Monday, October 30, 2023

International Civil Rights Center and Museum

              (photographs are not permitted inside the museum)

On February 1, 1960 four black university students sat down at the lunch counter of the Greensboro, North Carolina Woolworth store and asked to be served. After their request was refused, they stayed in their seats until the store closed. The next day they were joined by twenty nine more students. By July the movement, which included boycotting Woolworth stores, had grown so big that the store manager was forced to quietly desegregate the lunch counter by asking four black employees to change out of their uniforms. sit at the counter, and order a meal. This broke the boycott and ended segregation in most Woolworth stores. While this was not the first effort to desegregate lunch counters the location is historically important because it inspired sit-ins in cities across the country and led to integration of lunch counters at Woolworth and other variety stores.  

When the museum opened in 2010 it could be visited by guided tour only and the exhibits were designed for that purpose therefore visitors not going on a tour must first watch a movie which is basically a taped tour. The exhibits do not have much information and most of the audio video displays can be activated by a tour guide only. The main part of the museum is kind of congested with small dead end areas. I think this design may be to demonstrate the dead ends faced by black people but when large groups visit it gets very crowded. There are no directional signs so it's a little confusing if you're not taking a guided tour.. After exiting the movie theater go to the door on the left, go through that exhibit area and take the elevator to the first floor. The path through the main exhibits will return you to the museum entrance lobby. We were disappointed in the lack of information and do not recommend this museum when there are many others that are much better. 

The museum is accessible. 

The museum is in downtown Greensboro. We've found that weekends are the best time to visit cities. Parking is more plentiful and sometime on street parking is free. We found an accessible, free spot a couple of block south at the corner of South Elm and West Washington Street which was long enough for our RV. There are also pay lots fairly close to the museum where RVs will fit. The sidewalks and curb cuts are in good condition. Museum  36.07174, -79.7904


Sunday, October 29, 2023

Virginia Museum of Natural History

Most of the exhibits in this small museum focus on dinosaurs and other extinct creatures. Virginia's natural and geological history is also covered with exhibits on six locations where fossils have been found. The most modern site has tools and artifacts from a Native American trash pit. The final exhibit is a collection of mounted animals from Africa donated by a supporter. 

The museum is accessible.

RVs will fit in the lot if backed over the grass or parked lengthwise across the spaces.  Museum 36.68661, -79.86395


Saturday, October 28, 2023

Booker T. Washington National Monument

Booker T. Washington was born on this tobacco farm in 1856 and spent the first nine years of his life as a slave. When a Union officer visited the farm in 1865 and read the Emancipation Proclamation to the farm owners and the slaves, Booker's mother gathered her children and they walked 225 miles to West Virginia to join her husband. Booker was finally able to go to school. By the time he was twenty he had become a teacher himself and five year later, he was chosen to head the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. The only buildings on the grounds were a rundown church and a shack but Washington's tireless efforts built the school into a large university offering a wide range of courses. 

The monument has a small museum, a reconstructed slave house, outbuildings, garden, tobacco field, animal pens, and a 1 1/2 mile trail. The exhibits in the museum are geared towards school groups. There's a theater where a short video about Washington's life can be viewed.
The museum and theater are accessible. The path to the slave house is paved and accessible. The path to the barn and animal pens is very steep. The 1 1/2 mile trail is gravel and natural surface and not accessible. 

 The parking lot has two long spaces for buses or RVs. Monument  37.11993, -79.73219


Friday, October 27, 2023

O. Winston Link Museum

In 1895 the owners of Norfolk and Western Railroad bought 400,000 acres of bituminous coal fields. Train tracks sprouted out from their headquarters in Roanoke, Virginia to dozens of coal mining towns in West Virginia and to coal distribution points and shipping centers. The N&W was one of the few railroad companies that built and maintained their own steam engines and hopper cars. They were also one of the last railroads to use steam and that's where O. Winston Link comes in. Link was a commercial photographer but his hobby was photographing the end of the steam era. His photographs are fantastic! Most are taken at night with multiple flash bulbs to get the exact lighting that he wanted. It could take days to set up the shots. The museum has a wonderful display of his photographs but photography is not permitted in the museum so click here if you want to see some.

The museum and visitor center are housed in the former N&W Passenger Station which was built in 1905 and renovated in 1949 by Raymond Loewy, an industrial designer who used steel and glass in his modernist design. Loewy had a long history with the railroad starting with streamlined shrouds he designed for passenger trains. He also designed passenger-car interiors and advertising material. An exhibit in the lobby of the station covers Loewy's life and career. Loewy and his company were prolific providing designs for everything from company logos to the living quarters of the space station.

The Loewy exhibit is free but there's a small charge for the Link exhibit and the changing exhibits which was about the history of hats when we visited. Pay in the gift shop. 


The museum is accessible.

