Found 21 Resources containing: Lewis, John Frederick 1860-1932
A plea for the American Philosophical Society and its need of a new building to be known as "Franklin house" ... [By John Frederick Lewis
Author's name in manuscript on t.-p. and at end of text.
Also available online.
Original designs of the most celebrated masters of the Bolognese, Roman, Florentine, and Venetian schools : comprising some of the works of Leonardo da Vinci, the Caracci, Claude Lorraine, Raphael, Michel Angelo, the Poussins, and others, in His Majesty's collection : engraved by Bartolozzi, P.W. Tomkins, Schiavonetti, Lewis, and other eminent engravers; with biographical and historical sketches of L. da Vinci and the Caracci / by J. Chamberlaine
Illustrations are etchings, aquatints, roulette; some printed in colors.
With blank tissue guard-sheets.
Also available online.
CHMRB and SCDIRB each have one copy.
CHMRB copy 39088010945376 is imperfect: the main title page is wanting, although both special title pages are present.
CHMRB copy has a later brown cloth binding with gilt-lettered spine and top edge gilt; stamped: Brooklyn Bookbinding Co.
SCDIRB copy (39088007590870) acquired through the Smithsonian's purchase of the George Perkins Marsh collection, 1849.
SCDIRB copy stamped on title page: Smithsonian Institution Secretary's Library [ink manuscript no.] 4794 (overstamped "cancelled").
SCDIRB copy stamped on verso of title page: Smithsonian Institution National Museum Jun 12 1945 [accession no.] 328763.
SCDIRB copy half bound in red sheepskin and marbled boards, marbled endpapers, gilt edges.
See also Acc. No. 06-014, Box 1.
For identification key to the meeting participants, see SIA2015-009130, SIA2015-009131, and SIA2015-009132.
On the south steps of the National Museum of Natural History: 1. Alfred S. Romer 2. Ruth H. Romer 3. Mrs. William Gonyea 4. William Gonyea 5. Charles R. Schaff 6. Richard H. Tedford 7. Zofia Kielan-Jaworowska 8. Michael O. Woodburne 9. Elaine Anderson 10. Larry D. Anderson 11. John F. Sutton 12. Rainer Zangerl 13. Arnold Lewis 14. Albert C. Myrick, Jr. 15. Margery C. Coombs 16. Nicholas Hotton III 17. William D. Turnbull 18. Clayton Ray 19. Theodore Downs 20. Theodore H. Eaton, Jr. 21. John Cosgriff 22. Frank W. Johnson 23. Morris F. Skinner 24. H. Gregory McDonald 25. Craig C. Black 26. Holmes A. Semken, Jr. 27. Robert M. Salkin 28. Robert Purdy 29. Leonard Krishtalka 30. Peter Dodson 31. Bobb Schaeffer 32. Philip R. Bjork 33. Gordon Edmund 34. Marsha L. Greaves 35. Walter S. Greaves 36. Beryl E. Taylor 37. Lewis Lipps 38. Theodore Galusha 39. Marian Galusha 40. Robert W. Wilson 41. William J. Morris 42. Donald L. Rasmussen 43. Stanley J. Olsen 44. Daniel A. Guthrie 45. Jay H. Matternes 46. John M. Rensberger 47. Gary D. Johnson 48. Joseph T. Gregory 49. John E. Ott 50. Frankin L. Pearce 51. Ronald H. Pine 52. Donald Baird 53. Claude W. Hibbard 54. Ernest L. Lundelius, Jr. 55. Barbara Waters 56. Unknown 57. George E. Lammers 58. John E. Storer 59. Mrs. John William Wilson III 60. David Dunkle 61. James A. Jensen 62. John William Wilson III 63. David Gillette 64. Jason A. Lillegraven 65. Thomas Parsons 66. Anna K. Behrensmeyer 67. Frederick R. Schram 68. Pierce Brodkorb 69. Ted M. Cavender 70. David C. Parris 71. Storrs L. Olson 72. Everett Lindsay 73. Unknown 74. Thomas L. Kramer 75. Robert L. Meyer 76. David S. Berman 77. Edgar Allin 78. Susan Berman 79. Sylvia F. Graham 80. Leo Carson Davis 81. Chris McGowan 82. William A. Clemens 83. Hans Elmar Kaiser 84. Edward D. Mitchell, Jr. 85. Ralph E. Eshelman 86. S. David Webb 87. Priscilla McKenna 88. Peter P. Vaughn 89. Malcolm C. McKenna 90. Robert Emry 91. Vincent J. Maglio 92. Donald E. Savage 93. Eric Delson 94. John S. McIntosh 95. David Bardack 96. Takeshi Setoguchi 97. Walter P. Coombs, Jr. 98. J. Ross Dooley or E.D. Cope (disputed)
“The story of Frederick Douglass’ hopes and aspirations and longing desire for freedom has been told—you all know it. It was a story made possible by the unswerving loyalty of Anna Murray.”
So began Rosetta Douglass Sprague, daughter of Anna and Frederick Douglass, in a speech delivered in 1900 that later became the book My Mother As I Recall Her. It remains one of the few works that focuses on Anna Murray Douglass, in contrast to the hundreds that have been written on Frederick Douglass and his legacy. That neglect is in part due to the paucity of materials available on Anna; she was largely illiterate and left behind few physical traces of her life, whereas Frederick wrote thousands of letters and multiple books. But without Anna, Frederick may never have achieved such fame for his abolitionism—or even escaped slavery.
Frederick and Anna met in 1838, when he still went by the surname Bailey and she by Murray. The daughter of enslaved parents in rural Maryland around 1813, Anna was the first of her siblings to be born free after her parents were manumitted. She lived with her parents until the age of 17, at which point she headed for Baltimore and found work as a domestic helper. Over the years she managed to earn and save money; the vibrant community of more than 17,000 free blacks in the Maryland city organized black churches and schools despite repressive laws restricting their freedoms. When she met Frederick—historians disagree on the when and where their acquaintance occurred, but it may have been in attending the same church—she was financially prepared to start a life with him. But first, he needed freedom.
By borrowing a freedman’s protection certificate from a friend and wearing the disguise of a sailor sewn by Anna, Frederick made his way to New York City by train (possibly spending Anna’s money to buy the ticket, says historian Leigh Fought). Once there, he sent for Anna and they were married in the home of abolitionist David Ruggles. According to Rosetta, Anna brought nearly everything the couple needed to begin their life together: a feather bed with pillows and linens; dishes with cutlery; and a full trunk of clothing for herself.
“It was a leap of faith on her part, but there’s not many free black men to marry, and even that could be precarious,” says Fought, the author of Women in the World of Frederick Douglass and professor of history at Le Moyne College. “If she marries Frederick and goes north, she might be working, but she’s got a husband who’s free and in the North there are schools and their children can be educated.”
The two settled into a small home in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and both continued working menial tasks or housekeeping until Anna began having children. The first four were all born in New Bedford, including Rosetta, Lewis, Charles and Frederick Jr. Meanwhile, Frederick was becoming ever more involved in the abolition movement, and before long, he was traveling extensively to give speeches—including a two-year stint in England from 1845 to 1847—with Anna left alone to raise and support the family. During that time, she managed to save everything he sent back and used only her own income from mending shoes to support the family.
Having the wife act as the family financial planner was common for the period, Fought says. “Within working class households there’s going to be more egalitarian management of the money, and women kept the household books.” This was especially important for the Douglass family, since Frederick was away from home so frequently.
Upon Frederick’s return from England in 1847, he moved the family from Massachusetts to Rochester, New York, where they would play host to innumerable guests involved in the anti-slavery movement, and hide runaways on the Underground Railroad. Frederick also began publication of The North Star, an anti-slavery newspaper.
But Frederick’s increasing fame and visibility came with difficulties for Anna beyond the danger inherent with operating a stop on the Railroad and having a husband who drew the ire of slavers. In addition to the hidden guests, the Douglass home also played host to a number of Frederick’s colleagues, including two white European women. Julia Griffiths, a English woman who helped with The North Star, lived in the Douglass household for two years, occasionally commenting on the lowly nature of Anna’s work. “Poor fellow!” she wrote in one letter in reference to Frederick. “The quiet & repose he so much needs are very difficult for him to attain in his domestic circle.” Another houseguest, German Ottilie Assing, had numerous unkind things to say of Anna.
Frederick’s close affiliation with both these women only added fuel to the fire of rumormongering that followed the family. He was accused of having affairs with both, in part to discredit his work as an abolitionist and in part because of stereotypes of the day about the infidelity of African-American men. For Anna to defend herself would’ve required abandoning the privacy of their home life that was such a privilege for an African-American woman of the era.
“Frederick is very circumspect about mentioning Anna [in his writing] because he’s trying to respect her,” Fought says. “Women weren’t supposed to appear in print. You appeared in print when you got married and when you died. Something had gone wrong in your life you appeared in print at other times.” To respond publicly to rumors about her husband would send Anna down a road she didn’t want to be on, Fought explains, and chip away at her respectability.
For Rose O’Keefe, author of Frederick & Anna Douglass in Rochester, NY, Anna doesn’t get the credit she deserves. “They say she held the household together, but there was so much more to it than that,” O’Keefe says. Anna would’ve been working constantly to manage the guests, keep the house clean, tend the garden, balance the varying opinions of her husband’s colleagues without getting caught in the middle, and keeping their work on the Underground Railroad secret. “It was a tough role, a very tough role.”
And there were plenty of personal low points in her life as well. Frederick was forced to flee the country in 1859 after John Brown’s Harpers Ferry raid to avoid being arrested under the charge that he’d assisted in the attack (though he hadn’t). The couple’s youngest daughter, Annie, died in 1860 at age 10, and the family home in Rochester was burned down (likely due to arson) in 1872. The Douglasses lost over $4,000 worth of goods in the fire, as well as the only complete set of the North Star and Frederick’s later news publications.
After the fire, Anna and Frederick moved to Washington, D.C. While Frederick continued his work, Anna continued managing the home, now with occasional help from Rosetta, as well as numerous relatives and grandchildren. She died in 1882 after a series of strokes, leaving behind a legacy that few people ever thought to explore.
“People judge Anna to not be good enough for their great, darling Douglass,” Fought says. “Some of it is racially prejudiced because she’s darker skinned. They don’t believe she’s pretty enough.” But even though she left only the slightest mark on the written record of the past, Fought argues that there are still ways to understand some of what her life was like and who she was.
“[People like Anna] did leave an impression on the historical record by doing things. You have to be quiet and listen to the choice they made and understand the context and the other possible choices they had,” Fought says. “In that empathy, we understand more about their lives. Often you don’t get them, but you get the outlines of where they were, and an idea of what going through their life would’ve been like.”
For Anna, it was a life of working in the background and often being held to unfair standards. But it was also a life of freedom, and numerous children who had the advantage of an education, and who continued coming to her for advice and solace until the end of her life.
Music from the South. Vol. 9 [sound recording] : song and worship / recordings taken by Frederic Ramsey, Jr
On tracks 205 and 206 Elder Effie Hall and the congregation of the First Independent Holy Church of God - Unity - Prayer are joined by Annie L. Fitts, Elma Sawyer, Jennie Jackson and Brother Williams.
Recorded by Frederick Ramsey Jr. under a grant from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, in Alabama and Louisiana,April and June, 1954.
Previously issued as Folkways FP 658 (1956).
How much does Thomas Paine matter? More than Harriet Beecher Stowe? Less than Elvis? On a par with Dwight Eisenhower? Would you have answered these questions differently ten years ago? Will you answer them differently ten years from now? In a culture so saturated with information and so fragmented by the search possibilities of the Internet, how do we measure historical significance?
Steven Skiena and Charles B. Ward have come up with a novel answer. Skiena is the Distinguished Teaching Professor of Computer Science at Stony Brook University and a co-founder of the social-analytics company General Sentiment. Ward is an engineer at Google, specializing in ranking methodologies. Their answer involves high-level math. They subject the historical zeitgeist to the brute rigors of quantitative analysis in a recent book, Who’s Bigger? Where Historical Figures Really Rank.
Simply put, Skiena and Ward have developed an algorithmic method of ranking historical figures, just as Google ranks web pages. But while Google ranks web pages according to relevance to your search terms, Skiena and Ward rank people according to their historical significance, which they define as “the result of social and cultural forces acting on the mass of an individual’s achievement.” Their rankings account not only for what individuals have done, but also for how well others remember and value them for it.
Their method requires a massive amount of big data on historical reputation. This they found in the English-language Wikipedia, which has more than 840,000 pages devoted to individuals from all times and places, plus data extracted from the 15 million books Google has scanned. They analyzed this data to produce a single score for each person, using a formula that incorporates the number of links to each page, the number of page visits, the length of each entry and the frequency of edits to each page. Their algorithms differentiate between two kinds of historical reputation, what they call “gravitas” and “celebrity.” Finally, their method requires a means of correcting for the “decay” in historical reputation that comes with the passage of time; they developed an algorithm for that, too. By their reckoning, Jesus, Napoleon, Muhammad, William Shakespeare and Abraham Lincoln rank as the top five figures in world history. Their book ranks more than 1,000 individuals from all around the world, providing a new way to look at history.
Skiena and Ward would be the first to acknowledge that their method has limitations. Their concept of significance has less to do with achievement than with an individual’s strength as an Internet meme—how vividly he or she remains in our collective memory. The English-language Wikipedia favors Americans over foreigners, men over women, white people over others and English speakers over everyone else. In their rankings of Americans only, past presidents occupy 39 of the first 100 spots, suggesting an ex-officio bias.
That’s where we come in. Smithsonian magazine has been covering American history in depth from its inaugural issue, published in 1970. Among the Smithsonian Institution museums we work closely with is the National Museum of American History. By synthesizing our expertise with the systematic rigor of Skiena and Ward’s rankings, we sought to combine the best of quantitative measures and qualitative judgment.
First, we asked Skiena and Ward to separate figures significant to American history from the world population. Then, rather than simply taking their top 100, we developed categories that we believe are significant, and populated our categories with people in Skiena and Ward’s order (even if they ranked below 100). This system helped mitigate the biases of Wikipedia.
We have highlighted what we decided was the most interesting choice within each category with a slightly fuller biographical sketch. And finally, we made an Editors’ Choice in each category, an 11th American whose significance we’re willing to argue for.
Argument, of course, has been integral to American historiography from the beginning. When Andrew Gelman, a professor of statistics and political science at Columbia University, wrote that Who’s Bigger? “is a guaranteed argument-starter,” he meant it as a compliment. We hope our list will spark a few passionate discussions as well.
Here is our list; to read about what made each person siginficant, pick up a copy of the special issue at a newsstand near you.
Giovanni da Verrazzano
Meriwether Lewis and William Clark
John Wesley Powell
Rebels & resisters
Martin Luther King Jr.
Robert E. Lee
Susan B. Anthony
W.E.B. Du Bois
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Ulysses S. Grant
Ronald W. Reagan
George W. Bush
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
John Wilkes Booth
Billy the Kid
William M. “Boss” Tweed
Wild Bill Hickok
Lee Harvey Oswald
Frank Lloyd Wright
Frederick Law Olmsted
James Abbott MacNeill Whistler
John James Audubon
Joseph Smith Jr.
L. Ron Hubbard
Ellen G. White
Mary Baker Eddy
John D. Rockefeller
Thomas Alva Edison
William Randolph Hearst
Billie Jean King
Harriet Tubman was in her early 30s at the latest when she became a conductor on the Underground Railroad. The abolitionist icon, who was born into slavery sometime between 1815 and 1825 in Maryland, escaped to Philadelphia in 1849, and in her role as "Moses" she escorted more than 300 slaves to freedom. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, she then volunteered for the Union as a cook and nurse before the Union Army recruited her as a spymaster.
Though her heroic work from this period of her life is well-documented, what she looked like as a young freedom fighter has remained somewhat of a mystery. Now, a newly discovered photograph going on auction next month might offer a rare look at Tubman in her 40s, James Rogers reports at Fox News.
