Making the Most of Opportunities
at the state and local levels sustain this program. VCWT is the
architect of the trails—producing,
installing, and maintaining the signs and radio transmitters,
supervising the construction of trail enhancements such as wayside
stops, and producing trail brochures. Promotion and marketing
is left largely to the VTC. Preservation groups step in, securing
easements or buying land, when Civil War sites are endangered.
VCWT and VDOT collaborate on numerous levels regarding wayside
stops and directional signs, not to mention funding. City and
county planners and local politicians help by supporting the
program and eliminating red tape.
the Fit between the Community and Tourism: Local historians
research and develop preliminary information to interpret each
trail, thereby assuring that the portions of their communities
that want to be promoted are. The information is sent to the
committee, which includes representatives from all five regional
committees as well as experts at the state level, such as the
DHR historian, who
is responsible for the road markers. VCWT staff use the historical
information to develop copy and layout for the signs and brochures.
The final copy is reviewed once more by local and state historians
before going to press. Input from local historians and citizens
helps to identify the campaign or theme for each trail and locals
provide the final review process before the information
is put into print.
Sites and Programs Come Alive: VCWT seeks out human-interest
stories associated with the war and incorporates the stories
through quotes and anecdotes into the brochures and interpretive
signs along the trails. At Pamplin Park, Civil War weekends feature
costumed interpreters, weapons demonstrations, music, and a Sunday
sermon from the era. During the summer, children can participate
in hands-on Civil War drills.
on Quality and Authenticity: VCWT effectively balances
local input with a comprehensive review process
to ensure accuracy and authenticity. For example, to create signs
for sites important to the African-American experience, VCWT
includes local historians, staff from the U.S. Colored Troops
Memorial in Washington, D.C., as well as the Douglass Institute
of Government’s think-tank as part of the review team.
By including specialized experts, VCWT can identify and rectify
any errors before signs are manufactured.
and Protect Resources: “By
generating interest in these Civil War sites, we have created
catalyst at the grass-roots level,” says Mitch Bowman.
For example, VCWT placed an interpretive marker adjacent to a
Presbyterian Church that served
as a field hospital during the Battle of McDowell. The site’s
heightened visibility inspired the Highland County Historical
Society to raise funds to buy an adjacent field in order to protect
the land. As
the interpretive sign explains, the field served as the Union
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National Trust for Historic Preservation ®