Historical Wonders of the United States

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Above dense forests and pristine streams of the Black Hills National Forest, Mount Rushmore National Memorial represents a national treasure. Symbolizing the ideals of freedom and democracy, it is a tribute to four presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln and their invaluable contributions to the United States. Mount Rushmore National Memorial represents not only the past, but also a promise for the future.

The WOW Factor:
The figure of Thomas Jefferson was started on Washington's right side (instead of left side). After 18 months of carving, the figure of Jefferson had to be dynamited off the mountain and restarted on the left of Washington.

Cost:
There is no admission to Mt. Rushmore, only a parking fee.

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Discover the story of the ancient Hohokams, the first people to live off of and cultivate the land of the Sonoran Desert. Located at a 1,500-year-old Hohokam village ruin, Pueblo Grande Museum has been dedicated to the study and interpretation of the Hohokam culture for more than 70 years. Come and explore the ruin of an 800-year-old platform mound, an excavated ball court, two full-scale reproductions of prehistoric Hohokam homes, and some of the last remaining intact Hohokam irrigation canals.

The WOW Factor:
In addition to the regular tour, check out the Museum's specialized tours, where you can learn about the artifacts not on display or tour the historic Hohokam irrigation canals.

Cost:
The cost for adults is $6 and children's tickets are $3.

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Accessible only by private boat or ferry, Egmont Key State Park boasts a unique natural and cultural history that has made this a valuable resource since the time settlers first arrived in Florida. Primarily a wildlife refuge now, it also includes the ruins of Fort Dade, a Spanish-American War era fort and the Egmont Key Lighthouse, standing 87 feet high since 1858 at the mouth of Tampa Bay. Abundant reminders of this unique military past can be found scattered throughout the island today. Silent gun batteries testify to a time when mighty battleships reigned supreme on the world's oceans, and a brick carriage road meanders across the island recalling the days when mules and horses carried military personnel. After touring the historic sites and trails, visitors can enjoy swimming, fishing, snorkeling in the sunken fort ruins, wildlife viewing, and picnicking. The island was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in December of 1978.

The WOW Factor:
A great place for wildlife watching. A prolific colony of gopher tortoises inhabits the remote island and the southern end of the island includes a bird sanctuary that is the site for twice-yearly Audubon migratory count.

Cost:
Access is limited to watercraft only. Private charters are available for a fee.

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Of all the places associated with America's War for Independence, none conveys the suffering, sacrifice and ultimate triumph more than Valley Forge. No battles were fought here; no bayonet charges or artillery bombardments took place, yet some 2,000 solders died. Valley Forge is the story of an army's epic struggle to survive against terrible odds, hunger, disease and the relenting forces of nature. Rows of cannon in Artillery Park, replica solders' huts and earthen fortifications around the park are silent reminders. The National Memorial Arch, statues of General Mad Anthony Wayne and Baron Friedrich von Steuben and the Monument to Patriots of African Descent are among many that remind visitors of America's heritage. At Washington's restored and furnished original stone headquarters ranger-led tours depart daily from the newly refurbished 1913 Valley Forge Train Station.

The WOW Factor:
Baron Von Steuben instilled uniformity, precision, and a work ethnic into the troops that transformed them (and he did so on the actual Grand Parade area of the Park). He documented these instructions in his Manual of Arms, which continued to be used by the U.S. Army until the 1980s. Which makes Valley Forge the birthplace of the American Army.

Cost:
There is no admission cost at Valley Forge National Historical Park.

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Old Cowtown is a living history museum where you'll experience life in the 1870s. Immerse yourself in a sampling of the sights, sounds and activities common to a Midwestern cattle town. The museum features more than 26 historic buildings and reproductions with period interiors and displays plus live animals, interpreters and reenactors. Try a wagon ride, hear the ring of the blacksmith anvil, and visit the humble home of the town's founder, Darius Munger. Be sure to stop at the home of the Marshall Murdock, who single-handedly promoted the town through his newspaper. After you smell what the farmer's wife is cooking for her family, try an ice cold sarsaparilla in the saloon...but be prepared to duck in the doorway as gunfire erupts in the streets!

The WOW Factor:
Old Cowtown Museum features the Darius Munger House - built in 1868 and was Wichita's first house with a shingle roof. It has been used as a boarding house, post office, church and public gathering place.

Cost:
Admission prices: Adults - $7.75, Seniors 62 and older - $6.50, Children 4-11 - $5.50, Children under 4 - free. Discounts available for bus tours and school groups.

