Discover Texas History in your RV

As autumn arrives and leaves begin to turn, you’re probably thinking about your next RV road trip. As you plan your route, don’t forget that the colorful and unique story of Texas – from its prehistoric times through Spanish colonialism, the republic’s fight for independence from Mexico, post-Civil War era and into the 20th century – unfolds through guided tours and special events at more than 50 historic sites within the state parks system.

October is Texas Archeology Month, which celebrates the state’s archeological heritage through  demonstrations, lectures and dozens of public events held at historic sites throughout the state, including a number of Texas State Parks.

Photo: Texas Parks & Wildlife

Photo: Texas Parks & Wildlife

When you take your RV to state parks this month, you’ll find not only some of the best Native American pictographs in the nation at such places as Big Bend Ranch State Park, which on Oct. 12 is hosting a guided hike to one of the Big Bend region’s best rock art panels, but also compelling presentations on archeology (Lockhart , Oct. 5), flintknapping (Copper Breaks, Oct. 5) and 19th century pioneer and ranching life (Caprock Canyons, Oct. 19).

The video below features historic Fort Leaton.

On Oct. 4, Houston area families, friends, veterans and others can play air/sea/land games aboard the historic Battleship TEXAS. Others who prefer a more literal “taste” of living history in the outdoors can experience a slice of early Texas farm life at such historic sites as Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site’s Barrington Farm, Lyndon B. Johnson State Park’s Sauer-Beckman Farm and Cedar Hill State Park’s Penn Farm.

Many state parks and historic sites this month also offer guided tours of 19th century missions, military frontier forts and Civilian Conservation Corps structures or host special history events reflecting such topics as state’s ranching heritage. On Oct. 19, Hill Country State Natural Area near Bandera will host its annual Ranch Heritage Day and Copper Breaks State Park near Quanah invite the public to “Meet the Longhorns,” member of the official State Longhorn Herd.

For a full list of featured October state park events and their locations, visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s activities calendar.

Visit Texas Parks and Wildlife online to reserve your RV camping spot today!

Women’s History Month

Explore women’s history from the comfort of your travel trailer!

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National Park Service Photo.

March is Women’s History Month, and in honor of all the women who embrace the adventure of RV travel, I wanted to share a few places where women’s history comes alive!

The National Park Service is hosting events around the country to help celebrate. They’ve even published a list of travel itineraries showcasing women in historic places. For example, the “Places Where Women Made History” itinerary highlights 74 historic properties in Massachusetts and New York that are listed in the National Register. Other amazing places include the Harriet Beecher Stowe House in Ohio, or the Lucy Craft Laney House in Georgia.

Livinghistory

National Park Service Photo by Marsha B. Wassel

In West Virginia, Harper’s Ferry National Park is presenting, “Necessity: The Mother of Invention” later this month, showcasing many of the inventions of the industrial revolution that made life in the 1800s just a bit easier for women

Every National Park Service itinerary includes interactive maps, descriptions, photographs, and links.

And finally, if you want to celebrate those strong Texas women, Austin’s KUT radio is presenting stories of Texas women who made a difference. Listen in, and I’m guessing you’ll be inspired to get out the road map and plan your own RV itinerary to re-discover the ways that women have shaped our great state (I was!).

Which women in history do you find most inspiring? Have you visited an especially exciting historical park recently? Tell us about it!

~ G. Elaine Acker

 

 

 

Inauguration Day 2013

American FlagOn especially historic and patriotic days like this one, inauguration day, I always find myself thinking about the past history that led our country to this particular place in time. Because we live in the good old US of A, we’re able to hop in our travel trailers and take a leisurely roll through all 50 states (well… 49 I suppose, if you cross Hawaii off the RV list because of that challenging little float across the ocean).

It’s been awhile since I’ve studied my American history, too, so I always end up needing to look up proclamations, oaths of office, and the constitution itself, just to see what it really says. Today, I looked up the Oath of Office, and thought I’d share it with you. It’s very simple, and is set down in Article II, Section 1, of the U.S. Constitution:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

As you probably know, the official Oath of Office took place yesterday on the 20th, as is legally required in the constitution.

If you’re interested in learning even more about our past presidents’ inaugurations, Wikipedia has an abundance of information, including which presidents were sworn in by whom, and even audio recordings of the ceremonies.

And for all the latest quirky details from today’s events, you might visit the Huffington Post’s page, where you’ll learn things like the fact that President Jimmy Carter is SUPER EXCITED to be in the front row when Beyonce sings the National Anthem.

IMG_2705Many thanks to all our American Commanders in Chief of every political persuasion, who keep us freely rolling down the highway!

 

Martin Luther King Day

Rediscover America’s History over the 3-day MLK Weekend

National holidays such as Martin Luther King Day, coming up on Monday, January 21, are great for two reasons. First, we get a long weekend to spend in the camper with our families, and second, we’re reminded about our rich American history.

If you’d like a refresher on the impact Dr. King had on civil rights, you can check out this video on YouTube of his “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington.

Celebrations across Texas include parades, marches and special events in San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, and Houston.

