Friday, June 29, 2012

2012 Fall Hike!

Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site
1825 Battlefield Road, Perryville, KY 40468
859.332.8631 - perryvillebattlefield.org
Fall Hike/Tour
Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

Details – The hike starts at 11:00 a.m.  The museum opens at 10:00 a.m.  The museum charges a small fee to visit their exceptional displays and view the media presentation.  Participants are encouraged to visit the museum before the hike to familiarize themselves with the high level details of the Perryville campaign.  There are restrooms below the museum.

Please meet by 10:50 near the Confederate Cemetery.  The hike will start promptly at 11:00 a.m. and will go on, rain or shine.  We will cover four to five miles of the Perryville Battlefield, discussing salient points of the battle along the way.  Please wear sturdy shoes (the paths are mown grass), bring plenty of water, and have something to snack on.  If it is a sunny day wear sunscreen and/or a hat as the battlefield does not offer much in the way of shade.  The terrain is rolling with a few short steep climbs.  The hike will last four hours.

For those interested we will be having a post hike gathering at Lore Brewing Company in Danville.  Lore specializes in tasty and smooth drinking beers brewed on location.  We will also have food and other drinks (waters/soda) available (details to follow).  Those going to Lore will be responsible for their own beer purchases and share in the food costs (most likely excellent pizzas from Bluegrass Pizza).  Please let me know if you are planning on the after hike event so I can let our hosts at Lore know how many folks to expect.

Lore Brewing Company
471 Whirlaway Drive, Danville, KY 40422
859.209.4288 - lorebrew.com

Hike Leader Info – Darryl Smith serves as a board of trustees member for the Buckeye Trail Association, is a regimental color bearer in the Civil War Trust, and is a member of the Friends of Perryville Battlefield.  He is an avid hiker and backpacker who also has a passion for American military history.  Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site is one of his favorite Civil War locations, due to the near pristine nature of the park, looking much like it did during that hot day of October 8th, 1862.  Please contact him at 513.321.1539 or ohioatperryville@yahoo.com for further information.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Gettysburg!


Confederate artillery along Seminary Ridge
Last week I spent some time with the better half at Gettysburg. It was my first trip to the famous battlefield since 1996, when I went with my gaming buddy Matt. Overall, this was my fourth visit to Gettysburg, and there were definitely some highlights as well as some low tides to my visit.

We tried to book three nights at the Doubleday Inn, which is situated on the first day battlefield along Doubleday Avenue. Alas, they did not have all three nights available that we would be in town, so we stayed along Baltimore Pike at the historic Brickhouse Inn. The Inn is really two buildings, one that was present during the battle, and one built during the Victorian period. The Brickhouse offers comfortable, clean rooms, excellent breakfasts, and wonderful hospitality. Conveniently located near the National Cemetery, Cemetery Hill, and Culp's Hill, there is also an excellent bookstore immediately across the street. The bookstore had a slew of regimental histories along with very good Gettysburg and Civil War sections, better than the gift shop at the national park visitor center.  While staying at the Brickhouse one is also just four blocks from the downtown square, making restaurants and pubs within short walking distance.

Codori Farm at sunset
The downside of the location of the Brickhouse was the noise from Baltimore Pike. Far too many loud motorcycles and semi-trucks use Baltimore. The noise can be offset by spending time in the nice garden area in the rear of the inn. But, if you can handle the occasional noise and want to go with a bed and breakfast, the Brickhouse Inn is a great choice.

Alas, the three days we were at Gettysburg the weather was extremely hot, with temps in the mid to high 90s and the heat index well over 100. Therefore we did a lot of driving around the battlefield as opposed to the walking I had hoped for. But, as this was the better half's first trip to Gettysburg, it worked out rather well. We could go for runs through the battlefield (an early morning run along Cemetery Ridge is worth the effort), and duck into shops during the heat of the day.  By doing this we could tolerate the heat much better.

Looking towards McPherson's Farm
We have already discussed going back to Gettysburg next year for another three day visit as part of an extended vacation.  I get to do a bit of backpacking on the Appalachian Trail and then spend three days walking about the battlefield.  That's a pretty good vacation for me (history and hiking), and we will be certain to choose a cooler time of the year to go.  We want to give the Doubleday Inn a try, simply because the location should be much quieter, but we were rather spoiled and impressed with the Brickhouse Inn.  Should be a tough decision!

