Editor’s Note: During this period of social distancing, Group Tour magazine will continue to provide group travel inspiration. Many attractions and destinations are closed at this time; please contact them directly for updated information.
At Booker T. Washington National Monument in Hardy, Virginia, groups will walk the grounds where Dr. Booker T. Washington was born and freed.
“He took his first breath of freedom sometime in the spring of 1865 when a Union soldier came to tell the owners of the plantation that the enslaved people were now free,” said Betsy Haynes, park ranger at the Booker T. Washington National Monument.
The monument sits on what was once Burroughs Farm — a tobacco plantation — where Washington, his mother Jane and two half siblings were enslaved. After he was freed, Washington went on to become an educator, author, orator and adviser to multiple U.S. presidents.
Today, this piece of land preserves the place where Washington spent his childhood through exhibits, educational programs and re-created structures.
“Groups will see a reconstructed kitchen cabin replicating the one where Washington spent his nine years,” Haynes said. “Also, there is a smokehouse, blacksmith shed, tobacco barn and a farm with farm animals.”
Tours can be requested and arranged with a park ranger. Tours will begin with an orientation and the film Measure of a Man. Groups can then view the indoor exhibits at the visitor center.
After diving into Washington’s story and the history of the farm in the visitor center, venture to the farm to see sheep, horses, chickens, ducks and a pig. The farm was re-created to look just as it did in the 1850s. Groups will learn about what animals would have lived at the farm during the time Washington was enslaved there.
Next, visit the garden area to learn about gardening techniques used by the owners and slaves — specifically techniques used for subsistence gardens.
Groups might see history come alive through reenactments and individuals dressed in re-created mid-19th-century attire worn by slaves, owners and Civil War soldiers.
In addition to the many buildings, the monument includes two nature trails that wind through the majestic fields and deep forests surrounding the farm. Make sure to stop by the bookstore and gift shop to find some souvenirs.
Reservations are required for tours. The Booker T. Washington National Monument can accommodate groups up to 50.
For more information on Booker T. Washington National Monument call 540-721-2094 or go to nps.gov/bowa.