Monday, March 31, 2008

Where the Underground Railroad was really Underground

As most readers already know, the term "Underground Railroad" did not refer to a real railroad that ran underground. It was the term given to the various routes by which escaped slaves tried to make their ways north to freedom during the decades leading up to the Civil War.
Most of these avenues of escape were above ground and few involved trains.
But in Florida, at least, there is evidence that at least part of the "Underground Railroad" was actually underground! Newspaper reports from the antebellum era indicate that the caves in and around today's Florida Caverns State Park were often used by escaped slaves as hiding places until they could begin their difficult journeys in search of freedom.
The escaped slaves were not alone in using the caves over the years. Local tradition is strong that they were also used by small groups of Native Americans to avoid capture during the Seminole Wars.
To learn more about the fascinating history of the Florida Caverns, please visit and look for the Florida Caverns heading.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Battle of Cane Hill, Arkansas

One of the least known major events of the Civil War in the West, the Battle of Cane Hill was fought on November 28, 1862, in Washington County, Arkansas.
The engagement involved more than 7,000 men and nearly forty pieces of artillery. Although it is often relegated to the status of a preliminary episode of the Battle of Prairie Grove, the Battle of Cane Hill was a significant encounter in its own right.
Although there is no battlefield park at Cane Hill, many areas associated with the battle can be seen. If you are interested in learning more, please visit

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Florida Caverns State Park - Marianna, Florida

Some of the most spectacular scenery in the Sunshine State can actually be found under the Sunshine State.

Florida Caverns State Park is located on Caverns Road in the beautiful old Southern city of Marianna, a historic antebellum community just off Interstate 10 between Tallahassee and Pensacola.

The park preserves a wide array of natural wonders and historic sites, including caves, rock shelters, archaeological sites, springs, flood plain forests, a natural bridge and more.

Our new Florida Caverns section is now onine at Just follow the link and you will see the heading on the main page.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Kolomoki Mounds - Ancient Civilization of South Georgia

Kolomoki Mounds State Park in Early County, Georgia (near Blakely), preserves one of the most impressive archaeological sites in North America.
Mound A (the main "Temple Mound," seen here) is one of the tallest and largest Native American earthworks in North America. The park also preserves a number of other prehistoric mounds, one of which has been excavated and enclosed in a museum to give visitors a chance to learn more about the unique Kolomoki culture.
At the time the mound group was occupied (before 1,000 A.D.), Kolomoki may have been the largest Native American civilization north of Mexico. The mounds were constructed to form a giant astronomical observatory for use in determining the longest and shortest days of the year.
If you would like to learn more about Kolomoki, please visit our section on the mounds at

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Happy Easter!

I'm going to take a break from blogging for a few days to observe Good Friday and Easter.
I hope you all have a good, safe and blessed weekend. I'll resume posting on Monday.
If you are interested in learning more about the Southern legend about the beautiful dogwood tree and its connection to Easter, you might enjoy reading an older article of mine that is now available through the website of the Jackson County Times, a weekly newspaper based in Marianna, Florida. To visit the site, just click

Shepard's Mill - Greensboro, Florida

Water-powered gristmills were once common fixtures of most Southern communities and a few can still be seen today. Ones that actually still operate as commercial entities, however, are extremely rare.
This photograph shows historic Shepard's Mill, located on Telogia Creek just outside of Greensboro, Florida (a few miles off Interstate 10, west of Tallahassee).
Built in 1875, the mill still operates as a commercial gristmill, grinding grits and corn meal for sale around the world through its internet store. Although it is not open to the public on most days, it can easily be seen from Florida Highway 12, which literally runs right past the mill doors.
To learn more about historic Shepard's Mill, please visit

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Roaring River State Park - Cassville, Missouri

