George Washington Carver National Monument
Location: Diamond, MO
Smashed Penny Machine: No
We made a stop at this small national site on our way from Southern Indiana to Dallas. My daughter had read about George Washington Carver during school this past year and wanted to visit this site. The park is located on a rural highway about a half hour Southeast of Joplin, MO and is about fifteen minutes from Interstate 44, making it an easy stopping point if you are traveling through the area.
We started our visit of the park by exploring the museum. The first floor offers a short film about George W Carver along with several exhibits detailing his life. The second floor has several hands on exhibits for kids to explore Mr. Carver’s life and the general ecosystem of the area. On this floor there is also a replicate of a one-room schoolhouse that my daughter was in love with. There was also a very nice patio for wildlife viewing that overlooks the prairie.
After exploring the Visitor’s Center, we walked the Carver Trail. This is a fairly easy mile loop that takes you out to the farm house and back around to the Visitor’s Center. While the trail is mostly flat it is also dirt on large parts of it. You could probably take a stroller on it in dry weather but with all the rain this Spring it was fairly soggy and had standing water in some spots. The trail takes you past a small community grave site where George’s owners/adoptive parents are buried along with several members of other nearby families. The trail then walks through the woods with several informational plaques about George’s life growing up on the farm. The cabin sits about the halfway point in the trail. It is just a small two-room cabin with some informational plaques inside. Unfortunately the property has changed hands several times before coming under the scope of the National Parks Service so most of what you see is not what would have been there in the 1870’s when George lived on the property. From the cabin the trail follows back through the woods past a very nice contemplation garden with a statue of a young George and back to the Visitor’s Center. The trail does climb up hill a little bit but it’s not hard. Our two year old walked the whole trail herself (except where we were trying to keep her from splashing through puddles).
After returning to the Visitor’s Center, my daughter completed her Jr Ranger booklet and received her badge. There were several picnic tables in the shade around the parking lot so it would be easy to bring a picnic lunch. We spent about an hour and half at the park and that was more than enough time to experience it all.
Overall: This is a very small and very quiet park (other than the school group there was maybe four other Visitor’s). While the park was nice and we learned a lot of great information about a truly remarkable man, I wouldn’t suggest going out of your way for this park. However if you are traveling I-44 this makes an excellent place to stop for kids to burn some energy and maybe learn something in the process.