Mariners’ Museum, Newport News, VA

I have to make a note of technological importance before I get into the details of my day. One of the things that irks me about my otherwise wonderful camera is that it has to be plugged into the computer to transfer photos over. If I forget to eject it and turn the camera off, the battery becomes drained very quickly. Plus, I’ve been known to forget the transfer cord. It would be so much easier to be able to put the memory card directly into the computer.

The problem is that Apple is always ahead of its time and the 17″ Macbook Pro does not have a slot for memory cards but rather an ‘Express Port’. That port is versatile and can hold a number of cards that do different functions. One of those cards is a memory card reader. I couldn’t justify buying the card just to transfer my camera pictures over. But now I have a wand scanner and a cell phone with memory cards, too, so in the interest of saving my sanity from cord overload, I went ahead and got a card for my Express port that can read memory cards. The card was just $10. The last time I looked at getting one they were $50, so please don’t call me cheap. 😉

Below are the photos transferred over to my computer in this method. I am never going back to cords; this is so much easier!

So today. I glanced through all my tourist info material for the area and determined that whatever was open on a Sunday was only open noon to five. So I decided to pick an activity that could occupy the whole afternoon rather than trying to squeeze in a bunch of things. I’d been wanting to drive the James River Bridge on my own, so I decided to look up Newport News attractions on Trip Advisor and see if anything fit the bill.

The number one attraction was the Mariners’ Museum. The comments were consistent: amazing and so much to see that most didn’t have time to do it all. Add to that my interest in the topic and my desire to see the USS Monitor‘s turret and this was an activity tailor made for my day. Oh, and I found a coupon for $1 off admission in my Newport News guidebook!

The Mariners’ Museum is actually several museums. There is a section devoted to maritime history in the Chesapeake region. The main attraction is the exhibit about the USS Monitor. I won’t pretend to being an expert on this part of US history, but I knew what I was getting into. The USS Monitor was an ironclad Union ship that went head to head against the Confederate CSS Virginia during the American Civil War. The battle was a draw, but it changed naval warfare. There is a lot more to the story than that, but I definitely went in knowing more than the average visitor to the museum. There is also a section about cartography, the Battle of Trafalgar, the American Cup, and the Titanic. Next are two model ship exhibits. Next to last, there is an impressive collection of boats from around the world. Finally, there are some exterior exhibits, including a replica of the USS Monitor, and a lovely 5 mile trail around Lake Maury.

I arrived around 12:30 and by the time I felt I’d seen everything it was 4:30!!! I decided to go for a brisk walk around the lake to make up for being indoors all afternoon. That walk was a balm to my soul, scented with honeysuckle and oh-so-pretty.

There was way too much information today to do justice to the museum. I’ve put some information below the pictures, but you’ll have to do your own research for more details. Or come to Newport News and see this incredible museum for yourself!

While I studied the American Civil War in university, I have to say that having read Gone With the Wind gave me more context to the history of this part of Virginia. I don’t think you need to know anything going in to appreciate the museum, but if you don’t and find yourself interested, you might not have time to get through all the material.

random "my boy is hilarious" pic

random “my boy is hilarious” pic

James River Bridge

James River Bridge

James River Bridge

James River Bridge

James River Bridge

James River Bridge

James River Bridge

James River Bridge

Newport News

Newport News

Mariners' Museum

Mariners’ Museum

lovely grounds

lovely grounds

I first encountered this type of lighthouse at Heceta in Oregon

I first encountered this type of lighthouse at Heceta in Oregon

I first encountered this type of lighthouse at Heceta in Oregon

I first encountered this type of lighthouse at Heceta in Oregon

18th century drafting tools

18th century drafting tools

18th century drafting tools (shark skin case)

