Featured

Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield

Where is it?

Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield is located at 5242 S. State Hwy ZZ,
Republic, Missouri.

The thistle and other wildflowers were showing off their end of summer beauty when we visited Wilson’s Creek.

The park features:

  • Visitor center with gift shop
  • Museum
  • Self-guided auto tour
  • Hiking and horseback riding trails
  • Civil War research library – by appointment only

When using Google Maps for directions to this park, be sure to use the address above in Republic, Missouri. This public service announcement is brought to you by our wild goose chase through Springfield, Missouri’s industrial district.

Here is a link to the park’s website: Wilson’s Creek 

Wilson’s Creek

Why is Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield significant?

The Battle of Wilson’s Creek, which took place on August 10, 1861, was the second major battle of the Civil War and the first battle west of the Mississippi River. Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon was killed in the battle and was the first Union general to die in action in the Civil War. Confederate troops, who outnumbered the Union troops by almost double, won the battle giving the Confederacy control of southwestern Missouri.

Interesting map showing Civil War battles in the western U.S.

Trivia: Nearly as many men died in Civil War prison camps as died in the Viet Nam War.

Did the battle at Wilson’s Creek result in Missouri’s secession?

No, although the state remained deeply divided throughout the Civil War. While some Missourians wanted to secede from the Union to join the pro-slavery Confederate States, others chose to side with the pro-abolitionist Union. Missouri, according to Wikipedia, “…sent armies, generals, and supplies to both sides, maintained dual governments, and endured a bloody neighbor-against-neighbor intrastate war within the larger national war.”

The Ray House

Ray House, Wilson’s Creek

An excerpt describing the Ray family and their house from the National Park Service’s wayside information board:

“The Ray House is the only park structure on its original site that dates back to the Battle of Wilson’s Creek. Postmaster and farmer John Ray built it in the 1850s. For ten years it served as the Wilson’s Creek Post Office, a stopping place on the old Wire Road that connected Springfield, Missouri with Fort Smith, Arkansas. In 1861, twelve people were living here: John and Roxanna Ray, their nine children, and a mail carrier. Their slave “Aunt Rhoda” and her four children occupied a small cabin to the rear of the house. On August 10, 1861, they found themselves in the path of war.”

The Ray’s original springhouse still exists today.

The Ray family used the cool springhouse as a place to store perishable foods, and it also provided them with water. Their house served as a Confederate field hospital during and after the battle. Water from the springhouse was vital to the wounded soldiers as well as to the surgeons tending to their injuries.

John Ray stood on his front porch and watched the battle take place in his cornfield and on Bloody Hill. The rest of the family hid in a cellar, but when they emerged hours later, soldiers who lay wounded and dying were everywhere in and around their house.

Trivia: Senator John J. Crittendon of Kentucky had two sons who became generals during the Civil War – one for the North and one for the South.

Bloody Hill

This is an unnamed section of Bloody Hill where Lyon began his advance. The Ray House is located near the barely visible clearing on the horizon at center right.

The Battle of Wilson’s Creek began and ended at Bloody Hill. Union soldiers managed to hold their ground for a while, but they were dreadfully outnumbered. Finally, with a quarter of their men lost after five hours of courageous fighting, the Union soldiers were forced to retreat. Among the dead was their leader, Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon. Lyon was a fearless warrior though. He was shot in the knee and in the head, and his horse was also killed. Even after suffering two life-threatening wounds, he mounted another horse and continued to lead his men in the battle. A third and final shot to the heart was the mortal wound.

A three-quarter mile trail at Bloody Hill takes visitors through the Union line and other areas where the battle took place.

In the chaotic aftermath of the battle, Lyon’s body was somehow forgotten on the battlefield. Confederate soldiers found his body and took it to the Ray house where they placed it on a bed in their living room so a surgeon could assess the wounds. (The bed is on display in the park’s museum.) Lyon’s final resting place is in a family cemetery in Eastford, Connecticut, although he was initially buried on a farm in Springfield, Missouri. Click here to read some interesting personal recollections of Lyon’s post-mortem and first burial.

Trivia: The Gettysburg Address is one of the greatest and most famous speeches of all time, but it contained just 272 words and was only two minutes long.

Thank you for joining us on our visit to Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield!

 

Need more road trip inspiration? Click on these great destinations:
Antietam National Battlefield
Portland, Maine
Gettysburg National Military Park

Travel safe, and we will see you on the road.