One of the most beautiful natural and historic settings in the Ozarks can be found at Roaring River State Park near Cassville, Missouri.
This strikingly beautiful state park is only 20 miles from Eureka Springs and about 50 miles from Branson, two of the most popular destinations in the South.
Covering thousands of acres of beautiful mountain and valley scenery, the park is centered around Roaring River Spring. The 20th largest spring in Missouri, Roaring River Spring flows from a fascinating cavern and forms one of the most popular trout fishing streams in the Ozarks.
To learn more about this beautiful Missouri state park, visit our new Roaring River page. You can access it by visiting Just follow either the Branson, Missouri or Eureka Springs, Arkansas heading and you will find a link for Roaring River State Park.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Spring at Big Cedar - Branson, Missouri

The redbuds are showing across the Ozarks and it looks like it is going to be a beautiful spring.
This photo shows some of the waterfalls and spring blooms at Big Cedar Resort near Branson, Missouri.
Big Cedar is unique among many of the resorts in the Branson area because in addition to its amenities, it offers a rich history. The beautifully landscaped resort is set in the Big Cedar Hollow and surrounds historic Devil's Pool.
The hollow was first developed as a private retreat during the 1920s by Harry Worman and Jude Simmons, two successful Missouri businessmen. Worman was an executive with the Frisco Railroad and Simmons was an brilliant entrepreneur. The two men built homes in the hollow, much to the chagrin of Worman's socialite wife. It is said that her unhappy ghost inhabits the grounds to this day.
To learn more about Big Cedar and its fascinating history, please visit our Branson section at You will find links to Big Cedar Resort and a number of other historic sites in the Branson area.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Robbers Cave State Park - Oklahoma

Robbers Cave State Park is one of Oklahoma's most fascinating and picturesque historic areas.
Located near the town of Wilburton in the Sans Bois Mountains of eastern Oklahoma, the park preserves thousands of acres of beautiful mountain scenery, including unusual caves and rock formations. According to local legend, the park area was a hideout for the notorious "Old West" outlaws Jesse James and Belle Starr.
It is certainly possible. James was active in nearby Arkansas and Starr lived for a time in a cabin about 20 miles north of the park. Positive proof, though, is difficult to come by.
Giving the park an interesting modern distinction is the fact that it was named one of America's most romantic spots by a major national magazine a few years ago.
Our new Robbers Cave State Park pages are now online at Just follow the link and look for the heading.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Torreya State Park - Florida

One of the most beautiful settings in Florida can be found on the high bluffs of Torreya State Park.
Overlooking the Apalachicola River between the towns of Chattahoochee and Bristol, Torreya preserves thousands of acres of unique natural and historical settings and is one of Florida's premier state park facilities.
The park takes its unique name from the presence here of the extremely rare Florida Torreya tree. According to local legend, the Torreya is the gopher wood from which Noah built the Ark. It is an interesting legend because botonists know that the Torreya is one of the oldest and rarest species of tree on the earth. It is just one of a number of rare and unique plants that live in the park.
Torreya is also the home of the restored 1849 Gregory House (seen here). One of the finest examples of antebellum architecture in Florida, it is one of the few such structures in the state that are open to the public. Nearby can be seen the earthworks of Civil War artillery emplacements.
To learn more about Torreya State Park and to see additional pictures, please visit and look for the heading on the main page.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Atlanta Storms

Our prayers go out to everyone caught in the Atlanta storms and apparent tornado tonight. It sounds at this point like most of the injuries are minor and hopefully it will stay that way. Much damage was done, though, and many people in downtown Atlanta have been forced from their hotels and homes.

Please remember them in your prayers. If you wish to help, donations in situations like this can always be made through the American Red Cross at

New List of 10 Most Endangered Battlefields Released

The Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) has released its 2008 list of the nation's 10 Most Endangered Civil War Battlefields.

Included on this year's list are two sites with special sections at Here is the list of the Top 10, with links to the sites we have visited and included on our pages so far:

To read more about the list and the CWPT, you can visit their website by clicking here.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Muskogee Azalea Festival - Muskogee, Oklahoma

The 2008 Muskogee Azalea Festival in Muskogee, Oklahoma, is set to begin on April 1st.
The festival features more than 30,000 blooming azaleas representing more than 600 different varieties and is one of the top annual events in the South. Each year it draws hundreds of thousands of people.
The festival begins on April 1st and runs through April 30th. The parade this year will be on April 12th, which is usually about the peak of the blooming season.
To learn more about this fantastic annual event, please visit and look for the Muskogee Azalea Festival heading at the top of the page.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Branson, Missouri - History and Music in the Ozarks

While many people have heard of Branson, Missouri - the "Live Country Music Capital of the Universe" according to 60 Minutes - few realize that the Branson area is rich in history and culture.

