Tag Archives: memorial

Saratoga National Historical Park

Overview

Saratoga National Historical Park was the site of two 1777 Revolutionary War battles at Freeman’s Farm on September 19 and Bemis Heights on October 7, which together are considered the turning point in the war.  Following this decisive victory when 6,000 British soldiers surrendered, the French King officially entered the war on the side of the Americans, providing the equivalent of $1.4-billion in aid by war’s end. 

Highlights

Museum, film, Neilson Farm, Boot Monument, Bemis Heights, the Great Redoubt

Must-Do Activity

Start at the National Park Service (NPS) visitor center where displays describe the two separate battles that took place here.  The 10-mile driving tour has ten stops that provide more details.  Do not look for Saratoga, New York on maps today, it was renamed Schuylerville in honor of a Revolutionary War general.  Nonetheless, since 1883 it has been home to the 155-foot tall Saratoga Monument commemorating these battles.

Best Trail

There are a few short trails accessed along the driving tour, but you should at least plan to park and climb the stairs at Breymann Redoubt.  At the top, an unmarked monument draped with a boot commemorates the leg injury suffered in the fighting by General Benedict Arnold, whose name would go down in history synonymous with his later traitorous actions downstream at West Point. 

Instagram-worthy Photo

The American defensive location at Bemis Heights was chosen by Colonel Thaddeus Kosciuszko, a Polish engineer serving in the Continental Army, to block the British army from moving south down the Hudson River.  It still provides commanding views of the valley.

Peak Season

Summer

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/sara/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

None

Road Conditions

All roads paved

Camping

Not far north on Interstate 87, Moreau Lake State Park offers a campground with running water.

Explore More – Although France had not officially entered the war at the time, how many muskets had they donated to the American cause by the beginning of the Battles of Saratoga?

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Valley Forge National Historical Park

Overview

The winter of 1777-78 was actually mild by Pennsylvania standards, but for 12,000 poorly-clothed rebels it was hard enough.  Following a retreat from Philadelphia, General George Washington’s army arrived at Valley Forge on December 19 to keep British soldiers from scouring the countryside for winter provisions.  Soldiers quickly set about building log cabins and cutting firewood, establishing the fourth-largest city in the colonies. 

Highlights

Museum, film, reconstructed cabins, National Memorial Arch, Washington’s headquarters

Must-Do Activity

The Encampment Tour is a 10-mile driving route that takes you to reconstructed cabins, earthwork redoubts, and General George Washington’s headquarters which contains 80% original artifacts.  Primarily due to a lack of food and hygiene, approximately 2,500 soldiers died at Valley Forge, many from typhus, influenza, and pneumonia.  This represented about 7% of the army’s total fatalities during the Revolutionary War.  Those that survived the hardships became an elite fighting force; however, many of them would spend the remaining years of the war waiting for orders that never came to attack British-held New York City. 

Best Trail

A paved trail follows much of the driving tour route and is popular with joggers and bikers.  The Schuylkill River Trail goes all the way from Valley Forge to Philadelphia.

Instagram-worthy Photo

The National Memorial Arch was dedicated in 1917, one more reason this beautiful park is frequented by local joggers.

Peak Season

Summer.  Although it would be more authentic, you may not want to visit this park during the cold and snowy winter months.

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/vafo/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

None

Road Conditions

All roads paved, but freeway traffic in this Philadelphia suburb can be congested during rush hour.

Camping

French Creek State Park (next to Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site) offers a campground 25 miles northwest of Valley Forge National Historical Park.

Explore More – What was the name of the Prussian general that led the troops through months of drills?

Moores Creek National Battlefield

Overview

A little known Revolutionary War battle took place northwest of Wilmington, North Carolina on February 27, 1776.  It pitted American rebels with cannons against Loyalists primarily armed with broadswords.  In its aftermath, North Carolina became the first state to pre-approve its delegates to sign the Declaration of Independence, hence the “First in Freedom” motto on their license plates.  It is well worth the detour for a short history lesson on your way to the beautiful beaches of southeast North Carolina.

