I’ts always good to be in the know about fun-filled activities in your city, especially if they can appeal to any age group. This one is the whole package. The Watkins Mill State Park is a hidden jewel among the rolling hills and woods of Lawson, just minutes from Kansas City. Whether you enjoy hiking trails, fishing, boating, camping or swimming, to me, this tops Smithville Lake any day of the week. My favorite spot for the historian in me, is Watkins Mill Historic Site, or just Watkins Mill. It is one of the most beautiful historic sites in the city and such a treasure. The Mill is the only surviving 1860’s mill with all of the equipment intact.
Waltus Watkins was born in Kentucky in 1806 and moved to Liberty, Missouri in 1830 after apprenticing with his uncle in his mill. In 1830 he build a log cabin on the property he called Bethany and lived there until the current brick house was built in 1854. He and his wife Mary Ann started with 80 acres and finished with 3660 acres by 1880. He also oversaw the building of the Franklin Academy and the Mt. Vernon Church near his property that still stands. Inside the house is beautiful but the mill is unbelievable. It’s as if they closed the doors in 1870 and walked away – everything is as it was.
When I taught 8th grade, I arranged for the people there to come and do a presentation and they did a wonderful job, complete with their period clothing. Additionally they hold events during the year where you will find volunteers dressed up in 19th century garb and activities for youngsters such as; cider pressing, gardening, laundry, rug weaving, wood stove cooking and Victorian games.
The site is open from 9:30 – 5:00 Monday through Saturday and 10:30 – 5:00 Sunday – April through October and November through March closes one hour earlier. Consider going early for tours of the house, mill and museum and having a picnic in one of the many picnic areas available and then take a swim in the nearby beach. Or perhaps choose a lovely camp sight nestled in the woods for the weekend. Or just come out with the dogs for one of the most gorgeous walks in the Kansas City area. Either way, find some time to enjoy all that Watkins Mill has to offer!
For more information – http://mostateparks.com/page/54741/interpretive-programs#tours