Mike and Kellye  

IMG_2120

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2022

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site

About the site

Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site preserves the history of White Haven, the 200-year-old estate that was once home to Ulysses S. Grant and his wife, Julia Dent Grant. The park is located at 7400 Grant Road, St. Louis, Missouri.

The house was painted Paris Green in 1874 during Grant’s presidency and was repainted the same color during its restoration in the 1990s. The red buildings behind the house are the icehouse and chicken coop. We only took a couple of non-post-worthy pictures inside the house because our guide, Ranger Evan, was extremely interesting to listen to as she led us through the property.

Highlights of the park include:

  • Visitor center and gift shop/bookstore
  • Introductory film
  • Museum
  • Self-guided walk through the grounds
  • Self-guided tour featuring the historic trees on the property
  • Ranger-led tours of the house
  • Junior Ranger programs
  • John Y. Simon Research Library – by appointment only

The park’s website link: Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site

Importance of the historic site

Ulysses S. Grant was not only the victorious commanding general of the Union Army during the Civil War, but he was also the 18th President of the United States. Grant served two terms as president from 1869 – 1877. His wife and First Lady, Julia Dent Grant spent her childhood at White Haven. Her father, Frederick Dent, who was a successful merchant and land speculator, purchased White Haven in 1820 as a country get away from the family’s city home in St. Louis. It is hard to imagine today that the family’s second home was only twelve miles from their primary residence.

Historic photo, White Haven, circa 1860
Another view of the house that we almost matched to the historic image above. The white structure behind the house is a kitchen and laundry.

Ulysses and Julia at White Haven

Ulysses met Julia in 1843 when he visited White Haven with his former West Point roommate who happened to be her older brother, Fred. After courting for only four months, Julia accepted Ulysses’ proposal, which they kept secret for over a year. However, due to the outbreak of the Mexican-American War they wouldn’t marry until 1848. Ulysses served in the U.S. Army for eleven years prior to resigning and joining his wife at White Haven in 1854 to try farming. He built a cabin on an 80-acre plot that Julia’s father had given the couple as a wedding gift, and they named the property Hardscrabble. While Grant owned one enslaved worker, a man named William Jones who had been given to him by Julia’s father, he also hired free men to work on the farm.

Hardscrabble – photo from the Library of Congress. The Grants lived in this cabin for only three months. Upon the death of her mother, Julia’s father asked her, Ulysses, and their two children to live in his White Haven home with him. They never returned to Hardscrabble. The cabin can now be seen at the family amusement venue, Grant’s Farm, which is next door to the historic site.

Grant’s Pre-Civil War Years

By 1858 Grant, now with four children, was unable to support the family by farming, but instead of selling his one slave to make money he freed the man. Slavery was a topic on which he and his father-in-law greatly differed, as Frederick Dent’s White Haven was a slave plantation. Nonetheless, after failing at farming and on the verge of being penniless, Grant leased Hardscrabble and moved his family to St. Louis where he began a real estate venture. Unfortunately, real estate was not a successful career either, so he moved his family to Galena, Illinois and went to work in his family’s leather goods business. During this time Frederick Dent lost much of White Haven to foreclosure. He also began deeding acreages to his children. Then in December of 1860, South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union. By February 1861, six other states had seceded and had formed the Confederate States of America. The Civil War had begun.

This view of the back of the house shows the kitchen and laundry that was separate from the house.

Grant’s Civil War Years

After the war began, the governor of Illinois appointed Grant to lead a regiment of volunteers. Grant was so successful in training the men and gaining their respect that President Abraham Lincoln promoted him to Brigadier General. As the war continued, Lincoln became displeased with the North’s military leadership. Therefore, in March of 1864, Lincoln appointed Grant General-in-Chief of the U. S. Army, a rank that had only ever been held by George Washington. Over the following year Grant, who sometimes joined his subordinates in battle, successfully led the North to victory. Despite heavy casualties, he settled for nothing less than unconditional and immediate surrenders, which earned him the nickname, “Unconditional Surrender Grant”. The war ended on April 9, 1865, with the South’s General Robert E. Lee surrendering to Grant at Virginia’s Appomattox Courthouse.

Lee surrenders to Grant – Library of Congress image

Grant’s Post-Civil War Years

After the war, President Andrew Johnson appointed Grant Secretary of War of the reconstructing nation. During and after the war the Grants had purchased White Haven from Julia’s siblings and father and regained Hardscrabble. In 1868, Grant was elected President of the United States, having won against incumbent Andrew Johnson. The Grants moved into the White House in 1869 and hired Ulysses’ cousin’s husband to manage the farm at White Haven. By this time, Dent’s former enslaved workers had left, and French and German immigrants were hired as laborers. Grant had a barn and stables built at White Haven and began buying horses. The Grants visited White Haven as often as possible and planned to spend their retirement years there. However, the farming and livestock operation failed to make money, so in 1875, Grant sold White Haven’s assets and leased out the property. They would never return.

