Great History Museums in out of the way places
Brian Morris
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Missouri
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I love history and of course history museums. I'm a sucker for looking at artifacts and learning about our past. In the US when you think history museums you think of course of the Smithsonian. America's attic featuring everything from the Star Spangled Banner to the Apollo 11 Command Module to the Wright Brothers Flyer.

One doesn't have to go to the Smithsonian though to go to a world class history museum. The US has a ton of history museums all over. Some are in major cities while others in rather surprising locations.

So that's what this geeklist is about it's a list of some of the best or interesting history museums in the US that aren't in Washington DC. They might be big or small but are still worth visiting

Feel free to add museums you enjoy or feel should be on the list. I've added a few I'm already familiar with and I'm looking forward to people adding other notable museums.
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1. Board Game: Age of Steam [Average Rating:7.70 Overall Rank:119]
Brian Morris
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Missouri
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California State Railroad Museum. Sacramento California

http://www.csrmf.org/

You don't have to be a big train buff to enjoy this museum. I was there when it opened years ago and there was a huge railroad festival to celebrate it. The museum is located in Old Sacramento just a stone's throw from the western terminus for the Pony Express. Lots of history. The Sacramento History Museum is next door and while it helps to be a native of Sacramento to enjoy that museum it's a pretty good museum as well. I use to work for a marketing company and our offices were the next block over from the museum for about a year.
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2. Board Game: Liftoff! [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:4584]
Brian Morris
United States
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Missouri
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Kansas Cosmosphere. Hutchinson Kansas

http://www.cosmo.org/

Out in the middle of southern Kansas on the northern tip of the Oklahoma oil fields sits the town of Hutchinson. It is known for three things. The world's longest grain elevator. A huge salt mine where master copies of films like Star Wars and the Wizard of Oz are stored and one of the top space museums in the world.

Long story but literally one of the top space museums on the planet is in a small town in the middle of the Kansas prairie. In it's museum you will find the capsules for Apollo 13, Gemini X and the Mercury spacecraft Liberty Bell. You'll also find a real V-1 and V-2, Russian Vostok spacecraft, The back-up Sputnik, The Apollo White Room, spacesuits, moon rocks and even a full sized Titan rocket sitting outside. The museum has the largest collection of Russian space artifacts outside Russia and is the only museum outside the Smithsonian that Nasa officially allows to restore historic Nasa artifacts.
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3. Board Game: The Civil War [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:954]
Brian Morris
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Missouri
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National Civil War Museum. Harrisburg Pennsylvania.

http://www.nationalcivilwarmuseum.org/

A number of years ago Harrisburg had a plan to turn the city into a history buffs dream full of various history museums. Ok, they bankrupted the city but they also created the National Civil War Museum which is a really nice museum.

I've managed to visit the museum twice and always been impressed with the layout. It's just a well thought out museum. On my second trip I was shocked to see them opening up one of the uniform display cases to let someone examine the uniform. I didn't recognize the man at the time but later realized it was civil war artist Don Troiani. Fortunate really as I would have embarrassed myself by worshiping at his feet.
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4. Board Game: Paths of Glory [Average Rating:8.01 Overall Rank:106]
Brian Morris
United States
Raytown
Missouri
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National WWI Museum. Kansas City Missouri

http://www.theworldwar.org/s/110/new/index_community.aspx

A few years after WWI the city of Kansas City decided to build a memorial and museum to commemorate what was then thought to be the war to end all wars. The Memorial was completed in 1926 but then came the depression, another world war and they never got around to finishing the museum which sat as an empty tomb underneath the memorial tower. They kept collecting artifacts however and carefully storing them for decades until finally the museum opened in 2006. Better late than never.

In the museum you will find artifacts like a Renault tank, German U-Boat torpedo, planes and lots of artillery pieces. The museum was designed by the same gentleman who designed the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC.

If you ever visit with your family take heart gentleman as there is a Sealife Aquarium museum across the street that the kids will love.
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5. Board Game: Air Force [Average Rating:6.39 Overall Rank:3255]
Brian Morris
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Missouri
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National Museum of the USAF. Wright-Patterson AFB Dayton Ohio

http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/

Into planes? This is a place not to miss. 360 aircraft and missiles on display including many non US aircraft. The displays include the Boeing 707 Air Force One that took John Kennedy to Dallas, Sopwith Camel, Fokker Dr.I, B-17, B-29 "Boxcar" (the plane that dropped the second atomic bomb), Spitfire (several), Messerschmitt Bf 109, Mitsubishi A6M2 "Zeke" and F-117. Non plane wise it has the Apollo 15 capsule and a number of ICBMs.
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6. Board Game: Axis & Allies [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:1203]
Brian Morris
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Raytown
Missouri
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National WWII Mueseum. New Orleans Louisiana

