles for use by Inuits in Alaska; and a Fue, a whisk signifying a Samoan talking chief’s status in society.

And one final fun fact. Nearly every American lives within an hours’ drive of land or water that is managed by the Department of the Interior.