Whether you're staying at Mariners Landing Resort or just looking for something to do with your kids, Smith Mountain Lake State Park has a fun activity tomorrow, Friday, July 26th at 10:30 a.m. on their beach. They are providing an opportunity for children to learn more about Monarch butterflies. This is a free event where they will learn about Monarchs, what makes them so special, what they eat and they will even make a caterpillar to take home. After the event, you are invited to visit the butterfly garden at the Discovery Center and see if you can spot a Monarch sipping nectar from the flowers. Make a weekend out of it and book at room at Mariners and enjoy the weekend in the pools, the lake, playing tennis or rent a boat and see if you can spot Monarchs in other areas of the lake!
The D-Day Memorial is a very special place and is a “must see” if you have not yet visited and this Saturday, July 21st, there is a 1940s Homefront Festival, just a short drive from Smith Mountain Lake. A short history on the memorial goes back to June 6th, 1944 when the United States soldiers, in one of the most pivotal battles of World War II, invaded the French coastline in order to propel German soldiers out of Western Europe and lead the way for victory against the tyrants of that era. Dedicated on June 6th, 2001 by president George W. Bush, the National D-Day Memorial was constructed in honor of those who died that day, fighting in one of the most significant battles in our nations history.
Bedford, Virginia…like eleven other Virginia communities, Bedford provided a company of thirty soldiers (Company A) that were activated on February 3, 1941. They were still in that company on D-Day and several more from Bedford were in other D-Day companies. By the day’s end, nineteen of the company’s Bedford soldiers were dead. Two more Bedford soldiers died later in the Normandy campaign, as did yet another two assigned to other 11th Infantry companies. Bedford’s population was about 3,200. Proportionally, this community suffered the nation’s severest D-Day losses. Recognizing Bedford as emblematic of all communities, large and small, whose citizen-soldiers served on D-Day, Congress warranted the establishment of the National D-Day Memorial there. They were forever known as the “Bedford Boys.”
On Saturday, July 21st from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., you can take a step back in time and experience life in the 1940s! The event will include a WWII Veterans Reunion Tent, WWI and WWII “Profiles of Honor” mobile museum tour, performances by the Star City Starlettes, WWII living history displays, kids activities and crafts, local farm and artisan vendors, food trucks, guided walking tours of the National D-Day Memorial, and more!
Rent a condo at Mariners Landing Resort at Smith Mountain Lake and plan your day at the d-Day Memorial. Admission is free for students and military, and regular admission fees apply to adults. You can click here to plan your visit!
Booker T. Washington National Monument, in Franklin County, Virginia, is the former Burroughs Plantation. In 1850, James and Elizabeth Burroughs moved their children and a few slaves to this 207-acre tobacco farm in southwestern Virginia. The plantation cook, a female slave named Jane, gave birth to three children over the next 10 years. Her middle child would simply be called Booker.
This National Monument is very close to Smith Mountain Lake and is worth a visit. You can explore the small plantation where Washington first longed for an education, pondered what freedom meant and eventually took his “first breath of freedom.”
He has such an interesting history where he was born in April of 1856, during a time when the U.S. was trying to work towards a solution dealing with slavery. As slavery ceased to exist in the most Northern states, abolitionists began to demonstrate and influence state governments pushing toward the emancipation and sometimes the relocation of former slaves and descendants.
Booker T. Washington wrote in his autobiography, Up From Slavery, about his birth and his nine years living as an enslaved person on the Burroughs tobacco plantation. “I was born in a typical log cabin, about fourteen by sixteen feet square. In this cabin I lived with my mother and a brother and sister till after the Civil War, when we were all declared free. Of my ancestry, I know almost nothing…the cabin was not only our living place, but was used as the kitchen for the plantation. My mother was the plantation cook. The cabin was without glass windows; it had only openings in the side which let in the light, and also the cold, chilly air of winter…there was no wooden floor in our cabin, the naked earth being used as a floor.” He goes on to describe how he never slept in a bed, but just on a “bundle of rags.”
