Have you ever visited a tourist site that left you feeling kind of disappointed?
I’ve traveled the Petersburg/Richmond corridor of I-95 my entire life. There are dozens of signs dotting the highway directing travelers to multiple note worthy landmarks from the Civil War. I had a little extra time one day so I decided to follow one of those signs.
I made a detour and stopped at the City Point headquarters of Union General Ulysses S. Grant at City Point, Virginia.
How can I put it nicely?
It was kind of meh.
I arrived on a blustery Friday shortly after 1 pm. Granted (no pun intended) it was early February – not the busy tourist season – but I was surprised to be the only visitor. The employee working greeted me kindly, but I definitely had the feeling he’d been enjoying his solitude.
He led me into a small room with a few rows of chairs to watch the 17-minute video about the siege of Petersburg. The video was okay, but suddenly I had the feeling this trip was not going to be a favorite on my list of historical places I’ve visited.
After the video ended the guide returned and proceeded to walk me towards the museum area where he imparted facts about the home which Grant used as his headquarters, the surrounding land and the cabin on the property which was used as the General’s personal quarters.
He then took me to stand in front of an old wooden door. It was apparent this door was special because of the velvet rope.
I wondered if on busier days it was difficult keeping rowdy visitors away from the door.
It turns out the door is the original from the cabin Grant slept in during the siege of Petersburg. As the friendly tour guide said, “And that hole there is the peep hole.”
Well, how could I not be impressed with such an important door?
Okay, I’m being a bit tongue in cheek. Historically it really is a special door, but as far as fabulous sites I’ve seen, it left me slightly underwhelmed. The guide pointing out the peep hole struck me as funny.
I thanked him for his time and he went back to his web-surfing in the front room as I toured the rest of the plantation home. I almost screamed when I turned around to find two of the most frightening mannequins standing behind me in the library. (I’m a jumpy sort)
After I calmed my nerves and my heart rate decreased, I went outside and roamed the grounds as much as I dared on the cold, windy day.
When I finally hopped back in my car and turned on the engine I laughed at myself. I love finding off-the-beaten-path places and I’m a history buff, but the fun thing about taking detours is sometimes I find something pretty amazing.
Other times, meh…
I wonder what General Grant thought of the place?
I can only guess. I for one will always remember that door.
Ah, the joys of traveling!
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