Beyond The Museum: Exploring The National Register Of Historic Places

historical photographs

Clockwise from top left: 1. & 2. Recent and archival images of the Private John Allen National Fish Hatchery in Tupelo, Miss. 3. Statue of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Birmingham, Ala. 4. Rear Admiral Samuel Francis Du Pont; Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C. 5. & 6. Grant’s Tomb, New York City 7. Ulysses S. Grant


History can live in the most unlikely places.

Take, for example, the Private John Allen National Fish Hatchery in Tupelo, Miss., the oldest fish hatchery in the United States. Named after state representative John Allen—a Tupelo resident known for his tall tales and humor—the hatchery was the result of his speech to Congress in 1901 in which he proclaimed, in mock seriousness, that “fish will travel over land for miles to get into the water we have at Tupelo. Thousands and millions of unborn fish are clamoring to this Congress today for an opportunity to be hatched at the Tupelo hatchery.”

Allen won his point. An appropriation was made, and today the hatchery is still producing millions of fish each year for use in restocking programs. Covering 25 scenic acres, the property also includes a beautifully preserved 1904 Queen Anne–style house, which served as the superintendent’s residence. Visitors can take in the gracious architectural details and imagine the social gatherings that took place on its veranda. They can  also explore the nearby wildlife area and formal “Grandmother’s Garden” that is home to native plants maintained by the Tupelo Garden Club. The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990, and the grounds are open to the public Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (Call 662-842-1341 for more information.)

History buffs seeking off-the-beaten-path sites like this can find them in the National Register of Historic Places database—a treasure trove of more than 90,000 listings that include 1.8 million structures of historical significance, each with a unique story to tell.

Planning a trip to a historic site? Check out one of these 5 hidden gem national parks.

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