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The Wright Brothers Memorial is the site of the world's first controlled powered flights by the Wright Brothers on December 17, 1903. This is the site of the most important technological breakthrough of our century. The museum includes a reproduction of the 1903 airplane and 1902 glider and actual tools and machines used by the Wright brothers. The memorial grounds include a monument to the Wright Brothers, first flight markers, and a reproduction of their living quarters and hangar.

The WOW Factor:
Site of the world's first controlled powered flights

Cost:
Audlts (16+) are $4. 15 and under are free

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Acoma Pueblo is built atop a sheer-walled, 367-foot sandstone bluff in a valley studded with sacred, towering monoliths. Established around 1150 A.D., Acoma Pueblo is considered the oldest continuously inhabited community in North America. The mesa-top settlement is known worldwide for its sustaining Native American culture and unique artworks.

The WOW Factor:
A federally recognized Indian Tribe, Acoma Pueblo covers 64 acres and is home to 4,800 tribal members with more than 250 dwellings, none of which have electricity, sewer, or running water. The Pueblo is also home to the revered San Esteban del Rey Mission Church built in 1629. In 2007, both Acoma Pueblo and the Mission Church were named Historical Landmarks by National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP). It is the only designated Native American site in the nation.

Cost:
Sky City Cultural Center offers guided tours atop the 367-foot-high sandstone mesa of the Pueblo and San Esteban del Rey Mission Church which can be accessed by a traditional walking path cut into the mesa or by car. Tribal members lead the walking tours sharing Acoma's unique Native American history. Tour admission is $20.00 for adults and $10.00 children. Senior, Military, University Student (with I.D.) is $15.00. Family Package (2 Adults, 2 Youth) is $50.00. Group rates of 15 people or more are available.

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The most famous spot in Texas, where 189 defenders fell on Mar. 6, 1836, after repeated attacks by Mexican Gen. Santa Anna's army. Mission San Antonio de Valero (The Alamo) was established in 1718 as the city's first mission. The highly-photographed chapel and the Long Barrack are all that remain of the original fort. The museum contains relics and mementos from the Republic of Texas and offers narrations on the fall of the Alamo.Although the Alamo fell in the early morning hours of March 6, 1836, the death of the Alamo Defenders has come to symbolize courage and sacrifice for the cause of Liberty.

The WOW Factor:
The Alamo, also known as Mission San Antonio de Valero, was built in 1718 by Fray Antonio de Olivares. The present day site of the Alamo, however, was chosen in 1724 and the cornerstone laid in 1744. Alamo is the Spanish word for cottonwood. It was thought there were cottonwood trees that were adjacent to the mission.

Cost:
Admission to the Alamo is free.

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The story of Birmingham's role in the long march to civil rights has been told and retold around the world. Richly detailed exhibits in the Civil Rights Institute reveal slices of black and white life in Alabama from the late 1800s to the present. The Sixteenth Street Baptist Church is Birmingham's most famous civil rights landmark, where in 1963 a bomb set by Klansmen ripped through the church, killing 11-year-old Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Addie Mae Collins, all 14 years old. Across the street from the church and institute is Kelly Ingram Park, which served as a gathering place for demonstrations in the early 1060s, including the ones in which police dogs and fire hoses were turned on marchers.

The WOW Factor:
Birmingham was once referred to as "Bombingham," a reference to the relentless violence that rocked the city in the late 1950s and early 60s.

Cost:
Civil Rights Institute: Admission: $12 Adults, $5 Seniors, $6 College Students with ID, $3 Children grades 4-12. Free admission on Sunday for everyone.

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NASA's launch headquarters is the only place on Earth where you can tour historic launch areas, meet a veteran astronaut every day of the year, walk under a real moon rocket, train in spaceflight simulators, and even view a launch. Experience a day of fun and a lifetime of inspiration as you get vertical on the Shuttle Launch Experience to discover the sights, sounds and sensations of launching into space. At Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, the sky isn't the limit - it's just the beginning.

The WOW Factor:
Much of the installation is a restricted area and only nine percent of the land is developed, the site also serves as an important wildlife sanctuary; Mosquito Lagoon, Indian River, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and Canaveral National Seashore are other features of the area. Center workers can encounter bald eagles, alligators, wild boars, rattlesnakes, panthers and manatees. KSC is one of ten major NASA field centers, and has several facilities listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Cost:
$38 + tax for adults/$29 + tax for children

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