He had the desire to get an education but was not allowed to go to school, although he was expected to carry the books to school for Laura Burroughs, one of the owner’s daughters, who was a teacher. He remembered wearing a flax shirt that was very painful to wear when it was new because it felt like “a dozen or more chestnut burrs or a hundred small pin-points coming into contact with his flesh.”
Washington described the moment when he and his family found out they were free at the end of the Civil War. “Finally the war closed, and the day of freedom came. It was a momentous and eventful day to all upon our plantation.” He remembered a stranger who came to the plantation and read a speech that he thought was the Emancipation Proclamation. “After reading we were all free, and could go when and where we pleased, my mother, who was standing by my side, leaned over and kissed her children while tears of joy ran down her cheeks.” She explained what it all meant to them. This was the “moment she had been praying for.” Washington pioneered forward to get an education and became Dr. Booker T. Washington and became a noted educator, orator, author and advisor to presidents.
The Booker T. Washington National Monument is a place where people visit to come to remember and reflect on this time in American history. He wrote, “No race or people ever got upon its feet without severe and constant struggle, often in the face of the greatest discouragement.”
You can plan your visit by clicking here. It is a free National Monument that encourages donations.
Poplar Forest, very near to Smith Mountain Lake, is a National Historic Landmark and Thomas Jefferson’s personal retreat. Here you can visit, what is believed to be, the first octagonal home in America designed and built by Jefferson himself. Tour the home and visit the landscape, which was meticulously restore in 2011 back to Jefferson’s design using early 19th century techniques. It is such an interesting tour where you learn about architecture, preservation and live in the early 19th century. On the plantation, there is continuous excavation where they find artifacts from the plantation occupants that lived and worked at Poplar Forest. You will discover Jefferson’s vision for his gardens, ornamental plantings and farm at Poplar Forest as it emerges through archaeology.
This Landmark is open for visitors through December 15 (closed Thanksgiving Day). If you are visiting the lake with family and friends, you can arrange a group tour any time of the year. Next week is their annual event, Barrels, Bottles & Casks Summer Tours on July 27th and 28th. This is a great opportunity to get a refreshing look at history! This is a tasting tour that begins in Mr. Jefferson’s kitchen and progress through the villa with stops along the way to sample beverages while guides share insights about the foods and drinks that Jefferson and the enslaved residents consumed during the hot summer months. The tours conclude with an ice cream social in the lower level. Admission to the Summertime Barrels, Bottles & Casks tasting tour is $25 per person and reservations are required. You can purchase your tickets by clicking here.
Plan your stay at Mariners Landing Resort online at smlvaca.com and take a 30 minute drive to Jefferson’s Poplar Forest located at 1542 Bateman Bridge Road, Forest, VA 24551!
I don’t know about you, but I have always had a hard time keeping plants alive. My grandmother, on the other hand, had a naturally green thumb. Her passion was gardening and watching her plants flourish. Everything she touched grew and grew and grew! Unfortunately, that gene wasn’t passed down to me so I have look for plants that are hardy and, more or less, take care of themselves.
One thing I began to look for is “self-sowers.” These plants help maintain colorful floral throughout the summer without the hassle and expense of purchasing and planting annuals. They return year after year from the seeds they dropped the year before, unlike perennials that survive the winter through their roots. Now, most self-sowers aren’t able to survive the winters here, but the seeds survive the cold and begin to germinate once the soil and weather warms. What I love about them is that these seeds sprout and grow without planting or caring for them!
In fact, there’s still time to start planting self-sowers from seed, particularly ones that germinate and grow quickly, such as cosmos and zinnias. You can also consult your local nursery about the best self-sowers.
Here are some good self-sowers:
For many, The Fourth of July is a day filled with family, friends, good food, and fireworks. We often look at it as a fun summer celebration to celebrate our flag, enjoy a busy city parade and snack on cotton candy at local fairs, but Independence Day is so much more than that. It’s easy to forget the details behind the holiday, but we are here to help remind you. We have ten fun facts about the history of Independence Day so you can be reminded as to why we celebrate on The Fourth of July.
The Fourth Of July
The Fourth of July is more than just a celebration of summertime — it’s a time to celebrate our freedom and how far we have come.
We will bring you all the fun things to do around the lake all year long!