Ron & Elena's 2007-2010 Travels travel blog

Our high-tech tour guide.

The park is "full" of monuments large and small. I took photos...

The park is very hilly, has many trees and large open grassy...

Large, beautiful memorial honoring all those who served from Illinois.

Close-up of same memorial.

View from top of IL memorial steps.




The Shirley House


Signs like this document in some detail the events that occurred in...

Some statues like this one were donated by ancestors of soldiers who...













One of the ship's two steam pistons that turned the paddle wheel.







One small corner of a very large cemetery. Small stones mark the...

Mississippi River.

Like the country, Missouri was divided. This memorial honors both the Union...

Large beautiful memorial honoring the soldiers from Iowa.

Walnut Hills Restaurant

Very rustic and comfortable inside.

The lunch special menu. We both selected items on the "blue plate...

I had fried chicken and Elena had shrimp entouffee served over rice....

The VERY delicious bread pudding desserts were included!

Louisiana visitors center & rest stop where we are parked for the...

(Ron Writing) We took it easy yesterday after being on the go ever since leaving North Ranch. The weather was quite hot and humid after the recent storms.

Today the weather was much cooler and perfect for being outdoors. We spent most of our day at the Vicksburg National Military Park. Vicksburg was a very strategic city during the Civil War positioned to control navigation on the Mississippi River. President Lincoln determined that taking Vicksburg from the Confederates was key to winning the war. After several failed battles General Grant led a siege of the heavily fortified city and after 46 days General Pemberton surrendered to him.

This 1,800-acre park includes a visitor center where we watched a movie about the battles fought on this site, and also toured the displays. We then rented a “GPS Ranger” tour guide. This electronic device used GPS technology to sense our location as we drove around the 16-mile road which closely follows the Union and Confederate lines occupied during the siege. The ranger had a small video screen and it gave short audio/visual presentations as we moved from point to point.

The park also has hundreds, perhaps thousands, of monuments commemorating all the various military units from the various states that participated in the battle of Vicksburg. Some statues were donated by individuals to honor an ancestor. On the park grounds is a National Cemetery, the largest national cemetery of Union dead, where thousands of Civil War veterans are buried. Sadly there are many unmarked graves. Another museum on the grounds has the remains of the only surviving iron-clad river gunboat of the seven used during the Civil War. Many of the 6,300 artifacts removed from the submerged boat are on display.

We didn’t finish the tour until mid-afternoon and we still hadn’t had any lunch. We had a recommendation for the Walnut Hills Restaurant in Vicksburg. It was right along the route of the self-guided driving tour of the old part of the city so off we went on the driving tour and a search for the restaurant. We found it with no problem and enjoyed a very delicious dinner. This restaurant is noted for its “southern plantation cuisine” and was included in the book “1,000 Places to See Before You Die” by Patricia Schultz.

While reading the story of the restaurant on our placemat we learned that the first recorded name for this area was Nogales given it by the first Spanish explorers in the are. They noted it was a beautiful area with many Indian villages and a profusion of walnut trees. The English later anglicized the Spanish name to “Walnut Hills”. By 1819 settlers began moving into this area and Rev. Newet Vick founded a town here. Newet died the same year but the town he founded has ever since been called Vicksburg.

After dinner we left Vicksburg heading west on I-20. After crossing the Mississippi River again we drove a few miles into Louisiana and stopped at the Louisiana Visitors Center and rest stop where we are spending the night.

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