Tag Archives: National Historical Park

George Rogers Clark National Historical Park

Overview

Perhaps less well-known today than his brother William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, during the American Revolution George Rogers Clark’s fame was on par with that of George Washington.  A beautiful 80-foot tall granite memorial was built on the site of Fort Sackville (in present day Vincennes, Indiana) in the 1930s to commemorate Clark’s achievements.

Highlights

Memorial building with statue and murals, Vigo statue, film

Must-Do Activity

After watching the 20-minute film in the visitor center, go inside the circular memorial with 16 columns in classic Greek style to see a bronze statue surrounded by seven murals.  George Rogers Clark was one of the early pioneers in Kentucky and after war broke out he led 150 local men west to convince French settlers on the Mississippi River to join the patriots.  With the assistance of the French, he defeated the British at Fort Sackville on February 25, 1779.  After the 1783 Treaty of Paris, much of this territory would become part of the fledgling United States of America. 

Best Trail

There are no trails, but you can walk or drive a few blocks to visit the home of President William Henry Harrison and the old Indiana Territory capitol.

Instagram-worthy Photo

Francis Vigo was a French merchant who tipped off Clark that Fort Sackville was lightly guarded and then provided financial support for the mission.  His statue sits on the banks of the Wabash River.

Peak Season

Summer

Hours

The memorial closes daily at 4:45 p.m.

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

Fees

None

Road Conditions

All roads paved

Camping

Only 2 miles north of Vincennes, Indiana, the county-operated Ouabache Trails Park offers campsites with electric and water hookups.

Explore More – His bronze statue is larger than life, but the real George Rogers Clark stood what impressive height by eighteenth-century standards?

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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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Independence National Historical Park

Overview

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is home to Independence National Historical Park, one of the most popular units in the National Park Service (NPS) System with approximately 5-million visitors annually.  The “City of Brotherly Love” was the site of many important moments before, during, and after the American Revolution.  Independence Hall is a World Heritage Site where the Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776 and the U.S. Constitution was created in 1787. 

Highlights

Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, City Tavern, Carpenters’ Hall, Ben Franklin’s grave

Must-Do Activity

We do not recommend watching the two films at the NPS visitor center, but plan to arrive early as the free timed tickets to tour Independence Hall are all claimed first thing each morning.  It is free to enter the Liberty Bell Center to see the famous cracked bell.  While waiting in the security screening line, you will be on the grounds of the house used by the country’s first two presidents, Washington and Adams.  Less busy is Carpenters’ Hall, where the First Continental Congress met in 1774.  Nearby non-NPS sites include the National Constitution Center, Benjamin Franklin Museum, and new Museum of the American Revolution, all of which charge an admission fee. 

Best Trail

Walk the streets of Philadelphia past Ben Franklin’s grave, Betsy Ross’ house, the reconstructed City Tavern (where you can grab a bite to eat), and the Todd House (the home of Dolley Madison and her first husband).

Instagram-worthy Photo

Less iconic than the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, Washington Square is a small park that contains to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the American Revolution.

Peak Season

Summer

Hours

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

Fees

None, except for parking (there is an underground parking garage at the NPS visitor center) and visiting some museums and historic buildings (like Betsy Ross’ house).

Road Conditions

All roads paved, but street parking is limited.

Camping

None in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but there are options in its suburbs.

Explore More – When did Philadelphia serve as the nation’s capital?

Minute Man National Historical Park

Overview

The events that occurred at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts on April 19, 1775 were immortalized by Ralph Waldo Emerson as “the shot heard round the world.”  First of all, a “Minute Man” was a colonial militiaman who was always ready to fight at a minute’s notice.  Secondly, when the colonial militia fired upon British troops at North Bridge, it was considered an act of treason against the Crown and truly started the Revolutionary War at a time when the majority of colonists did not want independence. 

Highlights

Films, Hartwell Tavern, North Bridge, the Wayside, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

Must-Do Activity

If your memory on what exactly happened here is a bit foggy, start with the multimedia presentation at either of two National Park Service (NPS) visitor centers, located in the suburbs west of Boston.  At Lexington, you will learn the true story of how Paul Revere’s ride ended early when he was captured by British soldiers and that he did not mention redcoats, instead yelling “the Regulars are coming out!”  At Concord, you will learn about “the shot heard round the world.” 

Best Trail

Battle Road Trail stretches 5 miles between Fiske Hill in Lexington to Meriam’s Corner in Concord, and is open to bicycles.  It passes many historic sites, including Hartwell Tavern.

Instagram-worthy Photo

We recommend a walk up Author’s Ridge in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.  The graves of famous local writers, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, are located here.

Peak Season

Summer

Hours

Hours for the many historic buildings vary and most are not open every day of the week.

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

Fees

None, except at some historic buildings (like the Wayside) which require guided tours.

Road Conditions

All roads paved

Camping

Harold Parker State Forest (28 miles northeast) has campsites with running water. There is no camping at Walden Pond State Reservation.

Explore More – Which famous authors once resided at the Wayside in Concord, Massachusetts?

San Antonio Missions National Historical Park

Overview

This park protects four historic Spanish missions around San Antonio, Texas, but does not include the famous Alamo (managed by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas).  Construction began in 1718 and by 1824 secularization was complete and land was distributed among the converted natives.  In 2015, these five missions along the San Antonio River were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Highlights

1720 Mission San José, 1755 Mission Concepción, 1731 Mission Espada, 1731 Mission San Juan Capistrano

Must-Do Activity

At the farthest south of the four missions (San Francisco de la Espada) there is also an interesting acequia system that includes an aqueduct, ditches, and a dam built in 1745, all of which are still used for irrigation purposes.  Mission San Juan Capistrano is covered in white stucco the way they all would have been historically.  Mission Concepción is the farthest north of the four missions and we thought it had the prettiest interior.

Best Trail

San Antonio’s famous River Walk Trail continues from the downtown area all the way south to Mission Espada, not to be confused with the signed Mission Trail driving route.

Instagram-worthy Photo

The beautifully preserved San José y San Miguel de Aguayo Mission dates back to 1720.  Today this large village complex is a popular location for wedding and graduation photos. 

Peak Season

Spring

Hours

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

Fees

None

Road Conditions

All roads paved with designated NPS parking lots.

Camping

None

Explore More – What is the historic mission name for the Alamo?

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