Ever wonder what life was actually like back in 1800s America? The Homeplace 1850s Working Farm provides a small glimpse of what things would have been like. The home, outbuildings, and farm are all historically accurate of what was present at the time, and the farm still operates like it would have then! For these reasons, the Homeplace piqued my interest on our summer trip to the area. I thought it would be an excellent and educational experience for my sons as well.
Homeplace 1850s Working Farm: Need to Know Info
The Homeplace 1850s Working Farm is located within the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. The strip of land is exactly as described: it sits between two lakes, formed by a dam across the Tennessee River. For the original settlers in the area would have been “the land between the rivers,” with the Cumberland River to the east and the Tennessee River to the west.
In addition to being sandwiched between two rivers, the Land Between the Lakes spans two states. The north half is in Kentucky, while the southern portion is in Tennessee. The Homeplace 1850s Working Farm is just inside Tennessee, a fact I relayed to my sons, as it was their first time visiting the state (and they didn’t really care).
While the National Recreation Area doesn’t require an entrance fee, some of the features within do have a cost. This includes the Homeplace 1850s Working Farm. Here are the entry fees:
- Adult (18+): $7
- Youth (5-17): $5
- Age 4 and under: Free
During special events, adult and youth pricing is increased by $2.
The Homeplace is open every day of the week from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM from April through October. During March and November it’s only open Wednesday through Sunday, also 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The Homeplace is closed Thanksgiving Day, and the entire months of December and January.
Homeplace 1850s Working Farm Grounds
The Homeplace 1850s Working Farm is exactly that: a working farm. A handful of staff are employed full time as farm workers. While they don’t live on site, they perform their jobs 1850s-style. Every task, from planting and harvesting crops, to making and repairing tools, is performed without all the conveniences of our modern age.
This makes the Homeplace a living history museum. The buildings on the site are typical of the area in the mid-1800s. You can explore the main house and many of the outbuildings. Sadly, the original farm house present at the location burned down. But the current main house was transported to the homeplace from a nearby location. But it’s still “original” to the period. The wheelchair ramp might be the only out-of-place feature of the smaller house pictured below.
The staff we met at the Homeplace 1850s Working Farm were wonderful. They were eager to relay their knowledge of the farm and history to me and the boys. The main house is set up how you might find a house of the time. Many of the things we take for granted, like running water, were not available at the time. The children would have had to fetch water using the yoke and pails my son is modeling. When the small creek near the house was running, this would have been an easy task. At other times, such as midsummer when it was dry, you would have had to walk a long distance to the river.
Is it super cool to experience? Yes. Are the boys thankful for things like running water and air conditioning? Also yes.
Kids Favorites: The Workshop and Smithy
Two areas of the Homeplace 1850s Working Farm stood out during our visit. These were the workshop and smithy. Sadly, neither get enough love by the staff. With all the other necessary tasks of keeping up the farm, there’s not much time for too making (or toy making) or blacksmithing for fun.
For the staff at the blacksmith forge that day, the job is a dream. Who wouldn’t sign up to live life like our ancestors did, yet go home to modern conveniences every night? He was kind enough to offer us a couple souvenir wall hooks for (what I thought) was a very reasonable price. The forge was being run for fun that day, even in the sweltering summer heat.
The Homeplace 1850s Working Farm was a fun experience during our day trip to the Land Between the Lakes. I’m glad I added it to the agenda. It provided a glimpse into our country’s past in a tangible way. Even through the heat and bugs, I hope the boys remember it fondly.