http://www.ddaymuseum.org/

Originally the National D-Day museum but it's more than just that these days. Planes, trains and automobiles. Ok, how about planes, tanks and landing craft. Only place I know that has an Enigma Machine on display. The museum is currently undergoing a large renovation and expansion. My hope personally is to visit the museum after the expansion work is complete.
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7. Board Game: Mr. President [Average Rating:6.58 Overall Rank:4516]
Brian Morris
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Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum. Abilene, Kansas
Harry S Truman Presidential Library and Museum. Independence Missouri

http://www.eisenhower.archives.gov/
http://www.trumanlibrary.org/

Today Presidential libraries are generally placed at major universities. However some like Harry Truman's and Dwight Eisenhower's are in their home towns. I'm combining these two entries because in my mind they're connected and both are relatively near each other.

The Truman Library is in Independence Missouri which these days is a suburb of Kansas City. It's only about 15 minutes from the National WWI Museum. Kind of a cool museum set up as the building is a big circle with Harry and Bess Truman buried in the central courtyard. When you enter the museum the first thing you see is the famous "The Buck Stops Here" sign that sat on Harry's desk. I actually know a gentlemen who works there and I got a personal tour around the museum a number of years ago. We were in a back area chatting and I was leaning against this big blue round table. Turns out the table I was leaning on was the table the United Nations charter was signed on.

The Eisenhower Museum is in Abilene Kansas where Ike grew up. It's about a 90 minute drive west of Kansas City. Abilene is still a very small Kansas town that pretty much these days rings the museum because they ripped out about 3 city blocks to make it. Basically the two blocks surrounding the Eisenhower childhood home were cleared and then another block was cleared for the museum and library which are two separate good sized buildings. Ike and Mamie are buried in a chapel that is also on the library grounds. Cool museum for the WWII buff. One of the more interesting displays is the original Ike Jacket.
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8. Board Game: A Few Acres of Snow [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:250]
Billy the Hut
United States
Boston
Massachusetts
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Historic Deerfield. Deerfield Massachusetts

http://www.historic-deerfield.org/

This is a wonderful place well worth the visit, for a taste of early Colonial America.
Here's the blurb from their website's front page:
"Spend a day in old New England. Visit Historic Deerfield, an authentic 18th-century English settlement in the Connecticut River Valley of Massachusetts. Tour beautifully restored museum houses with period architecture and furnishings. See yankee ingenuity at work in demonstrations of colonial-era trades. And explore our world-famous collection of early American crafts, ceramics, furniture, textiles and metalwork. It’s a celebration of New England heritage."

Here from their site is a shot of their collection of powder horns:
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9. Board Game: Lunar Landing Game [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Wendell
United States
Yellow Springs
Ohio
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Armstrong Air and Space Museum, Wapakoneta, Ohio

In the home town of Neil Armstrong. It has some of Armstrong's space suits, lunar rocks, Gemini VIII aircraft, aircraft flown by Armstrong, and other things related to Armstrong and to the space program. Also simulators of the Gemini, lunar module, and and space shuttle. It's pretty cool. Near I-75 in west-central Ohio.

http://www.armstrongmuseum.org/
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10. Board Game: Bunker Hill [Average Rating:5.76 Overall Rank:12723]
Billy the Hut
United States
Boston
Massachusetts
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The Freedom Trail. Boston Massachusetts

http://www.thefreedomtrail.org/

It's a 2.5 mile path, that mostly consists of a line of red bricks set into the city sidewalks (in some areas is becomes a painted red line) one can follow and be led to many major Revolutionary historical sites. It starts at the Boston Common and ends up by Bunker Hill and the USS Constitution. Along the way you can see places such as Faneuil Hall, Paul Revere's house, and the old North Church.

Here's a shot of the Old State House, as site along the trail, in front of this building was where the Boston Massacre occurred.
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11. Board Game: Turning Point [Average Rating:6.17 Overall Rank:11217]
Alfred Wallace
United States
Champaign
IL
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(Ignore the image.)

When I went to this geeklist, I was expecting some history museums that were, you know, out of the way. As opposed to being in cities with professional sports teams and international airports. So let's have one that's a little, you know, out of the way.

Poverty Point is a must-stop for anyone interested in the prehistory of North America, and Native American history generally. It's a whole cluster of mounds, some almost 2900 years old, that represent just about the oldest "city" in what would become the United States. Trade networks spread for hundreds of miles. The museum is not enormous but does a good job of interpreting the history of the site and the flora and fauna. The mounds--which are most visible only when the grass is of a certain height--are mostly too delicate to go onto (but not all), but there is a good driving tour of the great network of concentric mounds, all of which...well, if you're told ahead of time it looks like a bird, it looks kind of like a bird.

