Santa Fe National Historic Trail

From 1821 to 1880, the Santa Fe Trail was the main commercial route connecting Missouri and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Prior to the Mexican War, the trail was used by Mexican and American traders across the international boundary. In 1846, the Army of the West used the trail to invade New Mexico. After the war ended in 1848, the trail became a national road connecting the United States to the new southwest territories. The trail was used by stage coach lines, gold seekers heading to the California and Colorado gold fields, adventurers, fur trappers, and emigrants. The trail declined when the railroad reached Santa Fe in 1880. The Santa Fe National Historic Trail extends from the site of Old Franklin, Missouri to Santa Fe, New Mexico, crossing Kansas, southeastern Colorado, and the Oklahoma panhandle along the way. Numerous historic sites are found along the trail route. Some of these sites, such as Pecos National Historic Park, are managed by the National Park Service. Others are owned and managed by other Federal agencies. Many sites, however, are ‘certified’ by the National Park Service in a partnership agreement between the Park Service and a private land owner, agency, or private organization. These certified sites are open and available at the discretion of the landowners and may require prior permission before your visit. Contact the trail administrators at the address below for touring information.

Links: Santa Fe Trail National Historic Trail

Old Washington Historic State Park, Arkansas

The town of Washington was founded in 1824 as a stop on the Southwest Trail used by settlers migrating to the territory of Texas in the Mexican Republic. James Bowie, Sam Houston, and Davy Crockett all traveled through Washington on their way to Texas. Local blacksmith James Black is credited with inventing the famous Bowie Knife in Washington. The town later became a major service center for area planters and merchants. From 1863 to 1865 it was the capital of the Confederate state government of Arkansas after Little Rock was occupied by Union forces. Old Washington Historic State Park is a restoration town that includes both historic public and private buildings as well as much of Washington’s nineteenth-century landscape. The park offers tours of the Confederate Capitol, Tavern Inn, Blacksmith Shop, Weapons Museum, and several private residences. There is also a print museum, steam-powered cotton gin, and dining at the historic Williams Tavern Restaurant. The 1874 courthouse serves as the park’s visitor center. The park houses the Southwest Arkansas Regional Archives, a resource center for historical and genealogical research.

Location and Directions

Links: Old Washington Historic State Park

Abbott’s Mill, Delaware

Mills were once ubiquitous features of the American countryside. Mills were constructed anywhere possible to grind corn and wheat crops before they were taken to market. Abbott’s Mill, located in rural Delaware southwest of Milford, was in use from the late nineteenth to the early twentieth century. The mill is a two-and-a-half-story frame structure. Although the superstructure of the mill has been rebuilt, it retains its original foundations. The original mill, a saw mill, was built on the site in 1795. Beginning in 1808, the mill was transformed into a gristmill, and it operated that way until 1960. A water wheel originally powered the mill, but it was replaced in the late 1800s with a water turbine. The turbine engine was int turn replaced with a diesel engine in the twentieth century. The mill is owned by the state of Delaware, and is currently leased by the state to the Delaware Nature Society, which has built a Nature Center behind the mill buildings. Nature trails run through the undeveloped land to the rear of the property. Workshops, exhibits, walking trails, courses, and other programs are run daily at the Nature Center. Abbott’s Mill is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Location and Directions

Links: Abbott’s Mill

Carter Center, Atlanta, Georgia

The Carter Center is unique among twentieth century post-presidential institutions. Like other ex-presidents, Carter has established the requisite presidential library and museum (right next door to the Center). The Carter Center, however, has been the institutional vehicle for Carter’s activist post-presidential life. And Carter’s only rival for distinguished post-presidential service is John Quincy Adams, who led the fight in Congress against suppression of antislavery petitions, no less. The institution’s own mission statement declares that “The Carter Center, in partnership with Emory University, is guided by a fundamental commitment to human rights and the alleviation of human suffering; it seeks to prevent and resolve conflicts, enhance freedom and democracy, and improve health.” To these ends, the center runs health and peace programs internationally, and claims accomplishments like successful election monitoring and refugee relief. The Carter Center itself is open to the public by business appointment or for special events. The museum of the adjoining Jimmy Carter Library is open to the public daily, as are the grounds surrounding the complex. By the way, the Carter Center is also one of the top venues in Atlanta for hosting special events, weddings and receptions, and bar/bat mitzvahs.

Location and Directions

Links: Jimmy Carter Library and Museum

Naval War College Museum, Rhode Island

The Naval War College is an elite institution for training career naval officers in military strategy and naval operations for command, staff, and management positions in the United States Navy. The college has been located at Coasters Harbor Island, two miles north of the center of Newport, Rhode Island, since 1884. The college was originally located in a large stone building that had formerly been the Newport Asylum for the Poor. (Legend has it that Commodore Stephen B. Luce, USN, opened the front door of the old asylum when he first came to establish the new college and solemnly announced, “Poor little poorhouse, I christen thee United States Naval War College.”) Today the old asylum, now known as “Founders Hall,” is a National Historic Landmark and home to the Naval War College Museum. The Museum chronicles the history of naval warfare in general, and especially American naval warfare from colonial times to the present. The museum features permanent exhibits which focus on the planning and exceution of naval campaigns, and temporary exhibits on current developments in naval warfare.

Location and Directions

Links: Naval War College Museum