The Branson area was the setting for the novel The Shepherd of the Hills, one of the best-selling books in American history. In fact, it was the book that first began bringing tourists to this section of the Ozarks. They came to see the landscape and hill cabins described in the novel and fell in love with the area, creating the modern Branson tourist industry.
Branson is home to numerous historic sites and natural wonders, as well as its scores of noted musical and live entertainment theaters. To learn more about the history of this fascinating area and some "off the beaten path" historical attractions, please visit our newly expanded Branson section at Just look for the Branson heading on the main page.

Little River Canyon, Part Three

This is another view from along the Canyon Rim Drive at Little River Canyon National Preserve in Alabama.
The park is one of the nation's newest national park areas and is still developing, but is quite popular with visitors already.
Sometimes called the "Grand Canyon of the East," the Little River Canyon is unique because it was created by a mountain that flows almost entirely across a mountain top. Over thousands of years, the river carved the massive canyon into Lookout Mountain. The gorge is 12 miles long and up to 600 feet deep.
The river itself falls more than 650 feet over 12 miles, creating one of the finest whitewater streams in the South (especially in late winter and early spring when the river is flowing strong).
If you are interested in reading more about Little River Canyon National Preserve, please visit

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Little River Canyon, Part Two

This view was taken from the first overlook on the Canyon Rim Drive at Little River Canyon National Preserve in Alabama. The waterfall in the distance is Little River Falls.
Canyon Rim Drive (Alabama Highway 176) is an eleven mile drive along the west rim of Little River Canyon. It can be accessed from Highway 35 and is only about half an hour from Fort Payne and Interstate 59.
The drive follows the canyon rim and gives drivers the chance to stop at a series of overlooks where they can take in spectacular views of the canyon. The first overlook offers a distant view of Little River Falls. Although a much better view of the falls can be obtained by visiting the falls parking lot across the river where a paved trail leads down to a viewing platform and the actual falls.
Our series on Little River Canyon will continue tomorrow. Until then you can read more by visiting

Little River Falls - Alabama

One of the most beautiful places in the South in any season, but especially in the spring, is Little River Falls (seen here).
Located in the Little River Canyon National Preserve near Fort Payne, Alabama. The falls tumble 45-feet over the rim of Little River Canyon. They are rich in history and powered a watermill during the 1800s.
The falls are located where Highway 35 crosses the Little River near Fort Payne. They are only about 30 minutes from Interstate 59 and are among the most accessible waterfalls in the South.
To read more about Little River Falls and Little River Canyon, please click here: We will look at other sites around the canyon over the coming days.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Moss Hill Methodist Church - Florida

This beautiful old structure is Moss Hill United Methodist Church.
Located near the town of Vernon in Northwest Florida and the center of an area known as Holmes Valley, the old church was built during the 1850s and is one of the oldest standing church structures in Florida. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
We have just launched a new page on Moss Hill at as part of the site we are donating to the Washington County Historical Society. You can take a look by going to and looking for the Moss Hill heading.

Friday, March 7, 2008

The Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas

Today is the 146th anniversary of the Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas.

Sometimes called the Battle of Elkhorn Tavern, this massive engagement was found in Northwest Arkansas on March 7-8, 1862 between the Confederate army of Gen. Earl Van Dorn and the Union army of Gen. Samuel Curtis.

The battle raged over thousands of acres for two days before a Union attack finally forced a Confederate retreat. One of the largest Civil War battles fought west of the Mississippi River and also one of the largest battles of the war, Pea Ridge is generally credited with preserving the state of Missouri for the Union. It also opened the door for further Union invasion of Arkansas.

