Tubac Presidio State Historic Park, Arizona

Tubac Presidio State Historic Park preserves the remnants of a military fort established by the Spanish in 1752 to control the local Pima and Apache Indians and to serve as a base for further exploration of the Southwest. The old Spanish fort has been excavated by archaeologists from the University of Arizona. An underground display features portions of the original foundation, walls, and plaza floor of the fort uncovered by the archaeologists. A museum at the site exhibits archaeological remains of Arizona’s first European settlement, and displays on the pre-European, Spanish colonial, Mexican Republic, and territorial periods. The park also preserves the historic Old Tubac Schoolhouse (circa 1885) and Otero Social Hall (circa 1914), which are both on the National Register of Historic Places.

The park is located 45 miles south of Tucson off Interstate 19 near the community of Tubac.

Mount Independence State Historic Site, Vermont

American Revolutionary troops built a fort complex to guard against a British attack from Canada at this site along the Vermont shore of Lake Champlain. The troops named it Mount Independence in honor of the Declaration of Independence. The fort faced north and stood across the lake from the fort at Ticonderoga. The site was evacuated when British General John Burgoyne forced the surrender of Ticonderoga. Today the state of Vermont preserves the site with several miles of hiking trails that lead to the batteries, blockhouses, hospital, barracks, and other archaeological remains of the fort. The visitor center museum contains exhibits featuring many of the artifacts recovered during recent archaeological investigations.

The site is located approximately 50 miles south of Burlington, just west of State Route 22A and the village of Orwell.

Monticello

The famous home of Thomas Jefferson was a work-in-progress during most of Jefferson’s lifetime, designed and redesigned, built and rebuilt over more than forty years. Jefferson described the house as his ‘essay in architecture.’ The final product is a monument to Enlightenment rationality and the cultivation of a refined and 5centscontemplative way of life. The home and grounds are now lovingly (that’s not too strong a word) maintained by the private Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation. The waiting line for entrance to the house can be two or even three hours long during the summer. It’s worth it, but even a stroll around the grounds is rewarding if you don’t have the time to wait. The guides are very well informed, so ask lots of questions. Don’t ask about Sally Hemings, though (somebody will bring that up anyway). Ask about the contributions of slave labor to Jefferson’s way of life, and why he (unlike Washington and Madison) did not free all his slaves in his will.

Located in the Virginia Piedmont, Monticello is about two miles southeast of Charlottesville and approximately 125 miles from Washington, D.C.; 110 miles from Williamsburg, Virginia; and 70 miles from Richmond, Virginia. From Interstate 64, take exit 121 (if traveling westbound) or 121 A (eastbound) to Route 20 South (If traveling westbound, turn south, or left, on Route 20). To go to the Monticello Visitors Center, turn right at the first stoplight. To go to Monticello, turn left on Route 53, just after the first stoplight. The entrance to Monticello is located on the left, approximately one and a half miles from Route 20.

Historic St. Mary’s City, Maryland

St. Mary’s City was the fourth permanent English settlement in North America and the first capital of the Province of Maryland. The first statute providing for (limited) religious toleration was enacted in the State House that is reconstructed on the site. The site features very little in the way of reconstruction, however, making it something an anti-Williamsburg, leaving most of the city’s colonial appearance to the imagination. (Which approach is more to your taste is something like the difference between preferring television or radio: it is endlessly debatable but in the end, you can enjoy both.) The site is off the beaten track (although a reasonable drive from Washington, D.C., or Baltimore) and seldom crowded, providing a wonderful atmosphere for leisurely viewing the exhibits in the Visitor Center and roaming the grounds to give the imagination time to do its work. One special feature is that archaeologists are busy on the grounds during the summer season. It’s usually possible to get a close-up look at their work and to find an eager archaeological field student to explain what they’re doing.

Located off Route 5 in Southern Maryland, travel time to Historic St. Mary’s City is less than two hours from Washington, D.C. and Annapolis and less than three hours from Richmond and Baltimore.

Fort Vasquez Museum, Colorado

Fort Vasquez was an important center for the Rocky Mountain fur trade in the first half of the nineteenth century. Native Americans brought hides and pelts to the post to exchange for blankets, kettles, whiskey, and even such items as black silk handkerchiefs and ivory combs. The fort was built by traders Louis Vasquez and Andrew Sublette. It had living quarters, a barn, storage, and trade rooms. Competition from other fur trade posts in the region forts forced Vasquez and Sublette to sell out in 1841, and over the next century the adobe structure fell into ruins. By 1937 only portions of the original walls remained. The Works Progress Administration reconstructed the fort in the late 1930’s and archaeological excavations were conducted in the 1960’s. Museum exhibits describe the fur trade, display Native American artifacts, and discuss information on such unusual topics as mountain man etiquette.

Fort Vasquez Museum is located at 13412 U.S. Route 85, one mile south of the town of Platteville, Colorado. Platteville is north of Denver.

Somerset Place, North Carolina

Somerset Place is a classic antebellum southern plantation. The plantation at Somerset Place was active from 1786 to 1865. It cultivated rice, corn, and wheat and included as many as 100,000 acres during its history. The plantation was worked by more than three hundred slaves of African descent, including 80 who were brought to Somerset directly from their west African homeland in 1786 because of their experience with rice cultivation. The plantation house was built by wealthy planter Josiah Collins III, around 1830. The plantation declined immediately after the Civil War when the end of slavery deprived the plantation system of its economic viability. Today the main house at Somerset Place is furnished with period pieces, including a few that belonged to the Collins family. Outbuildings include the kitchen, smokehouse, dairy, and a small house which served as the residence for the Collins family until the mansion was built. Since the early 1950’s archaeological excavations have investigated the lives of the plantation gentry and the slave community. Living history reenactments depict the persistence of African culture and traditions in the slave community as well as the agricultural and domestic technology with which the slave laborers worked.

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Links: Somerset Place Plantation