Friday, July 17, 2009

Activity: Battle Of Lexington--Civil War Battle Field and Town

Location: Main battle field is located at 1101 Delaware St, Lexington MO. However, the whole town has a lot of other things to see. Lexington is about an hour North East of Kansas City. It's an easy drive and a straight shot.

Cost: The battlefield and museum is free, a tour of one of the houses on the battlefield is 2.50 per adult, kids under 6 are free.

This is the website for the actual town as there are a lot of things to see in the town other than the battlefield.

Appropriate for all ages. The younger kids get a big field to run around in and the older ones will probably enjoy picking up the cannon balls.


For those not familiar with this, it's a civil war battlefield. It was known as the Battle of the Hemp Bales because Confederate soldiers rolled wet hay bales up a hill to get close enough to attack the Union soldiers. Once you actually see the battle field and the hill they had to roll up, you can see the balls it took to do this.

The battlefield has a pretty decent visitors center/museum that is attended by very friendly staff. However, my daughter got stung by a wasp as we were walking in but I think it was just one of those freakish things. The staff, without my asking, produced anti-sting wipes and my kiddo was good to go.

The museum itself is on the small scale but pretty well done. You get to see old medical supplies for cutting off legs, bullets and other things that will catch the history buffs eye. The kids probably won't care about a lot of this but everyone loved the cannon balls. They actually let you pick up one to see how heavy it is. Even I thought that was cool as crap.

After the museum you get to walk the field. There is a decent trail that is well maintained and you can get a real feel for what it must have been like rolling the hay bales up. Our only complaint here is that a lot o the woods around the battlefield is grown up and blocks some of the view, but the kids didn't seem to mind. You can also see the mounds where the Union Fortifications were. There are also several informative plaques placed around the battlefield which fill you in even more. The whole field is not that big so the younger kids won't get tired taking the walk.

You will pass by several things as you walk the battlefield. There is a grave stone marking 5 unknown union soldiers and also the Anderson House. This house is pretty cool and the only thing you have to pay for on the tour. This house was a main area of fighting during the battle and they have tried to keep it in it's original form. You can still see all the bullett holes which we all agreed was badass. History note: muskets seem to be a bad shot. I can't speak on the inside tour as we didn't take it. The younger ones (3 and under) might have had a hard time not wrecking the place.

I think the kids really liked this. We had two 1 year olds with us and two 3 year olds with us. They got along well and seemed to have a really good time on the battlefield itself while the Dad's got to soak up some history.

The North end of the battlefield is the Masonic College which was the Union Headquarters. This is known as College Park. It's big attraction is a cannon from Old Ironsides, the Union steel ship. The college building itself no longer exists.

I would skip this section of the battlefield. There are picnic tables there and a playground. However, none of it appears well kept. The playground's ground mulch has worn away and weeds are rampant. The equipment was rusted in a lot of places. There were wasps everywhere. We ate a quick bite there and then took off. The cannon is worth to see but not the rest of it.

All in all, it was a nice day trip for the history buffs and I would take my kids there again. I would give it a B, not the best I've ever seen but not the worst. Interesting enough to go back again when the kids are older.

The Rest of the Town:
As you are in Lexington, you might want to check out the other things that they have to see there which could be very interesting. Look at the website to give you an idea of the other things. I can't comment on them all but I can tell you what we did.

The Courthouse:
This is totally worth a quick visit because there is actually a cannon ball stuck in the top left column. That is pretty awesome and one of the highlights of our trips.

SALUDA MEMORIAL at HERITAGE PARK: Skip this one. It's a bit hard to find and get to and we found it just by accident. It commemorates the worst steamboat disaster on the Missouri. It's a neat idea but bad location. Not worth it unless you just drive by.

Old Neighborhoods on Franklin St.: Mixed review on this one. It's a walking tour so grab your stroller. The houses seemed to range from 1830 to 1900. Some of them are just awesome. You can really see the style and appreciate. Most of the houses have a sign on them to let you know when they were built. I dig this. However, everything is privately owned and alot of people still live in them. Which means that some of them are in need of some repair. But it's a good stroll to take after lunch, which we had in the downtown area.

Scenic Route 224: This was an intersting road that leads back towards Kansas City. It follows the river but you don't get to see all that much of it. There are two points to stop and lookout but nothing closeup and a lot of it was blocked by trees. But it's a relaxing drive if you want to take it. A lot of farmland out there.

Final review: Lexington is worth an adventure. Plenty to see and you can get done in about 2 hours and head on home. There are also a lot of Wineries and Orchards up there that we didn't get to see but would love to. I do feel that I have to mention the people. About as nice as they could be. Friendly, willing to go out of thier way to show you around.

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