HistoryAmerica TOURS

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What's New • December 2009
Greetings, Regulars and Other Friends


Leadership Changes: HAT Marches On!

Sharon2009 has been a year of uncertainty for the U.S. economy, and that uncertainty has been reflected in HistoryAmerica registrations. However, an economy that now appears to be slowly reviving in combination with a strong end of the year for HistoryAmerica has given the company renewed confidence. The one thing that has not changed is Georgia O'Connor's determination to again join the ranks of the retired.

On January 1, 2010, full ownership of HistoryAmerica will transfer to Sharon McDermott. With Sharon's nearly 30 years of experience in the tour business, we are confident that HAT will continue to provide the high quality tours that travelers expect. Sharon looks forward with anticipation to "taking you where history happened."

To read about Sharon's plans for 2010 and 2011, check the HistoryAmerica News Bits below.


Tour Summaries

The stock market drop caused HistoryAmerica to have a very difficult early spring and summer. Five tours were cancelled due to registration of less than 18 travelers. However, things seemed to change mid-year. HistoryAmerica finished the year with four wonderful tours that revived the old spirit and encouraged continuation of this great organization. Photos and synopses follow.


The Bozeman Trail


The Bozeman Trail tour in late July turned the corner on a slump year for HistoryAmerica. Mike Koury, who is always a joy to travel with, took HAT travelers on a memorable journey from Fort Laramie to Virginia City. With Mike's great commentary and Jerry Allen's careful attention to detail, it was a memorable learning vacation and an upturn in HAT spirits. The addition of Dee Koury to the travelers roster only added to the special occasion. Georgia and Michael O'Connor were especially proud to have their first scout result in such a successful tour.


New Mexico Through the Ages

New Mexico

From the pueblos to the Trinity Site, New Mexico Through the Ages was a HistoryAmerica first and one that certainly should be repeated. Neil Mangum kept us hiking, laughing, and learning. If there was any doubt that Neil has a second talent as a stand-up comedian, it was erased after his performance at the Farewell Dinner. We owe him a big thank you. Bruce Airheart also gets a well deserved thank you. He did his usual excellent job of keeping us out of trouble and on time.

The photo above is of HAT travelers at Glorietta Pass. Georgia and Bruce have not yet decided who was to blame for no group photo. Each is happy to accuse the other!



Vicksburg: "Gibraltar of the Confederacy"


The Vicksburg group gathered at the Union ironclad USS Cairo, located by our historian guide Ed Bearss in 1964. Ed led a great tour of the Vicksburg campaign, probably the most extensive any Civil War enthusiast has ever experienced. Every aspect of this pivotal battle was covered from the first failed attempts, to the siege, to the victory. Thanks, Ed! Thank you to Phil Waldron, whose detailed scout and careful planning made this great tour possible.

Sharon McDermott, owner of HistoryAmerica, was thrilled to be on this wonderful tour. Vicksburg was pivotal in another decision. Yes, HistoryAmerica must continue.



Revolutionary War in the South


From Charleston to Yorktown the Revolutionary War in the Southern Colonies was a wonderful way to finish the season. A HistoryAmerica traveler best summed it up on his evaluation sheet, when he wrote, "It is hard to imagine more verve, knowledge, and motivation in one person than there is in Ed Bearss. He is genuinely interested in everyone learning everything of importance about the people, the places, the battles, and the mindset of the players involved."

Once again, Phil Waldron not only tour directed, but also scouted the entire tour. He does take good care of his HAT travelers, and he coped well on a tour with three owners looking over his shoulder.



HistoryAmerica News Bits

Ed Bearss Honored

BearssA highlight of the Vicksburg tour was the presentation of a bust of Ed Bearss to the Vicksburg National Battlefield. The bust was commissioned by Chris Bradley and the artist was Art Downey. Both were present for the ceremony. In addition Ed's daughter, grandson, and brother came to Vicksburg for this very special occasion, not to mention numerous HistoryAmerica travelers who are Ed's loyal fans.

What an appropriate place to have a bust of the man who knows more about the Siege of Vicksburg than any other living person, who located and was instrumental in the raising of the USS Cairo, and who after many years as Superintendent at Vicksburg became the Chief Historian of the entire National Park Service.

The future of HAT from Sharon

We are about to enter the decade of the sesquicentennial, dealing with the history of our country's most intense period of conflict and internal strife, beginning with the Civil War in the east and ending with the Indian wars in the west. The 1860s was also the beginning of the great transportation and communication systems of the transcontinental railroad, the Pony Express, and the Pacific Telegraph. Everything that happened in the 1860s determined to a great degree what course the nation would take, and we plan to be there when these events are remembered.

As HistoryAmerica enters this new period, I plan to continue with the company's signature battlefield tours. I also plan to widen the scope of programs to include more social and cultural history, opportunities for visits and learning experiences in the arts and sciences, with an emphasis on understanding underlying values and why things happened, as well as when and where. As HAT moves forward I welcome your ideas and suggestions. To HistoryAmerica, the future is the past.

There will be more information about tours in 2010 and beyond within the next month. Check the HistoryAmerica web-site in late January.

Seasons Greetings to all and a hopeful New Year!

Thank You

Michael and Georgia O'Connor would like to say thank you to all the special people: historians, tour directors, and travelers, whom we have met during our three years with HistoryAmerica. The people have been a bonus beyond any expectation. What a wonderful experience it has been. We now say aloha, as we will certainly see many of you on HAT tours in the future.

If you're coming to South Dakota, drop us an email at mocgoc@rushmore.com. We give personalized tours of the Black Hills and the price is right, free.


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Updated 18-Dec-2009