And for many, MLK Day has become synonymous with a Day of Service, honoring Dr. King’s legacy of service to others. If you’d like to get involved with a project near you, visit the MLK Day website and click, “find a project,” to locate a volunteer opportunity in your home community, or perhaps one along the route of your next RV road trip.

If a road trip across the south is in your future, you’ll need more than three days, but it’ll be worth it to visit the Martin Luther King National Historic Site and Park in Atlanta, Georgia, or to retrace Dr. King’s footsteps on the Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, National Historic Trail.

Whatever you decide to do with your three-day weekend, hitch up that travel trailer and enjoy! And don’t forget to send us notes and photos from your journeys!

~ G. Elaine Acker

Pearl Harbor Day

Texas’ historic sites commemorate World War II

If you’ve spent more than five minutes on this blog, you already know that we take advantage of every opportunity to honor our military heroes, past and present. This week we’re taking a moment to remember one of the most poignant dates in American history.

Tomorrow is Pearl Harbor Day. On Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, the Empire of Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu. More than 2,400 Americans were killed, and more than 1,100 were wounded. The attack also sank or damaged 15 ships and 188 aircraft. The next day, America declared war on Japan and entered World War II.

Thinking about Pearl Harbor day made us remember the rich World War II history preserved in Texas memorials, and we wanted to share three of our favorites. If you enjoy discovering history on your RV road trips, consider adding these historic sites to your list of places to visit.

Battleship TexasBattleship Texas

Last Saturday, the USS Texas, at the San Jacinto Battleground Historical Site, hosted its annual Pearl Harbor remembrance. The ceremony honored 90-year-old Lewis Lagesse of Houston who was a telephone talker on the USS West Virginia at Pearl Harbor. An article by Louis Roesch in The Cleveland Advocate shares more about Lagesse, including the story of how he was at first presumed dead in the attack.

Photo credit: Veterans War Memorial of Texas

Veterans War Memorial of Texas

In McAllen, visit the Veterans War Memorial of Texas and learn more about World War II, as well as World War I, the Korean War, and Vietnam. The memorial highlights Hispanic and Texas Medal of Honor recipients.

 

The National Museum of the Pacific War

In Fredericksburg, the National Museum of the Pacific War honors the sacrifices of those who served in World War II. Friday at 12:25, the museum will host a commemoration ceremony. And over the weekend, re-enactors in the Pacific Combat Living History program will use weapons and museum pieces to bring history to life. Check out the re-enactment video.

What other World War II memorials and museums have you visited? Be sure to share your favorites with us so we can visit next time we hitch up the travel trailer!

~ G. Elaine Acker

Celebrate Native American Heritage Month

Most of us now know that the romanticized, pilgrim-Indian Thanksgiving we learned about in elementary school is more fairy tale than historic truth. And if you decide to brush up on your history before our next national feast next week, there are plenty of enlightening websites ripe for the Googling, so I won’t go into detail here.

But, it just so happens that November is Native American Heritage month, making this a great time to reflect on the Native cultures that have influenced our nation, including foods, art, music, crafts, and more. The President recently issued this proclamation: “This month, we celebrate and honor the many ways American Indians and Alaska Natives have enriched our Nation, and we renew our commitment to respecting each tribe’s identity while ensuring equal opportunity to pursue the American dream.”

Those of us who roam the roads in our travel trailers have a great opportunity to experience those cultures and Native American history firsthand.

First, you can do a little online research, starting with the Native American Month website. Here, a number of leading institutions, including The Library of Congress, the National Park Service and the Smithsonian, have collaborated to create a site that highlights events around the country, and includes online museum exhibits, support for veterans, audio, videos, and resources for teachers.

And, here are a few more interesting links:

  • The National Park Service has created a special list of park sites called “Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary: Places Reflecting America’s Diverse Cultures” not only for sites of Native American significance but all cultures of the Americas.
  • The National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, DC, is not to be missed if you’re anywhere near our nation’s Capital, with our without your RV!
  • Also, with Veteran’s Day fresh on our minds, you can read more about Native American Veterans from World War II to Iraq with this collection of personal stories.

My favorite website so far is the Texas Historical Commission’s site, which includes links to groups working to preserve native cultures, and to two great stops on any East Texas road trip: Caddo Mounds State Historic Site, and Livingston, home of the Alabama-Coushatta tribe.

 

You’ll find Caddo Mounds just 26 miles west of Nacogdoches. Three earthen mounds still rise from the lush green landscape where the Caddo Indians, a mound-building culture, first built a village and ceremonial center 1,200 years ago. Artifacts on display include pottery, tools, and weapons. There’s a KOA campground close by in Rusk, or, you may want to reserve a campsite at Mission Tejas State Park.

In Livingston, you’ll find the Alabama-Coushatta tribe, which called Texas home long before Texas became a state. The tribe proudly shares their heritage through special events and craft shows, and RV camping with full hookups is available on site in the tribal community. You may also want to consider RV campsites at Lake Livingston State Park, just 20 miles or so down the road, or check out the Livingston KOA.

The next time you hitch up your camper, whether or not it’s officially Native American Heritage Month, think about spending some time exploring sites that highlight the rich, varied, culture of Texas’s Indian tribes.

What sites have you visited? Any recommendations?

~ G. Elaine Acker