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Travel Treasures departments

Jul/Aug 2011 Issue

Walk in Sam Walton’s footsteps in Arkansas

Just as retail giant Sam Walton updated his concept for the five-and-dime with the Walmart stores of today, the company has updated its visitor center in Bentonville, Ark., to bring it into the 21st century.

While the center has more emphasis on interactive technology to better tell Walton’s story and the history of one of the nation’s largest corporations, it maintains the feel of the original store that opened in the building in 1951. The expanded and renovated center, which debuted earlier this summer, is a compelling combination of old and new.

To have more room for exhibits, the center expanded into the adjacent Terry Block building, which is the oldest structure on the downtown square. Among the new elements are interactive digital displays, video and audio clips of company history, a timeline and a 32-seat theater.

There is also a working five-and-dime store, complete with vintage toys, games and candies. Visitors will see Walton’s pickup truck and his fully preserved office and desk. An expanded gallery features thousands of artifacts, including photographs, family mementos and more.

Visitors can have a snack in the new Spark Café, which sells baked goods, coffees and treats. The name is derived from the symbol at the end of the Walmart logo, representing a spark of imagination.

The center, located at 105 N. Main St., is open 6:30 a.m.–9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon–5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is free. For details, call (479) 273-1329 or visit walmartstores.com.

(c) pickup

Sam Walton’s truck is among the items on display. Walmart photo

 


Visitor center brings to life the Battle of New Orleans

When Gen. Andrew Jackson’s hastily assembled army defeated the numerically superior British forces at Chalmette Battlefield in the Battle of New Orleans, it was an exclamation point for the still-fragile Republic that is being remembered as never before in a new visitor center.

Located just downriver from New Orleans, the new museum at Chalmette Battlefield is the centerpiece of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. Destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the new center is twice the size of the old one with new experiences.

Visitors will be enlightened by interactive displays; stories of pirates, generals and ordinary troops; and a variety of maps and artifacts, including period weapons. There are also new short films about the War of 1812, the Battle of New Orleans in 1815 and the effect that the American victory had on Louisiana, the United States and the world. The center’s gift shop has books, period music and more.

Admission is free. Ranger programs and visitor hours and days of operation vary seasonally. The battlefield is at 8606 West St. Bernard Highway. For hours and additional information, call the park at (504) 281-0510 or visit www.nps.gov/jela/new-chalmette-battlefield-visitor-center.htm.


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