Highlights

Film, History Trail, Women’s Monument, Tarheel Trail

Must-Do Activity

After watching the film in the National Park Service visitor center, walk to the reconstructed bridge.  At this site, a British force of 1,600 soldiers marching towards the Atlantic Ocean was halted at a narrow bridge that had its planks removed and girders greased.  After the difficult crossing, British troops were met by entrenched patriot forces that killed 30 and wounded 40 while suffering only one casualty.  It would prove a pivotal victory in dissuading British military efforts in the Carolinas for the next two years. 

Best Trail

The 0.7-mile History Trail leads past the major points of interest, as well as reconstructed earthworks and cannons, in a beautiful forest setting.  The 0.3-mile Tarheel Trail describes the production of naval stores (tar, pitch, and turpentine).

Instagram-worthy Photo

The Women’s Monument is one of several statues at Moores Creek National Battlefield.

Peak Season

Summer, though it can get muggy and buggy.

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/mocr/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

None

Road Conditions

All roads paved

Camping

Carolina Beach State Park in Wilmington, North Carolina has a nice, forested campground a short drive inland from the beach; plus it is home to unique carnivorous plants.

Explore More – Why are North Carolinians called Tarheels?

De Soto National Memorial

Overview

Why create a memorial to a genocidal Conquistador when he was not the first Spaniard to land in Florida?  Good question.  Juan Pónce de León and Pánfilo de Narváez had both already met their demise in this region, but that did not deter Hernando de Soto from trying again in 1539.  He did not die until three years later, after he led his soldiers all the way to the Mississippi River leaving a path of destruction in their wake.

Highlights

Camp Ucita, film, Memorial Trail, Holy Eucharist Monument

Must-Do Activity

De Soto made landfall in Florida somewhere in the vicinity of modern-day Bradenton, Florida where the Manatee River reaches Tampa Bay on the Gulf of Mexico.  He left behind 100 men there in Camp Ucita, a replica of which was built on the site of the 27-acre De Soto National Memorial.  In the winter (a.k.a. touristy) months, costumed interpreters work at the replica Camp Ucita.

Best Trail

Hike the half-mile Memorial Trail through the mangroves to the Holy Eucharist Monument.  Then cool off in the air-conditioned visitor center to watch a 22-minute film on the Spanish expedition. 

Instagram-worthy Photo

If you visit around Halloween, a scary skeleton Conquistador atop a skeleton horse will greet you at the entrance to the National Park Service visitor center.

Peak Season

Winter

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/deso/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

None

Road Conditions

A paved road leads through a residential neighborhood to the visitor center, so watch out for dog walkers and joggers on the road and trail.

Camping

Myakka River State Park is southeast of Bradenton (where private campgrounds are also available).

Explore More – The Spaniards brought many diseases to the indigenous peoples, but the introduction of which domesticated animal had the longest lasting ecological impact?

Manzanar National Historic Site

Overview

One of the many things that makes this country great is its willingness to remember inglorious moments in its past, such as the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.  Following the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order authorizing the detention of more than 110,000 U.S. citizens of Japanese descent.  Manzanar War Relocation Center was the first of 10 internment camps built throughout the western U.S.  It held about 10,000 citizens (mostly from Los Angeles, California) in 36 blocks of wooden barracks across a one square-mile fenced enclosure. 

Highlights

Museum, film, reconstructed barracks, gardens, memorial

Must-Do Activity

Opened in 2004, the National Park Service visitor center is located inside the former camp auditorium, which now houses an excellent museum.  Self-guided walking and auto tours take visitors to two reconstructed barracks, the camp gardens, and a cemetery with the Manzanar Memorial.

Best Trail

You can walk or drive the 3.2-mile auto tour with 27 interpretive stops.

Instagram-worthy Photo

Located in the camp’s cemetery, the Manzanar Memorial is often swathed in origami paper cranes.

Peak Season

Summer, though temperatures can get hot with little shade.

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/manz/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

None

Road Conditions

Manzanar is located right off Highway 395 west of Death Valley National Park and the dirt roads inside the site are passable by all vehicles.

Camping

Camping is available in Death Valley National Park and dispersed camping is allowed in the scenic Alabama Hills managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

Explore More – How many Japanese-Americans served in the U.S. military during World War II?