Starting this weekend at Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, you can take part in Indiana's involvement in the Civil War. Some of our staff - including me - had a preview of the 1863 Civil War Journey earlier this spring, and I promise this interactive exhibit puts you in the midst of a dramatic moment in Indiana history.

This year begins the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, and thanks to Conner Prairie you don't have to travel south of the Mason-Dixon Line to learn about this pivotal time in American history. Here's the story behind the exhibit: In July 1863, General John Hunt Morgan led Confederate soldiers into southern Indiana. Approximately 60,000 volunteers answered the call from Governor Morton to defend the state. The citizens and Union cavalry fought back, by felling trees and through armed resistance, forcing Morgan and his men into Ohio where they were eventually captured by Union soldiers. Visitors can be a part of Morgan's raid through video, interpretive experiences, theatrical wizardry and technology. Families can reflect on how they might have responded to the call to defend their state, and learn how ordinary citizens, like them, responded to real historical events. When we took our behind-the-scenes tour, we were struck by the attention to detail, down to the choice of interior paint colors and items stocked in the local store. Like all the other experiences at Conner Prairie, the Civil War Journey goes to great lengths for authenticity. An added plus: To ensure the exhibit appeals to multiple ages, Conner Prairie staff designed an area for young children featuring a steamboat, water cannons and an indoor play zone. Special activities during opening weekend include rifle-firing demonstrations, cannon firings and opportunities to hear stories from the 19th Indiana infantry about what it takes to be a Civil War soldier. If you truly want to be one of the first to see this new experience, plan to arrive early. Civil War Journey will have special extended hours, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., for the grand opening weekend. Civil War Journey is included with Conner Prairie general admission: $14/adults; $9/youth (ages 2-12). Free for members & youth under 2.