Friday, July 6, 2012

West of the Mississippi

I really enjoyed our drive through Missouri and the Ozarks. Very pretty, hilly and green with lots of interesting stops. Since we are ending our trip by meeting up with the boy scout troop in Gettysburg PA we decided it would be a good idea to work in some Civil War history along the way. Missouri and Oklahoma have many National Battlefields open to the public, and since we were driving right past and needed a break we stopped at Wilson's Creek National Battlefield.

Wilson's Creek was the first Civil War battle fought west of the Mississippi and also where the first General for the Northern Army to loose his life died. Nathaniel Lyon lost his life on Bloody Hill on August 10, 1861. The battle was fought on the Ray family farm, destroying the families corn field and crops. Their house was then used as a Confederate hospital, further depleting any supplies and food they had stored for the coming winter season. The Ray family, prosperous farmers and the town postmaster, went from wealthy to broke in only 6 hours that day, and never recovered. While the Confederacy won this battle, in the end Missouri remained under Union control.

The National Park Service does a great job of keeping places like this as natural and historically accurate as possible. The Ray house has been preserved and is open to the public, with a Park Service employee there to give tours and answer questions. We also spent a lot of time just walking around the grounds and the battlefield. Committed to conservation, I loved this drinking fountain in the interpretative center.

A place just to refill a water bottle!! We are trying very hard to conserve and not create more trash as we take this trip and are finding that many campgrounds out this way have no recycling available, so it was nice to be able to refill our reusable water bottles along the way. I'm really hoping as we move further west we are able to stay at some greener campgrounds.

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