“There are very few known photographs of Harriet Tubman, and of those, most picture her in old age,” Swann Auction Galleries, which is selling the photo, tells Rogers in a statement. “This carte-de-visite [photograph] from the late 1860s shows a new side of this iconic and heroic American figure, as a much younger woman in the prime of her life, shortly after the end of the Civil War.”
According to David Wilcox at The Citizen, the local newspaper near Tubman’s home in Auburn, New York, the photo was discovered in an album once owned by Emily Howland of nearby Sherwood, New York, who was a fellow abolitionist, philanthropist and suffragist. According to the Swann Gallery, the album includes 44 photos, mostly of abolitionists and politicians, including John Willis Menard, the first black American elected to Congress. In fact, Wilcox reports that the album includes another already well-known image of Tubman taken about a decade later. Rogers reports that Swann estimates the album will sell for $20,000 to $30,000 when it goes to auction on March 30.
Kate Clifford Larson, author of Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero, tells Wilcox that she believes the new photograph is the real deal. She says that in the last two decades the public has sent her dozens of photos believed to be Tubman, but none of them have panned out. This one, she says, is different. “There's no doubt in my mind about the provenance of the photo and that it is Tubman. I had never run across it,” she tells Wilcox. “What’s remarkable about this photograph is that she’s so proud and dignified and beautiful. She looks so young. This is the vibrant young Tubman just coming off her work during the Civil War. She’s building her life with her family in Auburn. It just surprised me, and I think it's going to surprise a lot of people.”
Dann J. Bryold, a historian and Tubman scholar at Central Connecticut State University tells Smithsonian.com that he, too, thinks this could be a genuine Tubman photo, especially since the scars she suffered when a slave overseer hit her with a lead weight are visible. “This is an amazing, amazing image,” he says. “It almost makes sense to find a Harriet Tubman image in this manner because of her disposition. Frederick Douglass is thought to be the most photographed man of the 19th century. But she was a different brand of abolitionist, a doer not a talker. She did the work nobody ever really wanted to do and didn’t want to take the credit for it."
The dearth of photographs of a younger Tubman has led to false claims in the past. According to Tamar Lewis at The New York Times, after it was announced last year that Tubman would appear on the $20 bill in 2020, several images that people claimed were of her began circulating on the internet. In one, the subject, a young black woman, wears a fancy ball gown, and in the other, the subject is dressed in a plain dark outfit and carries a rifle. Those photos turned out to be of different women, but their popularity pointed out the desire that many had to see Tubman as a young activist.
Bryold says the power that an image of Tubman as a younger woman holds is that it makes her seem more real. “History is always closing the gap of time and space to make you feel closer to an individual and make you aware these are real people,” he tells Smithsonian.com. “This picture allows those emotions and revives the thought that this is real person going through real situations.”
The photo appears during of something of Tubman revival. Not only is she slated to appear on the $20 bill, the Interior Department recently established Harriet Tubman National Historic Park in Auburn, New York, which preserves her home and commemorates her life (especially shining a light on her later years). The Underground Railroad National Historic Park in Cambridge, Maryland, is also scheduled to open in March and the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture includes significant Tubman artifacts, including her shawl. A Harriet Tubman biopic starring Broadway star Cynthia Erivo was also announced earlier this week.
The Mackay Trophy was established in 1911 by Clarence H. Mackay, who was head of the Postal Telegraph-Commercial Cable Companies. It is administered by the National Aeronautic Association of the U.S.A. and is awarded yearly by the U.S. Air Force for the most meritorious flight of the year by an Air Force person, persons, or organization.
Gift of the National Aeronautic Association of the U.S.A.
1912 Lt. Henry H. Arnold
1913 2nd Lt. Joseph E. Carberry
2nd Lt. Fred Seydel
1914 Capt. Townsend F. Dodd
Lt. S. W. Fitzgerald
1915 Lt. B. Q. Jones
1916-17 No award
1918 Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker
1919 Lt. Belvin W. Maynard
Lt. Alexander Pearson Jr.
Lt. R. S. Northington
Capt. John O. Donaldson
Capt. Lowell H. Smith
Lt. Col. Harold E. Hartney
Lt. E. M. Manzelman
Lt. B. G. Bagby
Lt. D. B. Gish
Capt. F. Steinle
1920 Capt. St. Clair Streett
1st Lt. Clifford C. Nutt
2nd Lt. Eric H. Nelson
2nd Lt. C. H. Crumrine
2nd Lt. Ross C. Kirkpatrick
Sgt. Edmond Henriques
Sgt. Albert T. Vierra
Sgt. Joe E. English
1921 Lt. J. A. Macready
1922 Lt. J. A. Macready
Lt. O. G. Kelly
1923 Lt. J. A. Macready
Lt. O. G. Kelly
1924 Capt. Lowell H. Smith
1st Lt. Leslie P. Arnold
2nd Lt. John Harding Jr.
1st Lt. Leigh Wade
1st Lt. Eric H. Nelson
2nd Lt. Henry H. Ogden
1925 Lt. James H. Doolittle
Lt. Cyrus K. Bettis
1926 Pan American Good Will Flyers
1927 Lt. Albert F. Hegenberger
Lt. Lester J. Maitland
1928 Lt. Harry A. Sutton
1929 Capt. A. W. Stevens
1930 Maj. Ralph Royce
1931 Brig. Gen. Benjamin D. Foulois
1932 11th Bombardment Squadron, March Field, Calif., 1st Lt. Charles H. Howard,
1933 Capt. Westside T. Larson
1934 Brig. Gen. Henry H. Arnold
1935 Capt. A. W. Stevens
Capt. O. A. Anderson
1936 Capt. Richard E. Nugent
1st Lt. Joseph A. Miller
1st Lt. Edwin G. Simenson
2nd Lt. William P. Ragsdale Jr.
2nd Lt. Burton W. Armstrong
2nd Lt. Herbert Morgan Jr.
Tech. Sgt. Gilbert W. Olson
Staff Sgt. Howard M. Miller
Cpl. Air Mechanic 2/c Frank B. Connor
1937 Capt. Carl J. Crane
Capt. George V. Holloman
1938 Lt. Col. Robert Olds, 2nd Bombardment Group
1939 Maj. Caleb V. Haynes
Maj. William D. Old
Capt. John A. Samford
1st Lt. Richard S. Freeman
1st Lt. Torgils G. Wold
Tech. Sgt. William J. Heldt
Tech. Sgt. Henry L. Hines
Tech. Sgt. David L. Spicer
Staff Sgt. Russell E. Junior
Staff Sgt. James E. Sands
M/Sgt. Adolph Cattarius
1940-46 No award
1947 Capt. Charles E. Yeager
1948 Lt. Col. Emil Beaudry
1949 Capt. James G. Gallagher and the fight crew of Lucky Lady II
1950 27th Fighter Wing
1951 Col. Fred J. Ascani
1952 Maj. Louis H. Carrington Jr.
Maj. Frederick W. Shook
Capt. Wallace D. Yancey
1953 40th Air Division, Strategic Air Command
1954 308th Bombardment Wing (M), 38th Air Division, Strategic Air Command
1955 Col. Horace A. Hanes
1956 Capt. Iven C. Kincheloe Jr.
1957 93rd Bombardment Wing, Strategic Air Command
1958 Tactical Air Command's Air Strike Force, X-Ray Tango
1959 U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds
1960 6593rd Test Squadron, Hickham AFB, Hawaii
1961 Lt. Col. William R. Payne
Maj. William L. Polhemus
Maj. Raymond R. Wagener
1962 Maj. Robert. G. Sowers
Capt. Robert MacDonald
Capt. John T. Walton
1963 Capt. Warren P. Tomsett
Capt. John R. Ordemann
Capt. Donald R. Mack
Tech. Sgt. Edsol P. Inlow
Staff Sgt. Jack E. Morgan
Staff Sgt. Frank C. Barrett
1964 464th Troop Carrier Wing, Tactical Air Command
1965 YF-12A/SR-71 Test Force, Edwards AFB, Calif.
1966 Lt. Col. Albert R. Howarth
1967 Maj. John H. Casteel
Capt. Dean L. Hoar
Capt. Richard L. Trail
M/Sgt. Nathan C. Campbell
1968 Lt. Col. Daryl D. Cole
1969 49th Tactical Fighter Wing, Holloman AFB, N.Mex.
1970 Capt. Alan D. Milacek and his nine-man crew
1971 Lt. Col. Thomas B. Estes
Maj. Dewain C. Vick
1972 Capt. Richard S. Ritchie
Capt. Charles B. DeBellevue
Capt. Jeffrey S. Feinstein
1973 Operation Homecoming, Military Airlift Command Aircrews
1974 Maj. Roger J. Smith
Maj. David W. Peterson
Maj. Willard R. Macfarlane
1975 Maj. Robert W. Undorf
1976 Capt. James A. Yule
1977 Capt. David M. Sprinkel and his C-5 aircrew
1978 Lt. Col. Robert F. Schultz, Capt. Todd H. Hohberger, and their crews from the 436th Military Airlift Wing, Military Airlift Command
1979 Maj. James E. McArdle Jr.
1980 Crews S-21 and S-31, 644th Bombardment Squadron, Strategic Air Command
1981 Capt. John J. Walters
1982 B-52 Crew E-21, 19th Bombardment Wing, Strategic Air Command
1983 Capt. Robert J. Goodman and his KC-135 crew, 42nd Bombardment Wing, Strategic Air Command
1984 Lt. Col. James L. Hobson Jr.
1985 Lt. Col. David E. Faught
1986 Capt. Marc D. Felman
Capt. Thomas M. Ferguson
M/Sgt. Clarence Bridges Jr.
M/Sgt. Patrick S. Kennedy
M/Sgt. Gerald G. Treadwell
Tech. Sgt. Lester G. Bouler
Tech. Sgt. Gerald M. Lewis
Staff Sgt. Samuel S. Flores
Staff Sgt. Scott A. Helms
Staff Sgt. Gary L. Smith
1987 Detachment 15, Air Force Plant Representative Office and B-1B System
Program Office, Air Force Systems Command
1988 Military Airlift Wing C-5 Crew, Military Airlift Command
1989 98th Bombardment Wing B-1B Crew, Strategic Air Command
1990 AC-130H Crew, 16th Special Operations Squadron, Air Force Special
1991 MH-53J Pave Low Crew, 20th Special Operations Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Fla., Air Force Special Operations Command
1992 C-130 Aircrew, 310th Airlift Squadron, Howard AFB, Panama, Air Combat
1993 B-52 Aircrew, 668th Bomb Squadron, Griffiss AFB, N.Y.
1994 HH-60G Aircrews 206 and 208, 56th Rescue Squadron, Keflavik NAS, Iceland,
Air Combat Command
1995 B-1B, BAT-01 Flight, 9th Bombardment Squadron, Dyess AFB, Tex., Air Combat
1996 B-52H, Duke 01 Flight, Combat Air Command
1997 MC-130H, 7th Special Operations Squadron, Crew of Whisk 05
1998 Air Force Rescue 470, 210th Rescue Squadron, Kulis ANGB, Anchorage, Alaska
1999 Capt. Jeffrey G. J. Hwang
2000 AIREVAC E10E1 and E10E2 Missions, 75th Airlift Squadron, 86th Aeromedical
2001 20th Special Operations Squadron KNIFE 04
2002 GRIM 31, 16th SOS
2003 VIJAY 10, 7th Airlift Squadron
2004 41st Rescue Squadron and 38th Rescue Squadron, Jolly 11 and Jolly 12
2005 Train 60
2006 Capt. Scott L. Markle
2007 Panther One One
Col. Charles L. Moore
Lt. Col. Stephen C. Williams
Capt. Lawrence T. Sullivan
Capt. Kristopher W. Struve
2008 The Crew of BONE 23
2009 The Crew of PEDRO 16
2010 DUDE Flight (DUDE 01 and DUDE 02)
2011 The Crews of PEDRO 83 Flight
2012 The Crews of PEDRO 83 Flgiht
2013 The Crews of ROOSTER 73 Flight
2014 The Crew of IRONHAND 41 Flight
2015 The Crews of WEASEL 41 and WEASEL 51 Flight
2016 The Crew of SPOOKY 43 Flight
2017 The Crew of BOAR 51 Flight
2018 The Crew of DRACO 42 Flight
Tucked carefully away in a storage cabinet at the National Museum of American History, there is an old-fashioned inkstand bearing a story that must be told from time to time. It once sat on the desk of Susan B. Anthony and dispensed the ink that she used to produce a newspaper that few remember today.
Before the spread of the ballpoint pen, an inkstand was an essential tool for any writer. It held an inkwell, a shaker of sand used to blot dry the ink, and a compartment with a little drawer to store the steel nibs that served as the tip of the pen. This particular inkstand is dark, almost black. Its lines are feminine and strong, much like its original owner.
Lecturer, organizer, author and lobbyist for the rights of women, Susan B. Anthony was also the proprietor of a radical newspaper, which was controversial, financially unsuccessful, but never boring.
The year was 1868. The Civil War had ended only a few years before. Women could not vote. Once married, they could not hold property or file lawsuits. They could rarely obtain divorces, even when abused.
Blacks had been freed but they too couldn't vote. President Andrew Johnson, sworn in following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, was about to be impeached for bungling the legalities of reconstruction.
Susan Anthony lived at a time when cheap rum and whiskey made one in every five husbands an alcoholic. Cigar smoke filled the air in every public place and the slimy brown stains of tobacco spit dotted streets and even floors and walls where (mostly male) tobacco chewers had missed the spittoon.Susan B. Anthony in a photograph by Frances Benjamin Johnson (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)
Throughout the Civil War, the women's suffrage movement had been more or less on pause. Women had found new economic opportunities during the war, but as they did after World War II, those disappeared once the war ended. “It's like Rosie the Riveter and then Rosie being sent home because the returning veterans need their jobs back,” says Ann Dexter Gordon, a research professor of history at Rutgers University and the editor of the Elizabeth Cady Standon and Susan B. Anthony Papers. “There's a lot of pushing women back after the Civil War.”
Anthony wanted to see the cause of women's suffrage rise up again. Part of her vision for how to do this was to start a newspaper. But she didn't have the money; that is, until she met one of the strangest and most colorful characters of the era—George Francis Train, who one historian once described as “a combination of Liberace and Billy Graham.”
Dapper, polished and always freshly shaved and scented with cologne, Train carried a cane for effect rather than need. But he never touched alcohol or tobacco. One assumes Anthony would have appreciated that.
Train was wealthy, too. He had made his first real money as a teenager by organizing a line of clipper ships that carried would-be gold miners from Boston to San Francisco. He went on to amass a moderate fortune by betting on the success of railroads along routes that most other investors didn't consider viable.
He ran for President against Lincoln in 1864, but no votes in his favor were recorded. While running again for President in 1868, he made a trip around the world in 80 days and was apparently the inspiration for the character of Phileas Fogg in Jules Verne's novel, Around the World in Eighty Days.George Francis Train (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)
But Train was also passionate about other issues, which it isn't clear that Anthony shared. He was a supporter of the Fenian movement. The Fenians were Irish immigrants who opposed English occupation of Ireland and formed an army within the U.S. with the aim of invading Canada to force England to pull out of Ireland (a series of five armed raids were actually attempted). Train was also a proponent of the controversial greenback monetary system, an early form of the modern fiat (rather than gold-backed) currency that the U.S. uses today.
Train claimed to have invented perforated stamps, erasers attached to pencils and canned salmon, but he was also a devoted and effective supporter of women's suffrage and the temperance movement to ban alcohol. Anthony and Stanton found common cause with him (though he believed that blacks should not be given the vote until they had been taught to read) and he became the principal funder of their newspaper.
While traveling together on a speaking tour in Kansas the three became great friends and Anthony found his limitless energy a source of personal strength and inspiration. She credited him with the 9,000 votes in support of a women's suffrage amendment (that was a lot of votes in the sparsely-populated new state).