18th century drafting tools (shark skin case)

no ship building guilds meant innovation could flourish

no ship building guilds meant innovation could flourish

the legendary Blackbeard, a pirate

the legendary Blackbeard, a pirate

map of the region showing Chesapeake Bay

map of the region showing Chesapeake Bay

we have yet to invent a machine that can shuck oysters as effectively as does a human

we have yet to invent a machine that can shuck oysters as effectively as does a human

oyster shuckers stood in these boxes

oyster shuckers stood in these boxes

oyster shuckers stood in these boxes

oyster shuckers stood in these boxes

clams are left in clean water for two weeks to remove impurities before being brought to market

clams are left in clean water for two weeks to remove impurities before being brought to market

wooden ship innards

wooden ship innards

ironclad innards

ironclad innards

when a commercial ship enters Chesapeake waters, it must surrender command to a local experienced commander who climbs up one of these ladders

when a commercial ship enters Chesapeake waters, it must surrender command to a local experienced commander who climbs up one of these ladders

when a commercial ship enters Chesapeake waters, it must surrender command to a local experienced commander

when a commercial ship enters Chesapeake waters, it must surrender command to a local experienced commander

heading up to assume command

heading up to assume command

an 1897 log book, "Crew all well and employed"

an 1897 log book, “Crew all well and employed”

May 18th, 1897

May 18th, 1897

notice the date, 128 years from when the US became independent

notice the date, 128 years from when the US became independent

giant ship's wheel

giant ship’s wheel

combine your automobile tour with a pleasant steamer trip

combine your automobile tour with a pleasant steamer trip

this steamer trip menu looks delicious

this steamer trip menu looks delicious

varsity rowers had to wear a special uniform and there were strict rules for girls

varsity rowers had to wear a special uniform and there were strict rules for girls

typical boat school boys would have rowed

typical boat school boys would have rowed

satellite image of the Chesapeake region

satellite image of the Chesapeake region

I was impressed that this image was taken in the '80s

I was impressed that this image was taken in the ’80s

USS Lancaster Eagle Figurehead

USS Lancaster Eagle Figurehead

USS Lancaster Eagle Figurehead

USS Lancaster Eagle Figurehead

entering the USS Monitor exhibits

entering the USS Monitor exhibits

the first artifact found was the anchor

the first artifact found was the anchor

the first artifact found was the anchor

the first artifact found was the anchor

letter from a USS Monitor officer to his wife

letter from a USS Monitor officer to his wife

he begged her for a picture until she sent him this one

he begged her for a picture until she sent him this one

entrance to the exhibit about the Monitor in pop culture

entrance to the exhibit about the Monitor in pop culture

news article claiming the Monitor was fine, when it soon floundered into the depths of Cape Hatteras

news article claiming the Monitor was fine, when it soon floundered into the depths of Cape Hatteras

the name Monitor was used for advertising

the name Monitor was used for advertising

Welcome to the world of Monitor madness

Welcome to the world of Monitor madness

points about a GE refrigerator; I like the "electric, so modern" comment

points about a GE refrigerator; I like the “electric, so modern” comment

all about this innovative fridge design

all about this innovative fridge design

refrigerator with the mechanism located at the top and with legs "for easy cleaning"

refrigerator with the mechanism located at the top and with legs “for easy cleaning”

more about the Monitor Top fridge

more about the Monitor Top fridge

funny cartoon: "a bad day on a boat is still better than a good day at work" "you must really hate work"

funny cartoon: “a bad day on a boat is still better than a good day at work” “you must really hate work”

scenes from this movie were played

scenes from this movie were played

scene from Hearts in Bondage

scene from Hearts in Bondage

information about a lovely mixed-medium painting

information about a lovely mixed-medium painting

"The Battle of Hampton Roads"

“The Battle of Hampton Roads”

one of the Monitor's nicknames made me laugh, "cheesebox on a raft"

one of the Monitor’s nicknames made me laugh, “cheesebox on a raft”

the fates of the Virginia and Monitor

the fates of the Virginia and Monitor

I thought this effect of walking over water was neat

I thought this effect of walking over water was neat

just one gorgeous exhibit after another

just one gorgeous exhibit after another

a Korean turtle ship, perhaps the first 'ironclad'

a Korean turtle ship, perhaps the first ‘ironclad’

about the turtle ship

about the turtle ship

it was only after the Industrial Revolution that enough metal could be produced to clad ships in iron

it was only after the Industrial Revolution that enough metal could be produced to clad ships in iron

