I included this information in a “Resources for Writers” series I blogged five or six years ago, but it’s worth repeating.
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. Brochures not only contain facts but also pictures which are essential for setting ideas/descriptions.
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.