Easy to get to. It's easiest to start in Vicksburg and head out west on I-20 until you get to LA-17, which takes you to LA-577 which twists and turns a little and eventually gets you there. The address says you're in Pioneer but you're probably closer to Epps. I can't get it to work right now, but if you search Google Maps for Poverty Point National Monument it...usually takes you to the right place, and you can actually see the long, curved mounds.
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12. Board Game: Guadalcanal [Average Rating:6.38 Overall Rank:6545]
Pokey 64
United States
Niagara Falls
New York
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The Eldred WW2 Museum, Eldred PA

http://www.eldredwwiimuseum.org/

Dedicated to Mitchell Paige, Medal of Honor, Guadalcanal
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13. Board Game: Richthofen's War [Average Rating:5.98 Overall Rank:4836]
Jim S.
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CA, TX
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Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome

http://www.oldrhinebeck.org/

Located about 60 miles south of Albany / 100 miles north of NYC.

This was one of the coolest places to visit as a aviation-enthused kid back in the 1970's, and it lives on today.

Old Rhinebeck has one of the world's largest collections of flying pioneer, WW-I, and Lindbergh era airplanes (there are also quite a few vintage automobiles, motorcycles, early engines and memorabilia from 1900-1935). The volunteer staff looks after the collection, and from June to October, puts on airshows including mock dogfights and rides.

-Jim



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14. Board Game: Automobile [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:337]
Joel Imhoff
United States
Ames
Iowa
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If you are into early 20th century American cars, check out the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum. The museum is located in Auburn Indiana.
http://www.automobilemuseum.org
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15. Board Game: Land of the Lost Game [Average Rating:5.50 Unranked]
Susie_Cat
United Kingdom
Oxfordshire
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The Land of Lost Content

http://www.lolc.org.uk/

This is very out of the way being both in the UK and out in the sticks!

It is basically a series of cupboards each stuffed with millions and millions of things from the last century. Stuff like old sweetie wrappers, radios, children's toys - all the weird stuff that mostly would have been chucked, but I defy anyone to go there and not have a big grin when they say, "I remember those!"

It's a truly fabulous place and well worth a visit.

Susie_Cat.

EDIT: They even have board games - check out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygU_Q5ICEps at 1 min 23 s...
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16. Board Game: Pacific Typhoon [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:2319]
Brian Morris
United States
Raytown
Missouri
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National Museum of the Pacific War. Fredericksburg Texas

http://www.pacificwarmuseum.org/index.asp

This museum reminds me of the Kansas Cosmosphere. Located 70 miles north of San Antonio in a small farm town this is a big museum. One doesn't think Texas when one thinks about the Pacific Theater except maybe the battleship Texas. Fredericksburg Texas however is the hometown of Chester Nimitz so that's how it ended up there.

Lots of artifacts from the Pacific Theater including one of the Japanese midget subs that was part of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
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17. Board Game: All About Town: Newport County Rhode Island [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Wendell
United States
Yellow Springs
Ohio
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Newport Historical Society Museum, Newport, Rhode Island

It is in a 1762 market building by the waterfront in Newport; slaves used to be sold on that site. Has plenty of info about the history of Newport, which was once Rhode Island's co-capital and major port. Also the place to catch walking tours of Newport.

http://www.newporthistorical.org/index.php/museum-shop/museu...
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18. Board Game: P.O.W. Prisoner Of War [Average Rating:3.00 Unranked]
Rick Goudeau
United States
Moody
Alabama
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National Prisoner of War Museum, Andersonville Ga

http://www.nps.gov/ande/planyourvisit/natl_pow_museum.htm

The museum is on the grounds of the Andersonville Prison camp and National Cemetery. The site itself is sobering enough as you realize the suffering that occurred. I make it a point to walk the gravestones to pay my respects to the men of a unit I've adopted for the visit.

The museum covers experiences and privations of POWs throughout American history. From WWII on they have a lot of artifacts of handmade items made by the prisoners during their captivity. The amount of ingenuity on display is incredible.
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19. Board Game: Poor Bloody Infantry [Average Rating:6.23 Unranked]
Stephen Coney
Croatia
Zaprešić
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National Infantry Museum

This is a great museum at Ft. Benning, GA. Since I last visited, they have moved the Patton Museum of Cavalry and Armor from Ft. Knox and added it here. I assume that it's even more awesome.

http://www.nationalinfantrymuseum.org/
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20. Board Game: Psychobabble [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Bryce Journey
United States
Omaha
Nebraska
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The Glore Psychology Museum in St. Joseph, MO

http://www.stjosephmuseum.org/glore.htm

This might be the most unique history museum I know of. Here you can peruse displays about the history of psychology, from witch-burning to electro-therapy.