“Something happened so that she is bound to him for the rest of her life,” says Gordon. “One of the entries she makes somewhere is something like 'at a moment when I didn't think anything of myself, he taught me my worth.' And it just seemed to me that something happened on that trip that was an identity crisis and Train pulled her through.”
The first issue of their newspaper was distributed on January 8, 1868. In its pages, Anthony, Stanton, Train and a few other writers imagined and advocated for a world entirely different from the cruel one outside of their New York City office door. They all shared frustration over the apparent limits of what had been accomplished in the wake of the Civil War. “Men talk of reconstruction on the basis of 'negro suffrage,'” wrote Stanton, “while multitudes of facts on all sides. . . show that we need to reconstruct the very foundations of society and teach the nation the sacredness of all human rights.”
Neither Anthony nor Stanton were simply women's suffragists; they wanted to change their whole society—a revolution.A detail of the newspaper The Revolution, dated February 5, 1868 (Lewis and Clark Digital Collections)
At the highest levels of government, they sought dramatic change. “That the President should be impeached and removed, we have never denied,” the paper wrote of President Andrew Johnson, who was indeed impeached but not removed from office.
They wrote of a plan to demand that Ireland be ceded by Britain to the United States in settlement of a debt. “That generation was brought up, they knew Revolutionary War veterans,” says Gordon. “It's easier for some of them to be open to the Irish revolt than we might think, because it was against England!”
The paper opposed sentencing criminals to whippings and beatings. In a speech reprinted by The Revolution while he was running for President as an independent, Train declared: “I intend to have all boys between 18 and 21 vote in 1872. Young men who could fire a bullet for the Union should be allowed to throw a ballot for their country.” He was only about a century ahead of his time. Voting rights for adults between 18 and 21 were not granted until ratification of the 26th Amendment in 1971.
Prohibition of alcohol was wound tightly into The Revolution’s ideology. Alcohol was seen as a corrupting force that caused men to abuse their wives. Banning alcohol was viewed as a way to stop the abuse. Women's suffrage, it followed, would lead to prohibition, which for those inclined to imbibe, was a common reason to oppose suffrage.
One exception was Jack London, who later wrote in the opening chapter of his book, John Barleycorn—about his excessive drinking habits—of the 1912 ballot for a women's suffrage amendment. “I voted for it,” London wrote. “When the women get the ballot, they will vote for prohibition. . . It is the wives, and sisters, and mothers, and they only, who will drive the nails into the coffin.” It was the only way that he could imagine stopping his alcoholism.
The women's suffrage movement in the U.S. arguably blossomed from the success of the abolitionist movement against slavery in the earlier part of the century.Susan B. Anthony wore this red shawl (also held in the collections of the American History Museum) at suffrage conventions, speaking engagements or congressional sessions. (National Museum of American History)
Anthony was born into a New England family of Quakers and was raised around vocal opposition to slavery. Every Sunday, Frederick Douglass was a guest at her father's farm among a group of local abolitionists in Rochester, New York. Most of the major figures in the women's suffrage movement after the Civil War had been vocal abolitionists. But a rift opened up when debate began over what would eventually become the 15th Amendment to the Constitution. The Amendment prohibited denial of the right to vote based on a persons “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”
Many suffragists, including Stanton and Anthony, felt betrayed by their cohorts for a compromise that left women without the right to vote.
By 1869, Anthony found herself butting heads with her old friend, Frederick Douglass. “I must say that I do not see how any one can pretend that there is the same urgency in giving the ballot to woman as to the negro,” Douglass said during an 1869 debate.
Anthony responded saying, “if you will not give the whole loaf of justice to the entire people, if you are determined to give it to us piece by piece, then give it first to women to the most intelligent and capable portion of the women at least, because in the present state of government it is intelligence, it is morality which is needed.”
It wasn't just a question of waiting for their turn. Anthony and other activists were concerned that universal male suffrage would damage the odds of women's suffrage ever happening. While white men had been exposed somewhat to the arguments in favor of women's rights for years, the men who would be newly enfranchised by the 15th Amendment had not been. Former slaves, prohibited by law from being taught to read, could not have read the suffragists' pamphlets and newspapers. They were expected to vote against women if given the ballot, as were the Chinese immigrants who had begun to pour into California.
As a Congressional vote on the 15th Amendment loomed, the division between women's rights advocates and the rest of the abolitionist community deepened. The rift would eventually tear the women's suffrage movement into two disparate camps that would not reunite for decades.
Anthony and Stanton, both already major national figures and leaders, found that their authority across the movement had been compromised in part because of The Revolution. Specifically, because of the involvement of George Francis Train.
In a letter which was published by The Revolution, William Lloyd Garrison (a founder of The American Anti-Slavery Society, and editor of another newspaper) wrote: “Dear Miss Anthony, In all friendliness and with the highest regard for the Woman's Rights movement, I can not refrain from expressing my regret and astonishment that you and Mrs. Stanton should have taken such leave of good sense, and departed so far from true self-respect, as to be travelling companions and associate lecturers with that crack-brained harlequin and semi-lunatic, George Francis Train! . . .He may be of use in drawing an audience but so would a kangaroo, a gorilla, or a hippopotamus...”
Garrison was not alone. Old friends snubbed them, in some cases literally refusing to shake hands. Train was a problem as well as a blessing. Eventually, they announced that he was no longer associated with the paper.
In practice he was still writing uncredited material in almost every issue, usually about fiscal policy and his surprisingly prescient vision of a system of greenbacks that would be “legal tender for all debts, without exception.” But between Train's history of involvement in The Revolution and Anthony's stance against the Fifteenth Amendment, serious damage had been done.
A list of delegates was released in October of 1869 for a convention to establish the brand new American Woman Suffrage Association. The Revolution commented in its October 29th edition, “Where are those well-known American names, Susan B. Anthony, Parker Pillsbury, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton? Not one of them appears. In fact, it is clear that there is a division in the ranks of the strong-minded, and that an effort is to be made to ostracise The Revolution...”
Anthony struggled to keep the paper afloat, but without constant new infusions of cash from Train she couldn't make ends meet. Half of her potential subscribers had shunned her. The income from ads for sewing machines, life insurance and (ironically) corsets wasn't enough, either. The Revolution was sold to new proprietors and eventually folded completely.
“It did amazing things while it was going on,” says Gordon. “They're meeting with people who were in the First International with Karl Marx. They are in touch with white and black reconstruction people in the south. . . . They have a British correspondent. There's letters coming in from Paris. If the money had come in, could they have kept this up? What would have happened?”
Train shrugged off the end of the newspaper and returned to his favorite pastime by launching his third campaign for President as an independent candidate in 1872. No votes were recorded for him. His businesses crumbled. He went bankrupt and embarked on a strange campaign of speeches and articles to become Dictator of the United States.
Anthony, Train, Stanton and The Revolution had wanted everything to change all at once and right away. Some of those ideas were successful and others were not. Prohibition didn't work out as planned and Ireland is still part of Britain. President Johnson survived impeachment and finished his term of office. But spittoons have disappeared from the floors of every room, people of all races have equal rights under the law, and George Train got his system of greenbacks.
In 1890, the American Woman Suffrage Association buried the hatchet with Anthony and merged with her rival National Woman Suffrage Association to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Anthony died in 1906, beloved by millions of men and women alike but still trapped in a world that made no sense to her. It wasn't until 1920 that women were empowered to vote by the passage of the 19th Amendment. Shortly after the Amendment was fully ratified, The National American Woman Suffrage Association packed up a collection of relics associated with Anthony and the history of the movement. The collection was sent to The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. It included Anthony's iconic red shawl and the inkstand that had she'd reached for every day at The Revolution.
One of the most cherished of American traits is the quest for knowledge. When Englishman James Smithson endowed the United States with his great fortune, he had never visited America, but he knew that the new Republic was a place where the great engines of industry would generate a growth in ideas and require an ongoing thirst for knowledge among its populace. His funds to “found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge” today endows a host of scientists, historians, educators and scholars, many who contribute to Smithsonian.com in our popular Curators’ Corner. We asked Smithsonian scholars to make book recommendations to our readers for this holiday season of gift giving; and here is what they offered.
Ryan Lintelman, curator, entertainment, National Museum of American History
Springsteen fans like myself couldn't wait to get their hands on The Boss' epic memoir, Born to Run, and it didn't disappoint. In 510 pages of compelling prose that's part confessional, part stage banter, Springsteen lays bare his soul, reflecting on mental illness, family, faith and redemption, as well as the details of his career in Rock.
A whimsically illustrated, thoroughly entertaining history of early American drinking and its relevance to the development of the nation, including immigration, war, temperance, and the Founding Fathers. Colonial Spirits: A Toast to Our Drunken History by Steven Grass includes recipes so that aspiring mixologists can whip up glasses of history at home.
David Ward, senior historian, National Portrait Gallery
How is it that I am just learning about Robert Irwin? His magical novel Wonders Will Never Cease about England, in the late 15th century, and the dynastic struggle between the houses of York and Lancaster (as well as the usual problems with the French) against the backdrop of the mythic past of Arthurian England. The main character is Anthony Woodville who rises—literally—from the dead after being “killed” in battle to become an observer of his own life as a knight, courtier and inadvertent myth maker. Amazingly readable.
Overall, as an historian, I have been interested in the two great themes of modern times: slavery (and freedom) in the 19th century and the Holocaust in the 20th. The first of this German historian/journalist’s two-volume biography of Adolph Hitler, Volker Ullrich is instructive in showing how a particular historical circumstance combined with a messianic new-style of populist politics led to the destruction of democracy in Germany.
On cultural history, I learned much from David Lubin’s Grand Illusions, a sweeping yet incisive survey of the impact of World War I on more than just America’s art and artists (the chapter on plastic surgery is fascinating), Grand Illusions as well as from my friend Jennifer Raab’s more specialist, yet still accessible, study Frederick Church: The Art and Science of Detail and the meaning of 19th-century landscape paintings.
I didn’t read as much poetry this year as I would have liked but can recommend one of my favorites, John Koethe for his latest book The Swimmer. A former philosophy professor, Koethe surveys the hidden world of appearances in daily life in a style that I envy for having the smoothness of a powerful river. I also enjoyed arguing (on Smithsonian.com) with poet and novelist Ben Lerner’s polemical The Hatred of Poetry.
Chris Wilson, director, program in African American culture, National Museum of American History
Nancy Isenberg’s account is a fascinatingly relevant look at American history through the lens of class, arguing that to really understand ourselves we have to work to challenge the myth that anyone can be anything in this country.
In his final installment of his Civil Rights Movement memoir in which he looks at the tumultuous years 1963- 1965, Congressman John Lewis deftly and artfully illustrates what we attempt to teach the public at the Smithsonian with regard to the Movement—successful activism isn’t just passion and protest, it is also—and sometimes chiefly—strategy, organization, coalition building, logistics and day to day work at the grass roots.
In my work with film and theater as a public historian, I always look to what can be best achieved through artistic exploration of the past. The stirring images and scenes in The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead bring a new understanding to the experience of American slavery beyond what can be discovered from scholarship alone. “Truths” are not always facts and I found so many relevant emotional truths in this novel that are just as important for us to tackle.
Paul Gardullo, curator, National Museum of African American History and Culture
I love books that begin with a subject that we think we know but then completely throws me for a loop. Ramzi Fawaz's book does just that. It provides a strikingly new view of looking at the real power and impact of comics, their seriousness and their subversiveness. It provides a pantheon of alternative heroes and heroics, rewarding readers with the multidimensionality of this 2D world. What's incredible is that it does so without sacrificing any of the fun and joy of why we devour comics.
I missed so many books this year in the run up to opening of our museum in September. I really want to read Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad and Marlon James A Brief History of Seven Killings, but they sit, still unopened and set aside. Most of the life changing books for me that first come to mind are all releases from last year–but tremendous they are. Here is a mighty trio: Claudia Rakine's Citizen; Bryan Stevenson's Just Mercy and Trace: Memory, History, Race and the American Landscape by Lauret Savoy (a current Smithsonian Institution Senior Fellow). These three provided me with profound ways to think deeply about our past, present, future, about myself, about others and about the places that shape us as individuals and communities.
Amy Henderson, curator emerita, National Portrait Gallery
Prolific critic, author and Booker Prize-winner A.S. Byatt explores the lives and designs of two of her favorite artists, Morris and Fortuny. She argues that “their revolutionary inventions…inspired a new variety of art that is as striking today as when it was first conceived.”
The grand-nephew of Julia Child, writer Alex Prud’homme collaborated with her on her best-selling memoir about her life in Paris. In this follow-up, he writes about her life from 1963 to her death in 2004—years when she became an iconic celebrity figure in American culture.
Mark Ribowsky chronicles the life of “America’s Troubador” from his youth, through his major hits in the early 70s to his career today. He also tracks the generational shift in rock artistry and the transformation of the music industry in the post-Beatles decades.
Sebastian Smee explores the rivalry, friendships and connections between eight of the most famous artists of the modern era. His objective is the show that the art of rivalry is “the struggle of intimacy itself: the restless, twitching battle to get closer to someone…balanced with the battle to remain unique.”
A wonderfully written biography by James Stourton of one the great figures of the 20th-century art world. Delicious stories about everyone from the Bloomsbury set to Bernard Berenson to such major artists as Henry Moore. Clark was best known for his British TV series “Civilisation” and his biographer happily wraps him in the cloak of connoisseurship—an interpretation now out of fashion, but one that previously set all the rules about how art itself was to be viewed.
Doug Herman, geographer, National Museum of the American Indian
For all the armchair voyagers out there wishing they could travel around the globe with the Polynesian sailing vessel Hokule'a, this one I can heartily recommend, it’s a great read!
Bill Pretzer, curator, history, National Museum of African American History and Culture
Executive Director of the Center for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford University, Jeff Chang provides trenchant essays exploring the idea of “diversity,” the roots of student protest, changing notions of Asian American identity and the impact of a century of segregated housing.
Published on the 50th anniversary of the Black Panther Party’s founding, Power to the People is an insider’s chronicle of that iconic revolutionary organization by Bobby Seale and Steven Shames. Seale was co-founder along with Huey Newton of the Black Panthers; Shames was a student at UC Berkeley who became the preeminent photo-documentarian of the party. Shames provides memorable images while Seale offers colorful commentary.
Mark Speltz, senior historian at the toy and publishing company American Girl, has assembled an eye-opening collection of images of the Civil Rights Movement from the American North and West. The emphasis is on the everyday foot soldiers who protested segregation, police violence and job and housing discrimination in cities from Los Angeles to Philadelphia, a timely reminder that race has always been a national, not sectional issue.
University of Michigan professor Heather Ann Thompson reconstructs the events of the 1971 uprising at New York’s Attica Prison, the subsequent lengthy legal proceedings, both criminal and civil, and the decades of official miscalculations and cover-ups that continue to this day. Thompson explains how she knows what she knows and even explores her own methodological and ethical quandaries…a master historian discussing her craft and illuminating the crisis of prison reform.
Nancy Pope, curator, postal history, National Postal Museum
Before his death, Jesse Davidson amassed an extensive and wonderful collection of photographs from the early years of the airmail service. This book allowed him to share the photographs with the world
Everyone has a mailbox, but some rural Americans have taken those plain looking boxes and surrounded them with the most interesting objects and creatures.
The American military has long recognized the crucial importance of mail to their personnel’s morale. Letters maintain essential connections between men and women overseas and family and friends back home.
Photographs from the U.S Postal Service and the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum are used to tell an engaging story of America’s postal service.
Every Stamp Tells a Story: The National Philatelic Collection (Smithsonian Contribution to Knowledge)
Cheryl Ganz, a former chief curator of philately for the National Postal Museum, edited this collection of stories about stamps and stamp collecting, a companion guide to the museum’s William H. Gross Stamp Gallery.
