Discovery Park of America

Discovery Park of America 08-20-2015The fellow I’m working with on documenting The Bootheel suggested we play hooky and sneak across the river to Union City, Tennessee, to check out the Discovery Park of America. I didn’t expect much, but since he was buying lunch and paying our admission, I agreed.

I mean, after all, Union City, according to the 2010 Census has a population of 10,895. The whole of Obion county has only 31,131 people, less than the population of Cape Girardeau. How big of a deal can this be, anyway?

When you pull into the parking lot, you’re greeted by a futuristic-looking building. It looks big, and it is – it has 100,000 square feet of space, with 60,000 of it devoted to exhibits.

Grounds cover 50 acres

Discovery Park of America 08-20-2015I didn’t even begin to walk the grounds to look at the 100-year-old church, an 1800’s school house, 15 log structures, a gristmill, six train cars, and pretty much an entire vintage community.

There is plenty of color. A handout says the garden contains approximately 24,000 plants, 4000 azaleas, 1000 rose bushes and 750 trees.

20,000-gallon aquarium

Discovery Park of America 08-20-2015A 20,000-gallon aquarium features living creatures from Reelfoot Lake, such as gar, bass, crappie, and turtles.

Welcome to the Discovery Center

Discovery Park of America 08-20-2015This fellow at the entrance to the Discovery Center lobby isn’t your normal Walmart greeter.

83 miles from Cape

Discovery Park of America 08-20-2015Google shows that Union City is 83 miles from Cape, just under two hours of driving time via IL-3 and US-51 S. I was already south of there, so I went in across the Caruthersville bridge and can’t tell you about the roads on the Google route. From what I saw, I think you could probably beat their estimated drive time. It’s well worth it.

There’s a large collection of vintage automobiles and motorcycles, so you might like to contemplate what it would be like to make that drive in one of these shiny cars.

Plenty for kids to do

Discovery Park of America 08-20-2015There are plenty of hands-on displays for the kids. You can let them burn off some energy by going down the two-story slide modeled after the human body. (You have to be three feet tall to go down it.)

A blast of cool air

Discovery Park of America 08-20-2015As I was leaving one exhibit room, a blast of cool air hit me. I turned to find out it was coming from an open doorway leading to a darkened room made up to look like a dungeon. In it were instruments of restraint and torture, including this electric chair with the ironic note, “PLEASE DO NOT SIT.”

When one is in a room that contains a rack, a breaking wheel and a guillotine, one is inclined to obey the signs.

Huge military gallery

Discovery Park of America 08-20-2015This is not just a place to see small objects like arrowheads. The military gallery contains airplanes hanging from the ceiling, a helicopter, several tanks and all kinds of other implements of warfare.

For more information about the Discovery Park of America, go to its website. I’ve been to a lot of museums, including ones in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Seattle, St. Louis, Memphis and Birmingham. This place gives them a run for their money.

Photo gallery

Yes, I know this is overkill. To be honest, I’m including a lot of these photos because they give good captioning and display ideas for my museum friends to steal. I don’t know who does the exhibit design planning here, but the results are spectacular. Click on any image to make it larger, then use the arrow keys to move around.

11 Replies to “Discovery Park of America”

  1. Awesome! Will make a great day trip from Cape Girardeau. THANKS! I always look forward to your blog. Its always worth the wait. (I have dial-up) Thanks Again.

    1. Karen, I feel your pain. You must be one of the last dial-up readers in the world. I used to be able to pull a Google Analytics report that would show how people connected. I can’t find that tab today to see if there are more dial-ups than you.

      I can’t imagine how long it takes a graphics-rich blog like this one to load.

      Thanks for hanging in there.

  2. Outstanding Pictorial Ken!! I’ll try to get the Renaissance Man Dickie “Big Dick” McClard to plan one of our Tuesday Old Man Cycle Rides to this fantastic destination. We need to incorporate some culture and education in our trips to compliment the great diners and home-cooking grocery stores we partake of. BruneTimeOut.

  3. I would like to be included with the old men on the cycle ride. There are some good Catfish joints. While reading I was thinking it would make a great destination ride.

  4. The tank that is shown was build by Creative Arts and was featured on their series.

    First WWI Tank
    Premiere Date:January 24, 2015 – 10:00-11:00PM ET

    Creative Arts is building the Mark 1 tank for the Discovery Park of America, one of the premier museums in the southern United States. The Mark 1 was the most game-changing weapon to emerge from World War 1 because it revolutionized modern warfare. With no replicas in the United States, Creative Arts will have to depend on photographs and illustrations as they build the first Mark 1 ever for any American museum. The team also takes on a side project–a telephone booth for a local Florida hotel. This historical phone booth will house the hotel’s prized possession: an actual 1930’s era telephone!
    TVPG L

  5. Sorry I was not more clear, the name of the series was Museum Men and it was on the History Channel. It featured builds Creative Arts had done.

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