Belmont State Park located along the Mississippi River is one of those small jewels we all hope to find. Our goal most weekends is to find these parks that are not crowded, but offer the peace and respite we all seem to seek.
While I love history I am not a Civil War groupie. However, waking up along a Confederate Trench, smelling wood smoke and viewing the great Mississippi propels me back to 1861. I can only imagine fellow southerners waking to a bright morning along the river, smelling the smoke but anticipating the terror of war. Young men do not think they can die, but most did. However, life along the river could be graceful, peaceful and fulfill long awaited dreams of river travel. Mark Twain reveled us with his tales of the Mississippi with Huck Fin. Our experience was a mild adventure during Labor Day Weekend.
Arriving at the campground is a bit mellow. A small drive leads to the park which is really a city street in Belmont. City is a poor description of Belmont. Belmont is comprised of two streets one of which leads to this park. We had to stop an oncoming truck to verify we were entering the park. Rest assured, signs exist but you feel as though you are entering a Civil War cemetery, which you are!
The park is comprised of one circle around a bathhouse, bordered by Confederate Trenches and the Mississippi River. Wonders lie ahead. The sites are large, spacious and if you are lucky, you will back up to the bluff over looking the river. You can imagine confederates soldiers building camp fires, looking over the river. Their ghosts seem to drift along the banks during the early morning and late day sunlight. As you walk along the trenches it is easy to imagine the work of construction and death flowing along the trenches during the battle.
I watch children play, dogs walked and hawks fly over these trenches knowing the lives lost in battles fought along these banks. However, these soft light periods permit reflection, the ghosts drift away and your heart will soar with the eagles.
Take advantage of the museum, visit the park with the cannons, anchor chain and history of the battle. I can feel the excitement . Walk these short trails, feel the history and enjoy the folks that help you along this trail. HAPPY TRAILS!