Scott Wing, research geologist, National Museum of Natural History
Lisa Kathleen Graddy, curator, political history, National Museum of American History
Dead Presidents: An American Adventure into the strange Deaths and Surprising Afterlives of our Nation’s Leaders
Both thoughtful and laugh out loud funny, Dead Presidents by Brady Carlson takes readers on a tour of the tombs, monuments, and museum of the nation’s deceased leaders with commentary on how they died, what we remember about them, and how their memory is being used by the rest of us.
A lively "backstage” political story about Ellen Malcolm’s creation of Emily’s List and some of the key campaigns it fought to put women in the United States Congress. A great read for political junkies.
Peter Liebhold, chair, division of work and industry, National Museum of American History
GMOs are a complicated and largely misunderstood topic. This is a great book that the activists and big ag dislike.
This book, written two decades years ago, still resonates with a fresh, accurate and surprisingly eye-opening look at the real rural history of the United States. Not a romantic journey.
A friend told me I had to read this book; she was right. Turns out that many pioneer farmers were not very good at their job. Good book if you want color and no footnotes.
Brilliant look at slavery and the antebellum working class in the United States.
A classic story retold with nuance and thought.
Good Friday, April 14, 1865, was surely one of Abraham Lincoln’s happiest days. The morning began with a leisurely breakfast in the company of his son Robert, just arrived in Washington after serving on General Grant’s staff. “Well, my son, you have returned safely from the front,” Lincoln said. “The war is now closed, and we soon will live in peace with the brave men that have been fighting against us.” He urged Robert to “lay aside” his Army uniform and finish his education, perhaps in preparation for a law career. As the father imparted his advice, Mary Lincoln’s seamstress, Elizabeth Keckley, observed, “His face was more cheerful than [she] had seen it for a long while.”
At 11 a.m., Grant arrived at the White House to attend the regularly scheduled Friday cabinet meeting. He had hoped for word that Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s army, the last substantial Rebel force remaining, had surrendered in North Carolina, but no news had yet arrived. Lincoln told Grant not to worry. He predicted that the tidings would come soon, “for he had last night the usual dream which he had preceding nearly every great and important event of the War.” Gideon Welles asked him to describe the dream. Turning toward him, Lincoln said it involved the Navy secretary’s “element, the water—that he seemed to be in some singular, indescribable vessel, and that he was moving with great rapidity towards an indefinite shore; that he had this dream preceding Sumter, Bull Run, Antietam, Gettysburg, Stone River, Vicksburg, Wilmington, etc.” Grant remarked that not all those great events had been victories, but Lincoln remained hopeful that this time this event would be favorable.
The complexities of re-establishing law and order in the Southern states dominated the conversation. A few days earlier, War Secretary Edwin Stanton had drafted a plan for imposing a temporary military government on Virginia and North Carolina, until the restoration of civilian rule. “Lincoln alluded to the paper,” Stanton later recalled, “went into his room, brought it out and asked me to read it.” A general discussion revealed that most of the cabinet concurred, although Welles and Postmaster General William Dennison objected to the idea of undoing state boundaries by uniting two different states into a single military department. Recognizing the validity of this objection, Lincoln asked Stanton to revise his plan to make it applicable to two separate states.
Lincoln said that “he thought it providential that this great rebellion was crushed just as Congress had adjourned,” since he and the cabinet were more likely to “accomplish more without them than with them” regarding Reconstruction. He noted that “there were men in Congress who, if their motives were good, were nevertheless impracticable, and who possessed feelings of hate and vindictiveness in which he did not sympathize and could not participate. He hoped there would be no persecution, no bloody work, after the war was over.”
As for the Rebel leaders, Lincoln reiterated his resolve to perpetrate no further violence: “None need expect he would take any part in hanging or killing those men, even the worst of them.” While their continued presence on American soil might prove troublesome, he preferred to “frighten them out of the country, open the gates, let down the bars, scare them off.” To illustrate his point, he shook “his hands as if scaring sheep,” and said, “Enough lives have been sacrificed. We must extinguish our resentments if we expect harmony and union.”
After the cabinet meeting, Stanton and Attorney General James Speed descended the stairs together. “Didn’t our Chief look grand today?” Stanton asked. Years later, Speed held fast “to the memory of Lincoln’s personal appearance” that day, “with cleanly-shaved face, well-brushed clothing and neatly-combed hair and whiskers,” a marked contrast to his usual rumpled aspect. Stanton later wrote that Lincoln seemed “more cheerful and happy” than at any previous cabinet meeting, thrilled by “the near prospect of firm and durable peace at home and abroad.” Throughout the discussion, Stanton recalled, Lincoln “spoke very kindly of General Lee and others of the Confederacy,” exhibiting “in marked degree the kindness and humanity of his disposition, and the tender and forgiving spirit that so eminently distinguished him.”
Later that day, Lincoln put into practice his liberal policy toward the Rebel leaders. Intelligence had reached Stanton at the War Department that “a conspicuous secessionist,” Jacob Thompson, was en route to Portland, Maine, where a steamer awaited to take him to England. Operating from Canada, Thompson had organized a series of troublesome raids across the border that left Stanton with little sympathy for the Confederate marauder. Upon reading the telegram, Stanton did not hesitate a moment. “Arrest him!” he ordered Assistant Secretary Charles Dana. As Dana was leaving the room, however, Stanton called him back. “No, wait; better to go over and see the President.”
Dana found Lincoln in his office. “Halloo, Dana!” Lincoln greeted him. “What’s up?” Dana described the situation, explaining that Stanton wanted to arrest Thompson but thought he should first “refer the question” to Lincoln. “Well,” said Lincoln, “no, I rather think not. When you have got an elephant by the hind leg, and he’s trying to run away, it’s best to let him run.”
Mary Lincoln’s memories of her husband’s infectious happiness that day match the recollections of his inner circle. She had never seen him so “cheerful,” she told the painter Francis Carpenter, “his manner was even playful. At 3 o’clock, in the afternoon, he drove out with me in the open carriage, in starting, I asked him, if any one, should accompany us, he immediately replied—‘No—I prefer to ride by ourselves to day.’ During the drive he was so gay, that I said to him, laughingly, ‘Dear Husband, you almost startle me by your great cheerfulness,’ he replied, ‘and well I may feel so, Mary, I consider this day, the war, has come to a close—and then added, ‘We must both, be more cheerful in the future—between the war & the loss of our darling Willie—we have both, been very miserable.’”
As the carriage rolled toward the Navy Yard, Mary recalled, “he spoke of his old Springfield home, and recollections of his early days, his little brown cottage, the law office, the courtroom, the green bag for his briefs and law papers, his adventures when riding the circuit.” They had traveled an unimaginable distance together since their first dance in Springfield a quarter of a century earlier. Over the years, they had supported each other, irritated each other, shared a love of family, politics, poetry and drama. Mary’s descent into depression after their son Willie’s death had added immeasurably to Lincoln’s burdens, and the terrible pressures of the war had further distorted their relationship. His intense focus on his presidential responsibilities had often left her feeling abandoned and resentful. Now, with the war coming to an end and time bringing solace to their grief, the Lincolns could plan for a happier future. They hoped to travel someday—to Europe and the Holy Land, over the Rockies to California, then back home to Illinois, where their life together had begun.
As the carriage neared the White House, Lincoln saw that a group of old friends, including Illinois Gov. Richard Oglesby, were just leaving. “Come back, boys, come back,” he told them, relishing the relaxing company of friends. They remained for some time, Oglesby recalled. “Lincoln got to reading some humorous book; I think it was by ‘John Phoenix.’ They kept sending for him to come to dinner. He promised each time to go, but would continue reading the book. Finally he got a sort of peremptory order that he must come to dinner at once.”
The early dinner was necessary, for the Lincolns had plans to see Laura Keene in Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theatre that evening. After supper, the president met with journalist Noah Brooks, Massachusetts Congressman George Ashmun and House Speaker Schuyler Colfax, who was soon to depart for California. “How I would rejoice to make that trip!” Lincoln told Colfax, “but public duties chain me down here, and I can only envy you its pleasures.” The president invited Colfax to join him at the theater that night, but Colfax had too many commitments.
To Brooks, Lincoln had never seemed “more hopeful and buoyant concerning the condition of the country....He was full of fun and anecdotes, feeling especially jubilant at the prospect before us.” His parting words, Brooks recalled, focused on the country’s economic future. “Grant thinks that we can reduce the cost of the Army establishment at least a half million a day, which, with the reduction of expenditures of the Navy, will soon bring down our national debt to something like decent proportions, and bring our national paper up to a par, or nearly so with gold.”
Speaker Colfax was among several people who declined the Lincolns’ invitation to the theater that evening. The morning edition of the National Republican had announced that the Grants would join the Lincolns in the president’s box that night, but Julia Grant had her heart set on visiting their children in New Jersey, so Grant asked to be excused. The Stantons also declined. Stanton considered the theater a foolish diversion and, more important, a dangerous one. He had fought a losing battle for months to keep the president from such public places, and he felt that his presence would only sanction an unnecessary hazard. Earlier that day, “unwilling to encourage the theater project,” Stanton had refused to let his chief telegrapher, Thomas Eckert, accept Lincoln’s invitation, even though the president had teasingly requested him for his uncommon strength—he had been known to “break a poker over his arm” and could serve as a bodyguard.
It was after 8 when the Lincolns entered their carriage to drive to the theater. “I suppose it’s time to go,” Lincoln told Colfax, “though I would rather stay.” While nothing had provided greater diversion during the bitter nights of his presidency than the theater, Lincoln required no escape on this happy night. Still, he had made a commitment. “It has been advertised that we will be there,” he told his bodyguard, William Crook, who had the night off, “and I cannot disappoint the people.” Clara Harris—the daughter of Mary’s friend Senator Ira Harris—and her fiancé, Maj. Henry Rathbone, joined the Lincolns in their carriage.
As the Lincolns rode to Ford’s Theatre on Tenth Street, John Wilkes Booth and three conspirators were a block away, at the Herndon House. Booth had devised a plan that called for the simultaneous assassinations of President Lincoln, Secretary of State William Henry Seward and Vice President Andrew Johnson. Having learned that morning of Lincoln’s plan to attend the theater, he had decided that this night would provide their best opportunity. The powerfully built Lewis Powell, accompanied by David Herold, was assigned to kill Seward at his Lafayette Square home. Meanwhile, the carriage maker George Atzerodt was to shoot the vice president in his suite at the Kirkwood Hotel. Booth, whose familiarity with the stagehands would ensure access, would assassinate the president.
Just as Brutus had been honored for slaying the tyrant Julius Caesar, Booth believed he would be exalted for killing an even “greater tyrant.” Assassinating Lincoln would not be enough. “Booth knew,” his biographer Michael W. Kauffman observes, “that in the end, the Brutus conspiracy was foiled by Marc Antony, whose famous oration made outlaws of the assassins and a martyr of Caesar.” William Henry Seward, Lincoln’s Marc Antony, must not live. Finally, to throw the entire North into disarray, the vice president must die as well. The triple assassinations were set for 10:15 p.m.
Still bedridden, Seward had enjoyed his best day since his nearly fatal carriage accident nine days earlier. His daughter Fanny Seward noted in her diary that he had slept well the previous night and had taken “solid food for the first time.” In the afternoon, he had “listened with a look of pleasure to the narrative of the events of the Cabinet meeting,” which Fred Seward, as assistant secretary, had attended in his father’s stead. Later in the afternoon, he had listened to Fanny’s reading of “Enoch Arden” and remarked on how much he enjoyed it.
The three-story house was full of people. The entire family, except Will and Jenny, were there—his wife, Frances, and their other children, Augustus, Fred, Anna and Fanny. In addition to the half-dozen household servants and the State Department messenger rooming on the third floor, two soldiers had been assigned by Stanton to stay with Seward. In the early evening, Stanton had stopped by to check on his friend and colleague. He stayed for a while, chatting with other visitors until martial music in the air reminded him that War Department employees had planned on serenading him that night at his home six blocks away.
After all the guests left, “the quiet arrangements for the night” began. To ensure that Seward was never left alone, the family members had taken turns sitting by his bed. That night Fanny was scheduled to stay with him until 11 p.m., when her brother Gus would relieve her. George Robinson, one of the soldiers whom Stanton had detailed to the household, was standing by. Shortly after 10 p.m., Fanny noticed that her father was falling asleep. She closed the pages of the Legends of Charlemagne, turned down the gas lamps, and took a seat on the opposite side of the bed.
Fred Seward later wrote that “there seemed nothing unusual in the occurrence, when a tall, well dressed, but unknown man presented himself” at the door. Powell told the servant who answered the bell that he had some medicine for Mr. Seward and had been instructed by his physician to deliver it in person. “I told him he could not go up,” the servant later testified, “that if he would give me the medicine, I would tell Mr. Seward how to take it.” Powell was so insistent that the boy stepped aside. When he reached the landing, Fred Seward stopped him. “My father is asleep; give me the medicine and the directions; I will take them to him.” Powell argued that he must deliver it in person, but Fred refused.
At this point, Fred recalled, the intruder “stood apparently irresolute.” He began to head down the stairs, then “suddenly turning again, he sprang up and forward, having drawn a Navy revolver, which he levelled, with a muttered oath, at my head, and pulled the trigger.” This was the last memory Fred would have of that night. The pistol misfired, but Powell brought it down so savagely that Fred’s skull was crushed in two places, exposing his brain and rendering him unconscious.
Hearing the disturbance, Pvt. Robinson ran to the door from Seward’s bedside. The moment the door was opened, Powell rushed inside, brandishing his now broken pistol in one hand and a large knife in the other. He slashed Robinson in the forehead with his knife, knocking him “partially down,” and headed toward Seward. Fanny ran beside Powell, begging him not to kill her father. When Seward heard the word “kill,” he awakened, affording him “one glimpse of the assassin’s face bending over” before the large bowie knife plunged into his neck and face, severing his cheek so badly that “the flap hung loose on his neck.” Oddly, he would later recall that his only impressions were what a fine-looking man Powell was and “what handsome cloth that overcoat is made of.”
Fanny’s screams brought her brother Gus into the room as Powell advanced again upon Seward, who had been knocked to the floor by the force of the blows. Gus and the injured Robinson managed to pull Powell away, but not before he struck Robinson again and slashed Gus on the forehead and the right hand. When Gus ran for his pistol, Powell bolted down the stairs, stabbing Emerick Hansell, the young State Department messenger, in the back before he bolted out the door and fled through the city streets.
The clamor had roused the entire household. Anna sent the servant to fetch Dr. Tulio S. Verdi, while Pvt. Robinson, though bleeding from his head and shoulders, lifted Seward onto the bed and instructed Fanny about “staunching the blood with clothes & water.” Still fearing that another assassin might be hiding in the house, Frances and Anna checked the attic while Fanny searched the rooms on the parlor floor.
Dr. Verdi would never forget his first sight of Seward that night. “He looked like an exsanguinated corpse. In approaching him my feet went deep in blood. Blood was streaming from an extensive gash in his swollen cheek; the cheek was now laid open.” So “frightful” was the wound and “so great was the loss of blood” that Verdi assumed the jugular vein must have been cut. Miraculously, it was not. Further examination revealed that the knife had been deflected by the metal contraption holding Seward’s broken jaw in place. In bizarre fashion, the carriage accident had saved his life.
“I had hardly sponged his face from the bloody stains and replaced the flap,” Verdi recalled, “when Mrs. Seward, with an intense look, called me to her. ‘Come and see Frederick,’ said she.” Not understanding, he followed Frances to the next room, where he “found Frederick bleeding profusely from the head.” Fred’s appearance was so “ghastly” and his wounds so large that Verdi feared he would not live, but with the application of “cold water pledgets,” he was able to stanch the bleeding temporarily.
Once Fred was stabilized, Frances drew Verdi into another room on the same floor. “For Heaven’s sake, Mrs. Seward,” asked the befuddled doctor, “what does all this mean?” The doctor found Gus lying on the bed with stab wounds on his hand and forehead, but assured Frances that he would recover. Frances barely had time to absorb these words of comfort before entreating Dr. Verdi to see Pvt. Robinson. “I ceased wondering,” Verdi recalled, “my mind became as if paralyzed; mechanically I followed her and examined Mr. Robinson. He had four or five cuts on his shoulders.”
