Memory Lane Road~Trip Part 13

26 Sep

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 13 – Sunday 4/29/2018 

Today I headed west on I-20 to visit the Vicksburg National Military Park in Vicksburg, MS.  This national park covers 1,728 acres, and is designed to preserve the site of the Battle of Vicksburg, which took place during the Civil War in the summer of 1863.  The park displays an impressive number of historic monuments (1,325), strategically placed along the nearly 16 miles of tour road that rings the park.  Also there are a total of 144 period canons positioned in simulated high-ground battery locations that gives a person an idea of just how large the battlefield was.

I had originally thought the USS Cairo Museum was in a separate location, so I had to ask for directions to the Museum.  It turned out to be located on the park’s Tour Road, toward the northern edge of the park, adjacent to the Yazoo River.  This museum houses the restored remains of the USS Cairo that was built in 1861. One of the first ironclads to be built at the beginning of the Civil War, she served with the Army’s Western Gunboat Flotilla on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers until 1862 when she was transferred to the Navy later that year.

On December 12, 1862, while clearing mines from the Yazoo River, she struck a mine and sank.  Not located until 1956, the gunboat was damaged in 1964 while crews were trying to raise her.  After many years of hard work and many delays, the restored USS Cairo and its museum were finally opened to the public in 1980.

While in Vicksburg, I also visited The Old Depot Museum located just a couple of miles south of the USS Cairo Museum.  This museum is housed in the old 1872 Vicksburg Railroad Depot, and consists of scale models of the Olde Town of Vicksburg, a scaled model scene of the Battle of Vicksburg, operating model train layouts, as well as model ships, boats and vessels dating from the time of the Vikings to the present.

Next I headed west on I-20, across the Mississippi River, to visit the Chennault Aviation Museum located in Monroe, LA.  This small museum basically tells the story of Claire L. Chennault’s military career, from his initial involvement in aviation during WWI, to his part in the creation of the American Volunteer Group (AVG), known as the “Flying Tigers” in China prior to WW2 and beyond.

I continued west on I-20 to Ruston, where I turned north onto US-167 for a short side trip to visit the Bernice Depot Museum located in Bernice, LA.  This very small museum is housed in the 1895 Arkansas Southern Railroad depot, and was one of the significant loading points for the surrounding lumber industry during the late 1800s.  The museum displays memorabilia related to the railroad and local lumber industry that gave birth to this small town of Bernice.

Greta kept me with a question in my mind as to her navigating abilities for the better part of the next hour.  She took me thru roughly 50 miles of Louisiana back roads to get us back to I-20.  Then it was another 30 miles west so I could visit the Barksdale Global Power Museum (8thAir Force Museum).  This museum is located just outside the gate to the Barksdale Air Force Base, on the east side of Shreveport, LA.  The museum consists of a building that tells the history of the 8thAir Force by means of memorabilia, artifacts, and exhibits and some 20+ beautifully restored outdoor static displayed aircraft.

Barksdale Global Power Museum

Now it was just a few miles west to visit the Shreveport Water Works Museum located on the southwest side of Shreveport adjacent to the Red River.  The museum is housed in the old 1887 McNeill Pump Station building, and displays much of the original steam equipment, pumps, filters, and other machinery used to supply water to the city of Shreveport during the late 1800s.

Right next door to the Water Works Museum was the Shreveport Railroad Museum.  This small museum is housed in one of the original 1887 Water Works buildings, and displays memorabilia and artifacts related to the civic and economical influence of the Kansas City Southern Railway on the Shreveport area, dating from the 1860s.  The museum also has several pieces of rolling stock in various stages of restoration at an off-site location, including steam locomotive #1140.

Just a few blocks away I tried to visit the Strand Theater there in downtown Shreveport, but it was closed.  Wikipedia tells me that the theater was built in 1925, and opened as a Vaudeville venue until the mid-1940s, when it became a movie theater.  This 1,536 seat theater remained a movie theater until it was closed in 1977.  It was renovated and reopened in 1984 as the “Official State Theater of Louisiana” where it serves as a performing arts venue featuring mostly off-Broadway traveling shows.

Another few blocks away, toward the Red River, I visited the Spring Street Historical Museum there in Shreveport.  This small museum is housed in what was originally the Tally’s Bank building. Built in the 1860s, the building is one of the few remaining examples of New Orleans style cast-iron gallery grillwork in Shreveport.  This museum displays historic artifacts and memorabilia related to the history in and around the early days of Shreveport, as well as displays of traveling costumes of the time period.

I wondered why my stomach was growling, and decided it was time to head for the motel and get something to eat.  Greta took me to the motel with no trouble, and after getting checked in, I was able to relax, warm up, and enjoy leftover Zydeco Wrap from the Froghead Grill.

—–To Be Continued—–

is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 61 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.


One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

One Response to “Memory Lane Road~Trip Part 13”

  1. Onisha Ellis September 26, 2018 at 12:09 pm #

    A very successful day! Glad so many places were open.


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