The first ironclad? (ie. the turtle ship)

The first ironclad? (ie. the turtle ship)

life aboard ship was crowded and segregated

life aboard ship was crowded and segregated

ironclads meant the end of close naval warfare where enemy ships were boarded

ironclads meant the end of close naval warfare where enemy ships were boarded

"I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free." A. Lincoln

“I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free.” A. Lincoln

Agriculture vs. industry. This was the most basic difference between the south and north.

Agriculture vs. industry. This was the most basic difference between the south and north.

the south was aristocratic while the north favoured free enterprise

the south was aristocratic while the north favoured free enterprise

the south felt that the states had more rights while the north felt that the Union should take precedence

the south felt that the states had more rights while the north felt that the Union should take precedence

was slavery right or wrong?

was slavery right or wrong?

slavery was a hot political issue

slavery was a hot political issue

"the incommunicable experience of war"

“the incommunicable experience of war”

Gosport Navy Yard

Gosport Navy Yard

Gosport Navy Yard

Gosport Navy Yard

the Blockade

the Blockade

the strategic significance of Hampton Roads

the strategic significance of Hampton Roads

escape Virginian slaves were deemed contraband of war and not returned to their owners after Virginia seceded

escape Virginian slaves were deemed contraband of war and not returned to their owners after Virginia seceded

Gosport Navy Yard

Gosport Navy Yard

Gosport Navy Yard

Gosport Navy Yard

this fun interactive exhibit had us designing our own ironclad

this fun interactive exhibit had us designing our own ironclad

I used what I'd learned from the exhibit and built the perfect ship on my first try!

I used what I’d learned from the exhibit and built the perfect ship on my first try!

will it float?

will it float?

about my ironclad

about my ironclad

more about my ironclad

more about my ironclad

I picked big armaments

I picked big armaments

I used what I'd learned from the exhibit and built the perfect ship on my first try!

I used what I’d learned from the exhibit and built the perfect ship on my first try!

I used what I'd learned from the exhibit and built the perfect ship on my first try!

I used what I’d learned from the exhibit and built the perfect ship on my first try!

I used what I'd learned from the exhibit and built the perfect ship on my first try!

I used what I’d learned from the exhibit and built the perfect ship on my first try!

I used what I'd learned from the exhibit and built the perfect ship on my first try!

I used what I’d learned from the exhibit and built the perfect ship on my first try!

the USS Awesome!

the USS Awesome!

I used what I'd learned from the exhibit and built the perfect ship on my first try!

I used what I’d learned from the exhibit and built the perfect ship on my first try!

I used what I'd learned from the exhibit and built the perfect ship on my first try!

I used what I’d learned from the exhibit and built the perfect ship on my first try!

I used what I'd learned from the exhibit and built the perfect ship on my first try!

I used what I’d learned from the exhibit and built the perfect ship on my first try!

it took 100 days to build a warship

it took 100 days to build a warship

giant propeller

giant propeller

doctor's cozy quarters

doctor’s cozy quarters

the Monitor had a lovely interior

the Monitor had a lovely interior

rosewood, black walnut, damask, lace...

rosewood, black walnut, damask, lace…

cozy

cozy

the USS Monitor had flush toilets!

the USS Monitor had flush toilets!

both north and south claimed victory, but it was a draw

both north and south claimed victory, but it was a draw

giant ship's wheel

giant ship’s wheel

enlisted crew schedule

enlisted crew schedule

enlisted crew schedule

enlisted crew schedule

the food wasn't always palatable but, "a good apatite makes up for that. Mustard too." LOL!!!

the food wasn’t always palatable but, “a good apatite makes up for that. Mustard too.” LOL!!!

