OH to CA National Park Units

May 31, 2022

4/6/2022 – Trail of Tears National Historic Trail in Moccasin Bend National Archeological District of Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park in Chattanooga TN.  This is one small segment of a route used to forcefully remove Cherokee and other Native Americans from their homelands to “Indian Territory” (now Oklahoma) from 1830 to 1850.

Brown’s Ferry, a part of the Federal Road connecting Chattanooga to points west, was on a route used to force Cherokee from their homes in GA after gold was discovered there in 1838. 

The Trail of Tears was a series of forced displacements of about 60,000 Native Americans as part of the Indian Removal Act of 1830.  The relocated peoples suffered from exposure, disease, and starvation – thousands died while on the trail.  Some have labeled this “American Genocide or Ethnic Cleansing.” How different is this from the forced relocation of Ukrainians from Ukraine?  This question could result in some interesting moral discourse.  Does it relate to Critical Race Theory?  

As mentioned, this unit is part of Chickamauga and Chattanooga NMP – the marker describes how Federal troops crossed the Tennessee River on pontoon boats (October 27,1863) here and attacked the sleeping Confederates thereby opening a much-needed supply line to Union forces.  See this Blog for our January 2020 visit to this Civil War Military Park. 

On this trip, I started at Orchard Knob in Chattanooga where General Grant had his headquarters and a 360-degree view of the battlefield – including Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge.

The Illinois Monument

The view of Missionary Ridge

I then drove to the Sherman Reservation on Missionary Ridge and followed the ridge (some beautiful houses on this route) to the Chickamauga Battlefield in GA

Delong Reservation

Ohio Reservation – Lookout Mountain in distance

Bragg Reservation

There were many Medals of Honor awarded to individuals during this battle.  One was Arthur MacArthur; his grandson General Douglas MacArthur, Army Commander in the Far East during World War II, was also awarded the Medal of Honor.  He officially accepted the surrender of Japan aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945.  

I stopped briefly at the Chickamauga Visitor Center and then drove to Washington GA. It was now dark, and the Washington Historical Museum was closed.  The town square proved to be a good place to spend the night.

4/7/2022 – I was up early and drove about 7 miles to the Battle of Kettle Creek NMP, which is an Affiliated National Park Unit. I left my tripod in Chattanooga, so now I was using the end of my hiking stick, which has a screw to support my camera, for self-photos.  Of course, I had to search for a good spot to stick it in the ground so it would not fall over!

In early 1779, Patriot Colonels Andrew Pickens, John Dooly and Elijah Clarke joined forces (~380 militia) to overtake Colonel Boyd and his British Loyalists (~650 militia). On February 14, 1779, Boyd halted his troops for breakfast in a flat area between a steep hill and Kettle Creek. Pickens attacked. Boyd led a counterattack and was mortally wounded.

The Battle of Kettle Creek was the first major victory for the Patriots in the back country of GA during the American Revolutionary War.

My next stop was Freedom Riders NM in Anniston AL – Helen and I were here in March 2017 – see Blog.  Today I visited the NM Visitor Center, which is in the Calhoun County Area Chamber & Visitors Center.

“The Other Bus” – there was also another bus that was attacked the same day, May 14, 1961, in Anniston – a Trailways bus.

I then re-visited the Greyhound bus site in Anniston and drove to the location where it was burned.

Note how the sign describing the incident has been damaged.  I have found this to be a common occurrence in relation to Civil Rights historical signs in the South.

Also note the Confederate flag flying across the street!

I continued west to the Birmingham Civil Rights NM, just as we did in 2017.  The following are pics of related places that I did not cover in our March 2017 Blog post.  The first is the A.G. Gaston Motel, which served as the headquarters for the civil rights campaign in 1963. It is being refurbished as the NMs Visitor Center.

St Paul United Methodist Church was established in 1869 to allow newly freed African American slaves an opportunity to gather and worship.  It hosted mass meetings and was involved in nonviolent civil rights training including the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March.

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, established in 1992, provides a history of Civil Rights in Birmingham as well as cultural, educational, and research services related to the international struggle for universal human rights.

Additional photos from Kelly Ingram Park where, on May 3, 1963, police, canine units, and fireman attacked hundreds of peaceful student demonstrators.  Images of the use of brutal police force shocked the nation and world.

Drove SE and re-visited Horseshoe Bend NMP – see Blog for March 2017.  This is where, in 1814, Gen. Andrew Jackson’s forces killed more Native Americans than in any other battle in the history of the U.S.  I took additional photos in the Visitor Center.  Replica of the Upper Creek Indian Village –

This band of Creek Indians were called the “Red Sticks.”  They built an 8-foot barricade to protect their village.

