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Black Heritage Travel: Northwestern United States
"Been There!" = Personal notes about places I've visited.

Alaska Idaho Montana Nebraska North Dakota
Oregon South Dakota Washington Wyoming Home /// Additional Resources

Alaska

Black Veterans Memorial Bridge - Alaska Highway Milepost 1399

The Big Gerstle River Bridge was re-named as the Black Veterans Memorial Bridge in 1993 by a bill sponsored by Rep. Bettye Davis of Anchorage. Naming of the bridge, built in 1944, recognizes and commemorates the black soldiers of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for their contribution in constructing the Alcan Highway, now known as the Alaska Highway, from 1942-1944 during World War II. The Alaska Highway was built as a land transport route in the event that the Japanese seized shipping lines in the Pacific and to connect and supply a chain of strategic military airfields in all weather conditions. This bridge is one of five truss bridges in the U.S. portion of the Alaska Highway that retain integrity from the World War II period of significance. Source: Federal Highway Administration, Final List of Nationally and Exceptionally Significant Features of the Federal Interstate Highway System

For more, see the PBS website Building the Alaska Highway

Yukon Department of Tourism and Culture - Hidden History: Black History of the Yukon

The content for this online exhibit is based on a three panel display produced in 2006 by the Yukon Archives, the Yukon Human Rights Commission and the Yukon Status of Women Council. Text, documents and photos tell the story of the early years of black settlement, building the Alaska Highway, and women's history.

Idaho

Boise - Idaho Black History Museum

Housed in the historic St. Paul Baptist Church building located in Julia Davis Park, the museum was established to educate individuals about the history and culture of African Americans, with special emphasis on African Americans in Idaho. You'll find more about their exhibits, programs, and events - including the annual Juneteenth Festival - at their web site.

Boise - Soul Food Extravaganza

First Saturday in August, Julia Davis Park. The Soul Food Extravaganza (SFE) began in 1993 as a large picnic to foster camaraderie among the Treasure Valley's growing African-American community and to share the down-home staples with different groups around the Boise area. Attendance has grown to over 10,000, and musical groups, dance ensembles, fashion shows, entertainment for children, merchandise and food vendors have been added to the event. You'll find recipes, this year's menu, events, information about accomodations, and more at their web site.


Montana

Great Falls - Union Bethel A.M.E. Church

The church is one of the first-built and longest-used churches for African Americans in Montana. The Great Falls AME congregation organized in 1890, and the current structure dates back to 1917. See also this article from the Great Falls Tribune, February 4, 2007 Historic Black Church Shines With New Light.

Helena - Montana Historical Society

This is the home page for the African-Americans in Montana Heritage Resources Project, a gateway to exploring the Montana Historical Society's rich collections that document this understudied aspect of the state's history. Although African-Americans have never totaled more than one percent of the state's population, they werer there since the earliest days of the Euro-American presence and contributed greatly to Montana's culture, economy and religious life.

Missoula - Historical Museum at Fort Missoula

The 25th Infantry - one of four black regiments created after the Civil War - arrived at Fort Missoula in May 1888. In the 1890s, the U.S. Army believed it could replace horses with popular new "safety bicycles." Testing this theory, the army sent 20 African-American soldiers on a 2,000-mile ride from Fort Missoula, Montana, to St. Louis, Missouri. You can learn more about the 25th, and this odd experiment, at the museum. Also, the PBS video The Bicycle Corps: America's Black Army on Wheels is available through Amazon.com (VHS) or the PBS Shop (DVD).

Nebraska

Crawford - Fort Robinson Museum

Soldiers from the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments ("Buffalo Soldiers") garrisoned Fort Robinson for eighteen years and played an important role in northwestern Nebraska's history. At the museum you can learn more about their story, view photographs and artifacts. The website provides both visitor information and historical information. You can even buy a Buffalo Soldier t-shirt from their online museum gift shop.

Omaha - Loves Jazz & Arts Center

Located in the heart of historic North Omaha on the corner of 24th and Lake Street, the Loves Jazz & Arts Center is dedicated to showcasing, collection, documentation, preservation, study and the dissemination of the history and culture of African Americans in the arts. At the website you'll find visitor information about exhibits, workshops, performances, educational programs, and special activities, all exploring the African American experience and celebrating accomplishments. You'll also find online virtual exhibits.

