Our 2022 Road Trip #6: Women’s Rights the Day After Dobbs

Womens Rights National Park Visitor Center statues!

How many suffragette statues can you name?

Of all the weekends on all the calendars that we could’ve picked to visit a tribute to women…

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Since 1999 Anne and I have taken one road trip each year to a different part of the United States and seen attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home. We’re geeks more accustomed to vicarious life through the windows of pop culture than through in-person adventures. After years of contenting ourselves with everyday life in Indianapolis and any surrounding areas that also had comics and toy shops, we chucked some of our self-imposed limitations and resolved as a team to leave the comforts of home for annual chances to see creative, exciting, breathtaking, outlandish, and/or bewildering new sights in states beyond our own, from the horizons of nature to the limits of imagination, from history’s greatest hits to humanity’s deepest regrets and the sometimes quotidian, sometimes quirky stopovers in between. We’re the Goldens. This is who we are and what we do.

For 2022 we wanted the opposite of Yellowstone. Last year’s vacation was an unforgettable experience, but those nine days and 3500 miles were daunting and grueling. Vermont was closer, smaller, greener, cozier, and slightly cooler. Thus we set aside eight days to venture through the four states that separate us from the Green Mountain State, dawdle there for a bit, and backtrack home…

By the time we finally found the It’s a Wonderful Life Museum, we’d already driven around several blocks and encountered a few unexpected sights in town. One set of statues was on our list; another was a recent addition unbeknownst to us. All of them would’ve made great companion pieces to our 2018 stop at the National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House in Rochester (as well as her grave) if we’d had more time to include Seneca Falls on that trip.

Welcome to Seneca Falls mural!

Their welcome mural is a logical Panel One, but we didn’t find it till minutes before we drove away.

Bloomer Anthony Stanton!

Great moments in suffrage history: that time Amelia Jenks Bloomer (the first woman to own/operate/edit a women’s magazine, The Lily) introduced Anthony to longtime compatriot Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

Kellogg Tubman Wright Truth!

Dozens of feet away stand four new activist statues added in 2021: Laura Cornelius Kellogg, Harriet Tubman, Martha Collins Wright, and Sojourner Truth.

suffrage timeline sculpture!

Across the street from those seven women, this trio holds up a timeline of suffrage history.

Anne had the pleasure of approaching these herself at the same time as two other pedestrians, who cheerfully took pics of her with each set of statues for her own social media use. Meanwhile I was sitting in the car in a bank parking lot, fuming over the crappy directions and trying multiple times to get Google Maps to stop acting stupid.

Seneca Falls Visitor Center!

We later made our way to their veritable downtown, but forgot to stop at the town Visitor Center and use their smashed penny machine.

The miniature George Bailey shrine had been our primary objective in visiting Seneca Falls, but it isn’t their lone claim to fame. A block east, the National Women’s Rights Park is a multi-site commemoration of the world’s first Women’s Rights Convention, which was held at the Wesleyan Chapel beginning July 19, 1848, back in those primitive times before women were treated as human enough to vote. Many of the relevant, passionate dignitaries of the movement were in attendance, and are noted in their exhibits accordingly.

Wesleyan Chapel!

The Wesleyan Chapel that served as their convention center.

WRNHP bench!

Next door to the church is the park’s own modest visitor center. With temps in the 90s and no shade out front, no one was sitting on this side of the building.

kids statues!

Another angle on the visitor center statues in our lead photo. Some represent famous faces, such as easily distinguishable ally Frederick Douglass. Some are anonymous, signifying every Jane Average that would benefit from their efforts.

visitor center collage!

A selection from their women’s history collage.

giant WRC sidebar!

The tiny newspaper sidebar announcing the event, now writ large.

Mott Douglass Quilt!

Their quilt collection includes this rendition of Mr. Douglass alongside Lucretia Mott.

First Convention for Woman's Rights sign!

The official historic site marker.

Declaration of Sentiments mural!

On the side of the visitor center is a tribute to the Declaration of Sentiments.

Among the convention’s fruits was the Declaration of Sentiments — a manifesto of sorts chiefly penned by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, styled after the Declaration of Independence, and cosigned by 100 of the 300+ attendees. The full text is available online and contains sentiments that many of you might find worth recalling in 2022, whether for darker ruing or for ideological inspiration. Some updates have occurred in American society since 1848. Some updates have yet to be implemented.

We were in the park’s vicinity by pure coincidence. On the far end of the field next to the visitor center (just a bit beyond that shot), two young women sat in the grass facing the mural. It isn’t hard to imagine what drew them there that afternoon.

Across the street from the park, we descended toward the shore of the Seneca River for our own brief moment of serenity and slightly more tourism. Famously spanning the Seneca is the bridge that served as the basis on which Frank Capra and his crew would model the bridge in It’s a Wonderful Life where George Bailey would flee in his darkest hour, face the temptation to surrender to his demons, yet ultimately find encouragement in a moment of truth.

Seneca Falls bridge!

The view to the west.

National Women's Hall of Fame!

On the other side was the National Women’s Hall of Fame, which was on our shortlist but cut due to time. In 2020 they bought the former mill next door and extended exhibits into its first floor.

Seneca River!

The Seneca River to the east, where we’d be heading toward our next set of stops.

Seneca Falls bridge driving!

But first, I couldn’t resist confirming that yes, we were free to drive across the bridge between the two sides.

To be continued!

* * * * *

[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for other chapters and for our complete road trip history to date. Follow us on Facebook or via email sign-up for new-entry alerts, or over on Twitter if you want to track my faint signs of life between entries. Thanks for reading!]

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