December 3, 2011

North Through Virginia

As we made our way north towards Charlottesville yesterday, we decided to make a few stops, first at Booker T. Washington National Monument and then Appomattox Court House National Historical Park. 

The Booker T. Washington National Monument preserves the James Burroughs farm where Washington was born a slave in 1856.  Washington lived on the 207-acre tobacco farm with his mother, who was the farm’s cook, until the Emancipation Proclamation set him free at age nine.  Washington was poor and uneducated when he left.  When he visited the farm in 1908, he was the president of Tuskegee Institute and one of the most influential black men of his time.  Exhibits in the visitor center provide a comprehensive overview of Booker T. Washington’s life from slave to leading educator and spokesperson for black Americans.

Sculpture of Booker T. Washington as a Young Boy, by Lloyd Lillie

Reconstructed Slave Cabin and Kitchen

Rural Farm Life in Virginia

Why Did I Get a Sudden Urge for Barbeque?

Sheep Were Raised for Meat and Wool
Booker T. Washington National Monument also interprets farm life in Virginia at the time of the Civil War.  Although none of the original farm buildings remain, the site of a slave cabin similar to the one in which Washington was born and the Burroughs house are outlined with stones.  Other farm buildings have been reconstructed.  This farm was not a plantation, but a small, rural farm, where the owner worked alongside his slaves.

Since Tim and I have visited so many Civil War sites, we thought it only fitting that we stop at Appomattox Court House National Historical Park.  It was here that Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant, thus ending the Civil War.  Appomattox Court House is preserved as the small village that existed during the mid-nineteenth century.  Many original houses, stores and offices are still standing, although both the courthouse and the McLean House, where the actual surrender took place, have been reconstructed.

Appomattox County Courthouse on the Right

McLean House

Clover Hill Tavern and Guesthouse
It was quiet and still at Appomattox while we were there in the late afternoon, and it was very peaceful wandering along the country lanes and viewing the exhibits in the buildings.  Even though we will continue to tour other Civil War sites as we travel south, visiting Appomattox in a way provided a sense of closure.

Meeks Store and Appomattox County Courthouse

McLean House and Outbuildings
It was too late to drive on to Charlottesville, so we stopped at James River State Park.  What a nice park.  It combined the best of state parks with a pretty natural setting and large, private campsites, with the amenities usually found only at private campgrounds.  Not only were there hookups and very clean bathrooms and showers, but a nice laundry room as well.  We liked it so much that we decided this morning to stay another day.

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