Battlefields State Park: There are many more stories to be told

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Master planning is underway to determine the precise parameters of the Battlefields State Park.  Culpeper Tourism Dept. Paige Read, the Director, introduced him. Local leaders of the coalition are working closely with officials from Virginia Dept. The General Assembly approved funding for the state park, which will be a history-themed one. Laudner explained to the board of supervisors that the idea of formalizing and commemorating historic grounds dates back many years. Laudner, a strategic advisor with American Battlefield Trust, stated that Culpeper was his first visit in 1987. “I was living in D.C. and was a history buff at the time. I went down to Brandy Station. It was the only marker. All those years ago, to get where we are today, a lot of work went into it.” Laudner stated that the Brandy Station Foundation and Friends of Cedar Mountain, Germanna Foundation and Museum of Culpeper History, Journey Through Hallowed Ground, Piedmont Environmental Council, and others were all partners in the $17 million ABT investment. This does not include maintenance, education and interpretation, as well as communications that were used in the creation of historic places. He said, “None of these would have been possible without your board,” noting that the early support by county governments for a state park resolution was a testament to their commitment. Laudner stated that a change in Richmond’s administration had given life to the Battlefield State Park initiative, which was launched a year ago. Laudner stated that the previous administration had told them that a state park was impossible without strong local support. They didn’t even think about it. Laudner said that Friends of Culpeper Battlefields was formed many years ago. He said that state officials visited Culpeper County several times since the park’s approval by the legislature earlier in the year. They were not in a hurry to leave the Place. The Friends group includes historians, tour guides, and landscape architects who are working together with the state in defining the park’s boundaries.  Laudner stated that ABT will maintain the land through 2027 at no cost to the state and beyond. The future state park will include sites like Fleetwood Hill and St. James Church in Brandy Station, as well as primitive camping sites and equestrian trails and access to Rappahannock River. This includes where slaves fled. Laudner stated to the board that the future Battlefields State Park would attract 75,000 tourists in its first year. This is in addition to generating more than $1 million in new money from tourists. What in flight medical supplies may not contain on everything a passenger might need in an emergency. How cruises work for plus size passengers  ‘The worst thing is getting on the plane’ Not everyone wants to travel to the United State America. Travellers are being discouraged by safety and gun violence. The land transfer from ABT-DCR to DCR will take five years. However, the facility will continue to grow with the preserved lands. In the next 18 months, the state will be hiring staff and finalizing locations for visitors’ centres. Laudner stated that while Civil War Battlefields would be the big deal for the park, the area also has other historical significance, including Native American and African-American history. He said that the Board of Supervisors could assist the project by being informed about the proposed property lines that will surround the state park. Laudner suggested that listing these lands in the comprehensive plan is appropriate and also facilitates a view shed surrounding the state park. He said, “That’s our big ask.” Brandy Station is facing a multitude of development pressures, with many data centres and large solar facilities approved or in the planning stages. For several years, neighbours and friends have been attending public meetings to ask the county government for rural areas to be kept rural. Laudner stated that the future Battlefields State Park would be centrally located between D.C., Richmond, and Shenandoah valley to attract maximum visitors. He said that there are many more stories that will draw people from outside the county and noted that the process towards the state park would be quick. Tom Underwood, Salem Supervisor, said that he was looking forward to the opening of the state park. He said that the board of supervisors was in the process of updating its comprehensive plan. In fact, the planning commission recently concluded its multi-month-long review of the plan, which included extensive public input and hearings. All with a focus on rural areas and green areas, Underwood stated that some areas of the county would remain relatively unaffected but not near major roads, utility lines, or any other large infrastructure. Chairman Gary Deal asked Laudner for clarifications on his statements regarding “telling all the stories” at the state parks, which included Black history. Laudner replied that the lands are from colonial times. Some of the Stevensburg District lands are actually prehistoric. He also mentioned the famous Timothy O’Sullivan Library of Congress photograph taken in the late summer of 1862. It depicts fugitive African-Americans fleeing Culpeper County over the Rappahannock River to Remington as the Union army retreats from Fauquier County, having been defeated at the Battle of Cedar Mountain on Aug. 9, 1862. Laudner stated that it is one of the most important sites for the Friends group and Trust. Other battles and skirmishes were also fought. Those stories, including the Charge down the Street in the Battle of Culpeper Courthouse, will be shared. The 1863 skirmish that took place in the middle of the town was between Union cavalry soldiers and Confederate soldiers during the long war for Culpeper. The Battle at Brandy Station, June 9, 1863, covered northern Culpeper’s farm fields. It is still the largest cavalry battle in North America. Laudner stated that the future state parks lands will also include undisturbed Native American locations and that there are many fascinating stories. He said, “So yes, it’ll be Culpeper Battlefields.

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