Compiled by Laura Huffman
Learning is a lifelong process. I recently had a 93 year old woman happily tell me “I learn something new every day!” Learning is also fluid and is not only confined to a classroom. As a child’s teacher you can provide depth to your lesson plan with hands-on interactive field trips. Fortunately, for the sake of the homeschool families bank account, these trips do not have to be pricey or even within an urban setting. Waynesville, located in the Ozark Mountains of Mid-Missouri, is a prime example of a small town field trip friendly destination. A field trip to Waynesville can cover Native American history, pioneer history, Civil War history, World War I and II history, geology, hydrology, architecture, geography, engineering, transportation, nature, and art, among other subjects.
1. Route 66 has been described as America’s largest open air museum. Waynesville lines both sides of the legendary highway that runs through it. A highlight is the downtown bridge that spans the Roubidoux River. The bridge was constructed in 1923 and is eligible to be nominated to the National Register of Historic Places. A sidewalk allows foot traffic to safely cross- and gives a bird’s eye view of the river below. (Tip- Pulaski County Tourism Bureau offers a free turn-by-turn guide of Route 66 through the area, including Waynesville’s segment.)
2. Trail of Tears Memorial is a thought provoking, poignant testimonial to an ugly, horrific event in American history. The memorial includes seven story boards, installed by the National Park Service, City of Waynesville, & the Missouri Trail of Tears Association, beginning at the natural spring, and ending just north of the downtown bridge at the old river crossing. The trail is hard surfaced and wheelchair accessible. (Tip- The trail continues to Waynesville Park. Bring a picnic basket and discuss what you saw and learned over lunch.)
3. Pulaski County Museum is located in the 1903 courthouse building overlooking Route 66. This building housed Pulaski County’s government for over 85 years and was designed by Missouri State Architect Henry H. Hohenschild. The upstairs courtroom is almost original to the day that it was built. Exhibits showcase items from the everyday life of Pulaski Countians. (Tip- The museum is open each Saturday April through September from 10 am until 4 pm. Admission is free. Group tours by arrangement.)
4. Old Stagecoach Stop is located on the downtown square, just a short walk from the Pulaski County Museum. This building has been a Waynesville landmark since the 1850’s and was used by the Union Army as a hospital during the Civil War. Each room in the two story building represents a different use and era in the building’s history. (Tip- Admission is free and the museum keeps the same hours as Pulaski County Museum. Group tours can be arranged. A wealth of information is included on their website.)
Bonus- We all know that play plays an important role in children’s development. Waynesville’s Little Heroes Playground, an all-accessible play area is located in the City Park.
To plan your homeschool field trip to Waynesville, request your free Visitors Guide and Historic Walking Tour brochure from Pulaski County Tourism Bureau by calling 573-336-6355. The Bureau also offers an area geocaching brochure.