For my readers who do not live in the Williamsburg / Jamestown, VA area here is a link to a story about a local historic preservation battle. Basically, Dominion (the almighty electric provider for this area of Virginia) has declared that new power lines must be run over the James River. Dominion claims that the historic view from Historic Jamestown will not be disturbed, preservationists are not so sure. Depending upon the outcome, the next time you come to visit the view may be a little different.
Day 4 found us headed out to Morristown National Historical Park. I had also been to Morristown several times as a kid so I was somewhat familiar with the history behind its importance. What I did not remember was exactly how to get around the park nor if there was an entrance fee. (Oh how great is was to travel with our parents when we were young and did not have to worry about such things.) Consequently, we started our journey at the Washington Headquarters Museum & Ford Mansion which is the easiest to find following the signage around town.
In the Eastern National store we encountered a NPS ranger who was friendly enough but didn’t listen and respond to the needs of our group. Pushing the $7 fee or $10 Senior pass to one of our party who qualified, he failed to mention that the fee was ONLY for the Washington Museum and Ford Mansion which we had not planned on seeing. Our interest was in Jockey Hollow and Fort Nonsense which is FREE but the ranger failed to listen when my wife tried to explain this to him. Our Senior member finally decided to purchase the pass and before we know it we were on a tour of the Ford Mansion.
Needless to say 18th Century stairs and knees of those eligible for the Senior Pass don’t always mix well and I was the only one of our party to take the full tour of the house. It was a good tour; the guide was friendly and knowledgeable and even modified his tour so that my companions could at least see the first floor before heading off to a bench to await the tour’s finish. From there we made our way to Fort Nonsense and Jockey Hollow.
Overall we had a pleasant visit, we just wish that the initial ranger had listened to our needs instead of pushing us into either paying a fee each or selling a Senior Pass.
On Tuesday we headed over to Monmouth Battlefield State Park. Monmouth Battlefield is a place I have been to many times before. Having grown up about 16 miles away my father took us there when I developed an interest in the American Revolution. In college I did a public history internship looking for the site of Washington’s camp the night before the battle, and when I was a re-enactor with the 3rd NJ the park let us use the Visitors Center for our meetings.
I had heard that the park had built a new VC and had all new interpretive exhibits and I was curious as to what it all looked like. The new exhibits look great. I was happy to see a breakdown of the battle along one wall with pictures and maps showing where the action on the battlefield took place. A new electric map shows troop movements and narrates the battle. I was also impressed with the displays showing how the battlefield had been used over time. Because of my association with the 3rd NJ which was a Civil War re-enacting group I knew that there was a training camp, Camp Vredenburg within the bounds of the park, but it was nice to see a display on it.
On the downside, the gift shop was not open (only on “most” Sunday’s 1-4) which was sad because there were about 5 families that were visiting when we were and most likely would have purchased something – I KNOW I would have. (On a side note, according to the Friends of Monmouth Battlefield website they do want to expand the store’s hours – at least it is in the 5 year plan). There also needs to be some better signage especially for the turn off of 522 to the Perrine Hill area. (These are also part of the Friends’ group 5 year plan.)
While I applaud the work of the Friends’ group and encourage my readers to visit their website and consider donating or joining – especially any NJ readers – I have to ask why the state isn’t taking a more active role. By contrast, for example, we visited two NPS sites on this trip and the rangers there also ran the gift shop. Here in VA the ranger at False Cape State Park was the one to sell me my obligatory patch and pin. Why can’t the folks at Monmouth do likewise?
Overall it was a good trip to a place I’ve enjoyed for years and will hopefully visit again. You can look for more discussion of the Battle of Monmouth here in the near future.
Those of us connected to the history profession follow a variety of historians and regularly visit history related websites. In addition to my blogroll page (which needs constant updating) here are a few history related websites and apps that I use.
HNN – History News Network http://historynewsnetwork.org/
New Historian http://www.newhistorian.com/
New Historian mobile apps http://www.newhistorian.com/mobile-apps/
Not Even Past https://notevenpast.org/
So what are some of your favorite history related websites?