The sprawling 2,200-acre Cahokia Mounds complex in Collinsville, Ill., are some of the most impressive Native American mounds in the country. While settlement in the area may date to roughly 1200 BC (during the Late Archaic period), the mounds as they are today were settled circa 600 AD (during the Late Woodland period). The mounds were probably built during the 9th century during the Emergent Mississippian cultural. The settlement has the distinction of being the largest, most influential urban settlement of the Mississippian culture.
Custer State Park includes more than 71,000 acres and is South Dakota’s first and largest state park. The state park and wildlife reserve is home to an assortment of animals, including free-roaming bison and prairie dogs. The park, established in 1912 and named for Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer, is famous for Needles Highway and its wildlife loop, offering incredible views of a bison herd and prairie dog towns. In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps built roads and laid out campgrounds
Dahlonega, GA 30533
The 1836 Lumpkin County Courthouse in downtown Dahlonega, Ga., is home to the Dahlonega Gold Museum Historic Site. Located on the town square, the courthouse is the oldest surviving courthouse building in the state, serving in that capacity until 1965. The state park is a testament to the first major gold rush in the nation. The museum collection includes exhibits about how gold is mined, tools miners used and actual samples of gold. The building features wooden seats from 1889 and the judge’s chambers.
By the 1930s and 1940s, Dunbar Cave was a popular destination, not so much because of its natural splendor, but because of the musical acts that performed at the cave entrance. The 8-mile-long Dunbar Cave was formed millions of years ago and has always attracted people. During digs at the site, archeologists found Paleo-Indian artifacts buried near the cave entrance, and in 2005, Indian glyphs were discovered on the cave walls.
Located on the north shore of the Etowah River and south of modern-day Cartersville, the mounds were inhabited from 1000 to 1550 by Muskogean Native Americans of the Mississippian culture, so named because the culture originated along the banks of the Mississippi River. Designated a National Historic Landmark in the 1960s, this 54-acre state park includes a museum with artifacts discovered at the site, six mounds the natives built, and a number of other related sites. The now 1,000-year-old Native American town is generally believed to be a city Hernando de Soto visited in 1540 when he was exploring the area. By that time, according to historians, the civilization was in decline and the Etowah Indian Mounds may have been abandoned.
Construction on Fort Clinch started in 1847 after the Second Seminole War on a peninsula near Amelia Island’s northernmost point. The only battle at the fort, named in honor of General Duncan Lamont Clinch, a leader in the First and Second Seminole Wars, happened during the Civil War. In 1862, Union troops recaptured the fort after Confederates seized control of the structure. The state of Florida bought the fort in 1935. Today, the fort is part of the 1,100-acre Fort Clinch State Park, which opened to the public in 1938.
Darien, GA 31305
Built in 1721, a dozen years before the first city in Georgia, Savannah, was founded, Fort King George was both the first English settlement on Georgia’s coast and the British Empire’s southernmost outpost in North America. It remained the southernmost settlement until 1736 when Fort Frederica was built on what is today St. Simon’s Island. With the help of historic drawings, the Lower Altamaha Historical Society and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources in 1988, a number of the fort’s structures were rebuilt, including the cypress blockhouse. The reconstructed fort is a replica of Barnwell’s original construction. Today, the park highlights the area’s 18th century cultural history, including the Guale Indians, the 17th century Spanish mission Santo Domingo de Talaje, Fort King George and the Scottish colonists. In addition, the state park features information about 19th century sawmilling.
The first European settlers came to the area in the late 1700s and built a series of forts, including Fort Yargo, to protect themselves from the natives. The 260-acre Fort Yargo State Park is home to a long fort was built in 1792 or 1793. The structure may have been built at the request of the Creek Indians who were then at war with the Cherokees. The Creeks likely were the first Indians to arrive in the area of what is now Barrow County and created the village of Snodon in what is now downtown Winder.
The lush, stream-cut Iao Valley is located about three miles west of Wailuku. Thanks to its natural environment and history, the valley has become a popular tourist location. It was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1972.
Apache Junction, AZ 85119
The 320-acre Lost Dutchman State Park is located near the Superstition Mountains about 40 miles east of Phoenix. The park was first developed as a day use recreation area by the Bureau of Land Management in 1972 and is named for the famed lost gold mine.
Niagara Falls is the name of a trio of waterfalls (Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls) straddling the border of the United States and Canada in upstate New York and southern Ontario. The falls formed roughly 10,000 years ago during the Wisconsinan glaciation, the North American ice sheet complex’s most recent glacial period. More than 20 million people visit Niagara Falls every year. The best-known tourist attraction at the falls is the Maid of the Mist, named for an ancient Ongiara Indian mythical character. The boat has transported passengers into the rapids immediately below the falls since 1846.
The Old State Capitol State Historic Site, in downtown Springfield, Illinois, sits where the state’s fifth Capitol building once stood. Built in the Greek Revival style between 1837 and 1840, the building served as the state house from 1840 to 1876. The building was extensively altered during its life as a courthouse. So, to restore and preserve the edifice, workers dismantled and rebuilt it between 1966 and 1969. The building today resembles how it looked in 1860 when Lincoln last saw the capitol before leaving for Washington.
The 12,000-acre Red Top Mountain State Park features more than 15 miles of hiking trails. The park, named for for the soil’s rich red color caused by high iron-ore content, is also home to an 1860s homestead. The park also offers nice views of Lake Allatoona.
The San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site commemorates the location of the Battle of San Jacinto. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960, the park is located off the Houston Ship Channel in unincorporated Harris County and is home to the San Jacinto Monument and the USS Texas, a New York-class battleship that launched on May 18, 1912, and served until it was decommissioned on April 21, 1948.
Tombstone, AZ 85638
There are two versions of Tombstone. The first is the stuff of legends. The second is the real history, which while entertaining and almost unbelievable, is a little less grandiose. For anyone especially interested in learning the full story of Tombstone, a visit to the Tombstone Courthouse is an absolute must. Cochise County built the courthouse in 1882 for administrators of the then-newly created Cochise County. It remained in use until 1929, when the county seat relocated to Bisbee. After its abandonment, proprietors planned to repurpose the courthouse as a hotel, but today the courthouse houses a museum dedicated to telling the historically accurate story of Tombstone.
Waiʻanapanapa State Park is a 122-acre state park in Hana, on Maui. It is located at the end of Waiʻanapanapa Road off Hana Highway, 53 miles east of Kahului, Maui. Waiʻanapanapa means “glistening fresh water” in the Hawaiian language, referring to nearby fresh water streams and sparkling pools.