I also did a video from this battlefield Overlook

I then drove to the Loachapoka AL Museum, which was closed.  Loachapoka was one of the larger settlements of the Upper Creeks before and after the Battle of Horseshoe Bend.  The Creeks that remained in this area were removed 1835-1837 (Trail of Tears) to Oklahoma (Indian Territory).  

There were also other historical markers outside the museum – Dr. Alexander Nunn

Loachapoka “Boom and Change”

Across the highway from the museum was the site of the First Rosenwald School.  There is currently an effort to establish a Rosenwald Schools National Historical Park.  

Julius Rosenwald, the son of German-Jewish immigrants, was a prominent philanthropist and businessman from Chicago. Driven by the Jewish concept of “tzedakah” — righteousness and charity — Rosenwald partnered with African American communities across the South to partially fund and build thousands of schoolhouses.

Constructed between 1912 and 1932, these “Rosenwald Schools” were some of the first permanent educational facilities for Black people in rural areas. Check out this map of the schools that the fund supported –

I then drove a short distance to Notasulga AL and visited the Shiloh-Rosenwald School, which still stands.  It was renovated in 2010.

The Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church was one of the recruitment sites for the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study.  Blacks were purposely infected with Syphilis – many are buried in the nearby cemetery!

I then drove to Selma AL, entering the city –

There were a series of events that took place in March 1965 that brought Selma to the International stage.  An old cotton port, Selma Blacks had half the voting-age-population in 1950.  However, due to literacy tests, poll taxes, and intimidation only 156 of about 15,000 African Americans were registered to vote.  In the early 1960s, a push for voter registration gained steam.  In January 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King (MLK) joined forces with local leaders to organize “marches” for voter registration.  On March 7, 1965, John Lewis and Hosea Williams led a group of about 600 marchers over the Edmund Pettus (who was an AL Senator and a Grand Master of the KKK) Bridge.  The marchers were attacked by state troopers and local law enforcement, some on horseback, first with nightsticks, whips, and rubber tubes.  The attackers then donned facemasks and fired tear gas while continuing their assault.  John Lewis was badly beaten and almost killed in this attack.  This day became known as “Bloody Sunday.”  Another larger march was then planned for March 21st to March 25th culminating in Montgomery AL, the state capitol.

The Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail, commemorating that march, begins in downtown Selma at the Interpretive Center

It then crosses the infamous Edmund Pettus Bridge

The major purpose of the March was to demand the right of Blacks to vote.  It was a 54-mile march along US 80, the Jefferson Davis (President of the Confederacy) Highway! 

In 2019, Helen and I drove the March route, but it was too dark for photos.  Though I did get this one when I illuminated this sign for Campsite 1 with my headlights.

The Lowndes Interpretive Center for the NHT is near the Rosie Steele Farm, which was the location of the second of four march campsites.

After the S-M March, whites retaliated by forcing Black people off their land.  With no place to go, they set up a “Tent City” at this location.

On August 6, 1965, President Johnson signed the “Voting Rights Act,” which suspended literacy tests, called for the appointment of federal election monitors, and directed the US Attorney General to challenge the use of poll taxes by states.

Slept in Meridian MS

4/8 F – arrived at the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home NM in Jackson MS at 7:30am.  Minnie Watson of Tougaloo College had given us a personal tour here in January 2019 – see Blog.  Today, I stopped for some additional photos.  Medgar Evers was assassinated in the driveway of his home on June 12, 1963.

Visited John in Beaumont TX

4/9 Sa – 7hr drive to Palo Alto Battlefield in Brownsville TX. Visited here in May 2014 – see Blog.  The 2014 blog entry describes this first battle of the Mexican American War (1846-48).  The Mexican Army laid siege to Fort Texas on the Rio Grande River in May 1846.  Mexican General Mariano Arista then set 4,000 of his troops on the plain at Palo Alto.  General Zachary Taylor, who had just re-supplied at Port Isabel, attacked on May 8, 1846.

The Mexicans suffered heavy losses and moved south during the night.  They set up a defensive position at Resaca de la Palma.  Taylor attacked the next day.

The Mexicans were routed and withdrew across the Rio Grande River to Matamoros Mexico.

Cannon Memorial

The siege of Fort Texas on a bend in the Rio Grande River, was lifted.  Gen. Taylor had left 550 men here when he went to Point Isabel for supplies. Arista then retreated further to Monterrey. US losses were about 54 killed and 114 wounded. Mexican losses were 260 killed, 353 wounded, and 159 missing.  Zachary Taylor would go on to become the 12th President of the U.S. in 1849.  Fort Texas was renamed Fort Brown for Maj. Brown who was killed during the siege. The fort was controlled by the Confederates during the Civil War.  The site eventually became the Fort Brown Memorial Golf Course and Texas Southwest College. 