Nebraska City - Mayhew Cabin and Historical Village Foundation (formerly known as John Brown's Cave)

In a tiny cabin 45 miles south of Omaha, just west of the Missouri River, the Mayhew family helped rescue slaves, while a few blocks away, a local pro-slavery newspaper advertised slave auctions taking place in the center of town.The 1850s cabin still stands and in 2005 was restored to its original condition. Walk through the cabin, cave, tunnel, AME church, log cabin school and more in the historical village. Visitor and historical information is available at the website.

North Dakota

Williston - Fort Buford State Historic Site Museum

"Buffalo Soldiers" of the 10th Cavalry and 25th Infantry were stationed here at the end of the 19th Century. According to Henry Chase's In Their Footsteps, there is not much at the museum which recalls this.

Oregon

Fort Clatsop National Historic Park

This park is one of 12 separate park sites located in Lewis and Clark National Park, about a 40 mile stretch of the Pacific Coast from Long Beach, Washington to Cannon Beach, Oregon. Fort Clatsop was the winter encampment for Lewis & Clark's Corps of Discovery from December 1805 to March 1806. The visitor center includes the Fort Clatsop exhibit of the fort built by the explorers (including York, Clark's slave) an interpretive center with an exhibit hall and orientation film. Of related interest is Station Camp, because on this site all of the explorers voted on where to camp for the winter - including York and Sacagawea - prompting some historicans to call it the "Independence Hall of the West."

Portland - A Guide to African American Heritage & Culture

Portland has the oldest continuously chartered NAACP chapter west of the Mississippi. The official tourism and meeting website for Portland includes a self-guided tour, event information, history and more.

A Peculiar Paradise - A History of Blacks in Oregon, 1788-1940

Timeline of Black History in Oregon - End of the Trail Interpretive Center, Oregon City

Includes biographical sketches of African American pioneers and early settlers, and a history of slavery in the Northwest.

African American History in Oregon - Oregon Historical Society

Online displays of related documents.

South Dakota

Deadwood - Adams Museum & House

Deadwood businessman and former mayor W.E. Adams built the Adams Museum in 1930 to preserve the history of the Black Hills pioneers. Artifacts on display from the town's infamous past reflect the powerful legends of Wild Bill, Calamity Jane, and black cowboy Deadwood Dick (Nat Love.) Love was one of the few cowboys to publish an autobiography.

Fort Meade - (Old) Fort Meade Museum

Several companies of the 25th Infantry "Buffalo Soldiers" were stationed here for 8 years in the 1880's. According to Henry Chase's In Their Footsteps, there is not much at the museum which recalls this.

Pickstown - Historic Fort Randall

"Buffalo Soldiers" of the 25th Infantry were stationed here in the 1880's. Not much remains except the parade ground and some excavations. There is a Visitor Center and self-guided interpretive trail. The area is maintained jointly by the Army Corps of Engineers and the National Park Service, and the link will take you to their website.

Washington

Fort Clatsop National Historic Park

This park is one of 12 separate park sites located in Lewis and Clark National Park, about a 40 mile stretch of the Pacific Coast from Long Beach, Washington to Cannon Beach, Oregon. Fort Clatsop was the winter encampment for Lewis & Clark's Corps of Discovery from December 1805 to March 1806. The visitor center includes the Fort Clatsop exhibit of the fort built by the explorers (including York, Clark's slave) an interpretive center with an exhibit hall and orientation film. Of related interest is Station Camp, because on this site all of the explorers voted on where to camp for the winter - including York and Sacagawea - prompting some historicans to call it the "Independence Hall of the West."

Seattle - Black Heritage Society of Seattle Collection at the Museum of History and Industry (open by appointment only)

Founded in 1977, the Black Heritage Society collects Washington state African-American family and organization historical memorabilia such as letters, photographs, documents, obituaries, small three-dimensional items, photograph albums, vintage clothing, and scrapbooks.

The items in this collection date from the earliest local African-American residents in the 1860s to the present date. The Black Heritage Society has a written agreement with the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI). With this agreement, the Society is able to preserve and store its collection at the MOHAI facility currently located at 2700 24th Avenue East in Seattle. Access to the collection is by appointment with the Chair of the Collections Committee through the President of the Black Heritage Society. Portions are available on loan to the community, with approval of the Board of Directors, for research, exhibits, and education.

Two exhibits are available online: People of Honor and Pioneering Women.

