History club trip

Members of the JWP History Club on the first day of the club’s annual trip. (Submitted photo)

The Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton History Club has recently returned from its annual history trip.

This year the club went southeast with a strongly Civil War-themed trip. The first day started after an overnight bus ride at Shiloh National Battlefield in Tennessee. They then stopped at the Marshall Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama before taking the Incline Railroad to the top of Lookout Mountain outside of Chattanooga where they learned about the Battle of Chattanooga.

Day two began with a tour of Chickamauga National Battlefield, then a stop at the Carter Family Cotton Gin Park where they learned about the pivotal battle of Franklin, then on to Nashville where they learned about the Battle of Nashville, toured Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage, took a walking tour of Nashville, toured the Country Music Hall of Fame, saw a show featuring Dustin Lynch at the Grand Ole Opry then took a backstage tour of the Opry after the show.

The third day involved a lot of driving but they did take the gondola to the top of Stone Mountain, Georgia and learned about the Battle of Atlanta and the impact the loss of Atlanta had on the Confederacy. They ended their day in St. Augustine, Florida.

Day four began in St. Augustine with a walking tour of Old Town, including the oldest European street in America, a trip to Castillo de San Marcos fort and a tour of the Pirate Treasure Museum. After a short stop at Fort Mose, they continued on to Savannah and stopped at the sea island Pin Point Heritage Museum where they learned about African American culture post Civil War and how to harvest crabs and oysters. After a walking tour of Savannah they ate at the Pirate House, an establishment frequented by Robert Louis Stevenson just before he penned Treasure Island.

Day five began with a walking tour of Charleston, then a trip to Fort Sumter, where the Civil War started. From there they took a breather from history and enjoyed an afternoon at Myrtle Beach.

The sixth day started with a tour of the Wright Brothers National Monument, then a day on the beach at the Outer Banks. In the evening the group watched the Lost Colony Play on Roanoke Island before returning to their hotel and sitting on the patio listening to the waves break on the beach.

Day seven the group got back to a more aggressive schedule. After watching the sun rise over the Atlantic, it was on the busses to Yorktown National Battlefield where a Civil War Battle was fought but it is much better known as the place that General Cornwallis surrendered to General Washington, effectively ending the Revolutionary War. The next stop was Colonial Williamsburg then on to the Museum of the United States Marine Corps. From there the club traveled to their hotel in Arlington, Virginia and took the subway into Washington where they did a night walk of the monuments, the White House, Washington Monument, World War II Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Korean War Memorial and Martin Luther King Memorial.

The eighth day began with a trip to George Washington’s Mount Vernon, then a stop at the Holocaust Museum and after a couple of hours of free time to explore on their own it was off to the African American History and Culture Museum. The day wrapped up with a trip to the iconic Ben’s Chili Bowl for dinner and a walk around historic Georgetown.

Day nine included a tour of the US Capitol building, followed by optional time to explore the Supreme Court, Library of Congress, Ford’s Theater, National Archives, Smithsonians etc. The club then proceeded to Arlington National Cemetery and a walk to Arlington House, and a chance to watch the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. They then had the chance to visit the Iwo Jima Memorial and watch the Marine Corps Sunset Drill from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Finally it was time to begin the trip home on day 10. On the way the club stopped at the Fredericksburg National Battlefield, James Madison’s Montpelier, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, Appomattox Courthouse the site of Lee’s surrender then they crossed the Blue Ridge Mountains and followed the Shenandoah Valley to Lexington and Lee’s Chapel, the tomb of Robert E. Lee where they wrapped up their Civil War lesson.

Day 11 began in historic Boonesborough where they learned about the contributions of Daniel Boone to westward expansion and the American Revolution. From there it was off the Underground Railroad and Freedom Center in Cincinnati followed by a trip to the George Rogers Clark Memorial in Vincennes, Indiana.

It was here that the JWP History Club paused to recognize a truly rare achievement. Two of the club members, Alexia King and Willem Knack had participated in five history trips in a row and became the first two members of the 48 state club. Over five years Alexia and Willem have seen a historic site in all 48 contiguous states, possibly the first two people ever in America to visit all 48 through school-sponsored trips.

The last day of the trip began in Springfield, Illinois with stops at Abraham Lincoln’s home, grave and museum, then after a traditional last dinner at BW3 it was back home to get ready for the next school year.

Howard Van Ottelroo is the JWP History Club advisor.

Jeffrey Jackson is the managing editor of the Owatonna People's Press. He can be reached at 507-444-2371 or via email at jjackson@owatonna.com

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