“Any more?” Verdi asked, though not imagining the carnage could go on. “Yes,” Frances answered, “one more.” She led him to Hansell, “piteously groaning on the bed.” Stripping off the young man’s clothes, Verdi “found a deep gash just above the small of the back, near the spine.”
“And all this,” Verdi thought, “the work of one man—yes, of one man!”
In preparing for the attack on the vice president, George Atzerodt had taken a room at the Kirkwood Hotel, where Johnson was staying. At 10:15, he was supposed to ring the bell of Suite 68, enter the room by force, find his target and murder him. When first informed that the original plan to kidnap the president had shifted to a triple assassination, he had balked. “I won’t do it,” he had insisted. “I enlisted to abduct the President of the United States, not to kill.” He had eventually agreed to help, but 15 minutes before the appointed moment, seated at the bar of the Kirkwood House, he changed his mind, left the hotel and never returned.
John Wilkes Booth had left little to chance in his plot to kill the president. Though already well acquainted with the layout of Ford’s Theatre, Booth had attended a dress rehearsal the day before to better rehearse his scheme for shooting Lincoln in the state box and then escaping into the alley beside the theater. That morning he had again visited the theater to collect his mail, chatting amiably in the front lobby with the theater owner’s brother, Harry Ford. Booth had already taken his place inside the theater when the Lincolns arrived.
The play had started as the presidential party entered the flag-draped box in the dress circle. The notes of “Hail to the Chief” brought the audience to their feet, applauding wildly and craning to see the president. Lincoln responded “with a smile and bow” before taking his seat in a comfortable armchair at the center of the box, with Mary by his side. Clara Harris was seated at the opposite end of the box, while Henry Rathbone occupied a small sofa on her left. Observing the president and first lady, one theatergoer noticed that she “rested her hand on his knee much of the time, and often called his attention to some humorous situation on the stage.” Mary herself later recalled that as she snuggled ever closer to her husband, she had whispered, “What will Miss Harris think of my hanging on to you so?” He had looked at her and smiled. “She won’t think any thing about it.”
During the performance, the White House footman delivered a message to the president. At about 12 minutes after 10, the impeccably dressed John Wilkes Booth presented his calling card to the footman and gained admittance to the box. Once inside, he raised his pistol, pointed it at the back of the president’s head and fired.
As Lincoln slumped forward, Henry Rathbone attempted to grab the intruder. Booth pulled out his knife, slashed Rathbone in the chest, and managed to leap from the box onto the stage 15 feet below. “As he jumped,” one eyewitness recalled, “one of the spurs on his riding-boots caught in the folds of the flag draped over the front, and caused him to fall partly on his hands and knees as he struck the stage.” Another onlooker observed that “he was suffering great pain,” but, “making a desperate effort, he struggled up.” Raising “his shining dagger in the air, which reflected the light as though it had been a diamond,” he shouted the now historic words of the Virginia state motto—Sic semper tyrannis (“Thus always to tyrants”)—and ran from the stage.
Until the screams broke forth from the president’s box, many in the audience thought the dramatic moment was part of the play. Then they saw Mary Lincoln frantically waving. “They have shot the president!” she cried. “They have shot the president!”
Charles Leale, a young doctor seated near the presidential box, was the first to respond. “When I reached the president,” he recalled, “he was almost dead, his eyes were closed.” Unable at first to locate the wound, he stripped away Lincoln’s coat and collar. Examining the base of the skull, he discovered “the perfectly smooth opening made by the ball.” Using his finger “as a probe” to remove “the coagula which was firmly matted with the hair,” he released the flow of blood, relieving somewhat the pressure on Lincoln’s brain. Another doctor, Charles Sabin Taft, soon arrived, and the decision was made to remove the president from the crowded box to a room in the Petersen boardinghouse across the street.
By this time, people had massed in the street. The word began to spread that assassins had attacked not only Lincoln but Seward as well. Joseph Sterling, a young clerk in the War Department, rushed to inform Stanton of the calamity. On his way, he encountered his roommate, J.G. Johnson, who joined him on the terrible errand. “When Johnson and I reached Stanton’s residence,” Sterling recalled, “I was breathless,” so when Stanton’s son Edwin Jr. opened the door, Johnson was the one to speak. “We have come,” Johnson said, “to tell your father that President Lincoln has been shot.”
Young Stanton hurried to his father, who had been undressing for bed. When the war secretary came to the door, Sterling recalled, “he fairly shouted at me in his heavy tones: ‘Mr. Sterling, what news is this you bring?’” Sterling told him that both Lincoln and Seward had been assassinated. Desperately hoping this news was mere rumor, Stanton remained calm and skeptical. “Oh, that can’t be so,” he said, “that can’t be so!” But when another clerk arrived at the door to describe the attack on Seward, Stanton had his carriage brought around at once, and against the appeals of his wife, who feared that he, too, might be a target, he headed for Seward’s house at Lafayette Square.
The news reached Gideon Welles almost simultaneously. He had already gone to bed when his wife reported someone at the door. “I arose at once,” the naval secretary recorded in his diary, “and raised a window, when my messenger, James, called to me that Mr. Lincoln the President had been shot,” and that Seward and his son had been assassinated. Welles thought the story “very incoherent and improbable,” but the messenger assured him that he had already been to Seward’s house to check its veracity before coming to see his boss. Also ignoring his wife’s protests, Welles dressed and set forth in the foggy night for the Seward house on the other side of the square.
Upon reaching Seward’s house, Welles and Stanton were shocked at what they found. Blood was everywhere—on “the white wood work of the entry,” on the stairs, on the dresses of the women, on the floor of the bedroom. Seward’s bed, Welles recalled, “was saturated with blood. The Secretary was lying on his back, the upper part of his head covered by a cloth, which extended down over his eyes.” Welles questioned Dr. Verdi in a whisper, but Stanton was unable to mute his stentorian voice until the doctor asked for quiet. After looking in on Fred’s unconscious form, the two men walked together down the stairs. In the lower hall, they exchanged what information they had regarding the president. Welles thought they should go to the White House, but Stanton believed Lincoln was still at the theater. Army Quartermaster Gen. Montgomery Meigs, who had just come to the door, implored them not to go to Tenth Street, where thousands of people had gathered. When they insisted, he decided to join them.
Twelve blocks away, in his home at Sixth and E streets, Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase had already retired for the night. Earlier that afternoon, he had taken a carriage ride with his daughter Nettie, intending to stop at the White House to remonstrate with Lincoln over his too-lenient approach to Reconstruction and his failure to demand universal suffrage. At the last minute, “uncertain how [Lincoln] would take it,” Chase had decided to wait until the following day.
He was fast asleep when a servant knocked on his bedroom door. There was a gentleman downstairs, the servant said, who claimed “the president had been shot.” The caller was a Treasury employee who had actually witnessed the shooting “by a man who leaped from the box upon the stage & escaped by the rear.” Chase hoped “he might be mistaken,” but in short order, three more callers arrived. Each “confirmed what I had been told & added that Secretary Seward had also been assassinated, and that guards were being placed around the houses of all the prominent officials, under the apprehension that the plot had a wide range. My first impulse was to rise immediately & go to the President...but reflecting that I could not possibly be of any service and should probably be in the way of those who could, I resolved to wait for morning & further intelligence. In a little while the guard came—for it was supposed that I was one of the destined victims—and their heavy tramp-tramp was heard under my window all night....It was a night of horrors.”
When Stanton and Welles arrived at the crammed room in the Petersen boardinghouse, they found that Lincoln had been placed diagonally across a bed to accommodate his long frame. Stripped of his shirt, “his large arms,” Welles noted, “were of a size which one would scarce have expected from his spare appearance.” His devastating wound, the doctors reported with awe, “would have killed most men instantly, or in a very few minutes. But Mr. Lincoln had so much vitality” that he continued to struggle against the inevitable end.
Mary spent most of the endless night weeping in an adjoining parlor, where several women friends tried vainly to comfort her. “About once an hour,” Welles noted, she “would repair to the bedside of her dying husband and with lamentation and tears remain until overcome by emotion.” She could only rotely repeat the question, “Why didn’t he shoot me? Why didn’t he shoot me?” Though everyone in the room knew the president was dying, Mary was not told, out of fear that she would collapse. Whenever she came into the room, Taft recalled, “clean napkins were laid over the crimson stains on the pillow.”
Early on, Mary sent a messenger for her son Robert, who had remained at home that night in the company of Lincoln’s secretary John Hay. He had already turned in when the White House doorkeeper came to his room. “Something happened to the president,” Thomas Pendel told Robert, “you had better go down to the theater and see what it is.” Robert asked Pendel to get Hay. Reaching Hay’s room, Pendel told him, “Captain Lincoln wants to see you at once. The president has been shot.” Pendel recalled that when Hay heard the news, “he turned deathly pale, the color entirely leaving his cheeks.” The two young men jumped in a carriage, picking up Senator Charles Sumner along the way.
Mary was torn over whether to summon Tad, but was apparently persuaded that the emotional boy would be devastated if he saw his father’s condition. Tad and his tutor had gone that night to Grover’s Theatre to see Aladdin. The theater had been decorated with patriotic emblems, and a poem commemorating Fort Sumter’s recapture was read aloud between the acts. An eyewitness recalled that the audience was “enjoying the spectacle of Aladdin” when the theater manager came forward, “as pale as a ghost.” A look of “mortal agony” contorted his face as he announced to the stunned audience that the president had been shot at Ford’s Theatre. In the midst of the pandemonium that followed, Tad was seen running “like a young deer, shrieking in agony.”
“Poor little Tad,” Pendel recalled, returned to the White House in tears. “O Tom Pen! Tom Pen!” Tad wailed. “They have killed Papa dead. They’ve killed Papa dead!” Pendel carried the little boy into Lincoln’s bedroom. Turning down the bedcovers, he helped Tad undress and finally got him to lie down. “I covered him up and laid down beside him, put my arm around him, and talked to him until he fell into a sound sleep.”
From Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Copyright (c) 2005 by Blithedale Productions, Inc. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster.
There’s something about small towns that ignite our imaginations. Maybe it's the charming main streets lined with century-old structures, now filled with artisan shops and cozy family-owned breakfast eateries, or the meandering rivers that run through downtown centers and majestic mountains that rise in the not-too-far distance, offering access to a world of activity. Or perhaps it's one-of-a-kind museums, attractions and festivities that are brimming with hometown pride. This year, we’re not only highlighting towns that embrace all these qualities, but those that are also celebrating a milestone anniversary, marking a major historic event, or unveiling a new museum or festival (there’s even one town on the list that’s been completely transformed by a television show) that make visiting in 2018 particularly special.
As in the past, we’ve once again turned to geographical information company Esri to help sort through the country’s many small towns (those with a population under 20,000). From there, we compiled a list of 20 that combine historic elements with distinct cultural offerings, natural beauty and everything from the country’s oldest whitewater rafting festival to legendary pirate lore.
Our 2018 list includes the Pennsylvania town that gave us Mr. Fred Rogers, a seaside hamlet that sits at the doorstep of Northern California’s coastal redwoods—the tallest living trees on Earth—and an Idaho resort town that’s been recognized for its clear night skies. Get ready to explore!
Corning, New York (Population: 10,925)
Image by Gaffer District. Gaffer District (original image)
Image by Molly Cagwin Photography. Glassmaking demonstration (original image)
Image by Corning Museum of Glass. The Corning Museum of Glass campus (original image)
Image by Corning Museum of Glass. Modern Glass Gallery (original image)
Image by Corning Museum of Glass. The GlassBarge launched from Brooklyn this month and is on its way to Corning (original image)
Image by Rockwell Museum. The Rockwell Museum (original image)
When what's now Corning Incorporated first relocated to this former lumber town in New York's southern Finger Lakes region 150 years ago, no one quite knew the impact one of the world's biggest glassmakers would have on its surroundings. Now the hands-on Corning Museum of Glass is celebrating the “Crystal City's” legacy with a summer's worth of activities. Their mobile GlassBarge, which sets out from Brooklyn—where the company originated—at the end of the month, will retrace the outfit’s move, a century and a half ago, up the Hudson River, west along the Erie Canal and to Corning on September 22. It's the city's part in New York's larger Erie Canal Bicentennial anniversary.
Downtown's Gaffer District—“gaffer” is another name for glassblower—is Corning's main hub, a five-block walkable stretch of historic stone and brick buildings filled with antique stores, boutique and name brand shops, and dozens of diverse bars and restaurants like the step-back-in-time Hand + Foot, where craft cocktails, creative sandwiches and board games are par-for-the-course.
The city's award-winning Centerway Walking Bridge doubles as a “suspended park” between the Gaffer District and the glass museum across downtown's Chemung River, and is just one of Corning's impressive cultural offerings. There's The Rockwell Museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate housed within Corning's original City Hall building, which showcases the American experience through art—including a gallery devoted to Andy Warhol. Those interested in living history (and live blacksmith demos) should beeline for the Heritage Village of the Southern Finger Lakes, with nearly a dozen buildings including an 1850s log cabin and the historic 1796 Benjamin Patterson Inn that capture what area life was like during the 19th century.
Just outside of Corning, hikers have plenty to keep them satisfied with portions of both the 950-mile Finger Lakes Trail system and the overlapping Great Eastern long-distance trail nearby. The town sits on the cusp of three rivers, making it especially popular for kayaking and canoeing. The wineries for which New York’s Finger Lakes region is known make for a sweet aprés-adventure scene. Just a half-hour drive away in Hammondsport are cellars like Dr. Konstantin Frank, with its Reisling pours and spectacular views of Keuka Lake.
Hanapepe, Hawaii (Population: 2,638)
Image by Hawaii Tourism Authority/Tor Johnson. Hanapepe main street (original image)
Image by Wikipedia. Manawaiopuna Falls (original image)
Image by Hawaii Tourism Authority/Tor Johnson. Hanapepe Swinging Bridge sign (original image)
Image by Hawaii Tourism Authority/Tor Johnson. Dawn at Salt Pond Beach Park (original image)
Image by Wikipedia. Glass Beach (original image)
It's been 30 years since Steven Spielberg's epic blockbuster Jurassic Park first brought dinosaurs back to life on the big screen, but visitors to Kauai's Hanapepe—a town on the Hawaiian island's south shore—still can't get enough of one of the film's most recognizable features: the opening scene's towering Manawaiopuna Falls. Each action-packed sequel, like this June's Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, ignites renewed interest, though the only way to see these normally inaccessible 400-foot falls (they're located on private land) is by air. Not only does Island Helicopters offer prime views of the iconic attraction; it's also the only operator permitted to land at its base.
Of course, “Kauai's Biggest Little Town,” as the locals call it, is an attraction in itself, one with a history that includes immigrant entrepreneurism and its early 20th-century years as a G.I. hub. Today the bulk of Hanapepe’s original colorful and rustic nearly century-old wooden structures still stand, lending the bohemian village an authentic Old West vibe. Hanapepe (the name means “crushed bay” in Hawaiian) even served as inspiration for the Disney film, Lilo and Stitch.
Restaurants run the gamut from traditional Hawaiian fare like huli huli chicken (grilled chicken marinated in a sweet pineapple, ginger and garlic sauce) to locally sourced Japanese-style cuisine, and there are plenty of shopping opportunities. Hanapepe is home to the western-most bookstore in the United States, a Hawaiian spice company, and Banana Patch Studio, a treasure trove of hand-painted pottery, art cards and ceramic tiles all created by more than 20 artists in a former bakery and pool hall. In fact, Hanapepe is known as Kauai's art capital, something that it highlights each week during Friday Night Art Walk, when more than a dozen art galleries open their doors and offer visitors the chance to talk with local artists.
While area beaches are plentiful, Salt Pond Beach Park (named for traditional Hawaiian salt collecting ponds—manmade salt flats created for sea salt harvesting) is a must for its shallow snorkeling pools and reef protected waters. Just outside of town near Ele'ele's Port Allen Harbor is Glass Beach, covered in millions of bits of colorful sea glass in shades of blue, amber and aqua.
