Best living history tour

Old Feb 18th, 2004, 09:16 PM
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Best living history tour

I am considering touring Virginia but am open to ideas. I am interested in historic sites and am familiar with the homes of Virginia. I love to study tour guides and tour places off-the-beaten path. In 2002 I visited Monticello and we enjoyed it. I also loved Harper's Ferry National Park and enjoyed their talks. We did some sight-seeing of Washington, D.C. My brother-in-law toured Williamsburg and Mount Vernon in a trip he took with his family in 2002. He said that he seemed to learn much more on the tour at Mount Vernon. I wonder... what history tour did you especially enjoy that was both enlightening and enthusiastic with guides (not boring) that made history come alive in your travels?
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Old Feb 19th, 2004, 03:43 AM
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Virginia has an absolutely astonishing wealth of museums, especially historic homes and living-history museums.

The museum that surprised and delighted us the most was in Staunton, VA -- the Frontier Culture Museum, which focuses on the period when western Virginia was indeed the frontier! That part of the museum is based in a farm tht was occupied from 1835-1972. But the most astonishing aspect is that they also have imported buildings from 3 European locations whence the settlers had come, so you get to also visit a German farm from 1700 etc.!

http://www.frontiermuseum.org/exhibits.html

We enjoyed the various sites and museums in Jamestown and Yorktown more than Colonial Williamsburg, which felt very slick, contrived and self-conscious (to us).
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Old Feb 19th, 2004, 05:25 AM
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My first thought was also the Fronteir museum. And if you stay a night in Staunton, Woodrow Wilson's boyhood home is there. And there is a nicely restored train station area w/shops and dining. We happened to be there on a spring weekend and there was a great antique car show, so you might want to check out the town calendar.
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Old Feb 19th, 2004, 07:38 AM
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Also a history buff, I enjoy exploring lesser known historic places. If you're interested in touring Virginia, may I suggest the following:
Poplar Forest, a Thomas Jefferson property www.poplarforest.org
Stratford Hall, the Lee family estate www.stratfordhall.org
Shenandoah Valley locations including Lexington VA for its Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson sites and New Market Battlefield at New Market VA.

If you're interested in a unique Civil War Battlefield location, you might consider staying at the Piper House B&B located on the Antietam Battlefield. Located near Sharpsburg MD, it served as Longstreet's headquarters during the battle.
http://pathsofthe civilwar.com/piperhouse

If you're 55+ Elderhostel offers a number of history centered programs including ones about Richmond VA, Philadelphia PA, and Gettysburg PA You can check out their website at www.elderhostel.org
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Old Feb 19th, 2004, 08:14 AM
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Pamplin Park near Petersburg is a private site that contains an excellent museum on the Civil War soldier, some of the best-preserved trenches anywhere at the site of the April 1865 Union breakthrough, and lots of living history. They have an encampment, reconstructed trenches, and reenactors who demonstrate various aspects of Civil War combat.

Appomattox also has guides. Some of their personnel take on the roles of characters such as local citizens, ex-Confederate soldiers, or Union soldiers and talk to visitors as if they really are those people.

If you really want to see living history, you may want to take in a Civil War reenactment. I know some people think they are crazy, but they are quite interesting to see and fantastic photo ops. Spotsylvania's 140th is coming up in early May (www.spotsylvania140th.com). Check www.civilwarnews.com/calendar/calendar.cfm to see if any others fit your own plans better.
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Old Feb 19th, 2004, 08:51 AM
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there is a place in maine where you can live as people did in the 1870's.
it is called norlands in livermore,ME.

aslo, you can take a wagon train trek like the poineers did .

there is also praire conner in indiana where you can live like they did years past

Melissa
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Old Feb 19th, 2004, 03:21 PM
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I think that if I drive through Virginia, I will probably stop in Lexington and Staunton and take the Blue Ridge Parkway north to New Market and drive east via Orange to Fredericksburg. All these areas are non-commercial and full of history and scenery. I would love to see Mount Vernon and Baltimore and possibly the Brandywine Valley and head into the Amish area of PA; Lancaster area. Thanks everyone for your excellent tips. If anyone has additional tips about my trip west home to Illinois; feel free to add to this thread. Now if I only can find some free time this year. Thanks, Mike H. of central Illinois
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Old Feb 19th, 2004, 06:43 PM
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The Maryes Heights tour is pretty good at Fredericksburg. I think you will like the scenery west of Fredericksburg. Don't miss Gettysburg while in PA.
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Old Feb 19th, 2004, 07:30 PM
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April 17-25 this year is historic Garden Week in Virginia. Go to www.vagardenweek.org for details. This is a great opportunity to tour many historic private homes with knowledgable guides, often the homeowners in addition to local members of the Garden Club. It is lots of fun if you can plan your trip then!
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Old Feb 20th, 2004, 03:01 AM
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If you're a Civil War history buff and decide to drive the Shenandoah, be sure to take a side trip into Dayton VA near Harrisonburg. They have a wonderful county museum with an electronic map board showing Jackson's campaign through the valley. You would probabaly also enjoy the museum on Civil War medicine in Frederick MD on your way up to the Lancaster area.
If you have the time, I'd suggest driving home via Route 52 which parallels the Ohio River from Huntington W VA to Cincinnati OH. Be sure to allow time to stop in Ripley for its Underground Railroad connections and at Point Pleasant for its tie to US Grant's early life. Enjoy your trip!
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