This stable housed Grant’s thoroughbreds. Today it houses the park’s museum.

Trivia: General Grant and Julia had been invited to join President Lincoln and the First Lady in the balcony of Ford’s Theater on April 15, 1865, the night the President was assassinated. However, the Grants had declined the invitation due to Julia wanting to visit relatives in New Jersey.

Ulysses S. Grant standing next to his wife Julia Dent Grant, who is sitting
Ulysses and Julia in 1864 or 1865 – National Park Service photo.

Grant’s Post-Presidency Years

Julia had wanted her husband to run for a third presidential term, but he refused by publicly renouncing his interest. The former President and First Lady set off on a two-year world tour, fulfilling Grant’s lifelong dream of travel.  Upon their return to the U.S., he sought to win the Republican nomination for president in the 1880 election, but the party chose James A. Garfield as their candidate. Ulysses and Julia settled in New York to be closer to their children and grandchildren. Grant was diagnosed with throat cancer in the summer of 1884. Early in 1885, the former president began writing his memoirs. Three months before his death, Grant found that he had lost his fortune to an investment scam perpetrated by his son Jesse’s business partner. Because of the swindle, the Grants also lost White Haven. He completed his memoirs just three days before his death on July 23, 1885.

Ulysses S. Grant

Museum Exhibits

Click on an image to view as a gallery.

The Grant Family: Nellie, Ulysses, Jesse, Frederick, Julia, and Ulysses, Jr.

Trivia: Ulysses S. Grant is not the former president’s actual name. His given name was Hiram Ulysses Grant. However, when his congressman submitted Ulysses’ application to West Point, he mistakenly wrote down Ulysses Simpson Grant, Simpson having been Ulysses’ mother’s maiden name. After attempting to correct the mistake at West Point to no avail, Ulysses finally gave up and signed his name as Ulysses S. Grant. The name would follow him throughout the rest of his life and into history.

Thank you so much for joining us on our visit to Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site. We learned a lot during our visit, and we hope you did too.

Want to learn about other American presidents? Click on these great parks:

Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park

Eisenhower National Historic Site

Monticello

Travel safely, and we will see you on the road.

Mike & Kellye

IMG_5646

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2022

 

 

 

Featured

Fort Donelson National Battlefield

Where is it?

Fort Donelson National Battlefield is located near Dover, Tennessee.

The park features:

  • Visitor center and gift shop
  • Self-guided auto tour
  • Hiking trails
  • Picnic area
  • Camping is available nearby at Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area and at Paris Landing State Park

Click here for the park’s website link: Fort Donelson

Confederate Monument, Fort Donelson National Battlefield

Why is Fort Donelson significant?

The battle was one of the first major victories of the Civil War for the Union and for Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant. More importantly, the Union’s victory at Fort Donelson gave them control of the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers, the southern half of Kentucky, and middle Tennessee which included Nashville. With railroads and river access, Nashville became an important supply depot for the Union Army. The battle, which took place on February 11-16, 1862, ended upon the Confederates’ surrender at the Dover Hotel. General Simon Bolivar Buckner was the first Confederate general to surrender during the Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln promoted Ulysses S. Grant to Major General after this successful campaign. Buckner, on the other hand, was sent north to spend five months in a Massachusetts prisoner of war camp.

The Dover Hotel

The Dover Hotel also known as Surrender House sits on the bank of the Cumberland River

An excerpt from a National Park Service wayside information board:

“On February 16, 1862, the Battle of Fort Donelson ended when Union forces captured the fort after five days of conflict. The Union and Confederate generals met at the Dover Hotel to conduct the final surrender terms. The Confederates relinquished the fort, which allowed the North access to the Cumberland River. This changed the course of the Civil War by giving the Union a way to invade the rest of the South.” 

Trivia: The Dover Hotel is the only existing original structure where a Civil War surrender took place.

The “unconditional and immediate” surrender

Grant and Buckner were friends, having attended the United States Military Academy at West Point together. The two men also served together in the Mexican-American War. They were unfortunately forced into opposing each other on Fort Donelson’s battlefield. During the signing of the surrender documents, Grant reportedly offered to lend Buckner money to tide him over until his release from the prison camp. It was a generous offer, but one that Buckner politely declined. After the war, Grant was elected President of the United States (1869-1877) and Buckner was elected Governor of Kentucky (1877-1891). The two men remained friends until Grant died poverty-stricken in 1885, after having lost his fortune to a swindling business partner of his son. Buckner graciously paid for Grant’s funeral as well as served as a pallbearer. He also provided Grant’s widow with a monthly stipend to help support her financially.