mustard and salt bottles

mustard and salt bottles

archaeology of the Monitor's turret

archaeology of the Monitor’s turret

replica of the Monitor's turret, as it was found

replica of the Monitor’s turret, as it was found

replica of the Monitor's turret, as it was found

replica of the Monitor’s turret, as it was found

human bones

human bones

replica of the Monitor's turret, as it was found

replica of the Monitor’s turret, as it was found

an upside down time capsule

an upside down time capsule

replica of the Monitor's turret, as it was found

replica of the Monitor’s turret, as it was found

replica of the Monitor's turret, as it was found

replica of the Monitor’s turret, as it was found

looking out to the replica of the Monitor

looking out to the replica of the Monitor

replica of the mechanism that made the turret spin

replica of the mechanism that made the turret spin

two bodies were found in the turret

two bodies were found in the turret

this ring was on the hand of one of the skeletons; it had no identifying marks

this ring was on the hand of one of the skeletons; it had no identifying marks

about the gold ring

about the gold ring

this spider-like device pulled the Monitor's turret out of the ocean

this spider-like device pulled the Monitor’s turret out of the ocean

about the "spider"

about the “spider”

about the "spider"

about the “spider”

the "spider"

the “spider”

standing on the deck of the Monitor replica

standing on the deck of the Monitor replica

standing on the deck of the Monitor replica

standing on the deck of the Monitor replica

standing on the deck of the Monitor replica

standing on the deck of the Monitor replica

lovely grounds

lovely grounds

lovely grounds

lovely grounds

standing on the deck of the Monitor replica

standing on the deck of the Monitor replica

I wonder if he would have worn a shirt had he known what would happen to this photo!

I wonder if he would have worn a shirt had he known what would happen to this photo!

the Monitor's engines were horizontal so the ship did not need to be so tall as others

the Monitor’s engines were horizontal so the ship did not need to be so tall as others

glass plate showing the engines

glass plate showing the engines

more about the engines

more about the engines

since the living quarters were underwater, the ship needed flush toilets

since the living quarters were underwater, the ship needed flush toilets

the assistant surgeon had trouble with the head and turned it into a fountain!

the assistant surgeon had trouble with the head and turned it into a fountain!

the assistant surgeon had trouble with the head and turned it into a fountain!

the assistant surgeon had trouble with the head and turned it into a fountain!

the mechanism that spun the turret

the mechanism that spun the turret

shrunk down plan of the Monitor

shrunk down plan of the Monitor

shrunk down plan of the Monitor

shrunk down plan of the Monitor

below the replica of the Monitor

below the replica of the Monitor

you can see the turret (sort of) in the lab

you can see the turret (sort of) in the lab

new discoveries in the lab

new discoveries in the lab

you can see the turret (sort of) in the lab

you can see the turret (sort of) in the lab

you can see the turret (sort of) in the lab

you can see the turret (sort of) in the lab

I'm sorry that I'm a couple of weeks early for this exhibit

I’m sorry that I’m a couple of weeks early for this exhibit

about the art of cartography

about the art of cartography

a 17th-century map of the world (no Antartica)

a 17th-century map of the world (no Antartica)

about the map

about the map

EXPLOITING new worlds

EXPLOITING new worlds

for the KING (LOL)

for the KING (LOL)

Le cap. Jacques (James) Cook

Le cap. Jacques (James) Cook

Le cap. Jacques (James) Cook

Le cap. Jacques (James) Cook

The Nelson Touch

The Nelson Touch

qualities of a great leader

qualities of a great leader

another gorgeous exhibit

another gorgeous exhibit

surgical kit

surgical kit

surgical instruments (shudder)

surgical instruments (shudder)

list of equipment (in French)

list of equipment (in French)

a group of sheep led by a lion can win, but a group of lions led by a sheep is likely to lose

a group of sheep led by a lion can win, but a group of lions led by a sheep is likely to lose

another lovely exhibit

another lovely exhibit

inside the ship

inside the ship

I am at the hotel again tonight and will be going home in the morning after checking out since my room isn’t available past tomorrow. However, there are other vacancies now this week, so I have reserved another room for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights. I am thrilled seeing as the next closest hotel to my friend’s place is in Suffolk, meaning an extra half hour from the rig. This hotel is just over an hour away.

