Our field trip to Sgt. Alvin C. York State Historic Park was one for the books! What a beautiful area with a beautiful history and full of stories to tell.
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Last week we were able to head down to Tennessee for a fun filled trip with our home school group. I’ll be honest and say that history was never interesting to me as a teen. Maybe it was lack of maturity or just something put on the back burner but I never gave it much thought.
You all won’t judge me too much if I mention that I failed multiple college level history tests, right? Oops, there I said it.
I didn’t put too much research into this particular state park we were going to ahead of time because well, let’s be real here. I was still stuck in my old high school days of the ole “history is boring” mindset.
Who would have thought this trip would create a change of heart? I take back everything I once thought of history because the adult Brittany is completely fascinated. I’m not sure how much knowledge my 4 and 2 year old retained (probably very little) but they had an absolute blast anyway.
Sgt. Alvin C. York State Historic Park Video
It’s Time For A Picnic!
Before starting the tour our group began with a picnic at 11 am. After a brisk freak out moment from myself trying to figure out where the picnic area was located, we were settled at last. Looking back, it was slightly obvious where to park but you’d have to know me. It was such a Brittany thing to have my husband drive around aimlessly for 10 minutes!
If you aren’t familiar with Sgt. Alvin C. York State Historic Park then you probably don’t know about the gorgeous waterfall that lays across from the York Gristmill. There are several picnic tables and even a nice children’s playground nearby. We chose one of the tables closest to the water so we would have a good view while eating lunch.
We kept lunch pretty simple with cold cut ham sandwiches, chips, and pickled bologna. Oh, I can’t leave out Wyatt’s pizza lunchable that he just had to bring along!
Just look at this view!
The York Gristmill
The gorgeous waterfall I mentioned actually serves a purpose, believe it or not! It was constructed to power the York Gristmill pictured above behind my precious babies. It was built in 1880 and later bought by Sgt York himself in the early 1940s. I can only imagine the amount of corn that was ground in that very building! It’s two story and although very stable, the thoughts of falling through the old patched up floors from the top floor gave me a bit of anxiety.
I wish I had taken more individual photos of inside the gristmill itself but I was more worried about tripping down the stairs. I did manage to video without injuring myself so feel free to check that out on YouTube!
Sgt. York’s Beautiful Home
Sgt. York’s home was a dream! Older homes will always have my heart. I’d trade authentic hard wood floors and vintage ailments over the modernized look any day.
Our tour started at 1 pm and we entered through the side door of the home. Our awesome tour guide was highly knowledgeable on York and gave a fantastic tour!
If you are a history buff then there’s a good chance you have heard about Sgt. York but if not I’ll give you a bit of an overview. He is known as one of the greatest soldiers in World War I and has received more than 40 awards! Being the well known man that he was, The National Rotary Club began a fundraiser and were able to present York the deed to his farm and a brand new house in 1922. Him and his wife, Miss Gracie lived here until their death.
York passed away in 1964 and his wife in 1984. It was their wish to present their home and farm back to the state after they died. Sgt. York only felt that it was the right thing to do and never truly felt like it was his to begin with. The park was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977.
I am so impressed at how well the inside of York’s home has been kept up. They have tried really hard at keeping it just the way it was when York and his family lived there. I especially appreciated the level of character and stories that came along with it.
One of the more interesting was the story of how the front door had been chipped. Directly to the left of the entrance to the home is a very small study. One day one of York’s boys shot off a gun that went through the study door and chipped the front door to the home as well.
World War I Trench Replica
In the field behind the York home is a replica of what one of the trenches would have looked like in World War I. This was super neat and we actually went through it twice! It showed “rooms” where the soliders would have slept in bunk beds, crawl through holes, extra storage areas as well as mortars. I’m going to pretend like I knew what a mortar was before hand but truth be told my husband had to fill me in on that one.
Trail To The Burial Site and Suspension Bridge
To finish the trail that leads to the burial site we crossed a super cool suspension bridge. I have always wanted to go on one of these! I will admit that I was a bit nervous. The steep ladder going up and down made me more apprehensive than anything. All in all it was a really neat experience!
Once we got to the end of the trail, if you watch the video you may hear my husband say, “Hey guess what? We could have drove here.” We really could have but what fun would that have been? I’m always up for trails!
Want To Know More About Sgt. Alvin C. York And His Family?
We LOVED this little field trip and there’s a good chance we will visit again sometime. I wish I could have this same amount of enthusiasm over history back in school as I have today. There’s so much to learn from our past and it’s so sad that it’s taken me this long to realize.
Sergeant York is a movie all about his life and it’s on Amazon Prime Video!
For more info on Sgt. Alvin C. York State Historic Park click HERE.
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