Friday, October 25, 2013

Appomattox, VA

Today was a golden day on the road. 

A great night’s sleep, sunny skies, and blue highways.  Add to that a dollop of history.   I feel aglow with good fortune!

With a drive of 201 miles today, the objective was the Appomattox Court House National Historic Site.  Pulled over into a rest stop somewhere in NC for coffee and work. 

After 3 days, I finally got off the interstate at Greensboro and on to US-29.  My favorite kind of road – 4 lanes, good surface, light traffic, nice scenery. 


Later in the afternoon, I got my first NP stamp of the trip!  It always feels like such an accomplishment.  

I have always wanted to see Appomattox Court House.  Is there a more compelling moment in U.S. history than Lee surrendering to Grant?  It’s a monumental, yet very personal, moment. A event that makes the people of the past live and breathe.  

If you need a refresher like I did, see the next-to-the-last episode of the Ken Burns’ Civil War documentary.

[Note:  Historian David McCullough, who narrated the documentary with that wonderful voice of his, lectured at Auburn University last week.  John and I love his books, so I made sure to go.  I was so pleased to see such a good turnout.  I hope the students, in particular, heard his message: history matters]. 

The Appomattox site contains many original buildings from the small settlement that was Appomattox in 1865.  The one I was most eager to see was the McLean house in whose parlor the surrender took place

The defeated Lee rode his horse up this lane. 

And dismounted in this yard.

The parlor is to the left of the front door

The meeting between Grant and Lee took just 90 minutes. 

For this history nerd, it was a thrill to stand in that very spot. 

I told every NP employee and volunteer I encountered that I am so happy they are back on the job. Every single one responded with a hearty ‘Me too!!!’  It was clear they were not referring to a paycheck.  What a pleasure to see such dedicated people.   

OK.  Matthew Brady I'm not.

Staying the night at the Appomattox Wal-Mart.  (Where else?).  There is a frost warning in effect tonight with a low of 25 expected.  But I'll be cozy– the GDB’s propane furnace is up to the task! 


  1. Kim, Lee's surrender to Grand is one of history's most poignant moments to me, too.

    Sometimes I wish I didn't get so personally into history. It can be painful. I could imagine what Lee was feeling as he rode up that lane. Thanks for sharing it with me.

    BTW, my middle name is Lee... named after you know who. :)

  2. Lee surrendering to Grant just see a program on PBS on it...
    I love your travel blog...
    how do you plan your trips? Do you know every night and day where you will be?
    Just wondering ...thanks donna

  3. Standing in those most historic places can be very rewarding and moving.

  4. Standing in those places of history - that we have read about in school (maybe more for us older folks) - gives us a deeper sense of why we are here and how we got here. It's a good feeling.

  5. Oh how I love history!!!! When we were there I felt the very same way! :-) So glad you were able to experience this historical place!

  6. Thanks for visiting our historic community!!!

  7. We just spent 3 days in Williamsburg and had the same powerful feelings. Right now we are in Charlottesville. Sounds like you might be headed our way.


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