Exploring St Charles, Missouri (and the Lewis and Clark Boat House and Nature Center)

Today, I took reader Gina’s advice and drove all the way to historic St Charles, Mo, to visit the historic downtown section as well as the Lewis and Clark Boat House and Nature Center.

‘All the way’ is about 3 miles from where Miranda is parked, at the Harrah’s Casino. 😀

It was cold in the rig today and it promised to be grey and miserable all day, so I decided that since I was up I might as well get an early start and have breakfast in St Charles before going to the museum, which opened at 10. It was only 9:30 when I was done, so I went over to Walmart, also in St Charles, to get a few things and discovered a gigantic Dollar Tree store next door. I have never seen one so big, and it was full of brand name products! The cashier teased me when I told her that ‘all those bags’ couldn’t all be mine, saying that she was watching me toss stuff in my basket like I was touring Ali Baba’s cave! Everything was on the list, however, and I barely had to get anything at Walmart.

I then drove to the historic downtown portion of St Charles, a formerly French-Canadian city that was the last bastion of civilization for the Lewis and Clark expedition. There is tons of free parking down near the boat house, just a block from the southern portion of Main Street.

I read the Lewis and Clark journals about 15 years ago, but I think they would make a bigger impression on me today, so I have downloaded the free Kindle version (readable on my iPad and iPod Touch using the Kindle app) and am looking forward to rereading about their journey now that I have pretty much covered their whole route to the Pacific Ocean.

The museum is small with entry costing $4. This includes a really good National Geographic movie about the expedition that had me glued to the edge of my seat!

After the museum, I walked up to Main Street and walked it from the southern to the northern end and back again, visiting a few shops and checking out the restaurant menus. The Little Hills Winery menu was particularly appealing and quite inexpensive, so I went in, but lunch was rather disappointing. The ciabatta bun was stale and the McCain-type seasoned wedge fries were tepid. The sandwich filling, however, was incredibly delicious and is one I would like to recreate at home! There was a moist and flavourful charbroiled chicken breast topped with thin slices of creamy Brie, two strips of crispy bacon, and a delicious apple and onion chutney, definitely worth the price of lunch.

I got an ice cream for the walk back to the car, made briskly as the sky was starting to spit. It’s now very windy and threatening to storm.

Check out the gallery for more information about my day.

this was a crazy intersection; I had no idea where to go and was so glad I could follow this car!

this was a crazy intersection; I had no idea where to go and was so glad I could follow this car!

the Lewis and Clark Boat House and Nature Center

the Lewis and Clark Boat House and Nature Center

close up of the sign

close up of the sign

Mention of St Charles by Clark

Mention of St Charles by Clark

Portraits of Lewis and Clark (did you know that William Clark was a flaming red head?)

Portraits of Lewis and Clark (did you know that William Clark was a flaming red head?)

about Lewis

about Lewis

about Clark

about Clark

mention of how well managed was the expedition and that only one man died

mention of how well managed was the expedition and that only one man died

representation of a stone house at the time

representation of a stone house at the time

the museum

the museum

this razor may have belonged to Lewis

this razor may have belonged to Lewis

list of articles, including the Lewis' razor

list of articles, including the Lewis’ razor

a page from the Lewis geneology

a page from the Lewis geneology

description of Floyd, the man who died (probably of a ruptured appendix)

description of Floyd, the man who died (probably of a ruptured appendix)

"I have been wet and cold in every part as I ever was in my life"--Clark

“I have been wet and cold in every part as I ever was in my life”–Clark

a little bit about their Shoshone guide, Sacagawea, the wife of a French-Canadian interpreter

a little bit about their Shoshone guide, Sacagawea, the wife of a French-Canadian interpreter

about Sacawagaea's son, the final member of the expedition

about Sacawagaea’s son, the final member of the expedition

About the expedition's triumphant return to St Charles. The men had been gone for 28 months and were presumed dead.

