US Presidents Historic Sites – Visiting the Harry Truman Library and Museum

This is one in a series of travelogue articles spotlighting U.S. Presidents historic sites. Each president has at least one historic site, and they are an ideal destination for those interested in American history and cultural travel. Let’s take a closer look at the sites dedicated to America’s 33rd president, Harry Truman…

Visiting the Two Truman Historic Sites

Harry Truman was born and raised in Independence, Missouri, a small community about fifteen miles east of metro Kansas City. Fittingly, the two sites dedicated to him are both here, his family home and the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum.

The family home has undergone significant preservation and renovation to better portray the historical aspects of Truman’s life both before and after his presidency. After his wife Bess passed away in 1983, the home became an official historic site. The home is open for tours and is conveniently located on North Main Street in Independence. Thirty minute tours are offered for a nominal fee. Groups are kept small, with a maximum of eight participants per tour to provide a more personalized experience.

Not far from the family home is the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum. This is where visitors can view numerous permanent and temporary exhibits depicting Truman’s time in office from 1945 to 1953. New and enhanced audio and video are available and a special exhibit on the Korean War has been added.

A particularly interesting exhibit reveals the personal side of the president. Numerous letters to his wife Bess are displayed, showing the humor of Mr. Truman along with his thoughts on Washington, the presidency, and world events. You will also learn how a man with modest ambitions came to ascend first to the vice presidency and then to president, an office he never sought.

Visiting Nearby Kansas City

These historic presidential sites are perfect to combine with a visit to Kansas City, about twenty minutes west of Independence. A lively, bustling metropolis, Kansas City is well known for its musical influence, particularly jazz, and world class barbecue. If live music and great food appeals to you, you’ll love Kansas City!

Accommodations are plentiful and the downtown area is quite compact, although you will need a car to explore other parts of the city and suburbs. There are numerous entertainment and shopping districts here, including The Plaza and the Power and Light District. The Plaza, in midtown, is a Spanish styled open air shopping mecca filled with stores, boutiques, bars, and restaurants. You can easily spend an afternoon and evening here exploring all there is to see and do.

For authentic barbecue, Kansas City is hard to beat. We recommend Rosedale Barbecue, near the state line and convenient to mid town. Pork sandwiches, ribs, and smoked sausage in on the menu in plentiful portions and blue collar prices. There are scores of barbecue restaurants in the metro area, so sample a few and decide on your own which you like best.

For nightlife in Kansas City, stop in at one of the many jazz clubs or head to Westport, a shopping destination during the day and a lively bar scene at night. One of the oldest taverns in the midwest is right in the heart of Westport, Kelly’s Westport Inn. It’s a real slice of Kansas City and lots of fun at night.

Summary

For a great historical travel destination, consider the two Harry Truman presidential sites in Independence, Missouri. A trip here is easily combined with nearby Kansas City, a world class destination for great music and barbecue.

US Presidents Sites – Visiting the Abraham Lincoln Sites in Springfield Illinois

This is another in a series of travelogue articles about historical sites dedicated to American presidents. Join us as we visit Springfield, Illinois to visit the sites of arguably America’s most well known and popular president, Abraham Lincoln…

An Overview Of Springfield’s Lincoln Sites

Located in central Illinois along Interstate 55, Springfield is the home of three distinct sites relating to America’s 16th president, Abraham Lincoln. Anyone traveling on I-55 to Chicago or St. Louis should take a half day at minimum to explore the life and presidency of Lincoln and learn about his influence that is still felt today.

The three sites are located fairly close to one another in the general area of downtown Springfield. They are the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, and Lincoln’s Tomb. Even if you only have a couple of hours to spend, you can easily see all three sites. Let’s take a closer look at each.

The Museum And Library

Open for just a few years, the Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library is a fascinating portrayal of the presidents life, political career, and ongoing legacy. Here you will find the most comprehensive collection of Lincoln artifacts and memorabilia anywhere. There is an introductory multi media presentation which provides a general overview, and numerous permanent and temporary galleries depicting life during the Civil War and the many challenges during his administration.

The Museum also explores the presidency in general. Many exhibits are rotated from other presidential libraries, so expect to see something different each time you visit.

The Lincoln Home

About eight blocks from the museum is the small two story house where the family lived immediately before Lincoln assumed the presidency in 1861. It is administered by the National Park Service and guided tours are given throughout the day. The home has been restored to its original appearance and quite a few of the furnishings are original.

The tours are free, but you must obtain an admission ticket at the adjacent visitors center. Tours of the immediate historic neighborhood are also available, where you can literally trace the footsteps of Lincoln when he lived here.

Final Resting Place

After the longest funeral procession in American history, before or since, the president was laid to rest in Springfield’s Oak Ridge Cemetery. The cemetery is about a mile from downtown, and you will see the 117 foot tall granite monument as you enter. The president is interred here along with many of his family members.

Visitors from around the world continually visit all three sites. While in Springfield, you should also visit the downtown shopping district with many unique, independent shops. Other sites worthy of a visit are also downtown, including Lincoln’s law office, the former Illinois capitol building, and the current capitol.

A great place for lunch is the popular Boone’s Uptown Grill, just a block from the current state capitol building. Try the famous horseshoe sandwich, a hearty concoction of toast points, ham, turkey, cheese, and french fries. It’s a Springfield original!

Summary

A visit to Springfield, Illinois to see the Lincoln sites is an ideal trip for those interested in presidential and American history. The three main sites are within a mile or so of one another and can be easily visited in a half day. While you’re there, be sure to enjoy the shopping in downtown Springfield and lunch or dinner at one of the convenient independent restaurants.

US Presidents Sites – Visiting the William McKinley Presidential Museum in Canton, Ohio

The McKinley Presidential Library and Museum is unlike any other presidential museum. Originally intended solely as the final resting place for our 25th president, it has effectively reinvented itself as a museum campus of sorts. The site appeals to not only those interested in McKinley and presidential history, but students of other scientific disciplines as well.

Located not far from Interstate 77 in Canton, Ohio, the towering memorial can be seen for miles. McKinley was tragically assassinated in September, 1901 and was laid to rest in a temporary tomb until a suitable memorial could be planned and built. Six years later, the McKinley Memorial was dedicated, and it is where the president and his family are entombed.

Today, fitness enthusiasts walk or jog the 108 steps leading to the entrance of the memorial, and it is a popular gathering place for school groups, continuing education classes, and visitors. On site, the visitor will find an active planetarium, exhibit space dedicated to McKinley memorabilia, and rotating exhibits focused on various aspects of American history.

One of the more popular attractions is the Street of Shops, a museum like exhibit of shops circa 1900. Various artifacts from that time period are displayed, like early model fire engines and machinery used in that era. There is also a museum shop on site which carries a wide variety of items appealing to all interest levels.

The site is open daily and there is a nominal admission charge. Visitors should allow about an hour to see all the various exhibits, which rotate frequently and often feature items from the Smithsonian and other presidential museums.

While McKinley and his family once owned a home in Canton and planned to return here after his second term as president, the home was not preserved and no longer exists. The home of his wife, also located in Canton, is now the First Ladies Library, dedicated to America’s first ladies. The building is where the McKinley family lived when the future president and his wife were first married.

Canton is also known for several popular local restaurants in the nearby downtown area, any of which make a perfect stop for lunch or dinner. The city is probably best known for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, located a short five minute drive from the McKinley memorial museum.

If you are traveling to or from Cleveland, we highly recommend a stop in Canton. For sports fans, the Football Hall of Fame is a must see, while anyone with even a passing interest in history will enjoy a visit to the McKinley museum campus.