MDC offers free Civil War era outdoor skills event Nov. 16 in Kansas City

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Kansas City
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Kansas City, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation will showcase outdoor survival skills of the Civil War era and the Underground Railroad at a free event from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 16, at the Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center in Kansas City. Also on Nov. 16, special presentations will help open an exhibit of photographs illustrating the Underground Railroad route from the deep South to Canada.

Times were hard in the Kansas City region in the years before, during, and after the Civil War. Families fleeing slavery, soldiers on the march, and civilians all relied on skills and knowledge of the outdoor world. This event will offer visitors a chance to rediscover those skills. Experts will give presentations about native medicinal plants, outdoor cooking, navigating using the environment, and more.

Buffalo Soldiers from the Alexander/Madison Chapter of the Kansas City area will give a special presentation at 10:30 a.m. The chapter celebrates the service of African-Americans in the U.S. Calvary of the Old West and in military conflicts that followed.

Molly Postlewait will present her Lamp of Freedom tale at noon. Postlewait is a master storyteller. Her Lamp of Freedom takes listeners on an enchanting journey through the sights, sounds, hopes, and fears of those who lived in the shadows of slavery and war in the Kansas City area in the mid-1800s.

The activities will highlight the opening of Through Darkness to Light: Photographs Along the Underground Railroad, showcasing the work of photographer Jeanine Michna-Bales. This free exhibit will open Nov. 16 and be on display through Jan. 4 in the hallway of the Discovery Center’s north wing. Bales documented with photos what the woods, roads, rivers, and fields would have looked like to slaves fleeing slavery under the cover of night. She documented actual sites and places that freedom seekers pass through on a journey. The sites range from cotton plantations in Louisiana north to the Canadian border.

This exhibition was organized by Exhibits USA, a program of the Mid-America Arts Alliance.

The Gorman Discovery Center is open Tuesday-Saturday in the heart of Kansas City at 4750 Troost Ave. For information about this and other education programs, call 816-759-7300 or visit