Thursday, October 3, 2013

Andrew Johnson National Historic Site, Tennessee

When we left North Carolina, we slowly continued north towards Pennsylvania...with many stops along the way :).  I'm sure most of you know that we have a real fondness for the Junior Ranger programs.  The kids (and adults!) learn so much when we do these, there is just no comparison to "living" your history by visiting these places and being able to immerse yourself in what ever it is you are learning about. 

With these thoughts in mind, I looked at a map to see what might be along our route (we had to be in PA by a certain date) that we could make a school day out of.  School?  You bet!  We absolutely count these programs as part of our school learning...we aren't the only ones, either.  On this particular day, there was a big yellow bus full of school children and their teachers learning (and smiling! it's fun to get out of the classroom!) right there with us.

Where did we stop?  The Andrew Johnson National Historic Site in Greeneville, Tennessee!  Never heard of it?  Well, neither had I until that day :).  I am finding as we do more and more of these programs that our favorite ones are often the ones that we knew absolutely nothing about before hand. 

We pulled into Greeneville and quickly saw how tight parking would be for a big camper like ours.  There was only a small parking lot near the historic site and a few spaces on the street.  Not happening.  (I don't know where the bus parked, the driver dropped everyone off in the street and left.)  So, we decided to find somewhere with a big parking lot to have a quick lunch and just leave the truck and 5th wheel there while we all went in my car over to the site.  ***We have done this many times when traveling through small towns that just weren't made for big rigs.  Another perk of traveling with two vehicles!***

The first place we toured was one of the Johnson's first homes.  It was a nice little brick house in the center of town that has been converted into a museum.  We learned a lot from the displays...he was Abraham Lincoln's Vice President, he became our 17th President when President Lincoln was killed, he was in office during the difficult years following the Civil War and had the task of trying to restore a divided nation.

Just across the street was the visitor center, which is also set up as a museum.  The Ranger on duty was great!  Super nice and a wealth of knowledge that he willingly shared with our kiddos :).  We watched the short film (yes, film...I like the old ones that are kinda scratchy) and then toured the building.  Or buildings, I should say!  It turns out that the visitor center was built in the 1920's around Johnson's tailor shop (from tailor to!).  The actual shop is inside the vc, perfectly preserved just as it stood in the 1800's.  I love that the park service didn't move it, but built around it instead.

Can you imagine all of the people whose footsteps have crossed that threshold?...

While at the vc, we learned that Johnson was the first President who faced an impeachment and why.  We also learned that the vote came down to just one.  One vote.  After learning the facts, we were each given a ballot to cast our own vote on the matter.  This was a powerful experience for the kids to see just how much their one vote counts. 

The kids finished up their books and after a fun conversation with the Ranger, he awarded them their badges and certificates :).

Such a good stop!  If you are traveling the US, with or without kids, I highly recommend stopping at these out of the way sites that have Junior Ranger programs...lots to learn about for us grown ups, too :)!

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