Sunday, April 11, 2010

Resources for Writers #13: Your Nearest Visitor's Center

I love to stop at the Visitors' Centers as I travel, particularly the ones on state lines. At each, you can find a wealth of information, and it's all free! Now, how is this a resource for writers, you ask? Let me count the ways, using Texas as an example. You can acquire comparable information in any state.

Stories/Novels need characters, settings, and plots. They're all here in these fat glossy folders replete with maps, charts, pictures, timelines, even glossaries!
  • The Chisholm Trail: Exploring the Folklore and Legacy
  • Texas Mountain Trail: Exploring the Heritage of Far West Texas
  • Texas Plains Trail: Exploring the Heritage of the Panhandle Plains
  • Texas Forest Trail: Exploring the Heritage of East Texas
  • Texas Independence Trail: Deadly Battles, Heroic Deeds, and a History Shaped by a Desire for Freedom
  • Texas Brazos Trail: Exploring the Heritage of Central Texas
  • Explore the Red River Valley: Your Gateway to the History, People, and Places that Make Texas and Oklahoma Legendary
  • Texas in the Civil War: Stories of Sacrifice, Valor, and Hope
  • Texas in World War II: United by Duty, Honor, and the Fight for Freedom
  • Official Roadmap of Texas Forts and Trail Region
  • Butterfield Overland Mail Stage Route
Every town with any historic link provides its own brochure, urging you to visit and behold the wonders of preserved homes, museums, and other historic sites. If wanderlust doesn't stir in your soul, it should.

Not only historical plots can spring from these treasures, but also contemporary ones as well. Romance, mystery, adventure, thrillers--it's all there waiting to be unleashed.

Can't get to a Visitor Center, you say? Not a problem. Simply write to the state historical commission or state tourism bureau (they're called by different names in different states), and your personal research library is on its way to you. Shoot, you don't even have to write these days--go to their websites and make your request! Then watch your mailbox--the snail mail one, of course.

Just yesterday I ran across a brochure that I picked up at the local Visitors' Center here in Hot Springs, and I'm already planning a trip about an hour southwest of here to Old Washington Historic Park. I'll spend at least a day touring and snapping pictures of no fewer than 49 restored/rebuilt homes and other historic buildings. Then, after dinner at Williams' Tavern Restaurant (circa 1832), I'll spend one night in a budget hotel and start home the next morning, stopping along the way to take in the scenery. It will be a quick, cheap excursion, but I'll have a wealth of information for future writing when I get home!


Debra St. John said...

What a great idea! I am a huge collector of brochures...I make my husband stop at every visitor center we see.

Marianne Evans said...

Oh my goodness! I thought I was the only one who did that! :-) Visitor Centers are an enormous wealth of information, flavor and visuals!! I, too, am a collector, and we drive frequently so we make stops along the way to feed my writer's soul. Cool blog!!

Anonymous said...

I love visitor centres or as we call them information centres. I am always collecting brochures, pamphlets, little booklets of places I've been too, as well as places I want to go to! (Postcards work well for this as well!)

K9friend said...

As always, great suggestions, Judy!

Mary Ricksen said...

What great ideas! Thanks Judy!