Inside the Dover Hotel

Meanwhile along the banks of the Cumberland River

An excerpt from a National Park Service wayside information board:

“Thirteen thousand dejected Confederate defenders of Fort Donelson huddled here [on the bank of the Cumberland River] against the cold on February 16, 1862. They had fought long and hard against Grant’s forces and did not consider themselves defeated. They had been surrendered against their will and now waited to be transported north. Never before in the Civil War had so many prisoners been taken, and the poorly clad Confederates could only guess what awaited them. After being issued two days’ rations and allowed to keep “their clothing, blankets, and such personal property as may be carried about the person,” the prisoners were shipped 120 miles to Cairo, Illinois. From there, trains carried them to prison camps in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Massachusetts. In September 1862 most of the prisoners were exchanged for Union soldiers being held in Confederate prison camps.”

Camp Douglas Prison Grounds Chicago.png
Library of Congress image of Camp Douglas Prison Grounds, Chicago, Illinois

The camps that housed the Fort Donelson prisoners were:

  • Camp Douglas, Chicago, Illinois – housed enlisted men and no longer exists.
  • Camp Butler, Springfield, Illinois – housed enlisted men and exists as Camp Butler National Cemetery today.
  • Camp Morton, Indianapolis, Indiana – housed enlisted men and no longer exists.
  • Camp Chase, Columbus, Ohio – housed officers and a portion exists today as Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery.
  • Johnson’s Island, Sandusky, Ohio – housed officers and a portion exists as a Confederate cemetery.
  • Fort Warren, Boston, Massachusetts – housed officers and is now a National Historic Landmark and tourist site.
Rebel prisoners, Camp Morton, Indianapolis | Library of Congress
Rebel prisoners, Camp Morton, Indianapolis – Library of Congress

Fort Donelson National Cemetery

Fort Donelson National Cemetery was established in 1867 as a final resting place for Union troops who had been buried elsewhere around the area. In all, 670 of the graves here are Civil War burials. More than 900 additional graves are the final resting places of veterans of other American wars and their family members. Sadly, 519 of the burials here are of unknowns from the Civil War. Confederate soldiers were buried in other cemeteries because their loyalties were not to the United States (Union).

Cemetery Lodge

Cemetery lodge, built in 1877, served as the office and living quarters for the cemetery keeper until 1931. The Second Empire (French) style structure now houses the park’s administrative offices. 

Interestingly, the original late 1800s version of this cemetery featured wooden headstones. Today the headstones appear to be made of engraved marble or granite and many are arranged in swirl and circle patterns. Fort Donelson National Cemetery covers 15 acres and is surrounded by a limestone retaining wall with wrought iron gates.

Trivia: Several national cemeteries were established during the Civil War; however, more were sanctioned by the passage of the National Cemeteries Act in 1867. The act tasked the U.S. Army with overseeing all aspects of building additional national cemeteries. Functions included: acquisition of land, cemetery design, reinterring the dead from battlefield burials or other cemeteries, construction of roads, keepers’ lodges and other buildings, planting trees and plants, and installing permanent headstones.

Carriage House, now used as an information center for the cemetery
So young…

Thank you for joining us on our visit to Fort Donelson National Battlefield! Our goal is to learn about our country’s hallowed grounds and to pass along that knowledge so that the men who died upon them will never be forgotten.

Looking for more historical road trip destinations? Click on these amazing sites:

Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine

Antietam National Battlefield

Gettysburg National Military Park

 

Travel safely, and we will see you on the road!

Mike & Kellye

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) 

©2022

 

 

 

 

Featured

Pecos National Historical Park

Pecos National Historical Park is located near Pecos, New Mexico. The park protects the National Historic Landmark site which is composed of the ruins of an ancient pueblo and a mission church.

Getting There

Albuquerque, New Mexico has a major airport, so our road trip will begin there. Drive time between Albuquerque and Pecos National Historical Park: 1.25 hours.

From Albuquerque, take I-25 north to Glorieta, New Mexico. At Glorieta, take Highway 50 to the town of Pecos. Proceed through Pecos on Main Street (Highway 63) and follow the signs to the park.

