Monday, April 28, 2008

Spring Travel Part Six: Roaring River State Park

This is part six of a continuing spring travel series on some of my favorite spots of historic interest in the South.
Roaring River State Park is one of the most absolutely beautiful places I've ever seen. Located just outside of Cassville, Missouri, the park is only 20 miles from Eureka Springs, Arkansas and 50 miles from Branson, Missouri.
The Roaring River rises here, from a spring deep within a cave in the park. Walkways lead visitors up to the mouth of the picturesque cave and the crystal clear water is stunning. A noted trout fishing haven, the park is home to a fishery where visitors can see thousands of trout in all stages of growth. The river itself is so clear that the fish can be seen from dozens of yards away.
Historically, Roaring River contains important Native American sites and the locations of early mills. The park also contains a beautiful array of historic Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) constructed structures dating from the Great Depression.
To learn more about this beautiful state park located in the Ozarks of Missouri, please visit

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Final Days of Special Book Sale

Just a quick reminder that if you would like copies of any of my 2007 books, now is a great time to purchase them at special prices, but time is running out!
To celebrate the upcoming release of my new The History of Jackson County, Florida: Volume One, my publisher is having a special online sale on the three books published last year.
The sale includes Two Egg, Florida, The Battle of Marianna, Florida and The Battle of Natural Bridge, Florida and all are available at the lower prices you will find this year.
The special offer ends ends this coming week, so if you would like to take advantage of it, please do before April 30th. Normal prices remain in effect in bookstores and other online sellers.
For more information and to order, please visit

Spring Travel Part Five: Vicksburg, Mississippi

This is part five of a special spring series on some of my favorite heritage tourism destinations in the South.
Vicksburg, Mississippi, is perhaps the most impressive Civil War site in America. Home to a beautiful, historic site and Vicksburg National Military Park, the city is an outstanding place to explore the history of the war that divided America and to learn about the experiences of Southern citizens who lived for months in a city under siege.
The National Military Park features miles of fortifications, entrenchments, artillery batteries and zig zag approach trenches, all dating from the 1863 siege that resulted in the fall of the important Confederate post on the Mississippi River The park also features an outstanding museum housing the wreck of the Union ironclad U.S.S. Cairo.
Other points of interest in Vicksburg include historic homes, the beautiful Old Courthouse Museum, a charming downtown district, a welcome center overlooking the Mississippi River, boat tours and more. There are numerous museums and historic sites, as well as plenty of modern accommodations, dining establishments, etc.
To learn more about Vicksburg, Mississippi, please visit

Friday, April 25, 2008

Spring Travel Part Four: Historic Blakeley State Park

One of the least known major battles of the Civil War took place in the sandy pine woods of South Alabama (or as they like to say around Mobile, "LA" or "Lower Alabama").

The Battle of Blakeley, sometimes called the Battle of Fort Blakely, was fought in April of 1865 and lasted for several days.

Blakeley had once been one of the most populous towns in Alabama and had vied with Mobile in importance during the state's early history, but yellow fever epidemics had virtually destroyed the town by the time of the Civil War. The site was of strategic importance, however, and the Confederates fortified it with artillery batteries, earthwork forts, rifle pits and miles of breastworks.

Although a siege had been underway for several days, the final assault began on the evening of April 8, 1865. The next day, Union troops stormed Redoubt #4 and broke through the Confederate lines in a bloody battle that left 216 men dead and 955 wounded.

The battlefield today is a fascinating and pristine state park that preserves an impressive network of breastworks, fortifications and battery sites, including the Union attack trenches and batteries. In addition, Historic Blakeley State Park protects the site of the original town of Blakeley, the old town cemetery, Native American sites and more. To learn more about this fascinating place that I consider one of the finest destinations of its type in the South, please visit

Spring Travel Part Three: The Blue Ridge Parkway

Continuing our Spring Travel series on places of historic interest around the South, our post today features the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Stretching from the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina to the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, the 469 mile long parkway winds its way across the crest of the Blue Ridge and is one of the most spectacular drives in the world.
The entire route is rich in history. Daniel Boone and other early frontiersmen explored these mountains and numerous groups of Native Americans lived along the route of the parkway. The National Park Service preserves a wide variety of historic sites as part of the parkway, ranging from pioneer cabins and Native American sites to historic village sites and one of America's most beautiful old gristmills.
To read more about the Blue Ridge Parkway, please visit

