Monday, September 17, 2007

Pea Ridge National Military Park: Rogers, Arkansas

The Pea Ridge National Military Park is located north of Rogers, Arkansas on Hwy 62. The 4,300 acre park commemorates the battle fought on March 7 and 8, 1862. It is open from 8-5 daily with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Days. The park also closes when there is severe weather.

The museum inside the visitors center displays, canon and other weaponry and artwork from that era. Also on display are uniform jackets worn by General Curtis. While in the visitors center you can watch a 28 minute film Thunder in the Ozarks which will give you an overview of the battle. The film airs every 35 minutes. Copies of the film are available on VHS for $10.00 and DVD for $12.00.

There is a well stocked gift shop in the center. A wide variety of books are available as well as period cookbooks and crafts for children. T-shirts and other souvenirs are for sale as well. A driving tour CD of the park is available for $13.00.

Entrance fees for the Pea Ridge Military Park are $3.00 per person, $5.00 per carload, and $15.00 for an annual pass. If you are interested an annual pass that will allow admission to all national parks is available as well as a lifetime Senior pass.

Kids can pick up a junior ranger guide at the visitor center. It outlines a scavenger hunt that includes the museum and the battlefield. They can link clues and answers to the guide and earn a Junior Ranger badge. If they’d like they can become a WebRanger. Just log onto

On the weekend nearest the anniversary of the battle. March 7 & 8 the park hosts an event. You will ride buses to the different stops. People in period clothing will be giving demonstrations. Firing canons and muskets as well as portraying the day to day functioning of the troops. You can call the park at 479-451-8122 after the first of the year for information on the date.

You can choose to tour the park three different ways. There is of course the driving tour you also have the option of a hiking tour or riding horseback. The park does not rent horses. The hiking trail is 7.5 miles so make sure you are properly equipped if you decide to hike.

When you purchase tickets you will receive a brochure that details information about each stop on the tour. There are also additional plaques at each stop. Plenty of parking spots are available along the way. Stops do have spots that will accommodate motor homes.

It’s best to bring a camera. There a wonderful views on the tour and you are likely to see several whitetail deer on any given day. The park estimates the deer population to be 250-450 and they are most likely to be seen in the morning and the evening when they feed. They will be working on reestablishing the quail population over the next several years.

The park service plans to rebuild the entire 17 miles of historic wormwood fencing in the park as part of their Centennial Strategy . It is their intent to restore the battlefield to its 1862 appearance. They have reopened five miles of the 19 miles of historic roads and five historic fields. Steve Black of the National Park Service stated that Leetown would not be reconstructed because they have no idea what it looked like. However, they are working with the University of Arkansas to find the sites of the buildings in Leetown and mark them.

There is also a 2 ½ mile stretch of the Trail of Tears inside the park. About 1,000 Indians fought in this battle. There were black and Hispanic soldiers fighting at Pea Ridge as well. If you’d like to find out more about whether your ancestors were involved in the Civil War, a database of 6.3 million soldiers is on the National Park Civil War website.

Most of the Confederate soldiers who died that day are buried in the Confederate Cemetery in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The rest were buried in a mass grave in an unknown location somewhere in the Pea Ridge National Military Park.

If you are planning on visiting the park, you should allow at least two hours to tour the museum, check out the gift shop and do the driving tour. And don’t forget your camera.

Have a great trip!

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