About the expedition’s triumphant return to St Charles. The men had been gone for 28 months and were presumed dead.

An hilarious story about a French Canadian interpreter with such poor eyesight that he mistook Lewis for an elk and shot him in the rear!

An hilarious story about a French Canadian interpreter with such poor eyesight that he mistook Lewis for an elk and shot him in the rear!

representation of this man, Pierre Cruzatte

representation of this man, Pierre Cruzatte

I loved this statue of Lewis and Clark; it seems to capture their spirit

I loved this statue of Lewis and Clark; it seems to capture their spirit

Reproduction of the type of clothes the French Canadian men would have worn (Lewis and Clark's soldiers all wore military attire. When that was worn through, they made neat leather suits. The image of a roughly dressed expedition party is fictional.)

Reproduction of the type of clothes the French Canadian men would have worn (Lewis and Clark’s soldiers all wore military attire. When that was worn through, they made neat leather suits. The image of a roughly dressed expedition party is fictional.)

about the French Canadian outfits

about the French Canadian outfits

Main and RIverside, looking south

Main and RIverside, looking south

this conservatory is a lovely place to have a wedding

this conservatory is a lovely place to have a wedding

the conservatory brings the outdoors in with its brick floor

the conservatory brings the outdoors in with its brick floor

Hobbit's Hole Antiques; I would have bought quite a few things for a stick home :)

Hobbit’s Hole Antiques; I would have bought quite a few things for a stick home 🙂

Hobbit's Hole Antiques

Hobbit’s Hole Antiques

my Barbies had a stove just like this one; it's worth $100?!

my Barbies had a stove just like this one; it’s worth $100?!

there are several nice bathrooms along the street, something other towns should emulate in their tourist districts

there are several nice bathrooms along the street, something other towns should emulate in their tourist districts

looking north on Main Street

looking north on Main Street

Daniel Boone (Anyone else have a crush on Fess Parker as Daniel Boone growing up? Loved that show, but I bet it wouldn't stand the test of time)

Daniel Boone (Anyone else have a crush on Fess Parker as Daniel Boone growing up? Loved that show, but I bet it wouldn’t stand the test of time)

plaque confirming this is a statue of Daniel Boone

plaque confirming this is a statue of Daniel Boone

marker noting the site of the Lewis and Clark expedition rendezvous

marker noting the site of the Lewis and Clark expedition rendezvous

Laura's La Petite had some really nice things

Laura’s La Petite had some really nice things

Laura's La Petite

Laura’s La Petite

looking north on Main Street

looking north on Main Street

looking north on Main Street

looking north on Main Street

looking north on Main Street

looking north on Main Street

looking north on Main Street

looking north on Main Street

Whew, the north end of the historic part of Main Street! I'm looking south now.

Whew, the north end of the historic part of Main Street! I’m looking south now.

looking south on Main Street

looking south on Main Street

looking south on Main Street

looking south on Main Street

looking south on Main Street

looking south on Main Street

main buildings at this ancient-looking cellar doors right on the sidewalk

main buildings at this ancient-looking cellar doors right on the sidewalk

the sidewalk was more of an obstacle course; this was probably the worst section

the sidewalk was more of an obstacle course; this was probably the worst section

the Enchanted Attic was a treasure trove of incense, pendulums, crystals, and candles

the Enchanted Attic was a treasure trove of incense, pendulums, crystals, and candles

nice little park with a gazebo

nice little park with a gazebo

looking south on Main Street

looking south on Main Street

this is the Little Hills Winery restaurant where I had lunch

this is the Little Hills Winery restaurant where I had lunch

lunch (as I said, the main part of it, the sandwich filling, was AWESOME)

lunch (as I said, the main part of it, the sandwich filling, was AWESOME)

this mill is now a brewery and pub

this mill is now a brewery and pub

this mill is now a brewery and pub

this mill is now a brewery and pub

back at the corner of RIverside and Main. I turned left on Riverside to go back to my car.

back at the corner of RIverside and Main. I turned left on Riverside to go back to my car.

