Along the Carver Trail, beside the Carver Branch, you will see the Boy Carver Statue. It was sculpted in 1960 by Robert Amendola. The statue is in a wooded natural area much like the ones young George loved to explore, and where he developed his insatiable curiosity which propelled his remarkable career. This well known statue is one of the most photographed spots in the park.
In addiition to the historical aspects of George Washington Carver National Monument, there are also opportunities for nature study and enjoying the out-of-doors. A portion of the site is wooded, with a pond and streams, and the rest of the 210 acre site preserves one of the few remaining places a person can see native tallgrass prairie in southwestern Missouri. During my summer visit I enjoyed observing the wildflowers, grasshoppers and butterflies that were present.
The nearby Diamond Grove Preserve has 570 acres of prairie on cherty soil in Southwest Missouri with a rich display of spring flowers. It is west of Diamond Grove and is maintained by the Missouri Department of Conservation.
The young boy known as the “Plant Doctor,” tended his secret garden while observing the day to day operations of a successful 19th century farm. Nature and nurture ultimately influenced George on his journey to becoming a renowned scientist of agriculture.
Moses and Susan Carver are buried here at the Carver Cemetery, along with other family members and neighbors. George Washington Carver died at Tuskegee, Alabama on January 5, 1943, and was interred there. That July, the United States Congress designated George Washington Carver National Monument, the first park to honor an African American scientist, educator, and humanitarian.
How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these."
--George Washington Carver
As a professor at Tuckagee Institute in Alabama, Carver had his students build this horse drawn wagon for the purpose of taking their knowledge to the people who needed it. This agricultural station on wheels was named for Morris K. Jesup, a New York businessman who helped finance Carver's work. The wagon was a "moveable school," used to carry agricultural exhibits to county fairs and other community gatherings.
The horse drawn wagon was later replaced by a motorized truck, still called the Jesup Wagon. By the 1930s it carried a nurse, a home demonstration agent, an agricultural agent, and an architect to share the latest techniques with rural people of the South.
This house was built by Moses and Susan Carver in 1881. George Washington Carver did not live here, but he visited occasionally when he came "home" to Missouri. The house is open for viewing, along with interesting interpretive exhibits . The split rail fence which defines the yard and the surrounding shade trees make for an idylic setting. A garden behind the house is planted as it would have been when the Carvers lived there.
Williams Pond, built in the 1930s, is named for Sarah Jane Williams, Moses Carver's niece, whose family lived on Carver's farm. It is in a pretty sylvan setting and is encircled by the quarter-mile Contemplative Loop Trail, a spur off the Carver Trail. There are a few benches along the route, and plaques with inspiriational quotations from George Washington Carver. Williams Branch flows from the spring-fed pond.
This outline of the foundation marks the spot where George Washington Carver was born in 1864, in the last days of the War Between the States. It was a small one room log cabin, a part of the slave quarters on the Carver farm. This is one of the first sights you will see along the Carver Trail, a short distance from the Visitor Center.
One of the interesting exhibits in the Visitor Center is the Bill of Sale for George's mother, Mary/ The 13-year-old negro was sold for $700 in 1855. Mary and infant George were kidnapped during the turmoil of the war. George was later located in Arkansas and returned to the Carvers, orphaned and nearly dead from whooping cough. His mother was never found. George did not know the identity of his father, but suspected he was a slave on a nearby farm. Carver demonstrated with his life that a person can overcome difficult circumstances and an unpromising beginning to achieve greatness and honor.
The only way to fully see and enjoy the George Washington Carver National Monument is to take a walk along the 3/4 mile Carver Trail. Along the route of this accessible trail you will see the Carver birthplace site, Carver Spring, Boy Carver Satue, Williams Pond, Moses Carver House Carver Cemetery, Tallgrass Prairie restoration area and more. The winding path leads through woods and fields, makes three creek crossings over footbridges, and skirts a beautiful woodland pond. All along the way you will see plaques which give insightful and inspiring quotes from George Washington Carver. Walking the trail and reading the markers is a truly inspiring experiene.
A 1/4-mile-long side trail, the Contemplative Loop Trail, circles Williams Pond, and makes a one-mile hike possible by combining the two loops.
Just outside the Visitor Center is located the Carver Bust, gold colored and sitting atop a small brick pedestal.
During his life George Washington Carver mastered chemistry, botany, mycology (study of fungi), music, herbalism, art, cooking and massage. Because of his encyclopedic knowledge of plant properties he was sought out by such great men as Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, who desired to learn from him concerning the industrial use of plants - especially peanuts and soybeans. He discovered more than 300 uses of the lowly peanut, including the invention of peanut butter.
In spite of his acclaim, Caver remained a humble man whose love of God and agriculture became a ministry to benefit all of mankind. He was viewed by both blacks and whites as a symbol of racial understanding.
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