This summer, many national parks are offering free admission to active duty military and their families. Fortunately for us, just north of Indianapolis Conner Prairie is participating. Because of that, we were able to go there for just a couple spare hours we had while visiting Gramma. Otherwise, admission is $14 for adults and $9 for kids 2-12 during the outdoor season, making it something you'd want to spend the whole day on. Mondays are always closed, but check the website for hours and random days of closing for special events. Also if schools are in, expect field trips.
Forgive the photo quality, I forgot my camera. Again. These are from my cellphone.
The 1863 section is running a special event to commemorate Morgan's Raids into southern Indiana and Ohio. The town is partially burned and in the schoolhouse desks have been pushed aside to make room for an emergency telegraph station. The local general store has become a Union Army Recruitment office, and they will try to recruit you, too! At the home and farm, residents try to carry on as usual.
Here the kids helped water the 1863 garden. First they had to pump the water from the well. If only they were this enthusiastic about watering our garden.
A resident of the home continues with her music lessons. Most actors were based on real people of the time, known through their letters and diaries.
Interactive screen games let you try to defend the town against Morgan and his men.
Miriam tries on a dress at the General Store's play area.
If you cross the covered bridge, you step back into 1836. Here the houses and buildings are much more primitive. Kids can get a lesson in handwriting and arithmetic in the schoolhouse (they had a really neat pyramid teaching device written on the blackboard) or watch the blacksmith in action. Today he was making tent stakes for the travelin' preacher, who tended to leave his behind.
The local potter could make a pot ready to fire in about 5 minutes. It was hypnotizing.
At the doctor's house, his daughters were making gingersnaps and playing stick throwing games in the yard. The toss and catch were meant to increase a young lady's grace of movement. Both boys and girls were welcome to participate. The carpenter had to step away from the shop so his daughter played a lively "Yankee Doodle" on one of her father's instruments and showed us some of his tools. It was too dark for any of those photos to come out.
We were only there a couple hours, so we didn't get to the Indian Village or any of the indoor museum. Depending on the weather, there is an 1859 hot-air balloon you can pay extra to ride in. It just goes up and down, but that's how those "rides" were back then. At the gift shop you can buy some of the work of the potter or the blacksmith or the carpenter. They also sell period clothing and toys and books.