The area near the river is now protected by the U.S. Army to prevent illegal immigration.  I spoke with some of the guards and was permitted to tour the Fort Brown site.

Cannon on former Golf Course

“After negotiations, Mexico accepted the Rio Grande as the Texas boundary and ceded the land between Texas and the Pacific to the US for $15 million.”

The Civil War Palmito Ranch Battlefield NHL is just east of Brownsville TX on Rt 4

The Palmito Ranch Battlefield NHS is nearby in the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge administered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFS). This was the last battle of the Civil War (5/13-14/1865) and took place a month after Lee surrendered at Appomattox (4/9/1865). It was a Confederate victory!

Private John J. Williams of the Indiana Infantry, one of 118 U.S. soldiers killed, wounded, or missing at Palmito Ranch, was the last soldier killed in a Civil War battle.

Slept on the road –

4/10 Su – Gassed up in Marathon TX – note the old rolling digit pumps

Map – I entered Big Bend NP at Persimmon Gap

Helen and I were here for three days in 2006.  On March 5th, we drove to the East end of the park and took a short hike to the Boquillas Canyon overlook.  Mexicans had walked across the river and placed handicrafts for sale on the US side.  You could yell across the river and bargain, but we did not buy anything. We then did a nature trail at the campground and went to the mineral Hot Springs (where they empty into the Rio Grande River) for a dip in the 105-degree water.

We then drove into the central mountain area where we set up camp in the Chisos Valley and then went to the Lodge for soup and salad.

March 6, 2006 – we packed up camp, had some dry cereal and cranberry juice for breakfast and then drove to the Lost Mine trailhead.  We took a beautiful early morning 4-mile hike up along a mountain ridge with some great views. 

We then drove out of the park to Study Butte for lunch and continued on route 170 along the Rio Grande to the border town of Presidio.  There wasn’t much there (not even a pawn shop!) and we headed back on the same road.  We stopped at a sign that said Closed Canyon where Helen read in the car while I hiked about a half mile down a slot canyon toward the river.  There were places where I could reach out and touch both walls (50-60 feet high) of the canyon.

We then drove about 20 miles north of Study Butte to the outfitter (Deadriver Canoe Rental) where we were renting a canoe the next day.  No one was there but we found the owners in a nearby restaurant and were able to go back and set up our tent next to their business in the middle of the desert (outhouse but no water).  Thank goodness for the double air mattress because there was nothing but rocks.  We then drove back to Terlingua where we went to another authentic Mexican restaurant – Los Paisanos.  The women could not speak English, but her husband could, and he recommended one green and one red enchilada dinner.  We were the only ones there, sitting at one of their six small tables – the food was delicious!

March 7, 2006 – we again had our dry cereal and cranberry juice breakfast and then loaded the canoe on to the car.  It was about 25 miles back to Big Bend National Park and then another 40 miles through the park, stopping at viewpoints and taking short hikes, before getting to the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River.  Hiked the Santa Elena Canyon Overlook Trail (1.6-miles) to scout the river. 

We then packed tuna fish sandwiches, snacks, light gear, and water in our dry bag and unloaded the canoe.  One of the outfitters there allowed us to use his dolly to roll the canoe about a quarter mile to the river. 

The water was low, and I had to drag the canoe to a point where we could start paddling.

But, because it was low, we were able to paddle about 2.5-miles upstream into Santa Elena Canyon.  This used to be a whitewater rafting river but dams in Mexico and New Mexico have limited the river flow.  We had to pull our canoe around some chutes and through some low water areas as we worked our way up through shear rock wall canyon. 

We stopped at a side canyon (Fern Canyon) in Mexico to eat lunch and relax before heading back.

I dropped Helen off at the put-in spot so she could drive the car about a half mile downstream where she could pull up right next to the river.  I paddled that stretch alone but it made it easy putting the canoe back up on the car.  We drove back to the outfitter, dropped off the canoe, packed up our tent, and drove to Alpine TX where we got a room (with meager continental breakfast) in the old Bien Venido motel ($40).  We again went to a Mexican restaurant and again had green enchiladas (the authentic ones are round) for dinner – before we left on this trip, we decided to maximize our Tex-Mex meals!     

Now fast forward to April 10, 2022 – my first stop in Big Bend NP on this trip was at the Fossil Discovery Exhibit.