Or you can check out the displays from actual patients, like this one that features the objects removed from a chronic swallower's stomach:



Or, my favorite, the display about the guy who mailed hundreds of letters to Richard Nixon through his television set, which he thought was a mailbox:



In any event, it's great creepy fun for visitors of all ages. And it's affordable - just a few bucks per person. My wife and I stop here whenever we drive back to Omaha from St. Louis and having to visit my folks on occasion.
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21. Board Game: The World at War [Average Rating:6.38 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.38 Unranked]
Kurt Over
United States
Philadelphia
Pennsylvania
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http://www.armyheritage.org/home/34-banner-content/107-army-...

US Army Heritage and Education Center - Carlisle, PA.

Mainly centered around a research library, but the location has a small internal museum, rotating exhibits (an interesting one on Gen Omar Bradley was there when I visited), and a trail leading around a number of outdoor exhibits covering the US Army from the Revolution through the Gulf War. This includes equipment such as an M4 Sherman, Civil War artillery pieces, and reconstructions of a redoubt from Yorktown, World War 1 trenches, and a section of a Vietnam War fire base defense.
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22. Board Game: Santa Fe' Trail [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Alan Kaiser
United States
Aurora
Colorado
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Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site

http://www.nps.gov/beol/index.htm

Bent's Old Fort is a reconstructed trading post on the Santa Fe Trail located in south east Colorado outside of the town of La Junta. Unlike many of the entries on this list, this "museum" is very much a hands on place and really gives a feel for what living in a place like this out in the middle of no where in the mid 1800's would have been like. They offer living history camps where you actually stay at the site over several days with people dressed in period cloths.
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23. Board Game: Frontiers [Average Rating:6.15 Overall Rank:5957]
Wendell
United States
Yellow Springs
Ohio
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Si non potes reperire Berolini in tabula, ludens essetis non WIF.
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Frontier Culture Museum, Staunton, Virginia

From their website: The Frontier Culture Museum tells the story of the thousands of people who migrated to colonial America, and of the life they created here for themselves and their descendents. These first pioneers came to America during the 1600s and 1700s from communities in the hinterlands of England, Germany, Ireland, and West Africa. Many were farmers and rural craftsmen set in motion by changing conditions in their homelands, and drawn to the American colonies by opportunities for a better life. Others came as unwilling captives to work on farms and plantations. Regardless of how they arrived, all became Americans, and all contributed to the success of the colonies, and of the United States.

It's pretty cool. Good place for kids too. It is largely outdoors.

http://www.frontiermuseum.org/
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24. Board Game: Silent War [Average Rating:7.37 Overall Rank:1922]
Jim Ransom
United States
Jacksonville
Florida
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"Fear is a reaction. Courage is a decision." -- Winston S. Churchill
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Historic Ship NAUTILUS and Submarine Force Museum, Groton Connecticut

Along the banks of the Thames River in Groton CT (the Submarine Capital of the World), Historic Ship NAUTILUS sits at the pier just outside Submarine Base New London. The boat is open to the public, and is maintained in great shape by an active duty crew. The attached Submarine Force museum is extremely well done.

Interested in the history of the US Submarine Force? This great place is a treasure.

http://www.ussnautilus.org
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25. Board Game: D-Day at Omaha Beach [Average Rating:8.26 Overall Rank:490]
Jim Ransom
United States
Jacksonville
Florida
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The National D-Day Memorial, Bedford VA

Located in the small town of Bedford, VA, this is a great place to spend a day. Bedford was the home of many of the soldiers of Company A of the 116th Infantry, 29th Infantry Division.

Landing on Omaha Beach right in the teeth of the strongest defenses, Company A was cut down in the first minutes of the battle. Bedford, with a 1944 population of 3200, lost 21 of its 35 beloved sons, the highest per capita loss rate in the country.

The Memorial is not associated with the National Park Service. It is a non-profit organization. And the loss statistics aren't the reason this Memorial is located off the beaten path in this tiny town. It's here because the people of Bedford wanted it to be here. Everyone in town knew and was proud of those boys. And still are. You can read the story in Alex Kershaw's excellent book The Bedford Boys.

Full discaimer: I volunteer here on weekends giving guided tours. Come on by, you wont be disappointed.

http://www.dday.org
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