St. Ignace Mission, Michigan

Preserved within Marquette Mission Park is the site of the St. Ignace Mission, established by Fr. Marquette in the 17th century. A monument marks the burial site of the Jesuit missionary/explorer, and the Museum of Ojibwe Culture is housed in an adjacent building. Its exhibits highlight 17th century St. Ignace and the Contact Period when the Ojibwe, Huron, and French cultures mixed. The featured culture is the Ojibwa, the region’s original occupants. Included among the exhibits are a Huron long house and a garden with typical Native American plantings. Continue to explore the heritage of The Straits of Mackinac at sites throughout the St. Ignace region, including those linked by The Mackinac State Parks on Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.

The park and museum are located at 500-566 N. State Street in downtown St. Ignace at the intersection of Marquette and State Streets. St. Ignace is located at the northern terminus of the Mackinac Bridge, on the Upper Peninsula, at the junction of US-2 and I-75.


Fort de Chartres, Illinois

Next weekend is a big weekend in the Illinois County. Every year for the past 44 years, on the first weekend in June, the Commandant of Fort de Chartres in the Illinois County calls re-enactors from all across the county to a Rendezvous. Far off the beaten path, about 60 miles south of St. Louis, on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River, rests the remains of an Eighteenth Century French Colony. The population of the colony never reached more than 2000 inhabitant, but it played a significant part in the colonial expansion of the French Empire. For French outposts in the Mississippi River Valley and the Caribbean the Illinois Colony was the breadbasket. Fort de Chartres was the center of commerce and government of this colony.

There were three Forts de Chartres. The first was built in 1719 by Pierre Duque, Sieur de Boisbrant the newly appointed commander of the Illinois Country. But conditions in the Illinois Country were severe. By 1726, the flood waters of the Mississippi had destroyed much of this two bastioned wooden palisade fort. A second fort also made of wooden palisades met the same end by the end of the 1730s.

By this time the Illinois Country was becoming important to the Compagnie des Indes for its production of wheat and salt. The economy of the French in Illinois did include some fur trading and mining, but for the vast majority of the inhabitants farming was the chief occupation during most of the year.

The convoys from the Illinois country carried to the Gulf settlements, in 1748, 800,000 pounds of flour alone. Besides the flour the cargoes were made up of corn, bacon, hams from the bear as well as the hog, salt pork, buffalo meat, tallow, hides, tobacco, lead, copper, small quantities of buffalo wool, venison, bear’s oil, tongues, poultry and peltry, chiefly, however, the loads were made up of pork and flour.

In 1752 the shipment from Illinois to New Orleans was reported as “unusually large”. By the middle of the 1750s and well into the French and Indian War, Illinois supplied grain not only to Louisiana and the Caribbean but also to the outposts in the Ohio River Valley. This included Fort Ouiatenon, Massac, and Fort Duquesne.

Construction on the third Fort de Chartres began in the early 1750. Unlike its predecessors this fort was a four bastioned stone fortification. By the end of 1753 this new fort was pretty much complete. A visitor to the Fort today will see a reconstruction of this 1753 fort built atop the ruins of the original stone fort.

Location and Directions

Fort Fetterman State Historic Site, Wyoming

Fort Fetterman was established in 1867 as a defensive post by the U.S. military. It was one of four forts established along the Bozeman Trail to protect the westward-bound travelers. The other three, Forts Reno, Kearny and Smith, were deactivated in 1868, leaving Fort Fetterman as the lone bastion along the trail. Named in memory of Captain Willliam J. Fetterman, killed in a battle with Indians near Fort Kearny in 1866, the fort was in service for 15 years before deactivation. Fort Fetterman’s significance peaked during the middle 1870s when it served as the base of operations for several military campaigns against the Indians. When hostilities in the region ceased, the fort’s importance declined, and it was abandoned in 1882. Today the fort is a state historic site open to the public. Two of the restored, original buildings, an officer’s quarters and an ordnance warehouse, house exhibits highlighting the fort’s history and that of the region. Visitors are encouraged to walk the interpretive trail through the site. Historic guided tours are available upon request, and the park hosts the annual Fort Fetterman Days, a living history event.

