Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Travel Tuesday: Jacksonville Fire Museum

We just got back from another road trip, but as I'm trying to pull the house back together, I'll just do a small local attraction today. The pictures are kind of blurry since I forgot my regular camera and the cell phone kind of sucks.

If you live in Jacksonville and are running out of things to do with your kids this summer and are saving your cash for school supplies, try the Jacksonville Fire Museum, located down between the river and the football stadium. I recommend parking under the overpass to keep your car in the shade- there's not really any other place to park nearer anyway. Admission is free.

The place is pretty dinky, but it has enough to keep kids entertained for a while, depending on the age. Group tours are available if you schedule ahead, and we actually half-tagged along with a seniors group who was there. Otherwise we were the only visitors, and the guy on duty was available to answer any questions we had.

Some of the most entertaining parts were obviously not actual exhibits.

On display are a variety of artifacts and photos from Jacksonville's great fire in the early 20th century, equipment through the years, fire fighter children's toys, and several restored engines. If you are not with a large group of children, you can climb on the 1902 crank-start engine and ring the bell. It's still a working engine (not in service, obviously), so they don't like tons of kids climbing on it with a small adult-to-child ratio. Within seconds my kids were flying down the road to put out a fire at the Jedi Temple, from the sounds of it.

Other carts were pulled by hand or horses. This particular engine ran on coal. Not for climbing, but just gorgeous.

The guide had some great stories about the days of horses. They were big, heavy-duty draft horses with great endurance and high intelligence. It was said after a year on the job, most of the horses knew which city block to go to based on the combination of bells the signal had. They would even unlatch their pen, open the main doors, and back-up against the wagons ready to be hitched up when the alarm sounded. One retired horse was sold to a local milkman, and many days his horse and delivery cart would go missing, but both were found every time at the scene of a fire, the horse standing patiently and waiting for his wagon to be used.

The upstairs section is undergoing repairs, so only the main floor open. Outside is a memorial to firefighters who gave their lives in the service of others over the past 100+ years.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Travel Tuesday: Latta Plantation

It was a pretty brief visit as we arrived near closing time, but it was worth the stop to see Latta Plantation on the northwest side of Charlotte, NC. They have a big Civil War re-enactment August 13-14th, and a Revolutionary War re-enactment September 3-4th, so if you going to be in the area, you should check it out. As I write this, they are running a Civil War camp experience for kids age 8-12, and other various period camps go through this month. Obviously it's too late now, but if this sounds interesting to you, there's always next year.

We had barely missed the last tour of the house, but there were several other things to see. The farm has a variety of animals, but don't touch them unless there's an employee helping.
I grew up near farms so I take it for granted and the kids are fascinated.

This row of structures stood out to us compared to other plantations we've seen. They are for drying tobacco, the slaughterhouse, and the well house.

On a corner sat a couple cabins that dated back before the Revolution- they had been transplanted from places in town. A small museum provided smaller artifacts and a place to sit in the a/c.

Unfortunately, there was a whole lot of nothing going on at that time on that day, but the website makes it look like a happening and very educational place. I wish we lived closer!