The S.S. Keno

The S.S. Keno is a paddleboat that hauled cargo up and down the Yukon from the early 1920s to the mid 1950s. When the road to Keno City was built in the ’50s, paddlewheelers fell out of favour. For one thing, they were using wood at such a rate that there was a risk of running out of trees! The completion of the Klondike highway to Dawson City was the nail in the paddlewheelers coffin.

On August 23, 1960, the S.S. Keno began her final journey from Whitehorse to Dawson City where she would be dry docked forever and turned into a museum. Today, she is a National Historic Site.

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the interpreter thought it would be funny to wear a life jacket today :)

the interpreter thought it would be funny to wear a life jacket today 🙂

Laura Berton was the mother of Pierre Berton's mother

Laura Berton was the mother of Pierre Berton’s mother

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I wouldn't have wanted the cabin with the beam running through it!

I wouldn’t have wanted the cabin with the beam running through it!

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My favourite part of the exhibit was the movie! It was filmed in August 1960 and documents the S.S. Keno’s final voyage. It answered one of my most burning questions about the Klondike: how did ships pass through Five Finger Rapids? The movie is also good for comic relief when a man waxes poetically about how much easier life was then compared to the 1920’s since modern technology had brought about DDT and mosquitoes were no longer a problem…

Visiting the S.S. Keno takes about an hour and fills in yet another gap of Dawson’s history.

Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse

Forts and Lighthouses are high on my interest list, so these two unconnected sites, Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse at the same location were a perfect combination for me. We were able to stop here after going to French Beach since it was literally on the way home from there.

From the websites:

Fort Rodd Hill – a National Historic Site – is a coast artillery fort built in the late 1890s to defend Victoria and the Esquimalt Naval Base. The Fort includes three gun batteries, underground magazines, command posts, guardhouses, barracks and searchlight emplacements.

and

The first lighthouse on Canada’s west coast is still in operation! There hasn’t been a keeper here since the light was automated in 1929, but every year many thousands of visitors step inside a real 19th century light, and capture some of the feeling of ships wrecked and lives saved.

Built by the British in 1860, when Vancouver Island was not yet part of Canada, Fisgard’s red brick house and white tower has stood faithfully at the entrance to Esquimalt harbour. Once a beacon for the British Royal Navy’s Pacific Squadron, today Fisgard still marks home base for the Royal Canadian Navy.

The fort has two batteries and several outbuildings to explore, and Parks Canada was generous with accessibility to all the nooks and crannies. One building had me climbing a metal staircase to a widow’s walk to another staircase that descends to a room where there is a small exhibit. It was quite fun to get there and I was pretty impressed that I got up and down that staircase.

The lighthouse is one of the prettiest I have ever seen. They are working on making the inside a museum. There are a few exhibits and they are promising. I especially liked the stacks of ‘crates’ that had doors and drawers you can open to see what’s inside.

a beautiful map of the site

a beautiful map of the site

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married officer quarters

married officer quarters

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these crates have doors and drawers that open to reveal exhibits

these crates have doors and drawers that open to reveal exhibits

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a good view of the causeway built in the 1950's

a good view of the causeway built in the 1950’s

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I was about five feet from these geese

I was about five feet from these geese

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this 'man' startled me and I let out a very embarassing shriek!

this ‘man’ startled me and I let out a very embarassing shriek!

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this is the structure I climbed on the metal staircase (to the top of the short part!)

this is the structure I climbed on the metal staircase (to the top of the short part!)

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this building disguised as a boat house held a searchlight

this building disguised as a boat house held a searchlight

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Both locations were excellent and could provide at least a full half-day of entertainment if you bring a picnic. We were there for several hours.

The Museum at Campbell River

I spent a couple of hours this afternoon perusing the displays of the Museum at Campbell River.

Two exhibits made the $6 admission fee worthwhile.

