Free for kids under 5, $2 for kids 5 and over and $4 for adults
Importance: John Rankin and his family are estimated to have assisted over 2,000 slaves to freedom without a single loss. The family would signal escaped slaves with a candle or lantern from their hilltop home.
Destination: Hopewell Culture National Historical Park: Mound City Group Chillicothe, Ohio
24 minutes from Piketon
Importance: Location of earthworks and burial sites of Hopewell culture 200 B.C. and A.D. 500. The land on which Mound City Group is built was farmland owned by Capt. Mordecai Hopewell--the namesake of the culture.
Destination: Big Bone Lick State Park in Union, Kentucky
About 2.5 hours from Piketon
Importance: Known as “the birthplace of American vertebrate paleontology.” Animals such as mastodon, mammoth and ground sloth once roamed in this area. This is a great introduction to Ohio’s prehistoric past, complete with a museum and visitor’s center, outdoor displays and discovery trail, salt lick viewing areas and an American Bison herd.
Visit the museum. Have children choose an artifact and recreate it at home with modeling clay.
Visit the Salt Festival, held each October. Have children talk to costumed interpreters about a product or craft such as salt, lye soap or leather hides. Have them write a five-paragraph essay describing the process and its importance.
Visit the bison herd, then have children read about how Native Americans used every part of this important animal.
Destination: Tu-Endie-Wei Point Pleasant Battle Monument State Park in Point Pleasant, WV
One hour, 16 minutes from Piketon
Importance: known to some as one of the first battles of the American Revolution. American settlers and Native American Tribes clashed over land and the British aligned with some tribes to gain fur trade. According to legend, Shawnee Chief Cornstalk cursed the area at his death--with some blaming the Silver Bridge Collapse on this event.
Visit the mansion house on the property. Find the examples of hair weaving and talk about why this was an important tradition for Victorians (note: most suitable for older children).
Find the location of the burial of the lead plate placed by a French explorer to claim the land for his country. Have children write a paragraph about why they think this area was desired by so many.
Visit the statue of Chief Cornstalk near downtown Point Pleasant. Have children draw his likeness and write about his role in the battle.
Destination: Perryville Battlefield, Perryville KY
About 3.5 hours from Piketon
Can be combined with a visit to nearby Bardstown
Importance: Perryville Battlefield is an excellent way to introduce kids to the Civil War without the time commitment of sites in Virginia, Pennsylvania, etc. Over 6,000 men were killed, missing or injured in the wake of this battle. A museum and interpretive car tour tells the story of Kentucky and the Civil War. A mass confederate grave shows humanity in the wake of brutality.
Take the auto tour (pick up a brochure in the visitor’s center). Have children choose one stop on the tour and have them write a journal entry from the point of view of a soldier looking out from that place.
Visit the Confederate monument and discuss the importance of this gesture. (note: most suitable for older children).
Visit during the annual reenactment in October. Have children sketch the battle formations they observe.