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Spring Travel Part Two: Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Eureka Springs, a beautiful Victorian community nestled in the rolling Ozark hills of Northwest Arkansas, is one of the most beloved destinations in the South.
Founded during the late 1800s as a health resort, Eureka Springs today offers a wide variety of historic sites, beautiful architecture, restored springs as well as an array of unique restaurants, bed and breakfast inns, historic hotels and more.
The entire downtown area is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, for good reason. There are few communities from the late 1800s that are as well preserved as Eureka Springs.
To learn more about Eureka Springs, Arkansas, including some of its resident ghosts, please visit

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Spring Travel Part One: Poverty Point, Louisiana

Since spring is now here and everyone seems ready to shake off the winter blahs and explore a little, I thought I would take the next couple of weeks and share some of my favorite places in the South with you.

Poverty Point State Historic Site in northeastern Louisiana is one of the most impressive archaeological sites not just in the United States, but in the world. Located only about a half hour's drive north of Interstate 20 just west of Vicksburg, Mississippi, the park preserves the site of a Native American civilization that thrived some 3,000 years ago.

What makes Poverty Point so unique is that it preserves the mounds and earthworks of a civilization that thrived even before its inhabitants developed such things as pottery. The largest mound at the site rises over 72 feet above the surrounding farmland and was designed in the form of a giant bird. It overlooks a village site that was built atop a series of six semicircular concentric earthworks.

The park is extremely well maintained and offers a very nice interpretive center, paved walking trails, guided tours and a tram tour of the mounds. To learn more, please visit

Friday, April 18, 2008

New Book Released: The Battle of Massard Prairie

I'm pleased to announce the publication of my latest Civil War book, The Battle of Massard Prairie.

The book explores the history of a fascinating battle that took place on the outskirts of Fort Smith, Arkansas on July 27, 1864.

The Battle of Massard Prairie was one of the most dramatic Confederate victories of the Civil War in Arkansas and was especially significant because: 1) it included a mass cavalry charge across miles of open ground, 2) white and Native American Confederate soldiers fought side by side and 3) it resulted in one of the few documented cases of Union soldiers scalping Southern dead.

This book was completed a little over one year ago and is being published by Yuchi Heritage of Florida. The profits are being donated to various historic preservation efforts. 50% will go to the development of a new Driving Tour of the Cane Hill Battlefield in Arkansas and the rest will go to other worthwhile projects.

The book is available now at (just look for the Battle of Massard Prairie heading), where you can also learn more about the battle. It will be available at the gift shop of Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park in Arkansas in 7-10 days and will begin to pop up on the various online bookstores over the next month or so. Additional locations will be announced soon.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Last Battle of the American Revolution

If you spend much time reading about the American Revolution you will quickly notice that several different encounters claim the distinction of being the "last battle of the American Revolution."

I thought in honor of the 233rd anniversary of the official beginning of the Revolution at Lexington and Concord on April 18, 1775, it might be of interest to visit the topic of the final battle.

If you search "last battle" and "American Revolution" on Google, you will come up with all kinds of answers. One source (obviously wrong!) says it was the Battle of Yorktown in 1781. Chattanooga, Tennessee, points to an engagement on Lookout Mountain in 1782. Kentucky claims the Battle of Blue Licks as the final battle and Florida recently erected a marker for its own candidate, a 1783 naval engagement off Cape Canaveral.

As best I can tell, the Battle of Arkansas Post in Arkansas was the real final battle of the American Revolution. The naval battle off Cape Canaveral, Florida, was fought on March 10, 1783, but five weeks later on April 16, 1783, a party of British-allied irregulars approached Arkansas Post. Sometimes remembered as "Colbert's Raid," the battle began before sunrise on the morning of April 17, 1783 and resulted in the last known shots and last known casualties of the American Revolution.

If you would like to read more, please visit

If anyone is aware of a documented incident that took place after April 17, 1783, I would love to hear about it!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Heavener Runestone - Relic of Vikings in Oklahoma?