To read more about the Battle of Pea Ridge, please visit our section on Pea Ridge National Military Park at We also are beginning a series on the battle today at our sister blog, Arkansas in the Civil War.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Remembering the Battle of Natural Bridge, Florida

Today is the anniversary of the March 6, 1865, Battle of Natural Bridge, Florida. This engagement was the last significant Confederate victory of the Civil War and preserved Tallahassee's status as the only Southern capital east of the Mississippi not captured by Union forces.
The battle was fought along the banks of the St. Marks River near the town of Woodville (south of Tallahassee). The site is preserved today as the Natural Bridge Battlefield State Historic Park.
To learn more about the battle, please visit our Natural Bridge pages by clicking here. You also might enjoy reading today's postings at Civil War Florida. I'll be posting throughout the day there on the history of the battle.

Remember the Alamo! - Fall of the Texas shrine took place 172 years ago today

On this date in history, 172 years ago, the Alamo was stormed and captured by Mexican soldiers during the Texas Revolution.
The attack took place before daylight on the morning of March 6, 1836 when General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna sent four columns of troops to attack the old fortified mission. The battle was bloody for both sides, but when the smoke cleared, the defenders of the Alamo had been wiped out. Among the dead were such legendary American heroes as David Crockett, Jim Bowie and William Barret Travis.
To read more about this epic American battle, please visit

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Remembering the Alamo

In the year 1836, this date (March 5th) was the last full day of life for the defenders of the Alamo. By sunrise the next morning, they would fall and begin their journey from revolutionaries and soldiers to legends.
After nearly two weeks of siege, the Mexican army had tightened its ring around the fortified mission in San Antonio, Texas, and on March 5, 1836, General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna met with his staff and made his final decision to carry the Alamo by storm. He would attack before dawn the next morning.
To read more about the Alamo and see additional photos of this Texas shrine, please visit our Alamo pages at Just follow the link and look for the Alamo picture and heading.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Possum Monument - Wausau, Florida

This nicely carved stone beside State Highway 77 in Wausau, Florida is undoubtedly the Sunshine State's most unusual monument.

It is dedicated to the possum (or opossum, for our Northern friends), that creature often seen in the woods and swamps (and paved highways) of the South.

Erected in 1982, the monument pays tribute to the marsupial for its role in providing food to area residents in good times and bad. Wausau, in fact, calls itself the Possum Capital of the World and hosts a famed Fun Day and Possum Festival on the first Saturday of August each year.

To learn more about the possum monument, please visit our new Washington County, Florida pages at and just look for the heading!

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Battle of Natural Bridge, Florida

This week marks the 143rd anniversary of the Battle of Natural Bridge, Florida. Fought along the St. Marks River on March 6, 1865, the battle preserved Tallahassee's status as the only Confederate capital east of the Mississippi not taken by Union troops during the Civil War. It also was the last significant Confederate victory of the war.

We have a complete section on Natural Bridge available at Just follow the link to the main page and you will see the special heading there.

In addition to exploring the battlefield itself, the Natural Bridge section includes many photographs of other points of interest associated with the battle, including the beautiful St. Marks Lighthouse, the St. Marks River, the old Spanish fort of San Marcos de Apalache and the Tallahassee-St. Marks "rails to trails" project.
If you are interested in reading in depth about the battle, please consider my book, The Battle of Natural Bridge, Florida, now available through, or for order through most bookstores.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Falling Waters State Park - Chipley, Florida

Our new page for Falling Waters State Park in Chipley, Florida is now online at
If you aren't familiar with this park, it is one of the most unique in the Sunshine State. Falling Waters protects the Florida's tallest waterfall. Seen here, the falls are created when a small stream flows over the edge of a deep cylindrical sink. The water plunges down 73 feet before disappearing into a cave.
Just a few minutes off Interstate 10 in Northwest Florida, the park is well worth a visit this time of year, when the waterfall is usually flowing well. (One note: like many Florida streams, the one feeding the waterfall flows better at some times of the year than others.)
To visit our new Falling Waters page and to see other points of interest around Chipley, Florida, please go to: and look for the heading.