The walk started at the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site and promised "fun, fitness, and history on a three-mile walk through Grantwood Village". Tony and I knew a little bit about Grant-he was the commanding general during the Civil War, led the Union Army to victory over the Confederacy and the 18th President of the United States. We had visited the Grant site before, where we learned how he fell in love with and married Julia Dent and received farmland from her father, but neither of us knew anything about the surrounding neighborhood.
We were to arrive at the visitor center 15 minutes before the tour started. I was afraid we would get caught up in the traffic to get to Grant's Farm (an animal preserve owned by the Busch beer family), but there was no problem getting into the parking lot. In the end there were several dozen people on the tour.
White Haven Farm map
National Park Service
Before we left the visitor's center the tour guide laid out the itinerary. We would walk through the Grantwood Village subdivision and learn a little about its history. We would cross one fairly busy road (Rock Hill) on our way to the place where Hardscrabble, the log cabin Grant had built by hand had been located, then take an alternate way back. He said we should walk against traffic on the left side of the road and look out for cars and stressed when we reached Rock Hill not to cross until we got the go-ahead.
Every couple of blocks the guide stopped to let the stragglers catch up and share some history. I learned that after Grant lost his fortune in 1884. He turned the land over to William Vanderbilt to settle his debt. Luther Conn, a former Confederate Officer acquired the property in 1888. Conn had became so impressed with Grant while owning the property that he renamed the place "Grantwood". The first houses were built in the early part of the last century, but the section we walked through was developed in the 1950s.
Once the group got across Rock Hill our guide pointed out the memorial for the
site of the Hardscrabble cabin. The cabin was moved several times and now is at Grant's Farm, but there was a plaque to commemorate the original
By the time we returned to the visitor's center I was hot and thirsty. The guide offered a tour of the inside of the White Haven house to anyone who was interested, but Tony and I agreed we didn't need to see it a second time and headed back to the car.
Five years ago: Rearview