Dublin, Georgia (Population: 16,100)
Image by Visit Dublin. Martin Luther King, Jr. Monument Park (original image)
It’s been 50 years since shots rang out in Memphis, but the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., continues to reverberate worldwide. This is especially true in Dublin, a central Georgia city midway between Savannah and Atlanta where the future Civil Rights leader gave his first public speech at 15 years of age. King delivered “The Negro and the Constitution,” his submission to an oratorical contest sponsored by the Colored Elks Clubs of Georgia, at Dublin’s First African Baptist Church, which is now part of its larger MLK Monument Park, with a colorful, interactive mural by Georgia artist Corey Barksdale and audio stops, including a young man reading King’s submission, opened last year. The church is also part of the newly launched, self-guided Footsteps of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Trail, chronicling Georgia’s role in the Civil Rights Movement in 28 distinct stops statewide.
Historic and architectural landmarks permeate Dublin’s downtown, and many of them are part of the city’s downloadable audio walking tour, including Railway Park—which commemorates the role of railways in Dublin’s development—and the city’s own Carnegie Library. It’s also home to some top-notch eateries, including Deano's Italian Grill, with its signature pan-seared shrimp and garlic cheese grits, and the only imported Italian wood oven in Georgia. Southern-style rotisserie bistro Company Supply occupies a completely restored 120-year-old dry good store (and sports a full bar stocked with local micro brews), while Holy Smokes, dishes out award-winning barbecue from a stationary food truck. Pair a meal with a show at the renovated Theatre Dublin, a former Art Deco-style movie house that now hosts music and theatre performances as well.
Soak in a bit of natural reprieve at the River Bend Wildlife Management Area, home to primitive campsites, pristine fishing waters, wildlife such as alligators and the elusive Swainson’s warbler, and approximately 1,700 hiking and biking trails that wind through remote cypress swampland. Or bed down at the Dublin Farm Bed and Breakfast, a four-guest room country retreat on 35 acres, complete with donkeys, horses and its own restaurant, serving up ever-changing Northern Italian fare.
A local citizen named Dublin after his own hometown in Ireland in 1812, so it makes perfect sense that the city’s banner event is its annual St. Patrick's Festival, a six-week-long celebratory extravaganza featuring more than 40 events, including its backyard-style Pig in the Park BBQ Championship, an arts and crafts fair, and a family-themed St. Patrick’s Day parade.
Pendleton, Oregon (Population: 16,791)
Image by Trini Hank. Downtown Pendleton (original image)
Image by Dan Parnell. Pendleton underground (original image)
Image by Aaron Wispus Worden. Pendleton Round-Up (original image)
Image by Travis Lundquist. Westward Ho! Parade (original image)
In the 150 years since what’s now Eastern Oregon’s cultural center received the name Pendleton, after former Democratic Vice-President nominee George Hunt Pendleton, this once trading post has flourished into one of America’s best small towns. The Oregon Trail—which is marking its 175th anniversary this year—ran right through Pendleton’s center, and that same pioneering Wild West spirit still permeates its streets today.
Situated at the foot of the Pacific Northwest’s sprawling Blue Mountains, Pendleton’s historic Old Town is brimming with unique stores selling antique heirlooms and western wear, from artisan cowboy boots to custom-made fur felt hats. Shop for locally handcrafted beaded belts and “fringe monsters” (fringe-layered handbags) at 23+, and don’t miss Pendleton Woolen Mills, the factory-turned-retail store where the world-famous wool blanket, shirt and coat manufacturer first took off.
September’s annual Pendleton Round-Up is one of the town’s most exhilarating events, a more than century-old, week-long rodeo that includes a dress-up parade, Native American tipi village and the Happy Canyon Night Show, a reoccurring pageant showcasing the American West’s formation, from its original Native American inhabitants to the arrival of Europeans, and through the days of the Oregon Trail pioneers to its formation as a rip-roaring frontier town. The Pendleton Round-Up and Happy Canyon Hall of Fame pays homage to both the rodeo’s and show’s legendary and long-associated figures, such as local African American cowboy George Fletcher, a fan-favorite who was denied the 1911 saddle-bronc title because of his skin color.
Discover the history, culture and impact of pioneer settlers on the area’s native peoples at the Tamástslikt Cultural Institute, or embark on a subterranean tour beneath Pendleton’s streets, where Chinese immigrants who’d come looking for work after the country’s railroads were mostly complete faced bullying and discrimination from local cowboys, so took their businesses—which included legal shops as well as illegal brothels and opium dens—literally underground more than a century ago. It wasn’t until that 1980s that the tunnels were rediscovered, when inexplicable potholes began appearing in the streets. The free Pendleton Center of the Arts is just one of the many stops along Pendleton's Charm Trail, a self-guided way to create your own charm bracelet while visiting antique stores, museums and restaurants throughout downtown.
Pendleton River Parkway follows the Umatilla River in the heart of town, offering nearly three miles of flat walking trail, while the town’s outskirts are bursting with options for cycling, hiking and camping.
North Conway, New Hampshire (Population: 2,241)
Image by Wiseguy Creative Photography. Conway Scenic Railroad (original image)
Image by Wiseguy Creative Photography. North Conway (original image)
Image by Wiseguy Creative Photography. Ice skating in downtown North Conway (original image)
Image by Wiseguy Creative Photography. Frontside Grind (original image)
Image by Wiseguy Creative Photography. Zeb's General Store (original image)
Image by Wiseguy Creative Photography. Tree lighting at Conway Scenic Railroad (original image)
Image by Wiseguy Creative Photography. Downtown shopping (original image)
Image by New England Ski Museum. The New England Ski Museum's Eastern Slope Branch (original image)
Image by New England Ski Museum. The New England Ski Museum's Eastern Slope Branch (original image)
President Woodrow Wilson first established New England’s White Mountain National Forest in 1918, and this year the more-than 700,000 acres of protected forest and alpine peaks—including most of 6,266-foot-tall Mt. Washington—is celebrating its 100th birthday with a year’s worth of centennial events. In the heart of the Mt. Washington Valley, North Conway makes the perfect hub for these festivities, especially since the picturesque village has a bevy of attractions all its own.
Earlier this year, North Conway became home to the Eastern Slope Branch of the New England Ski Museum, a new permanent gallery dedicated to the region's role in introducing skiing to the States. The resort town is often called the “Birthplace of Skiing,” due to its early adoption from Europe in the 1930s and a combined interest from three main groups: local Scandinavian immigrants, the Dartmouth Outing Club, and members of the Boston-based Appalachian Mountain Club. Last year, a USA Today poll named North Conway the country’s number one ski town, with more than a dozen ski resorts within a 30-minute drive. Skiing at the village’s own 56-trail Cranmore Mountain Resort, dates back to 1939, though these days the resort is known just as much for its snowboarding terrain and tubing and mountain adventure park, where daredevils can zipline or ride a coaster up to 25 miles per hour down the mountain.
Camping, kayaking and canoeing, and hiking opportunities permeate the area, which is also known for its autumn leaf peeping and September's annual Mud Football Championship, bringing together approximately ten all-male, New England teams to compete knee-deep for the championship title at North Conway’s Hog Coliseum—a natural amphitheater filled with White Mountain loam that’s then doused with thousands of gallons of water.
Low-stung structures line North Conway’s Main Street at the edge of the White Mountains, filled with outdoor retail and specialty shops like Zeb’s General Store, stocked with more than 5,000 New England-made specialty foods and featuring its own penny arcade. Local eateries include Delaney's Hole in the Wall, a popular hangout that’s known for its varied selection of sandwiches and—more surprisingly—some of the state’s best sushi; and The White Mountain Hotel & Resort’s Ledges Restaurant, sporting incredible views and a superb Sunday brunch.
Hop aboard the Conway Scenic Railroad for a journey aboard vintage railway cars departing from the village’s iconic yellow train station, or experience the Mount Washington Observatory Weather Discovery Center, the country’s only museum dedicated entirely to climate and weather.
Gering, Nebraska (Population: 8,439)
Image by Nebraska Tourism. Scotts Bluff National Monument (original image)
Image by Nebraska Tourism. Robidoux Pass wagon ruts (original image)
Image by Nebraska Tourism. Robidoux Trading Post (original image)
Image by Nebraska Tourism. Scotts Bluff National Monument (original image)
Image by LOC. Gering Bakery (original image)
Image by Nebraska Tourism. Chimney Rock (original image)
Image by Nebraska Tourism. Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area (original image)
For pioneers making their way along the rugged Oregon Trail 175 years ago, the steep hills of Western Nebraska’s Scotts Bluff National Monument served as a landmark of hope along their journey. The same rang true for Native Americans and immigrants along the California and Mormon trails. Gering lies just east of the monument, and offers its own reasons for making the trip to this hub of the Old West.
Although Gering wasn’t founded until the late 19th century, it still honors the region’s historic past with Oregon Trail Days, an annual July weekend celebration with a chili cook-off, street dance, parade, mud volleyball tournament and a 1.6-mile bicycle hill climb to the top of Scotts Bluff National Monument. Since 1950, downtown’s Gering Bakery has been blazing a trail of its own with delicious cream-filled Long John donuts, frosted peanut butter soft pretzels and cabbage burgers (sometimes known as a runza), and serves as a modern-day beacon thanks to its fabulous neon sign.
Discover the history of the Nebraska prairie at Gering’s Legacy of the Plains Museum, which highlights the lives of pioneer settlers through agricultural artifacts and even a working farmstead that harvests a featured crop each year (last year it was potatoes). Nearby Fort Mitchell Pass offers a glimpse into America’s Western Expansion. This army outpost, one of hundreds the U.S. Army built to protect settlers, and later used to monitor traffic along the Oregon Trail, was abandoned after the war.
Natural monuments abound in the Gering area. The iconic pillar of Chimney Rock, 20 miles southeast of Gering, appeared in the diary entrees of thousands of pioneers, representing a new phase of their journeys. There’s also the narrow Robidoux Pass, a gap that travelers used to traverse the Wildcat Hills and get their first glimpse of the Rocky Mountains. Wagon ruts and pioneer graves serve as reminders of the arduous journey, as does the reconstructed Robidoux Trading Post, in the spot where a Frenchman with the surname Robidoux built the original post that sold goods and blacksmithing services to travelers.
Explore the 1,100 piney acres of Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area and Nature Center, spread across a rocky escarpment within a region of rising canyons and forested buttes. The area is home to big horn sheep, wild turkeys and one of Nebraska’s only permanent cougar populations. You’ll find more hiking and mountain biking trails in the remote Buffalo Creek Wildlife Management Area, a place of tree-topped ridges and rolling prairies.
For manmade outdoor beauty, play a round at Gering’s 18-hole Monument Shadows Golf Course, with stunning background views of Scotts Bluff National Monument.
Laurel, Mississippi (Population: 18,355)
Image by Bethany Byrd/Laurel Main Street. Downtown Laurel (original image)
Image by Bethany Byrd/Laurel Main Street. Downtown Laurel (original image)
Image by Brooke Davis/Blackhorne Productions. The Knight Butcher (original image)
Image by BlackBird Creative. Jerky at The Knight Butcher (original image)
Image by Brooke Davis/Blackhorne Productions. Knight Sugar Fudge (original image)
Image by Laurel Mercantile. Laurel Mercantile (original image)
Image by Bethany Byrd/Laurel Main Street. Erin and Ben Napier from HGTV's "Home Town" (original image)
Image by Bethany Byrd/Laurel Main Street. Downtown Laurel (original image)
It’s been just over a year since Erin and Ben Napier, stars of HGTV’s “Home Town,” introduced their beloved Laurel, Mississippi, to the TV masses, and since then this Southern small town with big charm has taken off. Situated in southeast Mississippi’s Pine Belt, the former mill city and oil town is today known for its Oak-lined sidewalks, brick roadways and a splendid mix of innovative restaurants and specialty shops.
Laurel is home to A Street Car Named Desire’s fictional Blanche DuBois, as well as the Lindsey Eight-Wheeled Wagon, which native Mississippian John Lindsey manufactured at the town’s Lindsey Log Wagon Company during the turn-of-the-20th century (one is on display inside the Laurel Welcome Center). It’s also where you’ll find the Napiers’ own Laurel Mercantile, a shop that’s home to Scotsman Co., Ben’s own brand of hand-worked, reclaimed furniture and gentleman’s work apparel, as well as American-manufactured heirloom wares that often feature in the historic Laurel homes the couple restores.
At downtown’s Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, housed in a stunning, early 20th century Georgian Revival structure, works run the gamut from Hudson River School paintings to Japanese woodblock prints. The Laurel Little Theatre puts on community-led plays and musicals within a 1927 silent movie house.
Sip sour beers and “spontaneously fermented wild ales” at Slowboat Brewing Company, or dine on New Orleans-inspired gumbo at downtown’s signature Cafe la Fleur. For brown bag lunches of custom-cut meats paired with Knight Sugar Fudge, stop by Laurel’s Knight Butcher.
Each week through the end of June, experience Downtown Thursday, which combines an evening farmers market with a family-friendly outdoor movie night. Other community events range from October’s Loblolly heritage festival to the February Chili Cook-Off, where one type of ticket for the all-you-can-eat stew comes with a keepsake bowl made by a local potter.
Easton, Maryland (Population: 16,573)
Image by Christian Hinkle/Alamy. Downtown Easton (original image)
Image by Maryland Office of Tourism. Frederick Douglass statue at Talbot County Courthouse (original image)
Image by Maryland Office of Tourism. Biking through Easton (original image)
Image by Courtesy of the museum. Academy Art Museum (original image)
It’s been 200 years since the birth of renowned abolitionist leader, author and orator Frederick Douglass in Maryland’s Talbot County, and Maryland’s governor has declared 2018 “The Year of Frederick Douglass.” The state is commemorating his many lifetime achievements with everything from a self-guided driving tour to a Juneteenth celebration, marking the abolition of slavery in Texas, in Easton, just 12 miles south from where Douglass was born. There’s signage marking the spot along Maryland Route 328.
Easton sits on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay, North America’s largest estuary, and is a significant stop along the Frederick Douglass route—including the grounds of the Talbot Country Courthouse, where Douglass gave his famous “Self-Made Men” speech in 1878. It’s also home to “The Hill,” believed to be the country’s oldest continuously-inhabited free African American settlement.
As Talbot’s largest town, Easton offers a blend of history, arts and culture. Each month, the town hosts First Weekend, in which its many art galleries open their doors to the public with extended hours and new exhibits. Locals also get their cultural fix at Easton’s Academy Art Museum, known for its varied artworks spanning more than two centuries and a top concert and lectures series; as well as the Avalon Theatre, a historic vaudeville and movie house that now showcases live music and drama.
Easton’s large historic district features approximately 900 Colonial- and Victorian-era structures, many of them now housing antique and collectible shops, coffee houses and restaurants offering a diverse mix of eats, such as the modern European offerings of Bas Rouge and Hunter Tavern’s beloved crab cakes. This charming waterfront town and its tree-lined streets are also home to a wealth of B&Bs, including the Victorian-style Bishop's House, blending modern amenities with period furnishings.
Of course, Easton’s prime Chesapeake Bay location assures it has no shortage of outdoor offerings. Rent a bicycle and enjoy miles of cycling trails through scenic villages and marshland, explore local tributaries via kayak, canoe or paddleboard or go crabbing in the bay.