Vancouver - O.O. Howard House Vancouver National Historic Reserve (Historic District)

Built in 1879, the house is part of "Officers Row." It is named for Oliver Otis Howard, first head of the Freedman's Bureau for whom Howard University (Washington DC) is named. It is part of the newly designated Vancouver National Historic Reserve (Historic District.)

Wyoming

Buffalo - Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum

Preserving the history of Johnson County, Wyoming with emphasis on the Frontier Era, the collection contains several artifacts from the "Buffalo Soldiers" of the 9th Cavalry.

Cheyenne - F.E. Warren AFB ICBM and Heritage Museum

Currently one of four strategic missile bases in the U.S. Warren AFB evolved from a frontier fort. The 9th and 10th Cavalry and 24th Infantry were stationed here from 1887 through 1916. The museum is located in the historic Post Commander's Headquarters building built in 1894. The museum is open to the public; any non military member desiring to visit the museum should inquire at the Visitor Center located at the Main Gate (Gate #1). This gate is located next to an off ramp of I-25, in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Additional Resources

Images of America - Arcadia Publishing - African American History

160 Titles and counting! Featuring vintage images of African Americans, each book celebrates the culture and communities of African Americans through historical images and descriptive captions.

From Negro League baseball to the growth of black colleges, from Kinloch, Missouri, to Tallahassee, Florida, and the exploration of cultural, socioeconomic, political, and community events, vintage images give readers an engaging visual tour of African American life that traditional historical textbooks often fail to show.

African American History in the American West

This site is a gateway to the vast and growing array of information on the Web and in other sources on the lives and histories of the millions of African Americans who have and continue to make the West their home. Compiled by Dr. Quintard Taylor, Professor of American History at the University of Washington.

African Americans on the Western Frontier. Edited by Monroe Lee Billington and Roger D. Hardaway. University Press of Colorado, 1998/ Paperback 2001 Order at Amazon.com

This book of 14 essays conveys various aspects of the African American experience in the West from 1850 until the end of the Frontier Era, approximately 1912. The topics include slavery in the West, Reconstruction on the frontier, all-black towns, women, Buffalo Soldiers, black miners, cowboys, newspapers and more. In addition to numerous illustrations, the book includes a bibliographic essay detailing the numerous books and articles written in recent years, and the Appendix has the African American population by state for the period covered.

African American Historic Places. Savage, Beth L. Wiley, 2005 Order at Amazon.com

Features 800 sites on the National Historic Register which relate to African American History. Organized by 41 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Because it is designed as an identification tool rather than as a trip planner, the book lists only addresses and does not note telephone numbers, access policies, or admission charges. The introduction, however, notes that approximately three-fourths of the properties are privately owned and not open to the public. Black-and-white photographs are provided for some of the sites, and eight introductory essays provide context for understanding the historical significance of the sites.

A Traveler's Guide to the Civil Rights Movement. Jim Carrier. Harcourt Books, 2004. Order at Amazon.com

This book is fascinating even if you never leave home. It's both a travel guide and a reference for anyone wanting to learn more about the Civil Rights Movement. But it's not limited to modern times; like many historians, the author takes the view that the struggle for civil rights began the moment the first enslaved African set foot on these shores and tried to break free. And it continued anywhere that people fought for dignity and equality. Consequently, the sites described here include sites of slave rebellions, legal battles, Underground Railroad safe houses, historically black colleges, churches, museums...even the minor league stadium in Florida where Jackie Robinson broke through the color line.

Historic Landmarks of Black America. Canter, George. Gale Group, 1991. Order at Amazon.com

Describes over 300 sites across the US and Canada, with entries ranging from a paragraph to several pages, with lots of illustrations. Each includes a historical sketch detailing the site's significance and practical information such as directions, hours, fees, and related sites....which of course you'd want to doublecheck before traveling! This book is out of print but still available through used booksellers at Amazon.com.

In Their Footsteps: The American Visions Guide to African-American Historical Sites. Chase, Henry. Owlet, 1994. Order at Amazon.com

Similar to Canter's Historic Landmarks, but more comprehensive covering 46 states, Ontario and Nova Scotia. This book is out of print but still available through used booksellers at Amazon.com.

Hippocrene U.S.A. Guide to Black America: A Directory of Historic and Cultural Sites Relating to Black America. Marcella Thum. Hippocrene Books 1991. Order at Amazon.com

More than 700 historic public attractions significant to African American history, many of which are not included in standard travel guides. Arranged geographically, entries briefly describe each site, noting admission fees and addresses.

http://creativefolk.com/travel/nwest.html