Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Several National Historical Parks/Sites

Over the last several days we have visited three locations where the National Park Service maintains sites of historical significance.

The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park preserves the history of a canal that began as a dream of passage to western wealth. In 1828 John Quincy Adams broke ground for the Canal with the ambitious goal to improve on nature with a navigable waterway from tidewater at Georgetown, Virginia to the Ohio River. The canal made it as far as Cumberland, Maryland in 1850 but by then canals were obsolete and replaced by the railroad. This Historical Park is comprised of eight visitor centers and a trail along the original canal's towpath. Each visitor center tells the story of the Canal and its battle with nature and the race with the railroad.

Our next historical park was Friendship Hill National Historic Site. This site was a home owned by Albert Gallatin. Most people wouldn't know who that is but we do after spending two summers in Montana in the Gallatin National Forest, having hiked along the Gallatin River, and having read the great book Undaunted Courage about the Lewis and Clark Expedition, we are of the few that had
Friendship Hill home
heard of him so this stop was worked into the trip plan. In short, Gallatin was one of the most influential men in America in the early 1800's which prompted Meriwether Lewis to name one of the three rivers that form the Missouri River after him (along with Jefferson and Madison). Gallatin was Secretary of the Treasury for 13 years in which time he funded the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark Expedition. He initiated the first National Road which started from Cumberland, Maryland and went to Wheeling, Virginia (West Virginia now) on the Ohio River in 1818. It is now US 40 and extends coast-to-coast. He also worked on the Treaty that ended the War of 1812. Okay, there is more, but that's enough here. To summarize using the words of Patrick Henry, he was "a most astonishing man". I wouldn't say Friendship Hill is one of those must-see places, but it wasn't too far out of our way so we made the stop and had a nice visit.

After moving on into Ohio we went to the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park. This park is comprised of several locations where the Wright brothers lived, had businesses, and performed their aviation tests. The main visitor center is downtown and is built where they had one of their bicycle shops and the building next door where they had their original printing shop. This visitor center has extensive displays and a film about their lives. Part of the display is about their printing shop, in the actual location, that they ran before they got into bicycles. You can also see one of their bicycles shops in the building next door. This is an excellent stop to learn more about the Wright brothers.

Bicycle shop, print
shop upstairs
Wright Brothers printing shop was
on second floor of this building

While in Dayton we also went to the National Museum of the United States Air Force. This museum currently has three (soon to be four) huge buildings full of aircraft and history exhibits. It starts with a discussion of the use of balloons in the 1790's up to modern times. You could spend days in this place if you read every display and examined every aircraft. Here are a few of the hundreds of planes to show a little progression.
Wright 1909 Military Flyer

Bockscar B-29 Bomber that dropped
the Fat Man atomic bomb on
Nagasaki on August 0, 1945 

F-22A Raptor - the worlds first stealthy
air dominance fighter

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