October 11, 2008

Field Trip Foto Friday: Louisiana Purchase Historic State Park


This Field Trip Foto Friday happens to be a day late. It is part of my FTFF series and was taken in the 2006-7 school year while we were studying frontiersmen, native American Indians and explorers (Lewis and Clark). My kids were in Third and Fourth grades and we took this field trip with some co-op buddies.


We were excited to be able to visit the Louisiana Historic State Park while we were living in Arkansas. Arkansans argue that this survey point is actually the "gateway to the west" because it was this survey which opened up the Louisiana wilderness for settlers. The original "Louisiana" sprawled from the Gulf of Mexico all the way to the Canadian border. All of Arkansas was part of this land purchase. Part of the panhandle of Texas was also included.


Deep in this shady Arkansas headwater swamp lies a stone monument to our country's past. Three counties join together at one corner in this murky place. The Louisiana Purchase Landmark pinpoints the initial point from which all land surveys of the Louisiana Purchase began. In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson purchased this huge chunk of what we now know as America from France, doubling the size of the United States.


This particular headwater swamp is the largest remaining of its kind in the Mississippi River Valley. We loved strolling down the winding boardwalk built just above the swamp and seeing the wildlife and plants there. Amazingly, the drought that preceded our visit that year almost dried up the wetlands and made the monument very easy to see. Headwater swamps are usually consistently wet and they are relatively rare because of how easy it is to drain them for farm land. Having experienced flooding in one of our homes before, I couldn't imagine living on property that had once been a soggy swamp!


There were plenty of opportunities to linger and learn about swamp habitat and American history along the boardwalk if you stopped to read the exhibits along the path. We met a few creeping critters here and there, as well. There were plenty of furry catipillars and dangerous looking spiders to photograph. We imagined the surveyors having to slosh through the swamp with their measuring sticks and were glad that we had the convenience of a wooden path instead.


For more information on this park, headwater swamps, the Louisiana Purchase, and other related educational tools, click here for the free PDF files offered by the Louisiana Purchase Historic State Park to teachers. It is a great history/science booklet that will provide much more information than the park website or this review for your homeschool students!

The swamp was an intriguing place to visit and the children had a good time. I'm glad we got to go while we were living out of state. Seeing these photos again makes me miss our friends in Arkansas even more. This time of year I also miss the weather in the Natural State. We don't get near the same sort of fall show with our trees down in Texas.


I hope that you are enjoying your tour of our field trips and be sure to stop back by for more in this series (I'll try to get them up on Friday next time!). Check out the links below for past years' field trip links and other homeschool records that we keep here on Sprittibee. Take advantage of this autumn weather and get out with the kids to see and experience the landmarks, museums, and nature in your local area! You'll be glad you did. Field trip memories are some of the most fun ones in our homeschool experience.

Quick Links
Louisiana Purchase Historical State Park Official Site
History of the Louisiana Purchase
Sprittibee's Homeschool Series (my book lists, curriculum, other field trips, etc...)
Other Field Trips from 3rd & 4th Grade

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