Did the short hike for a view of the Chisos Mountains

Then toured the Fossil Discovery Exhibit

A Pterosaur hangs above the main hall.  It is thought to be the world’s largest flying creature of all time!



Volcanic Highland Environment

Floodplain Environment – note mural at bottom

Marine Environment

Big Bend NP Topo model at Panther Junction Visitor Center

Drove 7-miles down a rough gravel road to get to the trailhead for the Grapevine Hills (Balanced Rock) Trail.

It is a 2.2-mile out and back trail.  You start in a sandy wash and then move up through a boulder field.

You gain about 200ft in the last quarter mile.  Watch out for snakes –

The Reward – A Big Balanced Rock

Steep descent

After returning to Rt 118, I took a short hike into the desert to get this shot of Croton Peak with a flowering Ocotillo cactus in the foreground

Hike to Maverick Badlands Hoodoo

Presidio – Oldest Town in America

West TX windmill – an Aeromotor, made in Chicago

Stopped in Marfa TX for lunch (Tacos) and to visit the Blackwell “Mexican School” NHS, which has been proposed as a NP Unit

In 1889, the Methodist Church was converted to a school in the Mexican community.  The children were required to speak and write only English.  The school closed in 1965.

The Blackwell School Museum tells the story of de-facto segregation in TX – 1910 photo

It was a “Red Flag” day, meaning very high winds.  Winds were 25-35mph with gusts up to 60mph. When I placed my camera on a tripod and set the timer to get in a picture, the wind blew it over breaking the camera!    I took this photo with my phone.

Purchased a camera at Walmart in El Paso TX, then drove into New Mexico where I slept in the SUV off I25, somewhere around Truth or Consequences NM.

4/11 M – drove North along I25 to Fort Craig NHS (BLM).  I25 follows the Rio Grande Valley, which was the route of the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro (Royal Road of the Interior Lands)– the Spanish Road/Trail from Mexico City to Santa Fe (1,600-miles long).  It is a NPS National Historic Trail. 

This is a New Mexico State Monument titled “Road of Dreams” by the sculptor – commemorating the El Camino Real.

This sign is at Fort Craig

After the Mexican American War (1848), the U.S. acquired the lands north of El Paso and established forts to protect trade in the new Territory of New Mexico and the Rio Grande Valley.  The Socorro Garrison was established in Socorro in 1849.  It was replaced by Fort Conrad in 1851, and then by Fort Craig in 1854.

This is a BLM National Historic Site

Fort Craig was at the center of the largest U.S. Civil War battle in the Southwest – the Battle of Valverde. Texas Confederate General H.H. Sibley captured military installations in El Paso and started moving up the Rio Grande Valley.  The goal was to capture Fort Union in northeastern NM, the Colorado gold fields, and then the ports of CA.  Sibley moved past Fort Craig because he did no want to risk a frontal attack on the well protected fort.  On February 21, 1862, Colonel E.R.S. Canby led Union troops, and a contingent of New Mexico volunteers commanded by Kit Carson, out of the fort and attacked the Confederates at the Valverde crossing of the Rio Grande River.  The Confederates prevailed and the Union troops retreated to the fort.  However, half of the Confederate supply wagons were destroyed. Sibley continued north and Fort Craig was never taken.   The loss of the remaining Confederate supplies at the Battle of Glorieta Pass, east of Santa Fe near Fort Union, on March 28, 1862, forced the Confederates to retreat to Texas and ended Southern aspirations for military conquest in the West.

After the Civil War, troops stationed at the fort resumed their attempts to control Indian raiding. 

Troops from Fort Craig included Buffalo Soldiers of the 9th Cavalry and 38th and 125th Infantry, pursued Geronimo, Victorio, and other hostile Native Americans.


I continued north to re-visit El Morro NM. This sandstone promontory, with a pool of water at its base, has been a stopping place for thousands of years.  It is on a main east-west trail used by Native Americans, Spanish explorers, and Anglo-Americans. 

The Zuni call this rock formation Atsinna, which means “place of writings on rock.”  The Spaniards called it El Morro, which means “The Headland.”  Those that followed called it “Inscription Rock.”

Today I did the Inscription Rock Loop Trail.

My first stop was the pool at the base of the rock wall –

The sandstone provided a ready surface for petroglyphs, names, dates, and short descriptions left by those who passed this way. 

Most of the inscriptions are now hard to read.  This is the oldest Spanish inscription, made in 1605.

Another example of what inscriptions look like today and a clear one from 1849.