One of the most unusual historic sites in the South can be found in a mountain ravine in the little community of Heavener, Oklahoma.
Heavener Runestone State Park protects a massive rock marked by mysterious carvings. Some believe they were left by Viking explorers and theorize that ancient Norsemen sailed across the Atlantic, around Florida into the Gulf of Mexico, up the Mississippi and Arkansas Rivers and finally up the Poteau River to Heavener.
Others believe the whole story is a bit of a stretch.
Either way, Heavener Runestone is a fascinating site and will probably inspire debate for decades to come. If you would like to learn more about this unusual Oklahoma State Park, please visit our new Heavener Runestone pages at

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Muskogee Azalea Festival Update

The 2008 Muskogee Azalea Festival is underway in Muskogee, Oklahoma. I'm receiving quite a few emails about this year's event, so I'm posting an update online to help anyone who is thinking about visiting the festival.
The azaleas and dogwoods are now moving into full bloom at Honor Heights Park and should really be spectacular over about the next 10 days or so. As you can see here, many are already in full bloom and others should be over the next few days.
Any time over the next 10-14 days should be ideal for a visit. There is one thing that you should keep in mind. A severe ice storm badly damaged Honor Heights Park this winter, destroying and damaging trees and shrubs (and many of the tends of thousands of azaleas). As a result the appearance of the park is a little different this year. Let me say, though, that the park employees have done a phenomenal job of cleaning up the damage and replanting in time for this year's festival. I hope if you are considering going, you will do so and show your support for this event that has become one of the truly spectacular festivals in the South.
The Muskogee Azalea Festival will continue through April 30th. For more information, to see photographs of this year's festival and for directions to Honor Heights Park, please follow this link:

Friday, April 11, 2008

Annual Muskogee Azalea Festival Parade is Saturday

The annual Muskogee Azalea Festival is in full swing in Muskogee, Azalea. Despite the storms this past week, the skies have cleared and the flowers are coming out nicely.
This will be the big weekend of the festival, although Honor Heights Park presents its annual display of tens of thousands of blooms for the rest of April..
The annual parade is set for Saturday (tomorrow) morning at 11 a.m. in downtown Muskogee. More than 80 floats are expected to be part of this year's parade.
For more on the festival, which is one of the top annual events in the South, please visit and look for the heading on the main page.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Two Egg, Florida

It could very well be called America's hometown because no one seems to be able to so much as hear a mention of the quaint little community of Two Egg, Florida and not feel a smile cross their face.
Two Egg is located in Jackson County, about one hour west of Tallahassee. It is a place with no city services, no city taxes, no city restrictions and no city bad manners.
Founded before the Civil War, the community did not receive its unique name until the Great Depression. Today it is little more than a crossroads, but it may very well be the biggest little spot on the map in all of the American South!
If you would like to learn more about Two Egg, Florida (including the story of its unusual name), please visit our new website at

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Special Sale on Books by Dale Cox

To celebrate the upcoming April 30th release of my looooooooooong awaited multi-volume book, The History of Jackson County, Florida, is having a special sale this month on my 2007 releases.

Included in the sale are:

  • The Battle of Marianna, Florida - Regularly $19.95; On Sale for $15.
  • The Battle of Natural Bridge, Florida: The Confederate Defense of Tallahassee - Regularly $19.95; On Sale For $15.
  • Two Egg, Florida: A Collection of Ghost Stories, Legends and Unusual Facts - Regularly $16.95; On Sale for $12.
For the first time, a package deal on all three is also available for $40.

This sale is for a limited time only and will end with the release of the new book on April 30th. It is available only through Prices through stores and other outlets remain as normal.