Bonus stop: Santa Fe, New Mexico. The capital city of New Mexico is not only beautiful, but it is also the second oldest city in the US. We enjoy visiting Santa Fe for its colorful history, outstanding art, and fabulous food. The natural beauty of the surrounding Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the Santa Fe National Forest just enhances the city’s appeal.

Quintessential Santa Fe – Photo courtesy of Matt Briney

Things to do in Santa Fe:

  • Santa Fe Plaza
  • Palace of the Governors
  • Loretto Chapel
  • San Miguel Chapel
  • Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi
  • Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
  • Canyon Road art galleries
  • Santa Fe Railyard
  • Meow Wolf
St. Francis of Assisi statue stands in front of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Now let’s continue on to Pecos National Historical Park…

Destination: Pecos National Historical Park

Website link: Pecos National Historical Park

Park features:

  • Visitor center, museum, giftshop
  • Two picnic areas
  • Three hiking trails
  • Fishing (reservation required)
  • Wildlife viewing
  • Scheduled ranger-guided tours

We recommend stopping first at the visitor center to get information, pick up a trail map, and view a short film about the park. The outstanding museum is one of the best we have seen at any park, so allow time to view the exhibits.

Pretty scenery surrounds the park
Ancestral Sites Trail

Ancestral Sites Trail is the most popular trail in the park and takes visitors on a 1.25-mile loop through the pueblo ruins and the mission church. Most visitors choose to do the self-guided tour; however, some ranger-guided tours may be offered. Plan to spend at least an hour walking the trail and longer if you’re like us and take a lot of pictures.

Kiva – a ceremonial structure used for religious rites and/or tribal meetings. Twenty kivas remain intact on the pueblo site.

The trail guide and wayside information boards ensure that visitors get a comprehensive overview of where the pueblo buildings stood. There were actually two pueblos on the site – a north and south. Evidence shows that the site has been occupied since 11,500 BCE, though the first pueblo buildings, which were made of rocks and mud, were constructed around 1100 CE. The last buildings were four to five stories tall and were occupied by up to 2,000 people.

More ruins along the Ancestral Sites Trail

Native people occupied Pecos Pueblo (known historically as Cicuye) until 1838 when the last occupants moved to Jemez Pueblo where the people spoke the same Towa language. Jemez Pueblo, which is still occupied as a thriving community, is located approximately 59 miles west of Pecos. Towa is still spoken by the Jemez people, though there is no traditional written form of the language due to tribal regulations that prohibit transcription.

Pecos Mission Church
Pecos Mission Church

Franciscan missionaries arrived in the area in 1617 and built the first mission church, but it was too far from the pueblo to interest the residents. A second mission consisting of a church and Convento (storage rooms and living quarters for residents of the mission) was built on the site of the current mission church in 1625. As with most Spanish missions in the Southwestern US, the missionaries oversaw the construction, but the native people provided the slave labor.

The Convento ruins lie next to the mission church.

Disgruntled with the missionaries’ mistreatment of their people and disrespect of traditional native religious practices, the Pecos people joined thirty other pueblos in a revolt against the Spanish government. During the revolt, referred to as the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, the Pecos Mission Church and Convento were destroyed. The Pueblo Revolt was successful in driving the Spanish missionaries and settlers out of the area. However, the Spanish returned to claim what is now New Mexico twelve years later. This was due to fears that the French, who were making their way west of the Mississippi River, would get there first.

Mission Church

The current Mission Church was completed in 1717, and interestingly, missionaries did convert some pueblo people to Christianity. However, the Puebloans never did fully give up their traditional ceremonies and religious practices. Jemez people continue those traditions today, and Pecos Pueblo endures as a sacred site.

The Battle of Glorieta Pass
From the park looking toward the battlefield area with Glorieta Mesa (also known as Rowe Mesa) in the distance

The Battle of Glorieta Pass is perhaps one of the lesser-known Civil War Battles, but it ended in an important victory for Union Troops and the Northern New Mexico Territory. Here’s an excerpt from the National Park Service:

“Although many associate the Civil War with eastern battlefields like Antietam or the Wilderness, the fight over slavery in the United States extended much further west. In March of 1862, the war brought a battle to Glorieta Pass. Some refer to the battle as the Gettysburg of the West due to its overall significance to the war. The Confederates campaigned to take control of the West, which would have greatly improved their chances of success. However, in just three days of tough fighting, the Union Army ruined the Confederate plans and sent them retreating back southwards.”

For additional information about the battle, click here: Battle of Glorieta Pass

The park maintains the 2.25-mile Glorieta Battlefield Trail. Those who want to hike this trail will need to check in at the visitor center to purchase a trail guide and obtain a gate code. The trailhead is a 7.5-mile drive from the visitor center.

