On a sticky summer day we piled 3/4 of our collective brood into a minivan and headed back in time to Atchison, Kansas and childhood home of Amelia Earhart. The former residence of her grandparents- where Amelia spent a good chunk of her childhood- is now a museum dedicated to the historical aviatrix. The kids were all aware of Amelia’s adventures and accomplishments (as our families end up being when we focus on a subject) so the car conversation was filled with intellectual discussion of her life.
No, not really. There was giggling, singing with the songs on the radio and a contest to see who could exactly duplicate the sound of body noises.
The historic district of Atchison (which is itself quite charming and full of character) is home to the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum. The Gothic Revival home sits high atop a hill overlooking the Missouri River and didn’t disappoint in any of the qualities that we expect from a museum of this type: kid friendly, packed with artifacts and information, kept as close in style as possible to when the famous person lived there, clean and welcoming.
We took a self-guided tour and poked around the home imagining Amelia and her family’s daily lives. The eldest of the entourage, a 16 year -old girl, was captivated by Amelia’s bedroom and spent a great deal of time saying, “She slept here; she climbed out that window- and now I am standing here.”
And that is the charm and purpose of a museum like this: being able to step back in time and be where our heroines lived.
Atchison itself has even more to offer someone on an Amelia Quest (as we were). Not far across town is a large park that was perfect for wandering. We skipped the trolley tour, although we had heard good things about it, and opted to mosey about on our own.
The park hosts an acre-large landscape mural of Amelia as well as the International Forest of Friendship which is home to trees representing all 50 states and over 35 countries. A beautifully maintained path lined with the names of aviators and icons in the aviation field has a life-sized sculpture of Amelia in the center.
As day trips go an Amelia Earhart themed jaunt to Atchison rated very high.We were able to visit the childhood home of an icon, locate three geocaches and have ice cream- what’s not to rate high about that?
We know that a small town in Kansas isn’t day-tripable for everyone, so here is a link to the museum site where you can take a virtual tour. Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum. If you are planning a visit, here is a good place to start your research, the Atchison Chamber of Commerce.
To learn more about Amelia, listen to episode 39.