Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Celebration of Heritage

Today is July 24 and no, we did not celebrate the pioneers arriving in Utah. Our family went to discover the heritage of our current area; Leavenworth, KS. Now if you know anything about the military; Leavenworth is where individuals in the military were sent to fulfill their debt to society. Leavenworth is only a 30 minute drive north of our home. It is the first city incorporated in the state of Kansas and Fort Leavenworth is known as the post that opened the West and is the oldest fort in continuous use west of the Mississippi. Melissa Ethridge was raised in this city. Lewis and Clark passed through in July 1804, Abraham Lincoln came in 1859 seeking the Republican nomination for President, John Wilkes Booth performed here in 1863, Susan B Anthony ran a newspaper. The Federal Penitentiary has held such criminals as George "Machine Gun" Kelly, Manuel Noreiga, and the Bird Man of Alcatraz: Robert Stroud served 28 years at Leavenworth before being transferred to Alcatraz. Buffalo Bill Cody is a native son, Wild Bill Hickok lived here for a time and met Calamity Jane while she was here. Fred Harvey of the Harvey House restaurants bought a mansion and lived there until his death. Generals Custer, Sherman, MacArthur, Eisenhower, Patton and Powell have walked these streets. The prison was the largest maximum security prison in the US until 2005. The walls are 40 feet high and 40 feet below ground. Fort Leavenworth is open to the public, but everyone over 16 must show a picture ID. They have a museum on site with relics from history (including the carriage Abraham Lincoln rode in). President Regan donated 3 pieces of the Berlin Wall to the Fort.

We took the local city trolley tour around town with a very informative driver. Passed some very historic homes, and the girls took a ride on the C.W. Parker Carousel. Charles Wallace Parker made Leavenworth, KS the carousel capital of the world by producing more carousels in Leavenworth than in any other city in the US. He brought his amusement company to Leavenworth in 1910. On display was the oldest operating, hand cranked, wooden carousel built around 1860 which is on loan from the National Carousel Association. We had lunch at Homer's which has been around since 1931. I didn't have one but their root beer floats looked divine.
What a wonderful day to experience the history of Kansas.
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Shannon said...

How neat! You celebrated Pioneer Day in your own way. Love it.

Rachel said...

Ft. Leavenworth has one more claim to fame: I was conceived there! ;) What can I say - great things have come from little Ft. Leavenworth!