The parking lot is small with signs designating the spa
ces for 15 minute parking. We asked about the parking time limit and we told to ignore that but since our RV would barely fit, we parked on Shenandoah Ave, a bit west of the museum near the elevated walkway that goes over the train tracks. Museum  37.2738, -79.93806

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

McCormick Farm

Robert McCormick moved from Pennsylvania to this North Carolina farm in 1779 and built a sawmill, a cider mill, a distillery, two grain mills, and a smokehouse His son, also Robert, added a brick manor house in the summer of 1822. The younger Robert was an inventor, a talent that his son Cyrus inherited. Cyrus and his helper, Jo Anderson, studied the reaper that Robert had invented and  produced an improved reaper that worked under all conditions. The first hand built models were sold in the 1840s but it wasn't until the 1850s that sales took off. By then Cyrus and his brothers and business partners, William and Leander, had moved to Chicago and built a factory which, in 1856, was producing more than 4000 reapers a year. With a reaper a farmers could harvest 12 acres a day; previously he could harvest only .5 acre a day. 

The McCormick family donated their farm to Virginia Tech in 1954. Eight original buildings still stand -  a grist mill, blacksmith shop, slave quarters, carriage house, manor house, smoke house, schoolroom, and housekeeper's quarter - but only the grist mill and blacksmith shop are regularly open to visitors. Other buildings may be open for special events.
 Nothing is accessible. The grist mill and blacksmith shop are located at the top of a hill, The ramp at the grist mill was installed to span a dip in the ground, not for wheelchair access as there isn't a large enough opening in the fence for a wheelchair. The bridge that spans the stream has steps. The nature trail has roots and rocks. 

RVs will fit in the parking lot as long as it's not busy.  Farm  37.93183, -79.21296


Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Frontier Culture Museum

The Frontier Culture Museum is an open air museum featuring a winding, paved road for walking or golf cart traffic and eleven buildings to explore along the way. The golf carts can be rented plus there are shuttles for another way to get around. Three farm buildings from England, Ireland and Germany have been dissembled, shipped to Virginia, and reassembled at the museum. An African village has been recreated. Three Virginia farm houses, a schoolhouse and a church have also been relocated to the property. 
The museum takes a different approach than most frontier museums. As visitors travel along the road they also travel through time, from Africa and Europe in the 1600s and 1700s, to a Native American village and Virginia farms of the 1700s and 1800s. Costumed interpreters explain the lifestyles of the people who lived in each house. 
The museum buildings are fairly accessible with ground level entrances. Some have two entrances to avoid steps in the interior. The terrain is hilly and there are some gravel paths so most wheelchair users will need assistance to see everything. The road does not make a loop. Backtracking is necessary making the distance about two miles out and back. The golf carts and shuttles are not accessible. Many of the stops have a spot where golf carts must be left. It can be a long hike to get from the cart parking spot to the buildings. 
 RVs will fit in the parking lot if parked through the spaces or lengthwise across the spaces.

The museum property was once a large farm where patients of the DeJarnette Sanatorium worked as a form of therapy. The farm had 1200 fruit trees, 20 acres of vegetables, a dairy and a stable of animals that included 60,000 chickens, 2,200 turkeys and ducks, 800 hogs and hundreds of cattle. The dairy barns are now a lecture hall. The hospital which was built in 1932 and closed in 1996 can be seen from the Virginia farms area. The cost to renovate or demolish the buildings is prohibitive so nothing is being done with them. Museum  38.12568, -79.05081


Monday, October 23, 2023

Seneca Rocks and Seneca Shadows Campground

The jagged  ridge of Seneca Rocks, jutting out of the thick foliage covering the rest of the mountain, dominates the view in the flat Potomac River valley. The sheerness, hardness, and height of the rock face draws rock climbers from all over the country. It's the only place in the eastern US that offers this kind of climbing challenge. For able bodied hikers there is another much easier way to the top of the rocks - a 1.3 mile trail that switchbacks up 700' to an observation platform. 

    Red arrows point to three climbers on the rock face. Yikes!

Seneca Rocks is managed by the National Forest Service. It features trails, a visitor center, a pioneer homestead, and a picnic area. Seneca Shadows Campground is located a few miles south. Amenities include tables, fire rings, restrooms, potable water, and a dump station. The terrain is hilly so few of the sites are level. The self-service pay station and the dump station (extra $7 fee) are kind of hard to find -almost at the end of the campground road. Look for signs for the turn. The reservation site indicates that most of the campsites are first come/first serve but we found many of them had reserved tags on the posts. There were still enough open sites for people who didn't reserve a site. 

The visitor center, which is accessible, has a few exhibits and a nice view of the rocks. A paved, accessible trail switchbacks down to a bridge over Seneca Creek and to the parking lot for the Seneca Rocks trailhead. The pioneer homestead is located at the north end of the lot. The homestead is not accessible due to the rough terrain and lack of a ramp at the house. 
The campsites parking pads are paved but very narrow. Some of the sites are marked as accessible on the reservation site but none of them are and the posts at the sites do not have an accessible designation. The double sites are accessible only because they're made wide enough to fit two units which is reflected in the much higher price. We looked for the most level site which was one with steps up to the table. It was also too narrow to deploy my lift. Campground 38.82798, -79.38656