Kodiak, Alaska (Population: 6,281)
Image by Discover Kodiak. St. Paul Boat Harbor, Kodiak (original image)
Image by Pancho Valladolid/Discover Kodiak. Kodiak (original image)
Image by Discover Kodiak. The summer months offer views of migrating whales. (original image)
Image by Discover Kodiak. Bears on Kodiak Island (original image)
Image by AP. Readying red king crab for boiling at the Kodiak Crab Festival (original image)
Image by AP. Survival suit race at Kodiak's crab festival (original image)
Image by Discover Kodiak. Carnival rides at Kodiak Crab Festival (original image)
Image by Pancho Valladolid/Discover Kodiak. St. Paul Boat Harbor at night (original image)
Image by Discover Kodiak. Kodiak Island (original image)
Image by Chris McLennan. Katmai National Park (original image)
Image by Chris McLennan. Katmai National Park (original image)
One hundred years ago, President Woodrow Wilson created the Katmai National Monument in what was then the territory of Alaska, to protect an area rocked and rattled by the 1912 eruption of Novarupta Volcano. Today, what’s now known as the Katmai National Park and Preserve is a still-active remote landscape teeming with forests, lakes and more than 2,000 brown bear. Located on Alaska’s mainland, it’s one of the state’s prime spots for viewing them as they frolic and feed on salmon in their native habitat.
Katmai is also just across the Shelikof Strait from Alaska’s Kodiak Island, the second largest island in the U.S. and home to a vibrant seaport and arts community of the same name. Surrounded by towering mountains and narrow fjords, Kodiak is itself a sight to behold. Many visitors make their way via the Alaska State Ferry—which runs from Bellingham, Washington, to Homer, with Chenega Bay being the closest stop east of Kodiak (14 hours distance)—to explore this once Russian-stronghold that morphed into a U.S. military outpost during World War II. Abandoned post-war, the purposely built Fort Abercrombie is today a state historical park filled with historic ruins, spruce forests and waterfront cliffs overlooking pounding surf and tide-pools—along with a tiny, volunteer-run military history museum housed in a former ammunition bunker.
But Kodiak’s history dates back much earlier, something visitors can explore with a stop at the Baranov Museum. Occupying the oldest-standing building in the state, the museum’s fascinating exhibits include stories on the island’s Native Alutiiq people, Kodiak’s once-lucrative fur trade, and the devastating Good Friday Earthquake of 1964, which nearly wiped out the town.
Enjoy some time wandering along downtown’s St. Paul Boat Harbor and exploring its Kodiak Maritime Museum, a walkable “museum without walls” with exhibits that span the sidewalks. Talk with local fishers, get to know the area’s best fly fishing spots and secluded campgrounds, or book a guided kayaking tour along protected inlets with a chance to see up-close migrating whales, with June through August being the best months. Outside the city, the Kodiak Wildlife Refuge is an incredible natural resource that is known for its fishing, kayaking, bear-viewing and camping. It occupies two-thirds of Alaska’s “Emerald Isle,” and is only accessible by flight (including air taxis or boat) but makes for an easy day trip or lengthy backcountry excursion.
Dine on beet borscht soup or housemade pastries at Monk's Rock Coffeehouse & Bookstore, then peruse their selection of Russian-themed souvenirs. Kodiak Island Brewing Brewing Co. is the place for imbibing pints of Snowshoe, a hoppy IPA with a smooth finish. Bring a picnic of your own (or food from one of Kodiak’s local restaurants) and get tasting.
Keep on your calendar for next year the annual Kodiak Crab Festival, a Memorial Day weekend extravaganza that features everything from a fish toss to a survival suit race (an immersion suit to protect against hypothermia) through frigid waters.
Mystic, Connecticut (Population: 4,168)
Image by Connecticut Office of Tourism. Mystic Pizza (original image)
Image by Connecticut Office of Tourism. Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream (original image)
Image by Anna Sawin. Pastry chef Adam Young at his Sift Bake Shop (original image)
Image by Mystic Aquarium. Mystic Aquarium (original image)
Image by Mystic Aquarium. Beluga (original image)
Image by Mystic Aquarium. Shark touch tank (original image)
Image by Mystic Seaport. A Mystic Seaport demonstration of traditional maritime skills (original image)
Image by Mystic Seaport. Mystic Seaport's ship chandlery (original image)
Image by Mystic Seaport. The watercraft collection at Mystic Seaport is the largest of its kind in the United States and includes four National Historic Landmark vessels: the whaleship Charles W. Morgan (center), the L.A. Dunton, steamboat Sabino (left) and the Emma C. Berry. (original image)
Image by Connecticut Office of Tourism. Mystic Knotwork (original image)
Image by Connecticut Office of Tourism. B.F. Clyde's Cider Mill (original image)
Ever since securing a spot in the annals of Hollywood movie history with a starring role in the film of the same name (and a young Julia Roberts), Mystic Pizza has been luring hungry fans in droves. Thirty years later, the beloved pizzeria and its surrounding seaside hamlet are still buzzing with the delights of stardom. Mystic is even welcoming its own inaugural film festival this October.
The Connecticut coastal town, which sits at the mouth of the Mystic River, offers a wonderful combination of rich maritime past and charming New England allure, the same that it has for decades. Hollywood royalty Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall chose the Inn at Mystic for their 1945 honeymoon. The village is ripe with seafaring history: old sea-captain's home still stand riverside along Mystic's outskirts, and centuries-old ships dock beside kayaks and standup paddleboards in its waters. Downtown, mystic's iconic Bascule Bridge stretches across the Mystic River, and is open to pedestrians too.
Learn about the village's role in shipbuilding and as a safe haven for tall ships at Mystic Seaport, the largest maritime museum in the U.S. It's home to the world's only surviving wooden whaling ship, as well as the coal-fired steamboat Sabino, which offers downriver cruises. Later, stop by Mystic Aquarium to see some of North America's only beluga whales. Some of Connecticut's best state beaches are nearby too.
There’s delightful events in every season. Weekends throughout summer and fall the village springs to life with everything from a celebration of local eats to a kid-friendly “pirate invasion.” An autumn highlight is joining the crowds lined up for fresh apple cider and donuts at B. F. Clyde’s Cider Mill, the country's last-remaining steam-powered cider mill. In winter, Mystic’s Holiday Lighted Boat Parade illuminates the night with a procession of decorated ships, and Santa arriving by tugboat.
Mystic's food and drink scene ranges from riverside seafood shacks to ingenious wine bars like M/Bar, housed in a restored gas station. Travel + Leisure voted Mystic's boat-to-table Oyster Club as one of America's Best Oyster Bars, while locals and visitors alike flock to the French-inspired Sift Bake Shop, where co-owner and pastry chef Adam Young recently competed for 'Best Baker in America' on the Food Network's “Spring Baking Championship.”
Perham, Minnesota (Population: 3,335)
Image by Explore Minnesota. An aerial view of Perham (original image)
Image by Explore Minnesota. Sunrise on Big Pine Lake near Perham (original image)
Image by Perham Focus. A Perham turtle race (original image)
Image by Kim J Photography. Perham's turtle races (original image)
Image by Explore Minnesota. The Perham History Museum (original image)
Image by Explore Minnesota. The Perham History Museum (original image)
On your mark, get set, and go straight to central Minnesota for Perham’s 40th annual International Turtle Races, a weekly occurrence in this “heart of Otter Tail County” on Wednesday mornings, June through August. Perham’s shelled reptiles and their out-of-state competitors are local icons, vying against each other for turtle bragging rights all summer long. Turtles start out in the center of a paved ring at Turtle Park, located next door to Perham’s area chamber, and must be first to maneuver their way to the outside ring to win. Heat winners then compete against one another for the top three slots. Each annual season kicks off with a June Turtle Fest, complete with a (human) half-marathon and grand parade. It’s all just a bit of the small-town allure that makes Perham special.
Otter Tail County is an all-season destination that’s home to more lakes that any other county in the country—over 1,100 of them—with Perham nestled among them. The county is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, hosting numerous events that include walking tours and September plays honoring the area’s history and heritage and held in numerous towns, including Perham.
Downtown Perham is filled with unique specialty shops and eateries: places like Nest, part-kitchenware retailer, part-cafe, with its own drive-through coffee window; and the two-story Gathering Grounds Coffee Shoppe, hailed for its soup and sandwich lunches, as well as the selection of jewelry, books and antiques at its gift shop—all housed in a two-story century-old downtown structure. For Minnesota craft beers and burgers, be sure and stop by locally owned Brew Ales & Eats.
Perham is home to the country’s only museum based entirely on the oral history of American veterans, and the Perham Center for the Arts, an art, music and theater venue, occupies the city’s century-old, former Saint Stanislaus Catholic Church. A downtown must-see is Perham’s Waves of Discovery Mural, comprised of various bits of mosaics, agates, fossils and fused glass, and featuring more than 50 hidden symbols, from one of the many artists’ initials to a series of dragon flies. Small-town pride is evident in everything from June’s annual Rib Cook-Off to a December Parade of Lights, complete with floats and a lighting of town’s Christmas tree.
The greater Otter Tail area offers a ton of outdoor activities as well—from fly fishing holes to more than two dozen campgrounds and resorts. Snowmobiling is especially popular, with over 250 miles of trails winding around lakes and through forests of maple and birch, as is cross country skiing. The county’s Otter Trail Scenic Byway meanders past Native American hunting grounds, over oak-tree-covered hills and alongside vast wetlands.
Skowhegan, Maine (Population: 6,207)
Image by National Geographic Creative / Alamy Stock Photo. Aerial view of downtown Skowhegan, Maine (original image)
Image by Visit Maine. Skowhegan's Flat Iron District (original image)
Image by Jonathan Wheaton. Miller's Table (original image)
Image by Visit Maine. "Girl with a Tail" on the Langlais Art Trail (original image)
Image by Jonathan Wheaton. Skowhegan River Fest (original image)
Image by Knightvision Photography. Skowhegan State Fair (original image)
Image by Visit Maine. Old Mill Pub (original image)
Image by Kristina Cannon. Kennebec River (original image)
Image by Visit Maine. Maine Grains Somerset Grist Mill (original image)
Image by Visit Maine. Flat Iron District (original image)
It's pretty impressive that 200 years after Skowhegan held its inaugural state fair what's now known as the country's “oldest continuously running agricultural fair” is still going strong. The seat of Somerset County will be marking that milestone in August, but not before novice and professional moose-callers perform their best cow calls and bull grunts at the city's first-ever Skowhegan Moose Festival this June.
Things haven't always been easy for this former mill town, nestled in Central Maine's scenic Kennebec River Valley, at the gateway to the state's North Maine Woods. Keen-eyed visitors may recognize the city's 19th-century brick and granite structures from the 2003 HBO mini-series “Empire Falls,” aptly depicting a struggling New England community. But this hasn't stopped Skowhegan from persisting. It's no wonder Margaret Chase Smith, the first woman ever to serve in both houses of Congress, was a Skowhegan native.
Repurposed buildings in the city's historic Flat Iron District now house furniture shops, antique stores, and artisan eateries like the Bankery, where along with delicious pastries and lunch specials, the staff whips up custom cakes from scratch, and the former bank's old vaults are now walk-in refrigerators. Their baked goods—along with a selection of local craft brews—are also on the menu at Showhegan's riverside Old Mill Pub, a former-mill-turned-restaurant. Local wholesale manufacturer Maine Grains is reviving New England's grain economy with its traditional stone milling process. See it for yourself during tours of their gristmill (in what used to be the Somerset County jail), then taste some samplings at the farm-to-table Miller's Table cafe next-door.
Wander outdoors among 21 folk-style sculptures—including the iconic 62-foot Skowhegan Indian—that are Skowhegan's part of the Langlais Art Trail, a state-wide showcase of artworks by incredibly imaginative Maine artist Bernard “Blackie” Langlais.
August's annual Skowhegan River Fest showcases another possible transformation: that of the city's Kennebec River Gorge into a focal point for whitewater recreation. Main Street Skowhegan’s proposed Run of River project would transform the area into a tourist destination, complete with a three-feature whitewater park that could be used by everyone from kayakers to boogie boarders, a slalom course, river promenade and 300 acres of surrounding trails.
Latrobe, Pennsylvania (Population: 8,086)
Image by Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau. Landmark sign at Fred Rogers Memorial Park (original image)
Image by Saint Vincent College. Fred Rogers statue in Fred Rogers Memorial Park in downtown Latrobe (original image)
Image by Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau. Fred Rogers Center at Saint Vincent College (original image)
Image by Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau. Fred Rogers Center at Saint Vincent College (original image)
He may have been everyone’s favorite neighbor, but the small western Pennsylvania town of Latrobe was lucky enough to have Fred Rogers as its own, at least during his younger years (he eventually moved to nearby Pittsburgh). With the 50th anniversary of the debut of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” and the documentary coming out this summer, fans may want to visit the big-hearted TV personality’s real-life hometown to pay homage. At the Fred Rogers Archive, a public interactive exhibit located within the Fred M. Rogers Center on the campus of Saint Vincent College—where the Pittsburgh Steelers hold their training camp—visitors can relive their childhood by seeing the children show’s original Neighborhood Trolley, scripts from actual episodes and approximately 16,000 other items detailing his life and career. Mr. Rogers is buried nearby at Latrobe’s Unity Cemetery.
Pro-golfer Arnold Palmer was also born in this former railway town (he and Fred Rogers were actually classmates), as were two others greats: Rolling Rock beer, and the banana split, which Latrobe celebrates annually at its Great American Banana Split Celebration in August. The drug store where pharmacy apprentice David Strickler invented his now-iconic ice cream dessert no longer exists, though both a plaque and a giant banana split statue stand in its place.
Although the groomed fairways on which Palmer learned to play the game are private, golfers can channel “The King” at Latrobe’s Glengarry Golf Links public course. For outdoor enthusiasts of a different kind, the 50-acre Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve (Winnie was Palmer’s wife of 45 years), features walking trails through meadows and forests.
Learn about the country’s first coast-to-coast highway, which runs just south of Latrobe, at the town’s Lincoln Highway Experience Museum, or sample site-brewed beers while listening to live music Friday and Saturday evenings at Latrobe’s Four Seasons Brewing Company & Pub. There’s also Di Salvo's Station, an old train station that’s been transformed into an Italian restaurant and cigar bar.
Salida, Colorado (Population: 5,610)
Image by Scott Peterson. Downtown Salida (original image)
Image by Scott Peterson. The banks of the Arkansas River (original image)
Image by Chris Miller. FibArk (original image)
Image by Chris Miller. Women's freestyle at FibArk (original image)
Image by Scott Peterson. Downtown Salida (original image)
Image by Miles Partnership. Wood's High Mountain Distillery (original image)
Image by Miles Partnership. Wood's High Mountain Distillery (original image)
Image by Scott Peterson. Captain Zipline (original image)
Image by Scott Peterson. Salida in winter (original image)
Image by Scott Peterson. Monarch Mountain (original image)
Tucked into the heart of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains amid the state’s “Banana Belt,” laid-back Salida enjoys surprisingly mild temperatures as well as an incredible array of outdoor sports. In fact, this historic mountain town features some of the best whitewater rafting in the country—a quality it showcases with June’s annual FibArk (First in boating on the Arkansas) Festival, America’s “oldest and boldest” whitewater festival—now in its 70th year. Many of FibArk's events—things like freestyle kayaking and a raft rodeo—take place on the Arkansas River, which runs through the center of town and is home to Salida Whitewater Park, with manmade wave features and holes.
Greater Salida has an upper hand when it comes to natural assets, with everything from recreational hot springs to mountains ripe for bicycling, along with the highest concentration of 14,000-foot-or-taller peaks (“14ers” as Coloradans call them) in the state. It’s home to Colorado’s largest aerial course, family- and ski-bum-friendly and Monarch Mountain Ski Resort and the state’s newest national monument, boasting 21,586 acres of rivers, canyons and backcountry forest.
Downtown Salida is equally as enticing. The once-thriving railway town’s historic district (Colorado’s largest) now houses boutique shops selling handcrafted guitars, high-end bicycles and art aplenty, including the colorful reverse glass paintings of Art & Salvage. Salida was named Colorado’s first certified “Creative District,” a distinction it showcases during its annual Art Walk each June.
Wine and charcuterie, small-batch spirits (at Wood's Hig Mountain Distillery, owned by Salida’s own mayor, no less), and artisan coffee sold alongside locally made bespoke goods are all part of the Salida experience, as are unique lodgings ranging from a historic Poor-Farm-turned-renovated-guesthouse to downtown’s historic Palace Hotel, dishing out home-baked muffins daily.