In 1998, Chad and I did the 2-mile Headland Loop Trail to the top of the mesa

I took his photo of Chad from the Astinna Village Site atop El Morro.

This display in the Visitor Center shows the location of the Zuni Pueblo (green) west of El Morro. 

In 1982, after visiting El Morro, Helen, Stacy (10), Peter (9), Kate (1), and I where able to climb a ladder to a balcony overlooking the internal courtyard of the Zuni Pueblo at dusk and watch a REAL “Rain Dance.”  This was not for tourists; we were the only Anglos there – no speaking and no photos.  It was incredible to watch and listen as the dancers, mostly male elders, emerged from the kiva and danced about the courtyard.  They were dressed in their Zuni regalia (think Kachina Dolls), chanted, and danced to the sound of drums.  One of my favorites were the “Mudhead Clowns,” who act as disciplinarians and jokers.  They had red clay painted bodies and their masks were formed by mud balls with human-like features.   

The rock wall had protected me from the wind at El Morro, but as soon as I started driving west my gas mileage dropped!  When I arrived at Petrified Forest NP in AZ, I again had to deal with high winds.  I was afraid to set up my new tripod and camera, so I took a selfie. Because of vandalism and poaching (petrified wood/rocks), you must enter the park before 5pm.  If you are in the park, you must be headed for an exit at 5pm.

This was my third visit to this NP.  We had visited as a family in 1982 (Stacy 10, Peter 9, Kate 1, no Chad yet).  In 1992, the visitors were Tom, Helen, Kate, Chad, and Manuel our student from the Canary Islands.  Photos taken on the Painted Desert Rim Trail in the northern part of the park (off Interstate 40) – Peter (1982)

Manuel (1992)

Tom (2022)

Old Route 66, now Interstate 40 passes through the park – that is a 1932 Studebaker

Puerco Pueblo occupied 1250-1380 CE

Newspaper Rock

The Tepees

Hiked the 3.5-mile Blue Mesa Trail in 1982 and 1992

Stacy 1982

Kate, Manuel, and Chad 1992

Kate 1992

Giant Logs 0.4-mile Trail

In 1992, we combined the Long Logs Trail and the Agate House Trail for a 2.6-mile hike

Kate in the Rainbow Forest Museum, 1982 and 1992


I had to rush to get to Canyon de Chelly NM before dark.  Ancestral Pueblo Groups in the Four-Corners Region – #16 is Canyon de Chelly.

I did three stops on the South Rim Drive.  First the Tunnel Overlook

Second, Tsegi Overlook

Third, Junction Overlook where I met Samuel Thomas, a Navajo selling carvings from cottonwood trees in the canyon and one of his wife’s paintings.

Canyon de Chelly NM was one of our first stops when Stacy (15) and I did our 1987 road trip together.

We started our day by doing the short (0.4-mile) Spider Rock Trail

Spider Rock is 800ft tall.  According to legend, Spider Woman lives at Spider Rock, and taught the Navajo how to weave.

We then did the White House Ruin Trail (2.7-mile), which descends 600ft into the canyon.

It is named for the long white plaster wall in the upper dwelling

Hogan – the Navajo are still farming the canyon floor

Slept in Winslow AZ

4/12 Tu – I texted family, “I was just standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona,” from the song titled Take it Easy by the Eagles 1972.  On my way to Lake Mead NRA – See Blog April 2021 for other visits.

I stopped at Katherine Landing on South Lake Mojave just upstream from the Davis Dam on the Colorado River

Colorado River Dams

My objective today was to see and experience the proposed Avi Kwa Ame National Monument that is located in the southern tip of Nevada.  Avi Kwa Ame is the Mojave Tribe name for Spirit Mountain.

I drove the 15-mile Christmas Tree Pass gravel road from Rt 163 just west of Laughlin NV to U.S. 95

My first stop was at Grapevine Canyon where there is a trail to some petroglyphs and beyond

Photo progression to some of the petroglyphs

The trail, and then scramble, continued up Grapevine Canyon following an almost dry spring bed

I was able to climb up to a view of a balanced rock and a bit further.  But I got to a point where I felt the granite rock was too slick for me to climb higher – wish I were younger!

It was a gorgeous day with a temperature of about eighty degrees.  Because I was on the leeward side of the Newberry Mountains, there was little wind at this location on this “Red Flag” day.  On one side of the road was the Bridge Canyon Wilderness and on the other the Spirit Mountain Wilderness.

I bush wacked up a slope for some photos of the desert vegetation and rock formations

Bottom line, Avi Kwa Ame is worthy of National Monument status.

Next stop LA (Silver Lake) and dinner with Kate and Helen –

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