If you would like a copy of any or all of these books, this likely the best price you will find this year.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Columbus, Georgia and the Last Major Battle of the Civil War

It is a little known fact that the last major battle of the Civil War was fought for control of the city of Columbus, Georgia.
The last major Southern industrial center, Columbus was attacked by Union forces on Easter Sunday, April 16, 1865. Confederate forces fought to defend the city and a major battle erupted.
The battle was fought after both the surrender of Robert E. Lee and the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.
Also called the Battle of Girard, the Battle of Columbus was a Union victory and resulted in the fall of Columbus and destruction of the nearly-finished ironclad C.S.S. Jackson. Although several smaller encounters took place over the following weeks, the fight was the last major battle of the Civil War.
If you would like to learn more, our new Battle of Columbus page is now available at

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Arkansas Post National Memorial - Gillett, Arkansas

One of the most fascinating and historic places in America is Arkansas Post National Memorial. Located near the community of Gillett, Arkansas, the memorial preserves the site of one of the oldest settlements west of the Mississippi.
Founded by the French during the late 1600s, Arkansas Post was the site of a series of French, Spanish, American and Confederate forts and settlements.
In 1783, the last battle of the American Revolution was fought here when a force of 100 white and Native American British allies attacked the American-allied Spanish garrison of Fort Carlos III. The Spanish prevailed, but the last known casualties of the American Revolution took place.
During the Civil War, Arkansas Post became the site of Fort Hindman, a major Confederate fortification. Control of the site was taken by the Union army in a two day 1863 battle involving a flotilla of Union warships and nearly 40,000 men.
To learn more about Arkansas Post National Memorial and its rich history, please visit our new Arkansas Post pages at

Friday, April 4, 2008

Muskogee Azalea Festival - Weather now available

The next two weeks are the traditional height of the Muskogee Azalea Festival in Muskogee, Oklahoma.
Because the area is having a LOT of rain this spring, I've added a weather section to our page on the festival to help you better plan your travel if you are planning to visit this year's festival.
It is available, along with other information, at

Maclay Gardens - Tallahassee, Florida

A reader let me know that there were problems with the link I gave this week for Maclay Gardens State Park in Tallahassee. Sorry about that!
Here is the correct link for you: I also corrected it in the original link.
If you are interested in visiting Maclay Gardens while the spring blooming season is still underway, they are very easy to reach from Interstate 10. Just travel to Tallahassee on Interstate 10 and exit onto U.S. 319 North (Thomasville Road). The gardens are ahead just one-half mile on your left.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Annual Muskogee Azalea Festival is Underway

The 2008 Muskogee Azalea Festival in Muskogee, Oklahoma, is now underway. The annual event runs from April 1st - April 30th.
The main weekend this year will be April 12-13. That's when the parade and other major events will take place and usually also signals the peak of the blooming season.
This event is one of the finest outdoor festivals in the South and takes place each year at historic Honor Heights Park in Muskogee.
For more information on this year's festival, please visit and look for the Muskogee Azalea Festival heading on the home page.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Lake Jackson Mounds - Tallahassee, Florida

As we roam the highways and byways of the South, we are occassionally reminded that we were not the first to build cities on this land. Native American sites dot the landscape.

Among the most impressive of these sites are the long abandoned ceremonial centers of the Mississippian era (A.D. 900 - A.D. 1540). These mound complexes can be found in every Southern state and have survived for more than 500 years as silent reminders that an advanced civilization once stretched from Oklahoma to the Atlantic Ocean and from the Gulf of Mexico to the Midwest.

Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park in Tallahassee, Florida, preserves the surviving mounds of one of these ceremonial complexes. Probably occupied by the ancestors of the Apalachee that the Spanish found living in the Tallahassee region when they first entered Florida, the Lake Jackson Mounds comprise one of the most impressive Native American heritage sites in Florida and the Deep South.

Our new Lake Jackson Mounds page is now online at To learn more, just follow the link.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Maclay Gardens - Tallahassee, Florida

Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park in Tallahassee, Florida is one of the most spectacular locations in the South, especially during the spring.

Once called Killearn, the gardens are considered "masterpiece of floral architecture." They were conceived and planted by Alfred B. Maclay beginning in the 1920s. Maclay and his wife, Louise, purchased the Killearn estate as a winter home and planted their first camellia in 1924. They conceived turning the grounds into a spectacular array of color timed to bloom from February to April of each year (the months of their annual visits).

By the time Mr. Maclay died in 1944, the gardens had become one of the true landmarks of the South. Mrs. Maclay and her children donated the 307 acres to the people of Florida in 1953. Today they form the centerpiece of Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park.

If you would like to learn more about this stunningly beautiful state park located in Tallahassee, please visit