“ Address: Charles A. Lindbergh House / 1620 Lindbergh Drive S. / Little Falls / MN 56345 „
Charles A. Lindbergh Historic Site
1620 Lindbergh Drive Southwest,
We had this place on our list of places that we wanted to see on our road tour holiday in the states in June 2012. It did take some finding as it was not well signed and was some way out of Little Falls itself.
Considering how famous this young man is and the place he holds in aviation history I cannot understand why his house and the museum are not better known. They are not owned by the National Parks but rather but the state of Minnesota and I think they should do more to publicise the place.
In 1931, the Lindbergh family gave the whole 110 acres and the house to the State of Minnesota to create a State Park and in 1969, the house and nearby seventeen acres were separated from the rest of the State park and given to the Minnesota Historical Society so that they could be preserved and the museum was built to tell the Lindbergh story and house special exhibits and memorabilia.
I had of course, heard of Charles Lindbergh and was aware that he had been the first to fly non stop across the Atlantic but I really had no idea that he had been quite so young and also how many had failed before him. I also had no idea that he did this in such a tiny aircraft. My husband could barely fit in the cockpit of the model they had in the museum.
THE PRICES AND TIMES
Admission: $8 adults, $7 seniors and college students, $6 children ages 6-17; free for children age 5 and under and Minnesota Historic Society members.
Hours: Memorial Day Weekend through Labour Day Weekend: Thursday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sundays, noon to 5 p.m. Open Memorial Day and Labour Day.
THE LINDBERGH STORY
He was born in Detroit in 1902 but Charles spent most of his childhood and younger years growing up in this house and was greatly influenced by his mother. His parents separated in 1909 and his father lived apart from them much of the time through a sort of mutual agreement even before that. His father was a U.S. Congressman from 1907 to 1917 who was most noted for his opposition to the entry of the U.S. into World War I. His mother was a chemistry teacher at Little Falls High School, from which Charles graduated in 1918.
He had a rather odd relationship with his mother they were extremely close and I think she was quite controlling but having said that I would NEVER have let my son aged 25 fly by himself across the Atlantic!!
He had been driving since he was about thirteen and the family car was driven by him at a very tender age taking his mother across several states. This car was later used as parts to build his first plane ' Jenny' which was rebuilt several times after minor accidents.
This is a modern building set about one hundred metres from the house where Lindbergh grew up. It has the usual gift shop and this is where you pay your entry fee. There are also toilets here and none you can use in the house so go here before your tour of the house or wait till after the tour!
All though the museum were Charles toys and other souvenirs, his words on large screens, his dreams about flying, his first attempts and so much more. It was beautifully done and really informative too.
There was a 1920s style cinema where you could watch a film showing original footage of the famous flight from New York to Paris in the tiny plane. The Spirit of St Louis was a very small monoplane stripped of everything not absolutely essential for the flight so very few instruments; he used bits of maps for guidance. The cockpit was stripped of everything that might have made it more comfortable - the seat was basic, the cockpit open to the elements apart from the roof. He only took a few sandwiches and a bottle of water for the historic flight.
The tiny plane was a flying fire risk in that when it took off from Roosevelt Field, Long Island, New York on May 21 , 1927 The little over loaded plane, carrying over 450 gallons of fuel, only just cleared the telephone wires at the end of the runway . As it was Lindbergh had not slept the night before so was already tired and then he flew solo for 33 hours, 30 minutes, 29.8 seconds. At the time of landing he had actually not slept at all in 55 hours.
.In the museum we saw the boat motor that young Charles aged 13 had used during a trip down the Mississippi with his father. Also in the museum is the old 1959 VW beetle Charles Lindbergh drove through four continents, including Africa and elsewhere on the ground floor we learn about his travels and his work with conservation around the world. The car has been lovingly restored by Lindbergh enthusiasts and looks as good as new now.
By far the most astounding exhibit for us was the recreation of the cockpit and main part of the Spirit of St Louis in real size. You could sit in the cockpit once you managed to climb through the frame. My husband barely fitted in there and Charles Lindbergh was tall too so he would have had the same issue with his legs. Once in the seat you couldn't see out of the front of the plane at all, the only way he could see was out of the open sides. Heaven only knows how he managed to achieve the flight with just a pack of sandwiches, no sleep and in the freezing cold temperatures and not seeing out of the front and only bits of maps he had cut up to guide him. He cut the maps to save the weight!