Fort Fetterman State Historic Site is located approximately 7 miles north of Douglas, Wyoming on Highway 93, take Exit 140 off I-25.

Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village, South Dakota

Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village is on the site of several villages established by Native Americans around 1000 AD near what is now Mitchell, South Dakota. About a thousand people lived in the village in 70 huts constructed of timber frames and mud plaster. The site has been amazingly well preserved because the land has not been plowed in modern times, leaving the ground relatively untouched and full of artifacts. The museum consists of two facilities, the Boehnen Museum and the Archeodome. The Boehnen Museum houses the Patton Gallery, which exhibits an artifact display (including arrowheads and tools) and a replica of a prehistoric Indian Village lodge. The Archeodome is built over two earth lodges and serves as a year round archeological laboratory, allowing archaeologists unlimited access to the excavation site.

Circus World Museum, Baraboo, Wisconsin

Baraboo is the original headquarters of the Ringling Brothers Circus. In 1884 the five Ringling brothers presented their first circus extravaganza in Baraboo, and continued to winter there until 1918. The following year the Ringling brothers, who had in 1907 purchased the Barnum & Bailey Circus, consolidated their holdings and moved to the warmer climate of Florida. In 1959 the original headquarters in Baraboo became The Circus World Museum. The museum complex preserves the original structures; showcases an incomparable collection of circus wagons and memorabilia; and best of all, provides visitors with a nostalgic journey to a bygone era. Circus World Museum is owned by the State Historical Society of Wisconsin and operated by Circus World Museum Foundation, a non-profit organization.

Mississinewa Battlefield, Indiana

I came upon this site unexpectedly while returning from an archaeological investigation I conducted near Marion, Indiana. I often drive on the back roads and “Blue Highways” when I am out doing field work. Interesting discoveries can be made when driving “off the beaten path.” The Mississinewa Battlefield is one of a number of historic sites in the Old Northwest Territories associated with the War of 1812.

Michilimackinac and Detroit were captured by the British by the summer of 1812 mostly with the assistance of the Native American Indiana populations in the region. Some from the Miami and Delaware groups had assembled along the Mississinewa River, a tributary of the Wabash River. Uneasy with the growing number of Indians gathering here William Henry Harrison, commander of the North Western Army, directed Lieutenant Colonel John B. Campbell to rout these people.

With a force of approximately 600 men Campbell marched through the regions burning villages they encountered. By the middle of December the returned to the site of their first attack along the Mississinewa River to camp. Early the next morning the were ambushed by an undetermined number of Indians. The battle was brief. Fifteen Indians and eight of Campbell’s soldiers had been killed. Forty two soldiers and an unknown number of Indians were badly wounded. Campbell gathered his forces and retreated to Greenville.

Today the battlefield can be found seven miles northwest of Marion, Indiana. It has two monuments: one dedicated to the American Indians and one to the American Soldiers. There are also twelve marked graves on the site. Every Autumn there is a reenactment of the battle at the site.


Oklahoma City National Memorial, Murrah Office Building

Jim Hart, author of many posts on travelthepast, wrote these words before the 9/11 attach:

I remember exactly where I was when I first heard about three public events in my lifetime: the Kennedy assassination, the Challenger explosion, and the Oklahoma City bombing. (The fact that I was at my job in a federal building when I heard about Oklahoma City did, as they say, remarkably concentrate the mind.) Oklahoma City National Memorial is on the former site of the Murrah Federal Building, which was destroyed on April 19, 1995, in the worst terrorist act on American soil. The monument includes the Gates of Time (monumental twin gates framing the moment of destruction, 9:02 AM), a reflecting pool, and Rescuers’ Orchard with the “Survivor Tree” (a 70-year old Elm tree that survived the bombing).

