Roaming Roanoke: Booker T. Washington Park
For this edition of Roaming Roanoke, we got outside and enjoyed the weather while learning some local history at the Booker T. Washington National Monument!
The weather has been gorgeous! It’s almost like we went from winter straight to summer, and i am okay with that. Now, we can visit outdoor places and enjoy all of the spring trees and flowers! We recently visited Booker T. Washington Monument and Park for the first time.
The Booker T. Washington Monument is on Booker T. Washington HIghway in Hardy, Virginia.
The National Park website says, “Booker T. Washington National Monument commemorates the birthplace of America’s most prominent African American educator and orator of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The property evokes an 1850s middle class tobacco farm, representative of Booker T. Washington’s enslaved childhood at the Burroughs farm. He was born in 1856 to the Burroughses’ cook, Jane and lived on the farm throughout the Civil War.” (info from https://www.nps.gov/bowa/learn/historyculture/index.htm)
“After the Civil War, Washington became the first principal of Tuskegee Normal and Industrial School. Later as an adviser, author and orator, his past would influence his philosophies as the most influential African American of his era.” (info from https://www.nps.gov/bowa/index.htm)
The park set at his birthplace and where he lived his early life provides many historical lessons while having sites for recreation. The monument itself is at the front near the Visitor Center. The Visitor Center is currently closed for Covid restrictions, but brochures are outside with plenty of information on the park and maps of the area. You can walk around the park and go inside some of the historical buildings, plus there are several trails.
The national park includes gardens, fields, barns, the old kitchen cabin where Booker lived, a smokehouse, and blacksmith shed. Each site has historical information either on the building or in brochure. There are plenty of places outdoors near the Visitor Center to learn of Booker T. Washington’s life after he left his birthplace and through his accomplishments in adulthood.
In addition to learning history, my young kids enjoyed seeing the pigs, horses, chickens, and ducks at the park. The walk provided great exercise as well. Several other families were there too with young children who also enjoyed running, playing, and seeing the exhibits. We also saw several people with dogs on the trails.
The trails include the Plantation Trail, a quarter mile loop where you can see 19th-century farm buildings similar to those from Booker’s childhood. The Jack-O-Lantern Branch Heritage Trail is a one mile and a half walk through fields and forests. Pets are allowed but must be on a leash at all times.
Because of Covid restrictions, the bathrooms are closed. There are plenty of businesses nearby if you need to stop before or after your visit to the park. There are several businesses in the Hardy area for food. The Homestead Creamery is also nearby!
The Booker T. Washington Park is easy to find on Booker T. Washington Highway! You can spend as much or little time as you desire there while learning the region’s history and spending time outdoors!
If you have a place or event for Roaming Roanoke to visit, please let me know!
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