Forked Lightning Ranch

Our visit to Pecos National Historical Park unfortunately did not take place on a day when they were offering tours of the Forked Lightning Ranch. Perhaps we will go back one day to take the tour because the ranch has a colorful past that includes a rodeo legend as well as some Hollywood royalty!

File:2013 - West Elevation, Kozlowski's Trading Post and Stage Stop, Santa Fe Trail, Pecos National Historic Park, the Former Forked Lightning Ranch - panoramio.jpg
Now part of the park, this building was originally Kozlowski’s Trading Post. Built in 1810, the trading post and stage station was a popular stop on the Santa Fe Trail.
Tex Austin

The original ranch was established by rodeo promoter Tex Austin in 1925 after he purchased 5,500 acres of land near the banks of the Pecos River. Austin operated a dude ranch on the site for several years, hosting only elite guests such as Charles Lindbergh and Will Rogers. Unfortunately, with the onset of the Great Depression, Austin and the ranch fell into bankruptcy. Other owners held the ranch for a few years but lived in the old Kozlowki’s Trading Post rather than in the ranch house.

File:Forked Lightning Ranch Residence, Architect - John Gaw Meem, Pecos National Historical Park - panoramio.jpg
The Forked Lightning Ranch house is part of the Pecos National Historical Park
Buddy Fogelson

Buddy Fogelson, a Texas rancher and oilman, purchased the property in 1941. He married Hollywood actress Greer Garson in 1949, and they made the working cattle ranch their home. The couple hosted lavish parties and skeet shoots, making the ranch a gathering place for their celebrity friends. Upon Buddy’s death in 1987, a portion of the ranch, including the house, was left to his wife, Greer, and a separate portion called Los Trigos Ranch was left to his nephew. Greer sold her land to The Conservation Fund in 1991. The fund then donated the property to enlarge what would later become the Pecos National Historical Park. The nephew’s parcels were sold to private purchasers.

For additional information click here: Forked Lightning Ranch

Bonus side trip:

Fort Union National Monument. From Pecos, take I-25 north to Watrous via Las Vegas, New Mexico, then take Highway 161 north 12 miles to the park. Driving distance between Pecos National Historical Park and Fort Union National Monument: 1 hour. Thank you for joining us on our road trip to Pecos National Historical Park! We hope we have inspired your wanderlust. Leave us a comment below and tell us about your own journeys. We would love to hear from you.

Need more road trip inspiration? Click on these exciting national park sites:

Colorado National Monument
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
Craters of the Moon National Monument

Mike and Kellye

IMG_2120

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) Our opinions are our own. ©2022

Forked Lightning Ranch photo credits: Chris English, Wikimedia Commons.

Featured

Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine

Sitting right on Baltimore’s inner harbor near an industrial area on the edge of downtown is Fort McHenry, the birthplace of the “The Star-Spangled Banner”. It was during the War of 1812 that a young lawyer named Francis Scott Key penned the now famous words. He had been aboard a US truce ship on the river while witnessing the battle between the Americans defending Baltimore at Fort McHenry and the British navy. The British had sailed up the Chesapeake Bay after burning Washington and filled the river with its ships aiming to capture Baltimore. After the battle in September of 1814, Key was inspired to write the poem when he saw that the garrison flag “yet waved” by the dawn’s early light over Fort McHenry. The poem was set to an adapted tune of an 18th Century European song called “To Anacreon in Heaven”, and in 1931 “The Star-Spangled Banner” was officially adopted as the National Anthem of the United States. Did you know that the original title of Key’s poem was “The Defense of Fort McHenry”?

A smaller replica of the original garrison flag, which bore fifteen stars and fifteen stripes and measured 30′ x 42′, flies over Fort McHenry today. The original flag, made by Mary Pickersgill of Baltimore at the request of the fort’s commander, Major George Armistead, now resides in the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.

Fort McHenry was built between 1798 and 1803 and is named for James McHenry who hailed from Baltimore and was George Washington’s Secretary of War. During the Civil War, the fort was used to hold prisoners of war, but it was primarily used as a prison for pro-succession Maryland residents. During World War I, the grounds around Fort McHenry were home to 100 buildings composing a 3,000 bed hospital. Called General Hospital 2, which was one of the largest in the US at the time, it was used to treat wounded from the battlefields of France. Fort McHenry is the only national park site that has been designated as a shrine.

