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Places I've Been... Historical Sites

Historical Sites
Replicas of the Union Pacific 119 / Central Pacific Jupiter.
Golden Spike National Historic Site.
These are mostly National Historic Sites and Parks, but some are some state run Lewis and Clark sites.

This is another area where some fuzzy categorization happens. There are so many other parks that deal with historical sites, (for instance Mesa Verde, The Natchez Trace, the Whitman Mission, and even Tombstone for that matter), but get put into another category due to their funding or authorization.

I'm an American History buff (hobby level only), so being able to visit some of the places that were only so many words or pictures in a book or on TV is very cool. Reading about the events in a book is one thing, but to actually stand at the site where those events took place, where you can walk in the same places that those figures of history did, is on some level to me, almost spiritual.

The top three historical sites (for me, anyway) are:

  1. Golden Spike National Historic Site. Hands down the best historic site. It is the place that made The United States a continental nation, and the powerhouse country it is today. Not to mention full size working replicas of the Jupiter and 109, the two locomotives present when the Transcontinental Railroad was completed.
  2. Independence National Historic Park. Hey, it's where the US was founded, and the home to my favorite founding father, Ben Franklin.
  3. San Antonio Missions NHP. This place has places that were built when Texas was still part of Mexico. I think this place fascinated me because they had no modern conveniences. No running water, indoor plumbing (or concept of sanitation), no light at night except by fire... Not to mention the architecture, still impressive to this day.
  4. Runner up is all the Lewis and Clark sites. It might be cheating, but they involved the same people from the Mississippi to Fort Clatsop... Back to Top

Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site
Abe Lincoln Birthplace Link Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site is a couple miles South of Hodgenville in Kentucky a dozen miles off I-65. It's the original site of the Sinking Spring farm where Abe was born. A marble building at the top of the hill supposedly contains the cabin in which the 16th President was born and lived for the first couple of years.

Near Hodgenville, Kentucky / 9 Images. Visited Jun 2001.

Fort Pike State Historic Site
Fort Pike Link Fort Pike was one of many defensive structures built in response to the War of 1812 by the government to protect the coastline of the United States. They were completely obsolete by the middle of the Civil War, with the invention of the rifled canon.

I was at the Fort in 2002. In 2005, the Fort took the brunt of Hurricane Katrina. I'm not sure how badly it was damaged, but it's only open by appointment now.

Near Slidell, Louisiana / 34 Images. Visited Sep 2002.
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Golden Spike National Historic Site
Golden Spike Link Golden Spike National Historic Site is where that final spike (made of gold, hence the name) was driven, completing the Transcontinental Railroad. That single event tied a geographically divided nation together, transforming a treacherous six month trip by wagon or ship to a five day, sightseeing adventure.

They have seasonally operated replicas of the Central Pacific Jupiter and the Union Pacific 119, the locomotives present when the final spike was driven. It's a must for any train buff...
Near Promontory, Utah / 19 Images. Visited Sep 1998.

Independence National Historic Park
Independence Link Independence covers a couple of square miles of Philadelphia's historical district, protecting things like the Liberty Bell and one of the original copies of the Declaration of Independence. Farther afield are historical places like the Betty Ross house and the Franklin Institute.

While you're there, a side trip to the Philadelphia Mint is a must. It's where half of the change in your pocket was made.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania / 35 Images. Visited Jun 2001, Oct 2006.
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Chalmette National Battlefield and Cemetery (Jean Lafitte NHP)
Chalmette Link The Jean Lafitte National Historic Park covers several sites around New Orleans, but I was only at the Chalmette National Battlefield and Cemetery

Didja ever hear the song, "Battle of New Orleans"? The final battle between the Brits and the Americans was fought here, with catastrophic results for England.

New Orleans, Louisiana / 39 Images. Visited Sep 2002.

Lewis And Clark
Lewis And Clark Link I've visited a few Lewis And Clark sites, from Philadelphia to the Pacific Northwest.
Visited Various.
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Fort Clatsop, Lewis and Clark State and National Historic Park
Lewis And Clark Link My 2005 Pacific Northwest Vacation had me to a bunch of Lewis and Clark sites, including Fort Clatsop, where the Corps of Discover stayed their second winter. Of course, the fort burned down a few months before I was there, so the images I have are of a bare fort with no furnishings.

There are also images of the Salt Works (near Seaside), where the Corps boiled down sea water for salt. The site is literally in someone's back yard...

Near Warrenton, Oregon / 22 Images. Visited Jul 2006.

Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center (Great Falls, Montana)
Lewis And Clark GF Link The area around Great Falls on the Missouri River was the first serious obstacle the Corps of Discovery had underestimated about the West. Mile after mile of un-navigable rapids and waterfalls, where they had to portage hundreds of pounds of canoes and supplies by foot.

The Missouri River's been long tamed now, even more so during the fall when I was there, months after the mountain snowpacks had melted. But even 200 years later, it was easy to see how this area of the Missouri would be hell by canoe...

Near Great Falls, Montana / 15 Images Visited Jul 2006
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Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center (ND, Fort Mandan)
Lewis And Clark ND Link Fort Mandan was where the Corps spent their first winter. Or at least someplace around where the replica fort is today, it's true location is unknown.

The interpretive center is new and a couple miles from the Fort, which has it's own visitor's center. I purposely avoided a bus tour, and got me a private tour of the Fort. It was actually a pretty cool tour.

Near Washburn, North Dakota / 20 Images. Visited Jul 2006.

Meriwether Lewis Burial Site (Natchez Trace Parkway)
Meriwether Lewis Burial Site Link I was first at the Meriwether Lewis Burial Site on the Natchez Trace Parkway in 2000, but it wasn't until closer to the bi-centennial of his trip to the West that I did a lot more research into the Corps of Discovery. I went back in 2011, when I found myself about a hundred miles away from the site.

This link will take you to the Natchez Trace Parkway Page.

Near Hohenwald, Tennessee / 22 Images. Visited Mar 2000, Nov 2011.
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Nez Perce National Historic Park
Nez Perce Link I was only at the East Kamiah unit of the Nez Perce NHP, but I guess if you're going to be at any of the part of the park, it might as well be the place where the tribe was born from the blood of the monster.

It is along the Northwest Passage Scenic Byway (US-12).

East Kamiah, Idaho / 7 Images. Visited Jul 2006.

San Antonio Missions NHP/The Alamo (San Antonio, TX)
San Antonio Missions Link The San Antonio Missions was a very cool place to visit, allowing one to visualize what it was like before any sort of modern convenience.

Also include here are images of the Alamo, which is not part of the park. It's a Daughters of the Republic of Texas site, and does not allow photography inside of the church. So I only have exteriors.

San Antonio, Texas / 103 Images. Visited Jun 1992, Jun 1998.
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Valley Forge National Historic Park
Valley Forge Link I was around the Philadelphia area for a couple of weeks, and over the weekend I visited Valley Forge National Historic Park. And I was sick. Ugh. I apologize to all those trying to watch the intro movie while I coughed. Got some nice fall pictures, though.

Anyway, George Washington slept here. I mean, he really did sleep here.

Near King of Prussia, Pennsylvania / 71 Images. Visited Oct 2006.

Whitman Mission National Historic Site
Whitman Mission Link The Whitman Mission on (or at least near) the Oregon trail was another one of those places that I had read and heard about, but didn't come alive until you wandered the area where hundreds of pioneers passed 200 years ago...

The mission is gone, but the wagon ruts are still there...

Near Walla Walla, Washington / 16 Images. Visited Sep 2001.
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