Thursday, July 24, 2014

Visiting the Road to Tara Museum

By Margaret Duncan, Ed.D.

In June, I was able to visit and tour the Road to Tara Museum in Jonesboro, Georgia.  Jonesboro is south of Atlanta and the county seat of Clayton County.  Since the 1936 publication of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind, Jonesboro and Clayton have been billed as the “Home of Gone With The Wind.”  Located in Jonesboro’s 1867 Historic Train Depot, the museum is dedicated to Mitchell’s book and the 1939 classic film.  Why Jonesboro?  Margaret Mitchell spent her childhood summers at her grandparents’ home in the area and look closely at the movie and you will see a check listing the bank of Clayton County. 

Within the museum are personal items that belonged Mitchell like her china.  However, much of the museum is dedicated to the GWTW.  There are a number of detailed and accurate reproductions of the famous costumes worn by Vivien Leigh (Scarlett O’Hara), Hattie McDaniel (Mammy), Ona Munson (Belle Watling), Ann Rutherford (Careen O’Hara), and Cammie King Conlon (Bonnie Blue Butler).  There are also a large number of foreign translations of the GWTW book and movie posters.

Many of the items in the museum belonged to local historian and collector, Herb Bridges, who passed away in 2013.  He had one of the largest private collections of GWTW memorabilia.  During his life, he would be happy to attend and speak at many events relating to GWTW.  He also published a book on his collection.  The museum does pay tribute to Bridges.

Although the museum is primarily dedicated to GWTW, there are also exhibits relating to the Civil War.  The Battle of Jonesboro was one of the last battles that took place as part of the Battle of Atlanta on Sherman’s March to the Sea.  As such, Jonesboro doesn’t just have a strong GWTW tie, but is also part of America’s Civil War past.  Exhibits dedicated to the Civil War include an authentic “Sherman’s necktie.” Simply put, this was a section of rail twisted into a loop so it would be useless.  After Sherman’s March, the South was full of these twisted chunks of rail.  Further, the Depot was built for the cotton industry—weighing and then shipping the cotton to the industrial north.  The Depot still has the original Fairbank Scale which was used to weigh the cotton.

The museum is self guided but there are sound stations throughout the museum.  At the stations you will hear the voice of Fred Crane, the actor who played Brent Tarleton in the movie.  Listening to him you will hear several personal stories including being on the movie set and attending the grand premiere at the Loew’s Theater in Atlanta.

If you are a fan of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind or are a Civil War history buff, we recommend taking a tour of the Road to Tara Museum. 

For more information: Road to Tara Museum


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Traveling with History: Wyoming, Part 2

By Margaret Duncan, Ed.D.

Sleeping Indian--Outside Jackson Hole
Do you like to travel?  Do you like History?  Do you like combining both?  One of the places to visit with an eye towards history is Wyoming— a state where you can walk in the steps of pioneers or dinosaurs, visit Ghost Towns or battlefields, see museums or a rodeo, or just soak in the beauty of nature.  Wyoming is home to all these things, as well as Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, and Devils Tower National Monument. It is also the home to the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes.  It is a great destination for anyone who loves to travel with a mind to history and nature.   

Some great sites to see:
Yellowstone National Park-- the most famous part of park is Old Faithful, which is a predictable geyser erupting roughly every 90 minutes.  The park is on the Continental Divide which wanders around through the Caldera.  The Shoshone Lake is the largest lake in continental US.  One of the things we learned in the park was that weather is unpredictable--because this is where weather begins.  

Grand Teton National Park--This is a breathtaking area.  The first Europeans to visit the area were Mountain Men who were beaver trappers.  They would bring pelts to trade at the end of July.  Within the park, Jenny Lake is a glacier carved lake and much of the rocks that you can trip on while hiking are smooth because of the glaciers. 

Triangle X Ranch and Float Trip-- No trip to Wyoming would be complete without a trip to a Dude Ranch.  We visited the Triangle X Ranch which was made into a dude ranch when the owners  realized it was too difficult to herd animals.  Simply put, a dude is a visitor from the east.  A female dude is called a dudess or dudine.   The Snake River  got its name through misinterpretation – supposedly Indians said the name was Weaver River…but it was misinterpreted as Snake River.  As you float along the river, you will see Otter, Mother and Baby Moose, Bald Eagle, Red Tailed Hawk, Pelicans, Cut Throat Trout.  Be warned though, the water will be cold and can be felt through the raft. 

Jackson Hole-- this city was a resort town and is in the Valley--thus Hole.  Originally animals ran loose in the area because the land was used for grazing cattle and horses.  The town was isolated by its surrounding mountains and had such a harsh climate – it was one of the last areas to be settled.  One of the neatest sights in town are the Elk Antler Arches, first created in 1960.  They are made from elk from the National Elk Refuge. We were told 7,500 elk spend each winter on the refuge; bulls shed their antlers in the spring.  They are then picked up by Boy Scouts and sold by public auction in the square each May.

These are just some of the highlights to see if you head to Wyoming to experience history and nature. What would you include in your historical tour of Wyoming?