Prison cells at Fort McHenry
These cannons swivel on a round track so they can be aimed in different directions
These cannons are aimed toward the harbor. Baltimore’s harbor is actually the Patapsco River which flows into the Chesapeake Bay.
Inside the fort
Outside the fort
Sallyport (entrance) to the fort

We’re going to call this trip done, but in closing the post we want to leave you with a couple of cool shots at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. This is where the Baltimore Orioles baseball team plays, and the stadium is next to M&T Bank Stadium where the Baltimore Ravens football team plays. Both fields are in downtown Baltimore.

Eutaw Street Entrance
The great Babe Ruth was a Baltimorian who was born just a few blocks from Oriole Park at Camden Yards. In fact, his father once owned and ran a bar that sat about where the ballpark’s second base is located today.

Thanks so much for stopping by! Until the next time…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

IMG_2120

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2021

 

Featured

Wish We Were There Wednesdays: Vehicles

Today we’re sharing some interesting vehicles that we have come across during our travels. We hope you enjoy seeing them!

USS Cairo gunboat. One of the first ironclad warships built during the civil war, she was sunk by a torpedo (or mine) in the Yazoo River while helping other ships sweep for mines in 1862. Luckily there were no casualties. Having been raised in the 1960s after lying in the silty bottom of the river for over 100 years, she now resides at Vicksburg National Military Park.

Tour bus in Yellowstone National Park. Beginning in the 1920s, these “National Park Buses” carried visitors on various excursions through the park, with some of the buses still running in the 1960s. Eventually all of these classics were all sold. Several of them have now been relocated and refurbished so that today’s visitors to the park can experience what it was like back in the early days – with modern amenities and roads, of course.

USS Constitution. Nicknamed Old Ironsides, she was initially launched in 1797. She is the world’s oldest ship that is still afloat, and she is the oldest commissioned ship in the U.S. Navy, which means she is still served by U. S. Navy officers and crew. Her home is the Charlestown Navy Yard in Charlestown, Massachusetts.

This truck is called a Peacekeeper. They were once used by security officers who patrolled near minuteman missile silos. These armored Dodge trucks were usually outfitted with a machine gun turret on the roof. This one is at the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site in South Dakota.

This is a rail truck at the World Museum of Mining in Butte, Montana. The unusual vehicle was an important part of the Butte, Anaconda & Pacific Railway (BAP) which was the first railroad to convert from steam to electricity. Built in the early 1900s, this truck was used to maintain the overhead wires of the railroad.

These huge ships are docked in Baltimore and are Military Sealift Command (MSC) ships used to preposition or move supplies, vehicles, and other cargo needed by the military. Interestingly, MSC ships are served by civil service workers who are employed by the Navy and are not active military personnel. We captured this shot in the rain thus the monochromatic image.

Old snow blower train in Skagway, Alaska with a rotary snowplow on the front.

This is President Lyndon Johnson’s Jetstar, nicknamed Air Force 1/2. The runway at his Texas ranch couldn’t accommodate Air Force One, so this smaller plane would carry him from a larger airport (usually in San Antonio or Austin) to the ranch. The plane is on display at the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park (LBJ Ranch) at Stonewall, Texas.

Here is a shot of the Goodyear blimp which we captured on a gorgeous fall afternoon in our own city. Did you know that up until 2005 (with a couple of deviations) Goodyear named its blimps after the American winners of the America’s Cup yacht race? Now the public gets to submit suggestions for naming the blimps.

We’re going to close the post with a shot inside a hot air balloon while it’s deflating – just because we think it’s a cool pic.

We hope you enjoyed our post and will come back again for more exciting road trip destinations, a Quick Stop, some tips and tricks, or another Wish We Were There Wednesday. Better yet, come back for all of our posts, and join our family of followers so you never miss one! We can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Happy hump day, everyone!

Mike and Kellye

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2022

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

The town of Harpers Ferry is a national park located (now) in the state of West Virginia, but it also borders the states of Maryland and Virginia. The town once had an armory (established by George Washington to build muskets), a cotton mill among other important manufacturing sites, and a college. It is also the site of the 1862 Civil War Battle of Harpers Ferry, when the town was in the state of Virginia.

Here visitors can hike a section of the Appalachian Trail, walk the C & O Canal towpath (part of the Appalachian Trail), or enjoy several other hiking trails. There are also outfitters nearby that can put you on a river if water sports are your thing. Several museums and other points of interest are located along Potomac and High Streets in the lower town.

