American Precision Museum, Vermont

The American Precision Museum celebrates what came to be known in the nineteenth century as the “American system of manufacturing.” The “American system” made modern mass manufacturing possible by combining great refinements in the division of labor, growing precision in machine tooling, and the use of standardized parts. These three factors made it possible to produce manufactured items of high quality at a cost low enough to market to the mass public. The “American system” first developed during the 1840’s and 1850’s in New England with light metalworking industries, including firearms, clocks, watches, locks, and tools of various kinds. From there it spread to neighboring areas and other industries.

The American Precision Museum is housed in a historic building that was itself part of the new system, the Robbins and Lawrence Armory, a National Historic Landmark that was built in 1846. The armory is a fine example of nineteenth century American industrial architecture. The museum displays examples of mechanical and manufacturing technology from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including some of the interchangeable parts were first produced at the Robbins and Lawrence Armory. The collections also include historic hand and machine tools, guns, sewing machines, typewriters, scale models, measuring devices, and consumer products. A library and resource center are available to students and scholars. The museum also sponsors a variety of activities, including an archaeological excavation at a nearby gristmill site, lectures, demonstrations, and walking tours.

The American Precision Museum is located at 196 Main Street in Windsor, Vermont 05089. Windsor is just off Interstate 91 about 20 miles south of White River Junction, Vermont.

Yosemite National Park, California

According to CNN, “A massive northern California wildfire that’s threatening Yosemite National Park and San Francisco’s key water and power sources continues to grow, becoming the 13th largest in state history…”

“The Rim Fire, which has devoured 160,980 acres, has scorched an area about the size of the city of Chicago while more than 3,600 firefighters try to rein it in.”

Yosemite National Park may be the most spectacular of the national parks that preserve part of the landscape that existed before European settlement and development of theyosemite_national_park_half_dome_travel_poster-rd25974b6fb7e428daaed9f491987df40_6ik_8byvr_512 continent. As a natural preserve and natural history park, Yosemite has several major attractions: alpine wilderness, three groves of Giant Sequoias, and the glacially carved Yosemite Valley with impressive waterfalls, cliffs and unusual rock formations. Yosemite also has a living history exhibit on Native American life, the Indian Village of Ahwahnee. The Indian Museum has displays baskets, clothing, tools and jewelry along with demonstrations of beading and crafts. The Pioneer History Center (located in Wawona, 10 miles from the South Entrance Station) has historic buildings of many kinds collected from throughout the park and furnished with authentic period pieces. Let’s hope the fire is extinguished soon.

There are four entrances to the park: the south entrance on Highway 41 north from Fresno, the Arch Rock entrance on Highway 140 west from Merced, the Big Oak Flat entrance on Highway 120 west from Modesto and Manteca and the Tioga Pass entrance on Highway 120 east from Lee Vining and Highway 395. The Tioga Pass entrance is closed from the first major snowstorm in November until approximately early June due to snow. The roads entering the park on its west side are kept open all year, but may require tire chains because of snow anytime between November and April. Visitors may experience traffic delays or periods of restricted access on Highway 140 inside the park due to road construction. For this and other reasons, you might want to consider visiting Yosemite without your car. Visitors can ride YARTS buses from gateway communities outside the Park into Yosemite Valley. YARTS run buses on Highway 140, Highway 120 East, Highway 120 West, and between Wawona and Yosemite Valley.

Eureka Springs Historic District

Legend has it that Indians had identified healing springs in the mountains of what later became “Arkansas” long before Europeans reached the region. In 1856, Dr. Alvah Jackson claimed that the waters from Basin Spring in northwestern Arkansas had cured his son of an eye ailment. After the Civil War, Dr. Jackson started a business selling “Dr. Jackson’s Eye Water,” and people began to flock to the site of the healing springs. By 1879, about 400 people had settled around the springs, and the new town of Eureka Springs was established in 1880. When the railroad arrived a few years later, Eureka Springs entered a golden age as one of America’s top spa towns. Fifty fine hotels, along with hundreds of commercial buildings and residences, were built in the town during the thirty years from 1880 to 1910. These beautiful old structures are now the heart of the Eureka Springs Historic District, which has over 33 significant and 250 contributing structures registered with the National Register of Historic Places. Basin Spring itself is located in Basin Park downtown. Other highlights of the historic district include: the 1886 Crescent Hotel, Eureka’s first stone structure, which is perched on top of one of the town’s hills; the 1900 New Orleans Hotel, which features fancy iron grillwork reminiscent of its namesake city; Hatchet Hall, lovingly named in remembrance of its most famous resident, Carrie Nation, who spent the last three years of her life in Eureka Springs; the Crescent Cottage Inn, originally a home built in 1881 by former Arkansas Governor Powell Clayton; and the Bank of Eureka Springs, with a meticulously restored interior of oak furniture, brass tellers’ cages, and antique business machines. The Eureka Springs Historical Museum is located in the former Califf House, which was built in 1889 as a residence and general store. The museum offers self-guided exhibits on local history, a doll collection, and historic photographs.

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

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