I visited this site twice in 2002 on a business trip to Oklahoma City. I was so moved I returned a few months later with my wife and children on a family vacation. So many of our national monuments and historic sites are places where lives have been lost. Maybe we turn them into “sacred spaces” so that we can remember that in every generation we need to work toward peace not only in the world but here in our own country.

Location Information and Directions

National Park Service Web Site
Office Web Site

Watchtide by the Sea (College Club Inn), Maine

The College Club Inn (now known as Watchtide by the Sea) is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for the manner inwhich it reflects the proliferation of road side accommodations in early twentieth century Maine,and in particular the conversion of eighteenth and nineteenth century farmsteads for this use. The College Club Inn is located along Route 1, the state’s principal highway corridor, this is the coastal route that extended eastward from Maine’s border with New Hampshire. The development of road side facilities for auto tourist witnessed explosive growth in the early twentieth century, especially after World War I. Automobile guide books, promotional materials and annual editions of the Maine Register illustrate the continuous rise of road side service stations, motor courts, inns and restaurants along the corridor. Over one hundred extant historic motor courts recently identified are evidence of this proliferation. The practice of converting eighteenth and nineteenth century residential buildings into inns and restaurants to accommodate tourists appears to be widespread throughout Maine. The College Club Inn is a property that illustrates this pattern of reuse. The College Club Inn is a one and a half story, five bay frame cape with a front porch which is linked to a two story barn by a one story wing. Interior remnants of Greek Revival style, common to early nineteenth century New England style tradition houses, are visible the two rooms off of the central hall. The house also exhibits details of the Federal or Adam style with the fanlights and porch. The wing links the cape to the barn, the barn is oriented toward Route 1, gable end facing the road. The complex was built around 1800 as a single family residence and was converted in the first quarter of the century to a tea room and inn catering to automobile tourists. The early history of the house is not well known. It was acquired by George Pettee in 1902 as a summer house. Family oral history indicates that in 1917, his daughter a graduate of Wellesley College opened a tea room. The 1921Automobile Blue Book carries an advertisement which advises the motorist to “Make Advance Reservations, if possible, for over night accommodations.

Click here for directions and location information.


Mesa Verde National Park, CO

Mesa Verde National Park was the first site in the National Park Service specifically established to preserve cultural artifacts. From about A.D. 600 through 1300 the ancestors of today’s Pueblo people lived in “cliff dwellings,” stone villages constructed in the sheltered alcoves of canyon walls. After 700 years of habitation, these dwellings were abandoned within the span of one or two generations. Their descendants still live in the southwest today. The Mesa Verde cliff dwellings are among the best preserved in the United States. Mesa Verde National Park had a difficult fire season in the summer of 2000, but the park has reopened with no damage to the cliff dwellings or the park’s collection of artifacts.

Location Map and Directions: Click Here

Links: Mesa Verde National Park

Fayette Historic State Park, Michigan

The great iron ore deposits of the Marquette Iron Range in the Upper Peninsula were exploited in the mid-nineteenth century, establishing the state as a leader in the iron industry, and triggering the growth of industry boomtowns. One of those was the town of Fayette, the site of The Jackson Iron Company’s blast furnace, built there in 1867. Fayette’s success centered on its charcoal-fired blast furnace and the easy access to the main ingredients, lime and charcoal (from the nearby limestone cliffs and hardwood forests) for the smelting process. The town prospered for almost three decades, but improved technology sealed its fate. The massive blast furnace could not compete with the newer coke-fired furnaces. When the blast furnace closed in 1891, so did Fayette. Today, the town is preserved within this state park, and visitors may take a self-guided walking tour of the site. Included among its 26 structures and surface features are the town hall, opera house, hotel, several homes, and the remains of the blast furnace. The iron industry and its cultural heritage is preserved in historic sites and museums throughout the Upper Peninsula. Two excellent sources are The Marquette County Historical Museum and the Michigan Iron Industry Museum in Negaunee.

Location Map and Directions: Click Here

Link: Historic Fayette Town Site