Luray, Virginia (Population: 4,794)
Image by Sarah Hauser. Downtown Luray (original image)
Image by NPS. The Appalachian Trail on Loft Mountain in Shenandoah National Park (original image)
Image by Luray Caverns. A candle-lit section of Luray Caverns on its annual Discovery Day (original image)
Image by Luray Caverns. The Great Stalacpipe Organ (original image)
Image by Luray Caverns. Giants Hall (original image)
Image by NPS/Neal Lewis. Skyline Drive in the fall (original image)
Image by Bill Crabtree Jr.. Downtown Luray (original image)
Image by NPS. Hikers on Shenandoah's Old Rag Mountain (original image)
Fifty years ago, U.S. Congress passed both the National Trails System Act and the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, promoting the preservation and enjoyment of the country’s outdoor areas, as well as some of its greatest rivers. The former also led to the creation of two national scenic trails: one being the 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail, which forever changed the course of Luray—a small Virginia town that’s one of the trails access points, as well as the headquarters of nearby Shenandoah National Park, known for its waterfalls, secluded wooded hollows and stunning natural beauty.
For Appalachian Trail through-hikers, Luray is a godsend, beginning with its informative Luray-Page County Visitors Center. Downtown’s Appalachian Outfitters stocks a wealth of hiking gear, and—along with plenty of paintings, pottery and blown glass to peruse—its Warehouse Art Gallery offers free outdoor camping space specifically for A.T. hikers. Spots such as Main Street Bakery even sell backpacked-sized meals to go.
With its perch right near the Thornton Gap entry to Shenandoah’s spectacularly scenic 105-mile-long Skyline Drive, Luray is a hub for all kinds of outdoor activities, including bicycling, canoeing and kayaking, and autumn leaf peeping. Explore the largest cave system in the eastern U.S. with a visit to Luray Caverns, marking 140 years since its discovery. Their annual Discovery Day commemorates this event each August with a Grand Illuminated Tour, in which period-dressed guides lead visitors through sections of the caverns that are lit up with thousands of candles, all the while sharing stories about its unearthing. This vast subterranean system features 140-foot-tall natural columns, wondrous stalactites and an actual organ that turns the entire space into a musical instrument. The caverns have some unrelated attractions as well, such as a vintage car museum and a maze constructed from eight-feet-tall hedges.
Brick structures dating back to the 19th century line the sloping streets of downtown Luray, which is both a VA Main Street Community and designated Arts & Culture District, along with being a National Historic District. Fuel up with a frozen Kona mocha or Virginia’s own Old Hill Hard Cider at Gathering Grounds, also serving breakfast, lunch and weekend dinner. For good ol’ Virginia barbecue, Triple Crown BBQ is a winner.
Black bears, coyotes, and bobcats reside in the forests of Shenandoah National Park, while more than 250 exotic animals that were neglected, abandoned or unwanted have found new life at Luray Zoo, an educational zoo that’s home to everything from kangaroos to monkeys, tigers and porcupines.
Eureka Springs, Arkansas (Population: 2,114)
Image by Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. Eureka Springs (original image)
Image by Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. "Great Passion Play" (original image)
Image by Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. Thorncrown Chapel (original image)
Image by Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. Motorcycle on Beaver Bridge (original image)
Image by Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. Mardi Gras Extravaganza (original image)
Image by Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge (original image)
Image by Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. Christ of the Ozarks (original image)
In 1968, a controversial former politician named Gerald L. K. Smith opened his “Great Passion Play” at an outdoor amphitheater (one that he’d carved out of a mountainside) in Eureka Springs, near a seven-story Christ of the Ozarks he also erected. Fifty years later, this annual summertime reenactment of Jesus Christ’s last days is considered one of the country’s largest attended outdoor dramas.
However, it’s far from the only draw this picturesque mountain town has going for it. Tucked into the middle of northwest Arkansas' Ozark Mountains, Eureka Springs boasts everything from luxurious spas to the jaw-dropping Thorncrown Chapel to a nearby river ripe for canoeing, as well as one-of-a-kind boutiques, art galleries and restaurants. Its entire downtown is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the family-friendly city has received many accolades, including those from the American Planning Association and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Although Eureka Springs has been drawing those interested in its natural spring waters for centuries, its popularity as a resort town boomed in the late 19th century when locals claimed that they had healing properties. Today the city’s undulating center is brimming with historic Victorian structures in a wash of intriguing architecture styles, including cliff-hugging Queen Annes, towering bricks with iron balconies, and cozy residential bungalows. Walk (or hop a trolley) around its historic 3.5 mile “Loop,” which winds, climbs and descends its way around downtown’s most scenic features. In this town, quirky street art like the 500-pound Humpty Dumpty that sits on a wall in the middle of the historic district, century-old hotels and resident ghosts at places like the Basin Park Hotel are standard fare.
Artistic souls flock to this creative hub, a place known for its performance art, with everything from live music variety shows to an interactive sound-creating sculpture park. Whether it’s a Mardi Gras Extravaganza, one of the town's many LGTBQ festivities, or a UFO conference, Eureka Springs has it covered.
Sipping and swirling are the norm at the nearby Railway Winery @ Trestle 71-7, a stop along the Arkansas Wine Trail. For gourmet eats, try hidden downtown breakfast gem Oscar’s Cafe or the French-inspired fine-dining at Le Stick Nouveau.
Embark on a scenic journey back in time aboard the Eureka Springs and North Arkansas Railway. Just outside of town, the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge provides a safe haven for rescued exotic animals, including lions, tigers and bears, as well as guided walking and trolley tours, keeper talks and its own overnight safari lodging.
Trinidad, California (Population: 359)
Image by PhotoCPL/iStock. Trinidad (original image)
Image by jmoor17/iStock. Pier in Trinidad (original image)
Image by Wikipedia. Trinidad (original image)
Image by NPS/S. Olson. Prairie Creek Bridge (original image)
Image by NPS/Shaina Niehans. Redwoods at Tall Trees Grove (original image)
Each year, hundreds of thousands of visitors make their way along Northern California’s rugged coastline to marvel at the largest trees on Earth, thanks in large part to the conservation efforts of Save the Redwoods League, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary with “free second Saturdays” at more than 40 Redwood State Parks throughout 2018. This year also marks 50 years since the U.S. government established Redwood National Park, which is actually comprised of several parks that together with its state parks protect 45 percent of all remaining coast redwood old-growth forests on the planet. The tiny seaside hamlet of Trinidad sits right in their backyard.
Located in California’s laid-back Humboldt County, Trinidad is a working fishing village perched on a bluff 174 feet above the waters of Trinidad Bay. It is known as the place where the “Redwoods meet the Sea,” as well as for its spectacularly wild coastline and more than a dozen nearby public beaches. Trinidad is a popular spot for crabbing and fishing for rockfish and salmon, as well as lagoon and ocean kayaking. The greater Trinidad coast is also a notable California Coastal National Monument Gateway for its remarkable ocean sea stacks, home to one of the state’s most diverse seabird colonies—approximately 11 species such as tufted puffin, fork-tailed storm-petral and common murre.
Pick up the catch-of-the-day or snackable tins of smoked salmon at Katy’s Smokehouse, a community stalwart since the 1940s. Katy’s also stocks Humboldt County's famed Larrupin Mustard Dill Sauce, created by the folks at Trinidad’s Larrupin’ Cafe. The cozy eatery serves up a menu of mesquite barbecued dishes and local craft brews, including those from the nearby family-owned Redwood Curtain Brewing Co.
Keep an eye out for grey whales and other marine mammals along the clifftop 1.4-mile-long Trinidad Head Loop Trail, or head to Trinidad State Beach Park during low tide for tide pools filled with sea anemone and starfish. Get a handle on these and other local sea creatures with a visit to the touch tank at Humboldt State University’s Marine Lab.
Just outside Trinidad, Sumeg Village is a reconstructed village that provides insight into the lives of the region’s native Yurok people. Explore its family-style homes, built with traditional materials; sweat lodge; and a dance house where local Yuroks perform occasional cultural ceremonies.
Ketchum, Idaho (Population: 2,573)
Image by Jon Arnold Images Ltd/Alamy. Main Street, Ketchum (original image)
Image by Aurora Photos/Alamy. A woman catches a rainbow trout on Big Wood River in Ketchum (original image)
Stargazers have much to be happy about in Idaho, where Ketchum recently became the state’s first city to earn the moniker of International Dark Sky Community—a designation that the International Dark-Sky Association gives to communities dedicated to curbing their own light pollution. The former frontier outpost is also part of the even newer 1,400-square-mile Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve, a first-of-its-kind in the U.S. The end of July is the best time to catch Mars at its brightest in years, while August 12 brings the annual Perseid meteor shower, which can produce up to 60 shooting stars an hour.
Ketchum got its start in silver mining, then switched to sheep shipping before it became a year-round recreational resort town along with adjacent Sun Valley, both of which sit at the foot of south central Idaho’s Bald Mountain—a 9,150-foot-tall peak covered with world-class ski runs—in the forested Wood River Valley. It’s nirvana for outdoor enthusiasts, who along with the four-season Sun Valley Resort come to indulge in the hiking trails, fly fishing spots, whitewater rafting opportunities, and natural hot springs of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, just north of town.
These days, Ketchum is also known for its fashionable boutique stores sporting designer threads and sheepskin coats, and art galleries that showcase everything from western bolo ties to modern works by Picasso and Matisse. Creativity pumps through the veins of this scenic place, perhaps a gift left behind by Ketchum’s most famous former resident, Ernest Hemingway. The legendary novelist lived, worked and died here—fans can even pay their respects at Ketchum Cemetery’s Hemingway Memorial, or book Suite 206 at the nearby Sun Valley Resort, where the famed imbiber completed his nearly-Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls.
Each year (usually around early September) Ketchum’s Community Library hosts a weekend filled with Hemingway-centric events, while other annual town festivities include an outdoor curated public sculpture exhibit that runs through summer and Labor Day weekends and Wagon Days, the Pacific Northwest’s largest procession of non-motorized vehicles.
Delve into the local history of miners and ranchers, area artists and local athletes with a visit to Sun Valley Museum of History, or discover high-altitude flora at Sawtooth Botanical Garden. For Rocky Mountain home-style breakfasts, Ketchum’s western-kitsch Kneadery is a must.
Ocracoke, North Carolina (Population: 948)
Image by Peter Ptschelinzew/Alamy. Ocracoke (original image)
Image by Natasha Jackson. Blackbeard's Pirate Jamboree (original image)
Image by Ocracoke Foundation. Ocracoke's wild ponies (original image)
Image by Visit NC. An aerial view of Ocracoke (original image)
Image by Visit NC. Ocracoke Light Station (original image)
Avast, ye mateys! This October marks the 300th anniversary of Blackbeard's historic last battle on Ocracoke Island, a narrow afterthought on the southern tip of North Carolina's Outer Banks. The legendary pirate met his fateful end at the hands of Britain’s Royal Navy, after boarding the ship of Lieutenant Robert Maynard, who—along with his crew—took down Blackbeard with shots and sword.
This October, at the annual Blackbeard’s Pirate Jamboree, Ocracoke Village and its well-protected Silver Lake will be singing with bursting cannons and swashbuckling buccaneers, though tales of the sinister sea robber and his crew abound across the island: from stories of still-buried treasures at Springer's Point to Pamlico Sound, a windsurfing and kiteboarding haven where the epic end-of-life battle took place.
The name Ocracoke is believed to have originated as a mispronunciation of Woccocock, the island's first residents, and a few long-time locals still retain their distinct High Tider (think “hoi toider”) brogue. Ocracoke Village centers around Ocracoke Harbor—known for its stunning waterfront sunsets—where boat charters offer fishing tours and sailing cruises. Along the waterfront, art galleries and specialty shops lure in onlookers with their colorful window displays, while a range of dining and drink establishments are spread both in and on the outskirts of town. For locally sourced Southern seafood dishes and wood-fired pizzas to go, swing by lively Daijo. On the edge of the village is the new 1718 Brewing, serving up hand-crafted sodas and flights of their home brews, while Pony Island Restaurant has been Ocracoke's beloved breakfast hub since 1959.
For more local history, pay a visit to the Ocracoke Preservation Society Museum, or bicycle over to Ocracoke Light Station. Keep an eye out for sea turtles and their nests (common in the summer) along local beaches, most of which are run by the National Park Service as part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Ocracoke is also home to wild ponies—the descendants of horses that shipwrecked explorers cast overboard—that reside in a protected pasture up Highway 12.
Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan (Population: 13,628)
Image by Norris Seward. Kayakers and freighter (original image)
Image by Mikael B. Classen. Soo Locks at night (original image)
Image by Sault Ste. Marie CVB. Downtown Sault Ste. Marie (original image)
Image by Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society. Whitefish Point Lighthouse and the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum (original image)
Image by Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society. Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum (original image)
Image by Kenneth Kiefer/iStock. Tahquamenon Falls (original image)
Image by Sault Ste. Marie CVB. Soo Locks boat tour (original image)
Image by Sault Ste. Marie CVB. Soo Locks boat tour (original image)
Image by Sault Ste. Marie CVB. Soo Locks freighter (original image)
Image by Sault Ste. Marie CVB. Rotary Park (original image)
Michigan's oldest city has quite a history, from its role as a “crossroads of fishing and trading” among Native Americans to its more than 140 years spent under French rule (it wasn’t until after the War of 1812 that the U.S. gained control). This year it's celebrating its “Semiseptcentennial”—that’s 350 years—with a bevy of events, culminating with the week-long 350th Anniversary Festival in July.
Sault Ste. Marie sits on the northeastern tip of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, directly across the St. Marys River and the U.S.-Canada Border from its twin city, Ontario's Sault Ste. Marie. The Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge connects the two, serving as the only vehicular crossing between Michigan and Ontario for hundreds of miles. Nearby Lake Superior's rocky and forested coastline offers loads to explore, though the city has plenty of its own attractions.
Most notable is its legendary Soo Locks, two parallel locks opened in 1897 to help ships navigate the 21-foot drop between Lake Superior and Lake Huron. Today it's one of the planet's largest and busiest waterway traffic systems. See this magnificent feat of engineering—along with the massive freighters and tiny tugboats traversing its waters—in action, both from an observation platform overlooking the locks or aboard an exciting boat tour.
A few of the city's treasured eateries also offer up-close views of the locks, including the Lockview Restaurant, a long-time seafood stalwart with an old-school nautical feel, and the newer Karl's Cuisine, serving up locally sourced New American eats, wines and brews.
Sunbathers will want to head to Sherman Park along St. Marys River, home to the city's only public beach. For winter sports, the city's Sault Seal Recreation Area is a convenient practice spot for downhill skiing, and a hub for snow tubers. Sault Ste. Marie is especially popular with snowmobilers, with the area's 50th annual I-500 Snowmobile Race taking place earlier this year. Both cross country skiers and snowshoers head to the nearby Algonquin Trail for roaming among pristine, snow-covered forest.
Nearby Tahquamenon Falls State Park is a year-round favorite, with the foamy, cedar-colored waters of its 200-foot-wide Upper Falls. While here, swing by Tahquamenon Falls Brewery and Pub for fresh Lake Superior whitefish paired with a pint of its own Black Bear Stout or Porcupine Pale Ale, then pick up a bottle of Upper Peninsula-made pure maple syrup at its Camp 33 Gift Shop.
The waters around Sault Ste. Marie have long been a prominent place for shipwrecks, and therefore lighthouses, like the 72-step Point Iroquois Light Station, and a bit further afield, Whitefish Point Lighthouse. The latter is home to the only museum devoted to shipwrecks on the Great Lakes, as well as the bell from the legendary Edmund Fitzgerald, which sunk in a storm off the coast. The point itself is a premier bird migration hot-spot, most notably for rough-legged hawks, and the incredibly preserved ships lost below its frigid waters are a boon for divers.