Food for thought for Perryville...first, there is no doubt that one of the draws of Gettysburg is the vast amount of monuments, memorials, and artillery pieces that visitors can view.  I highly doubt in this day and age that Perryville would allow such creations on the battlefield, especially in light of the fact that Perryville is looking more like a Civil War battlefield than nearly any other location.  So, forget monuments, but perhaps more markers, interpretive signage, and artillery would help not only interpret the battle, but give visitors something more to look at.  I think this could be something the Friends of Perryville Battlefield could make as a long term project.

Second, the town of Gettysburg offers a wide variety of sites to see and shops to visit.  I certainly would not wish for a wax museum anywhere near the Perryville battlefield, and one does not need to see a half dozen paranormal tour shops, but Merchant's Row needs to have more vibrant and interesting shops.  Seemingly on every trip to Perryville there are only a few shops that are open (mostly antique), and a few buildings that have no shops in them at all.  In order to bring more folks to the battlefield, other places of interest must be locally accessible.  While Danville and Harrodsburg are short drives from Perryville, having more offerings in Perryville proper would bring more families to town.  A couple of good cafes/restaurants, perhaps a brew pub, a bookstore that caters to Civil War and local history, and a few shops selling their wares could make Merchant's Row a destination as opposed to an afterthought.  Dress up the street with brick or cobblestone walks, gaslights, shade trees, and more interpretive signage and make it an area that visitors just have to see would ensure the success of the businesses located there.

Next, the town needs a bed and breakfast.  I realize that Elmwood Inn used to serve as a B&B, but I believe the Elmwood did not use the battle as a reason to draw inn goers.  A bed and breakfast that welcomed battlefield visitors, perhaps offering tours of Perryville and the battlefield as part of the experience, should be able to survive.  Of course, unless there are the other places to visit in town (see above) the bed and breakfast might struggle to fill its rooms.

Another idea, regularly scheduled programs at the battlefield itself would increase the amount of visitors.  Gettysburg has evening programs at their battlefield amphitheater, ranger talks and walks on the battlefield and in town, and a plethora of licensed battlefield guides to lead visitors on tours.  While Perryville does not have the resources to pull off a massive schedule of programs, the Friends group could assist by having a monthly talk/tour (or a Perryville specific Civil War Roundtable), and perhaps the park and the Friends group could work together to "license" official guides.  If visitors see a regular posting of programs, they will be more inclined to come to Perryville knowing that there is "something going on" during their visit.

Of course, I realize that all of the above have associated costs, whether financial or volunteer.  And I certainly do not want to see commercialism become rampant at Perryville.  But starting some of these programs could make Perryville a destination, and bringing more tourism dollars into the area would be a benefit to all parties.

How can you help?  First, become a member of the Friends group (HERE is the link, please go join now).  The more revenue they have to work with the more they can do to assist the battlefield.  Second, take a trip to the battlefield, spend a few bucks in the gift shop, and enjoy the battlefield.  Third, support the local businesses with a few purchases.  And lastly, let the folks in Perryville know how much you appreciate their efforts and share with them ideas for continued growth.

Side note...if I ever win the lottery I WILL start a bookstore or a bed and breakfast (or both) at Perryville, as long as the rest of you can convince the better half it is a good idea!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Perryville Weekend

I had a great time at my favorite battlefield this weekend.  A good day's work on Saturday saw a lot of wood being cut and split, and a rigorous workout during same, on a beautiful late spring day.  I also got a chance to talk about the Friends group with Chad, Joni, and others.  I hope to be helping with some map making and some email communication for all the Friends group members.  Living in Cincinnati doesn't allow me the opportunity to support Perryville on a regular and local basis, so by offering some suggestions and perhaps helping them with the communication aspect I feel like I can still do my part for this wonderful location.

Some other notes, I am working on the details for the fall hike, and am shooting for a Saturday in November.  Just waiting a few responses from folks before posting the event.  I am hoping to have the post hike at Lore Brewing Company after getting to know the owners, Lee and Ashley, who offered to hold such an event and have some food brought in.  More details on this to follow as I solidify the date of the hike and the post hike plans.

Enjoy a few pictures I snapped after the work day at Perryille was over.  I do believe they are planning on having a few more work days before the reenactment in October, and I hope you can join in the fun!