The first is one about the local First Nations culture, including a spectacular show featuring a storyteller and carved masks. No photographs were allowed in this exhibit, so it’s really hard to convey just how great it was. It was a feast for the eyes to view all those colourful carvings and the mask show was a breathtaking journey to a world below the ocean. This appears to be a permanent exhibit, thankfully!

The second exhibit I liked was one of the three videos viewable on demand in a theatre at the end of the tour. The video in question is a documentary about the Ripple Rock explosion, which I’ve previously discussed in my post about Seymour Narrows. The video was comprised of footage of the day, that is from the 1950’s, which added an additional level of interest. I was amazed by the engineering feat that was the destruction of these underwater peaks. Tunnels were dug under the channel and up into the mountains and then charges were laid. Three times as many explosives as would have been needed in an open air project of this size was needed to displace not only the rock but also the water.

In between the First Nations gallery and the Ripple Rock video were galleries about pioneer life in the Campbell River area, a popular hotel, and the local salmon fishing industry. There is a final, temporary, gallery about climate change that I do not feel was sufficiently tied in to the history of Campbell River. A panel showing how climate change has possibly affected the fishing industry would have sufficed.

While I found the exhibits to be over all very well done and informative, I had come expecting to learn more about Campbell River’s general history and left feeling that I’d only been giving small snippets of it. So, I wasn’t entirely satisfied with my visit but do not feel that this is the museum’s fault; I should have checked my expectations at the door and enjoyed what was offered.

Be sure to walk the grounds before or after your visit; there is a wonderful native plant garden to explore!

a striking building

a striking building

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Boat outside the museum that was owned by a Japanese fisherman. The boat was stolen from him by the Canadian government during WWII. Our treatment of the Japanese during this war is one of the most shameful moments of our history.

Boat outside the museum that was owned by a Japanese fisherman. The boat was stolen from him by the Canadian government during WWII. Our treatment of the Japanese during this war is one of the most shameful moments of our history.

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torii seen from the museum

torii seen from the museum

Lord Vancouver, after whom a city and a whole island would be named

Lord Vancouver, after whom a city and a whole island would be named

Another shameful incident in Canadian history is that of the residential schools for Native children

Another shameful incident in Canadian history is that of the residential schools for Native children

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I was amused that the museum dressed up the pioneer cabin for the holidays

I was amused that the museum dressed up the pioneer cabin for the holidays

reminds me of my student days, only substitute a radiator for the stove

reminds me of my student days, only substitute a radiator for the stove

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check out the info on the plaque; this tree was more than a thousand years old when it was chopped down!

check out the info on the plaque; this tree was more than a thousand years old when it was chopped down!

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logging truck

logging truck

water pump outside the pioneer cabin

water pump outside the pioneer cabin

façade representing the third Willows hotel, a popular spot for vacationers to Campbell River at the start of the 19th century

façade representing the third Willows hotel, a popular spot for vacationers to Campbell River at the start of the 19th century

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my impression upon entering this exhibit was awe; I really felt like I was in a Victorian hotel!

my impression upon entering this exhibit was awe; I really felt like I was in a Victorian hotel!

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Being a huge fan of my bank (CIBC), I always note historical instances of it. CIBC came to Campbell RIver to handle payroll.

Being a huge fan of my bank (CIBC), I always note historical instances of it. CIBC came to Campbell RIver to handle payroll.

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I liked this exhibit tucked away under the stairs

I liked this exhibit tucked away under the stairs

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Those are big fish! (from days before we worried about fish stocks)

Those are big fish! (from days before we worried about fish stocks)

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I was also impressed by this floating fishing cottage. I really felt like I was on a dock by the ocean.

I was also impressed by this floating fishing cottage. I really felt like I was on a dock by the ocean.

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type of salmon canned by year (see next picture)

type of salmon canned by year (see next picture)

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this is what I apparently look like when driving a huge vehicle

this is what I apparently look like when driving a huge vehicle

that was my reason for studying history in university

that was my reason for studying history in university

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more about the Japanese fishing boat

more about the Japanese fishing boat

the grounds are lovely and feature a native plant garden

the grounds are lovely and feature a native plant garden

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