Published August 08, 2012
Everyone knows about the Statue of Liberty and Alcatraz, but there are many off-the-beaten-track historic sites that come with advantages like fewer tourists and shorter lines.
From coast to coast, here are 10 U.S. sites that you might want to add to your list:
The Pacific Coast’s less-welcoming version of Ellis Island opened in 1910. Unlike the East Coast immigrants, who were greeted by the Statue of Liberty, the immigrants traveling to Angel Island were isolated and detained on Angel Island. Once on the island, immigrants were subjected to rigorous interrogation. According to the California Department of Parks and Recreation, the Chinese made up more than 97 percent of the immigrants processed on Angel Island. Its administration building caught on fire in 1940, ending the island’s use.
Some consider Washington to be the most influential black educator from 1895 until his death in 1915. He was born a slave on this Hardy, Va., farm, which now paints a picture of farm life before the Civil War. The monument celebrates Washington’s life and legacy, which includes founding the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, now known as Tuskegee University.
The Battle of Brandy Station in Virginia was the largest cavalry battle ever fought in North America. As the first battle of the Gettysburg campaign, it took place on June 9, 1863. Also check out The Graffiti House, which got its name thanks to the Civil War signatures, inscriptions and messages on the walls of the second floor. It's also located in Brandy Station, Va., and serves as a visitor center.
The Greenbrier, which is located in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va., has roots that go back to 1778. After serving as a hospital during the Civil War and World War II, the U.S. government approached the Greenbrier regarding a bomb shelter for Congress during times of emergency. An underground bunker was built in conjunction with the above-ground West Virginia Wing of the hotel. Codenamed Project Greek Island, the facility was prepared to transform into a component of national defense for 30 years. The bunker was decommissioned in 1992 after the end of the Cold War and the press publicized its location. Today, the Greenbrier is a luxury resort and casino, but you can also take a 90-minute tour of the bunker.
Actually located in Brinkley, Ark., Louisiana Purchase State Park marks the initial point for all surveys of the Louisiana Purchase, an 1803 deal that more than doubled the size of the United States. Today, a 950-foot boardwalk winds through the swamp for scenic strolls.
The Monocacy Aqueduct is the largest aqueduct along the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, which is the most intact canal out of the 36 major canals built between 1806 and 1850. The seven-arch aqueduct withstood a deliberate confederate attack and Hurricane Agnes. The aqueduct is part of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park.
Early settlers saw this five-story site, which is located in the Verde Valley of Arizona, and mistakenly associated it with the famous Aztec ruler, but the Sinaqua people built Montezuma’s Castle and then abandoned it to move northeast. In 1906, Montezuma’s Castle was named one of the first national monuments by President Theodore Roosevelt.
Palo Alto Battlefield The Battle of Palo Alto occurred on May 8, 1846, and was the first in a two-year conflict between the United States and Mexico. The Mexican-American War ended with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which finalized the purchase of California and New Mexico. The battlefield is located north of Brownsville, Texas, and features trails and an overlook.
Slater Mill Slater Mill, which is located in Pawtucket, R.I., is often called the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution. Samuel Slater, an English immigrant, built North America’s first successful water-powered cotton spinning mill here in the 1790s. Today, Slater Mill is a museum complex that offers tours, costumed interpreters and is home to the Community Guild Studios, a fine craft and textiles center.
Henry Ford Museum The Henry Ford Museum is a treasure-trove of historic machinery and artifacts. You can see the limousine President John F. Kennedy was riding in when he was assassinated and the bus where Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat. The Dearborn, Mich., indoor-outdoor museum began with Henry Ford’s personal collection, and is home to the chair President Abraham Lincoln was sitting in when he was assassinated.