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Archive for U.S. travel

Montana’s Birthplace

By Linda Tancs

A quaint river town, Fort Benton is known as the birthplace of Montana. It’s a National Historic Landmark, a monument to western expansion and once the world’s innermost port, a place where steamboats shuffled along the Missouri River for 30 years. It served as the terminus for the 642-mile-long Mullan Wagon Road, the first wagon road to cross the Rockies, binding together the navigable headwaters of the Missouri and Columbia rivers for easy movement of troops and supplies during periods of Indian hostilities. The town’s history is celebrated every year at this time at the weekend Summer Celebration, one of the state’s premier events.

Petrified in Arizona

By Linda Tancs

Arizona’s Petrified Forest National Park is a prime source of—you guessed it—petrified wood. In a process beginning over 200 million years ago, logs washed into an ancient river system and combined with minerals that incorporated themselves into the porous wood, replacing the organic matter. The result is petrified wood found in the park and the surrounding region that is made up of almost solid quartz. The Jasper Forest vista point showcases one of the largest accumulations of petrified wood in the park.

A Legendary Surrender

By Linda Tancs

Native American tribal leader Sitting Bull symbolized the conflict between Indians and western settlers, a dispute that increased markedly after gold was discovered in the Black Hills of South Dakota, a sacred area to Native Americans. Ultimately his battles with authorities led to his surrender at Fort Buford in North Dakota in 1881. Now a state historic site, the fort is probably best remembered for that seminal event. Located near present-day Williston, it was a vital frontier plains military post established to protect overland and river routes used by immigrants settling the West. Original features still existing on the site include a stone powder magazine, the post cemetery site and a large officers’ quarters building which now houses a museum.

D-Day in NOLA

By Linda Tancs

Appropriately enough, the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana, opened on June 6, 2000, the anniversary of D-Day. In fact, it was originally named the D-Day Museum. Designated by Congress as the official World War II museum of the United States, it’s located in downtown New Orleans on Magazine Street. New Orleans is home to the LCVP, or Higgins boat, the landing craft that brought U.S. soldiers to shore in every major amphibious assault during the war. The six-acre campus features five soaring pavilions (and two more on the way), a period dinner theater and restaurants. Visited by over 2 million tourists from around the world, the facility is a premier research institution, offering visitors the fruits of decades-long research by the late Dr. Stephen Ambrose, the museum’s founder. He tirelessly researched and wrote about the war, Eisenhower and D-Day and collected more than 2,000 oral histories from D-Day veterans.

Sculpting American History

By Linda Tancs

Daniel Chester French was America’s foremost sculptor of public monuments. One of his first and most beloved sculptures is of an image of a Revolutionary War “Minute Man,” found today at the Old North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts. He’s also responsible for the goliath Abraham Lincoln sculpture at the monument in Washington, D.C. Inspired by the natural beauty of the Berkshire Hills, French purchased the former Marshall Warner farm in 1896 as a summer residence. Known as Chesterwood, he worked on over 200 public and private commissions there. Both a national and Massachusetts historic landmark, the studio, residence and woodlands beckon visitors to the Glendale section of Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

A Chateau in North Dakota

By Linda Tancs

French nobleman and entrepreneur Marquis de Morès was a key player on the western edge of North Dakota. There he founded the town of Medora (named for his wife) in 1883 and pursued his legacy as a meat packing industry baron. In keeping with his station in life, he built a 26-room home just southwest of town. Now a museum, the Chateau de Morès State Historic Site contains many of the original furnishings and personal effects of the family. It’s open from May to September.

The Last School Standing

By Linda Tancs

Fourth Ward School in Virginia City, Nevada, is the last Second Empire-style school building standing in the United States. Named for the ward in which it is situated, the school opened in 1876 to alleviate overcrowding in the heart of the Comstock Mining District. The distinctive four-story school with a mansard roof was a combination grammar and high school, designed to accommodate 1,025 students. It remained in use until a new school was completed in 1936. The Fourth Ward School Museum showcases the town’s history as one of the largest mining camps west of Denver. The venue is open from May through October.

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