US Army Heritage and Education Center (US Army Heritage Trail), Carlisle, PA
Many of our favorite destinations went to great lengths to build immersive, interactive, digitally enhanced exhibits. The Army Heritage Center took a different route.
Here you will be immersed in a physical world. We’re talking about a long, wonderfully designed walk through American history called the US Army Heritage Trail. Superb in detail and authenticity, you will walk past (and into) a full-size Revolutionary War blockhouse, a full-size Civil War winter encampment, a rabbit warren of WWI trenches, a Yorktown redoubt, the split-rail fences along the road at Antietam, a World War II waypoint, and a cluster of full-sized WWII barracks just like the ones our recruits lived in during basic training. You will see tanks, helicopters, wheeled cannons and antiaircraft guns and more all in combat settings.
The Heritage Train is a 1 mile walk with 19 waypoints. It begins at the Education Center. There is a M42 twin 40mm Bofors self propelled gun capable and a 8-inch M1 howitzer called the defender of Pusan at the Korean War stop. The Cold War installation features an intimidating M60 Patton main battle tank next to a Cobra attack helicopter. The Vietnam Fire Support Base has a pair of 105mm howitzers sighted against some distant target with a Huey sweeping in on a resupply mission. And then there is the German pillbox. Close your eyes and see the machine guns raking the beaches of Normandy or firing on the battlefields of Belgium. Suddenly you realize how preciously thin the divide is between life and death.
The trail winds around until it returns you to where you started for the second part of your day. Inside the adjacent Education Center is another walk, this one through a series of visually engaging displays that follow the life of a soldier from the Spanish-American War to the current War on Terror. There are tableaus with scale models of battlescapes as well as large artifacts and dioramas with soldiers in period uniforms. Oral histories are available and play through your cellphone as a kind of self-guided tour. And be sure to see the movie Courage, Commitment and Fear: The American Soldier in The Vietnam War. It’s playing in the theater.
So enjoy the outdoors. Crawl over berms. Walk through the trenches. Feel the wood, touch the steel. The WWII Obstacle course is sure to wear out a car full of kids who have been cooped up in the backseat. The Trail is open for walking dawn to dusk. Entry into buildings follow the hours of the Education Center.
Education Center Hours: Mon. – Sat.: 10am – 5pm
Sunday: 12pm – 5pm