Last month I blogged (is that really a verb?) about figuring out what you really like at cultural places you visit – not waiting for an “expert” to tell you what’s great. And, I asked readers to tell me what they really like at Conner Prairie.
I’m pleased that a few readers wrote in to express their thoughts. Now it’s my turn to say what I really like at Conner Prairie. Here goes.
• As someone who grew up around New York City, the only animal I knew well was George our standard poodle. Working here, I’ve been amazed by our farm animals. I never expected them to have personalities, no less communicate their needs so clearly. Our enormous oxen Red and Blue lift their chins to be scratched when someone approaches; I’m always happy to comply.
• Doctor Campbell and his mysterious and ghastly assortment of cures continues to surprise and amuse me. Someday I’m going to see if blood letting with leeches actually improves a headache.
• I like handcraft – always have, and am riveted by the spark of hammer on anvil in the blacksmith’s shop and the rhythm of the shuttle on the loom.
Toddlers are my favorite age because they express delight with every muscle. In the past month I’ve seen one tiny boy dash madly after a baby goat and another yell “train” with glee when the tram rounded the corner. Can you tell I’ve just become an empty nester and am ready to adopt grandchildren?
I could listen to Mike in the Lenape Village wind tales for hours, and I always tear up when former slave Albert Cheatham escapes from Morgan’s Raiders in 1863 Civil War Journey
• Finally, I am most at peace when I round the dusty path south of Prairietown and can view the White River snaking around the bend. I can just imagine canoes loaded with furs headed further north up to William Conner’s trading post.
How wonderful it is to stop and name the things I like best. Like counting blessings instead of worries.
Of all of the sights, sounds, and smells around Conner Prairie, there are a few that always stand out to me, in no particular order.
- The impressive sight of oxen pulling a cart through Prairietown
- The sight and sound of our blacksmiths forging and shaping hot metal.
- The obvious smells of farm life around the Golden Eagle.
- The smell of a cooking fire, with its smells of food, and wood smoke.
- The sight of our interpreters engaging our guests.
I always come back though to the view of the Prairie from the front of the Conner House as my favorite spot. As we wind down summer, and head in to fall with the turning of leaves, coupled with the late day sun, these two elements will morph this vista into something unheralded and rare.
When William Conner
built his brick home, he positioned it very purposefully at the crest of a hill with a commanding view of the prairie, and river below. This was not lost on those who visited Conner in those early days.
In fact, the view of the prairie has always been commented on by early travelers and visitors to Conner’s Home. Nathan Bolton, an Indiana newspaper man, and contemporary of William Conner, stated in 1823:
“I looked down from the second story window of Mr. Conner’s dwelling, on a field of 300 acres of waving corn, some two feet high, with 15 or 20 merry plowmen scattered over it at work.”
Almost 200 years later, you can look out to see the land being restored to a prairie, along with crops being planted that continue on a 200 year old tradition. One thing however remains the same, the power of the view.