“one of the most decorated soldiers of WWI”
Sergeant Alvin C. York State Historic Park is located nine miles north of Jamestown in Pall Mall, Tennessee and pays tribute to one of the most decorated soldiers of World War I. The park includes a visitor center modeled after York’s general store, his two-story house, a gristmill, the York Bible School, and various picnic facilities. The York Farm was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977. Just outside the park are the Wolf River Methodist Church where he experienced his religious conversion and the Wolf River Cemetery which includes the burial site of Sgt. York and his wife, Miss Gracie. While these properties are not owned by the park, they are accessible as part of the driving tour or via the park hiking trail. Drafted into the Army shortly after the United States entered World War I in 1917, Alvin C. York initially applied for conscientious objector status due to his strongly-held religious convictions. His application was denied and York reported for basic training at Camp Gordon, Georgia in November of 1917 where he proved himself to be the model soldier. Following basic training, York was assigned to G Company, 328th Infantry Regiment, 82nd Division and shipped out to France in May of 1918. While on patrol along the Meuse-Argonne Front in France on Oct. 8, 1918, York and 16 of his fellow soldiers were caught in an ambush behind German lines and suffered heavy casualties. Using his Tennessee sharp-shooting skills, York led the remaining members of his patrol against the German forces capturing 4 officers and 128 soldiers. Described by General John “Blackjack” Pershing, Commander of the American Expeditionary Forces, as “the greatest civilian soldier of the war”, his actions from this battle earned him more than 40 awards, including the Congressional Medal of Honor and the French Croix de Guerre. Upon his return to the United States, he was barraged with offers for commercial and political endorsements, movies, and books. York initially rejected these offers, believing it was wrong to profit from an act of war. The Nashville Rotary Club began a fund raising effort to buy York a farm and build him a home. A grateful state and nation contributed to this effort and York was presented the deed to his farm in 1922. The Visitor Center features vintage store displays modeled after Sgt. York’s General Store, houses an exhibit area with artifacts from World War I, and offers interpretive displays on Sgt. York’s life. Visitors can watch “Legacy in Action”, a 15-minute video narrated by Walter Cronkite, on Sgt. York and the history of the site. The visitor center holds a gift shop with books and other merchandise focusing on Sergeant York and World War I. A World War I reproduction trench lies behind the York home, depicting trench warfare that American soldiers would have encountered in the Great War. The trench affords the opportunity for visitors and school groups to explore this aspect of the war and experience the intricacies of life in the trenches for the average American doughboy on the front – through living history events and encampments at the park throughout the year. Just across the Wolf River from the Visitor Center is the red two-story gristmill known to park visitors as the York Mill. Constructed by James Conley and William Rankin in 1880, this water powered gristmill was used for grinding corn to make cornmeal and served the region for several generations. Sgt. York purchased the gristmill in the early 1940s and operated it until the early 1950s. The gristmill is open for self-guided tours between the hours of 8:00 AM and 4:30 PM daily. Park guides offer daily tours of the York home. Tours begin at 9:00 AM, 10:00 AM, 11:00 AM, 1:00 PM, 2:00 PM and 3:00 PM CT. The 45 minute tour focuses on the York home, where York, the World War 1 hero and his wife, Gracie, raised their children after the conclusion of World War 1. Cost is $3 for persons 13 years old and up, free for 12 years old and younger. The tour departs and concludes at the park visitors center. Please call the park to reserve your spot. Tours are provided rain or shine with no refunds unless the park cancels the tour. Tours are offered from Saturday, April 1, 2017 through the end of December 2017, (with the exception of Nov. 24, Dec. 24 and Dec. 25). With advanced reservations, school groups tour the York home at no cost.
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