It’s interesting to note that numerous towns, restaurants, and gift shops throughout North America carry the moniker of “Little Bavaria.” You can find them in Miami, in New York City, in sunny Southern California and in all points between!
In my own backyard, the North Cascades of Washington State, you’ll find the little town of Leavenworth. It is a land of towering peaks, old-growth forests, and few people. Native Americans living their regard it as a most plentiful land and several tribes have hunted deer, elk, and moose in the area for centuries.
By the turn of the 20th century, Leavenworth was a thriving community of settlers hungry for gold, timber and fur. A raucous locale, one historian described Leavenworth as more like Deadwood (South Dakota) than German Bavaria!
The city continued to grow until its logging industry waned and the railroad re-routed its rails. Thus began Leavenworth’s decline. However, in the 1960’s, city leaders embarked on a bold plan to revitalize the town and attract visitors, which were sorely needed. So, the façade of the once thriving logging community was torn down and replaced. It has been said that the mountains surrounding Leavenworth have no equal except for German Bavaria. The facelift begun by the town’s leadership would attempt to emulate a true Bavarian experience!
In addition to a near-complete renovation of the downtown area, city leaders created a series of festivals, including the Autumn Leaf Festival, the
Maifest, and the hugely-popular Christmas Lighting festival. These festivals continue to this day. Regardless of the time of year, there is plenty to do in the Leavenworth area. Little Bavaria is an apt description, as you’ll find an old world German village smack in the middle of the 21st century! If you live in the area and even if you don’t, it’s well worth a visit!
For the homeschooling community living in the area, you’ll enjoy a trip to Leavenworth! The town is a living history of the North Cascades emulating another piece of living history in another part of the world. To make such a trip worthy of an educational excursion, I have provided links to materials about the history of Leavenworth and Bavaria. Obviously, since Bavaria has a long history (dating back to the 6th century A.D.) providing comprehensive links to a vast body of historical work is prohibitive. However, what I have provided will give a brief snapshot of the era.
I encourage homeschooling parents and leaders to delve into the history of the region and, indeed, the history of Bavaria. To that end, here are several sources designed to assist you. I hope you find them useful!
Miracle Town is the story of two young men who dreamed of turning Leavenworth from a near ghost town in the 1950’s into a sparkling Bavarian Village. Together with the help of three others, they made a whole town join hands to change its destiny forever!
Leavenworth, Washington is a popular tourist destination in the center of Washington State on the eastern side of the North Cascade mountain range. In the mid-60s, the town was inspired to take advantage of the gorgeous mountain views and mimic Bavarian towns in the European Alps
There have been innumerable scholarly and scientific histories written on Bavaria and several excellent works on various phases of her remarkable history, and of the vivid personalities which so invade her past. This book, originally published in 1906, shows the history of Bavaria, including details on special cities like Munich, Bayreuth, Nuremberg, Oberammergau, Augsburg, Rothenburg and several more.
The Swan King is the biography of one of the most enigmatic figures of the nineteenth century, described by Verlaine as ‘the only true king of his century’. A man of wildly eccentric temperament and touched by a rare, imaginative genius, Ludwig II of Bavaria is remembered both for his patronage of Richard Wagner and for the fabulous palaces that he created as part of a dream-world to escape the responsibilities of state.
I hope you have found this information useful! Please leave any comments or suggestions below. If you have questions, I would be happy to field them, as I respond to all feedback! My email address is provided for your convenience.
All the best with your homeschooling activities!
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