Sometimes there are ordinary people that do something to grab the world’s attention and have a story to tell that spans generations. Sgt. Alvin C York is one of those ordinary people who became a hero in World War I and now thousands of people every year take the time to remember his life and visit his home place in Tennessee. We have been to the Sgt. Alvin C York State Historical Park many times over the years, but today I get to share the park with you so you can know what to expect on your next visit.
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Sgt. Alvin C York State Historical Park
Visiting the Sgt. Alvin C York State Historical Park is not something you do by accident. It is located off the beaten path in Fentress County off of TN state highway 127 on some narrow curvy roads about 15 minutes south of the Kentucky state line. But this is a beautiful place that is worth the drive and the time spent.
You can stop at the Visitor Center and purchase tickets to tour the homeplace. Tickets are very affordable at only $3 for persons 13 years old and up, free for 12 years old and younger. The tour through the house takes about 45 minutes and is led by a Tennessee Park Ranger. On our recent tour, we were led by Joseph G who did a great job telling the story of Sgt. York and his life.
Sgt. York was not an educated man when he went off to war, but once he experienced the world, he came back dedicated to learning and helping others in his county become educated. He became an avid reader and spent alot of time in his small personal library. You can see a collection of his books on display but the rest of his personal library is in storage on the property.
The Tennesse Park Service has worked with the York family and continues the work to restore the homeplace so it is authentic to the time that Sgt. York was living in the home. Everything in the home is original and tells the story of the York family and their life.
Something to think about: The York home is not really on the way to anywhere. Our tour guide talked about how people would drive for miles just to come visit and talk with the famous hero, Alvin C York. So what did they do when they were done visiting? Sgt. York would invite them to stay for dinner and then stay overnight. Since there were no hotels or restaurants nearby, southern hospitality was something that was never debated. When you came to visit, you just accepted the invitation of the guests (and that invitation would typically include dinner that Sgt. York’s wife, Gracie, would prepare).
Alvin C York
Alvin C York grew up in a very poor family with little education. When his father died, Alvin took over the role of provider and took care of his mother and siblings. Later when he was drafted for WWI, he tried to opt out of the draft for religious reasons but after much prayer and thought, he ended up joining because he realized there were some things worth fighting for.
Alvin Cullum York (13 December 1887 – 2 September 1964) was an American soldier of the United States Army, famous as a World War I hero. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for leading an attack on a German machine gun nest, taking control of 32 machine guns, killing 28 German soldiers and capturing 132 others.
Explore the Grounds
After you tour the house, make sure you take time to explore the grounds. Behind the house, you can walk out to a recreated bunker and see what the trenches looked like. Although there was nothing magical about these trenches in real war, they are a fun place to play if you are a 10 year old boy!
And of course, this Mom can’t pass up the chance to snap some family pictures, right?
Sgt York’s Grave
Sgt. York is buried about 1/2 mile from his home. You can take the trail to his gravesite or drive over to the site.
If you take the trail, you will cross a swinging bridge on the way to the gravesite. Or you can park and just walk over to explore the swinging bridge right before you arrive at the church graveyard.
The Grist Mill
One of the most iconic landmarks of the Sgt. York Historical Site is the red gristmill across the road from his homplace. There are restrooms, a sandy beach area and picnic tables that are perfect for a family day of adventure.
There is no fee for any of the landmarks except for touring the house.
Don’t forget the fudge
And no trip to any historical site is complete without something sweet, right? The Forbus General Store has the best fudge in the area!
Have you ever visited the Sgt York State Historical Park?
Find York State Park
Sgt. Alvin C. York State Historic Park
Pall Mall, TN 38577