We were enjoying the museum but were aware that we would be called when the next tour of the house was due as that was the one we were on. Numbers in the house are limited and you can only go into the house as part of a guided tour.
As we walked over to the house with our guide she stopped on the way to tell us something about the young Charles along the lines of the bits I have already mentioned. She told us he was not a great student but loved to invent and build and mess about on the river and with machinery. He was driving at the age of about thirteen and flying solo by the age of 20.
She showed us a small duck pond that the young Charles had created using cement for the ducks to use which still is there and holds water today; it is not beautiful but did the job and has not fallen apart.
The house has much of the original furniture in there and each room has a story. The kitchen has a groove in the floor where Charles scarped a coal bucket across it. There was also a hole in the wall where he would hide his treasures when they left the house in the winter months that used to have a secret door.
It was a rather odd house with hall that had so many doors leading from it that could confuse visitors. Charles liked to sleep in the extension at the back with a view of the river; he did this even in winter which must have been really cold with no heating.
The other rooms were as they had been in the Lindbergh's time with all original pieces of furniture and other bits. There
Even as a young boy Charles would be responsible for cutting the logs and keeping the huge boiler under the house going. This boiler was huge and filled half the basement, it looked like it belonged in a factory rather than a house.
Also under the house in the garage is the fully restored car that the young Charles drive his mother across the states in. It had been taken apart to build his first plane 'Jenny; but enthusiasts have restored it back to its original condition. You can't imagine someone allowing a thirteen year old to drive it as it was huge and I suspect he could barely see out of the front windscreen. I don't expect it was an automatic either but I may be wrong and in the olden days gears were complicated as they were NOT synchromesh and you had to double de clutch to change gear! I have tried and it is really difficult to do so if he managed this he was indeed very skillful.
Charles Lindbergh returned to see the house and said "I can even connect the Mississippi, here, with aviation. One day, before the First World War began, when I was upstairs playing in our house, I heard an unusually loud engine noise. I ran to the window and climbed out onto the roof. There was an airplane flying upriver, below the treetops on the banks. I learned that it was carrying passengers from a field near Little Falls. Of course I wanted to fly in it, but my mother said that it would be much too expensive and dangerous."
Little did she know at that time that her son would become one of the most famous aviators in history.
Sadly he and his wife had their son kidnapped in 1932 and sadly despite a huge ransom being paid for information his body was found some weeks later accidently.
The Lindbergh family then moved to Europe and lived in Kent for some years to escape the press harassment. He led an interesting life and pre WWII he was advising the Germans on the aircraft and knew what they had was superior to the allies as war broke out.
He became very unpopular as he made speeches against America joining WWII as he felt it was not their war. He also appears to have been somewhat of a racist Lindbergh said certain races have "demonstrated superior ability in the design, manufacture, and operation of machines." He further said, "The growth of our western civilization has been closely related to this superiority." This didn't win him many fans either.
He did take an active role in flying in the Pacific after the US joined the war and those pilots who flew with him praised his skills as a pilot and his patriotism.
After the war from the 1960s Lindbergh didn't just sit back and do nothing he was a great traveler and also very keep on conservation and nature and spent his life promoting conservation around the world.
All in all we found this a really interesting and I learned a place to visit and I learned a lot about Charles Lindbergh and his life beyond the famous flight.
The guide was excellent and told us lots of little stories about Lindbergh as a boy and things that happened in the house and so on. She was not only well informed but made everything very interesting and at times quite amusing too.
The museum alone is worth a visit but if you can do both then do as it makes it feel quite personal and almost as though you are looking through a window into his life as a youngster. It looks like a pretty normal house from the outside but once inside the secrets are all revealed by the guide and you really feel you know Lindbergh a lot better.
Yes indeed I love visiting places like this where you find out so much about the people who lived there. It makes them so much more of a real person rather than just a name you read about in history.
If you are passing through Minnesota near Little Falls make a short detour and find this place as you will be impressed I assure you.
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