After we left Congaree National Park on Friday, we drove to Gaffney, SC. We just needed a place to spend the night before we visited a nearby park the next morning. Pulling into the Gaffney Walmart parking lot in the dark, we found the most perfect Walmart campsite 😉 ever – right out our front door was a lovely, huge, clean, open 24/7, well lit, Laundrymat!!!! <3 ! So, besides a quick restock trip into Walmart, we got our 18 loads of laundry caught up (had to stay up until 11:30 to get it all folded, but I was just happy to be caught up!) – I had been doing laundry 4 loads at a time in little machines in the campgrounds, and I had forgotten just how much I loved big washing machines!
The next morning, we got up and drove about a half hour east to the Kings Mountain National Military Park. King’s Mountain was an important American victory in the Revolutionary War; it was called ‘the turn of the tide of success’ by Thomas Jefferson.
There was a lot that we loved about this park. They had a nice, roomy visitor’s center with a gift shop, theatre, and museum. There was a very nice elderly volunteer at the counter; she greeted everyone with a smile and was so friendly to everyone that came into the v.c. She gave the kids their Jr. Ranger books, and reminded them to stamp their books with the park’s dated seals (and even took the little girls over and helped them). At this park, there is one Jr. Ranger book, with different activites for ages 5-8, and others for 9 and up (the older kids do a mixture of easy pages and some harder ones). They suggest having 2 hours to finish the book.
*This park’s book has a few pages in the back that are fun activities for the kids to do at home – one of them was coloring pages; one of a frontiersman that would have been fighting at King’s Mountain, and the other a picture of Ferguson, the English commander. Also, there was a spread of 1776 tunes that ‘you can sing as you are driving home’. This is one of the songs:
God Save America
(Sung to My Country ‘Tis of Thee)
God save great Washington,
Fair freedom’s warlike son
Long to command.
May every enemy,
Far from his presence flee,
And many grim tyrant
Fall by his hand.
(copied from the Jr. Ranger book)
Fun! There were other songs (including the British version – God Save the King). (and this is where I try really hard to keep my mouth shut about the similar present day songs we talked about making up…) 😉 There were other take home pages too.
I think the thing I liked best about this JR program was that the book offered lots of different activities so it was fun for the kids – they could pick and choose which activities to finish based on their ability and interests.
We watched the really great film that is shown in the visitor’s center theatre. The 26 minute film was mostly about British commander Ferguson. It told about how he designed a new rifle that could be reloaded from a prone position (laying down). He was a British officer who’s job it was to go around and encourage the loyalists (men who grew up in America but were loyal to the crown) to fight. He was the only British person at King’s Mountain – everyone else was from America, choosing sides as either a Loyalist Soldier or a Patriot Militia Soldier. The film had a lot of military/battle reenactments, and the boys were riveted the entire time – it was very well done (even Caleb sat enraptured). Tho my ubber patriots thought it was a little too much to play sad music when Ferguson was shot off his horse by 8 balls at once! They thought victory music would have been more appropriate. LOL!
-One of the pages in the Jr. Ranger book said: “Put yourself in Patrick Ferguson’s shoes. What whould you have said to encourage the Patriots to give up and join the Loyalist forces?” -yeah, none of my kids did that page 😉 hehehe!
However, all that being said, we did find Ferguson a very fascinating man, and our visit to King’s Mountain has peaked interest in learning more about him.
After watching the film, we took a tour through the museum…The museum is designed to look like you are walking through old growth cypress woods. The large trees (not real) are hollowed out and have exhibits inside of them.
In the middle of the museum is a topographical table that uses light pinpoints and audio to replay the sequence of the battle. The battle lasted about an hour, and was a landslide victory for the Patriots; the Loyalists lost 225 men with 715 captured, while the Militia lost only 28.After we walked through the museum, we all went outside and walked Battlefield Trail around King’s Mountain. The loop is 1 and a half miles long, and while it is paved, the grades may make it unsuitable for wheelchair use. We took strollers for the littles, and they got pretty heavy to push uphill – thank goodness for big boys! LOL! Because we are visiting at the beginning of April, the trees have not budded out, and it is pretty brown and barren – probably much like it would have been when the October 7, 1780 battle occurred.The loop takes you around much of the mountain, and then up onto the summit (we laugh at the use of the word mountain – back home in MT, this MIGHT be a hill 😉 ).
Up on top of the mountain is the US Monument…
…and no more pics because my camera ran out of battery! 🙁 -but this is nearly the end of the trail anyway.
We finished the loop down to the visitor’s center, where the volunteer and a ranger checked the kids’ books, and gave the kids badges.
So, was King’s Mountain Family Friendly?
Pros – great film if you are interested in anything military or historical, interesting museum that doesn’t have so much reading that you have to spend the entire day in it, gorgeous grounds with lots of trees, smooth trail around the mountain that was safe for littles to walk themselves, friendly staff, and clean bathrooms (hey, that’s important when you have kids!).
Cons – the gift shop was out of wooden rifles – we so would have bought one for Caleb 😉 (LOL!) , no hand’s on activities for the littles in the museum.
Yep, pretty family friendly! Because it’s about a military battle, instead of nature, my littles weren’t so interested, but my guys all loved it, and Beth and I thought it was a very pretty park to walk! As usual, we would love to go back when we have more time to explore (and when the park is green!). 😀