Let your inner explorer have a play day at the Lewis County Museum of Local and Natural History. From the minute you walk into the museum, you are immersed in the life, legacy, and final days of Meriwether Lewis. Be intrigued with the mystery surrounding Lewis’s death by viewing case exhibits used in the 1996 Coroner’s Inquest. Discover the history of the Meriwether Lewis Monument, how it entwines with the history of Lewis County, and see the original monument stones which protected his grave for more than 150 years.
In one afternoon, travel back to the days of log cabins, open fires, and early pioneers. Climb forward through local history and “dig” your way through the once active mining industry. Waltz with the Echoes of Switzerland, and taste the European flavor imbued by German and Swiss settlers. Let your heart be warmed with the history of a much-beloved country doctor and examine the personal medical equipment used in his daily practice.
Once you’ve returned to the present, grab your passports and take a safari to Dan and Margaret Maddox’s Wild Kingdom. See, hear, and feel the throb of the jungle and bush country while viewing the third-largest mounted animal collection in North America. Watch the animals come to life in their natural habitats through interactive video exhibits, and hear audio recollections of the Maddoxes as your eyes are dazzled and surprised by the wondrous and rare animals.
After perusing the gift shop, explore the outdoor exhibits. Next stop, the historic Hohenwald Depot. Built in the late 19th Century, this original structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. See where the Swiss, Germans, and even Thomas Edison stepped off the train into Hohenwald. Climb aboard Killebrew’s Caboose, and imagine yourself as part of the N.C.&St.L. railroad crew.
Next, stroll down the beautiful Discovery Trail. Where railroad tracks and cinder beds once lay, the area has been reclaimed to its natural state of indigenous trees and plants. A beautiful butterfly and hummingbird garden lays nestled along the trail. This hidden gem will delight your senses and offer a peaceful moment of reflection.
At the end of the Discovery Trail, you will find the original base stones of the Meriwether Lewis Monument. These stones were donated by the National Park Service when they refurbished the monument in the early 2000s and deemed the old stones too weather-worn to reuse. Absorb the wonder and history of everything these stones have seen. Allow your imagination to witness all of the families who have come to view the monument and pay their respects to this beloved American hero since these stones were first hand-carved in 1848.
The Lewis County Museum of Local and Natural history opened to the public in October 1989. Its history is as unique as the exhibits contained within. Part-time residents Dan and Margaret Maddox donated their exotic animal trophy collection from around the world to the county government in 1987. All trophies were acquired under permits and were not on the endangered species list at the time of their harvest. The Lewis County Historical Society worked with local government and the Maddoxes to acquire a space to house and care for the collection and to preserve artifacts related to Lewis County history.
A visit to the museum is the perfect start to a fabulous day in Hohenwald. Pick up a historic walking tour guide at the museum and immerse yourself in all of the history and delights that Hohenwald has to offer!
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