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Strolling through Newport's history

Newport packs a lot of history inside its compact borders, and this weekend amateur historians can take a walk through what the old river town has to offer during the Newport History and Parks Walk.

The walk, held on Saturday between 9 a.m. and noon, will be a self-guided stroll around Newport's west side. Maps can be picked up at Pioneer Park between 9 and 10:30 a.m.; walkers can then follow the map to the city's historic library, train tower and west side parks and Mississippi River overlooks.

It's the second annual community walk in Newport, and organizer Emily White said the 120-year-old city's abundant history made a historically themed event an obvious choice.

"Newport has a lot of history," White said. She and other organizers decided, "Well, maybe we should do something a little different this year."

All historical sites on the walking map will have information about their historical significance to the city.

The city's library has been in the same spot since 1897, housed in what was originally an old Baptist church on Seventh Avenue, according to "The Unique Legacy of Red Rock & Newport 1837-1989," by M. Virginia Yelland.

Newport Historical Preservation Committee members will staff the library and train tower during the walk to field questions and provide some history on the sites, White said.

Children, between the ages of 5 and 12, can carry a walk passport; kids with a stamp from each of the historical sites will receive a prize at the walk's end.

Cash or non-perishable food donations for the Friends in Need Food Shelf are suggested, but not required, to take part in the walk. The Newport Park Board and historic preservation committee are sponsoring the Newport History and Parks Walk.

White said next year's historical walk would focus on the city's east side, taking in sites like the old Red Rock Cemetery and the site of the original Red Rock settlement.