The Appalachian Trail winds its way from Maryland Heights across the Potomac River and through Harpers Ferry
Peaceful path to Virginius Island

The Rivers

The Point is where two rivers converge. This is a popular place in the park. It is interesting to see the water of the Potomac blend with the water of the Shenandoah where they meet at the center of the image.

The forest green water of the Potomac (foreground) flows into the olive green Shenandoah (background)
Along the bank of the Shenandoah

The Town

When visiting Harpers Ferry, guests can park at the visitor center then board a free shuttle to take them to the lower town. A hiking trail leads to the lower town for those who would rather walk. There are many historic buildings to see and there are also shops and restaurants. Although it is a national park, Harpers Ferry does have residents.

High Street
Along Shenandoah Street
Saint Peter’s Roman Catholic Church

John Brown

John Brown was a staunch abolitionist. In 1859, he organized a raid on Harpers Ferry. The rebellion, which was intended to arm enslaved men by seizing the armory, was a failure. After a thirty-six hour standoff, Brown and his men were killed or captured by a group of US Marines led by Robert E. Lee. Brown was later found guilty of treason, inciting a riot, and conspiracy. His trial and subsequent hanging took place in Charles Town, Virginia, now West Virginia.

John Brown’s Fort was originally the firehouse for the armory in Harpers Ferry. It is now referred to as John Brown’s Fort because it is where he and his men barricaded themselves during the final hours of their raid before being captured.
This and the photo above were taken at the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

It is reported that Brown wrote this on the wall of his cell just before being hanged: “I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood.”

Miscellany

The Harpers Ferry train tunnel is actually on the Maryland side of the Potomac River
Remains of a B & O Railroad bridge which spanned the Potomac River at Harpers Ferry. While these piers are newer, railroad bridges here were destroyed and rebuilt nine times during the Civil War, however, five of those times the bridges were destroyed by floods.
Shenandoah Bridge near The Point at Harpers Ferry. The bridge was originally constructed in 1882. It was destroyed by a flood in 1889 and rebuilt. These piers are all that remain after another major flood destroyed the bridge in 1936.
Ruins along Virginius Island Trail
Train trestle currently used by Amtrak and a commuter train service

We’re going to wrap up our visit to Harpers Ferry here. Thanks so much for joining us on the road. We hope you will come back again to enjoy more of our Mid-Atlantic road trip. Until next time…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

IMG_2120

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2021

Quick Stops: fast, fascinating, fun, funky!

Sedona 2007 012
Magical, misty mountain with rainbow at Grand Canyon National Park

If you follow our posts, you’re already familiar with Quick Stops. Quick Stops are designed to give a nod to locations to which we can’t devote an entire post. The destinations are completely random and totally fun.

Just get in the car and we will be on our way!

First Stop: Vicksburg National Military Park

IMG_1686

Where in the world is it?

Vicksburg National Military Park is located in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

For forty-seven days in 1863, Union and Confederate troops battled for control of Vicksburg, a stronghold on the Mississippi River, but the Union forces persevered and forced the Confederates to surrender on July 4. It was a turning point of the Civil War, as the Confederates lost control of the Mississippi River. Today, the national park is a beautiful memorial to the sacrifices made there. Two of the many monuments that are located in the park and the Vicksburg National Cemetery are pictured below.

IMG_1709
Missouri Memorial

IMG_1711
Texas Memorial

IMG_1707
Vicksburg National Cemetery

Second Stop: Terlingua Ghost Town

IMG_2730

Where in the world is it?

It’s in Southwest Texas near Big Bend National Park and the Rio Grande River. Cinnabar, from which mercury (aka quicksilver) is derived, was mined at the Chisos Mine (Chisos Mining Company) in Terlingua from about 1905 to 1943. During the height of the mine’s operation, Terlingua reportedly had a population of 2,000.

IMG_2719
Terlingua Cemetery

The Terlingua Cemetery, established in the early 1900s, is still in use today. Terlingua Historic District, which includes the ghost town, the remains of the mine, and the cemetery, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

It’s a fact, Jack!

Approximately 17,000 Union soldiers are buried in Vicksburg National Cemetery. Confederate soldiers are buried in the Soldier’s Rest section of Cedar Hill Cemetery in Vicksburg. The Terlingua Cemetery is the final resting place of miners, citizens of the town, and victims of an influenza epidemic back in the early 1900s. One Civil War veteran, John M. Southard aka Tomas Southard White, who died in 1910 and was a member of the 47th Kentucky Artillery, is buried in Terlingua Cemetery. And now you know…

That does it for this week. Thank you for joining us! Come back next week for another exciting post. You never know where we are going to take you! Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye 

IMG_2120

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018