January 18, 2021

Art & Lifestyle:

Marking County’s Civil War History

Civil War Sites

St. Mary’s County has plans to install more Civil War Trails Inc. interpretive markers at locations around the county.

In March, the first of eight new signs was installed at Historic Sotterley to tell a “fuller story,” which now includes information about the formerly enslaved men who served with distinction in the United States Colored Troops during the Civil War.

Other signs will be reinstalled at St. Clement’s Island Museum, St. Clement’s Island State Park, Piney Point Lighthouse Museum & Historic Park, the Old Jail Museum in Leonardtown, Chaptico, Point Lookout State Park, and the St. Mary’s County Visitor Center at the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum.

Civil War Trails Inc. has teamed up with the St. Mary’s County Museum Division, Visit St. Mary’s MD, Historic Sotterley, and the Maryland Department of Conservation and Recreation to revamp and reinstall the markers.

During the COVID-19 shutdown this year, the organizations researched the seven remaining sites in the county and produce new signs for each. The goal was to make each more engaging and relevant for the modern enthusiast, telling unique and fascinating stories of the interesting people these accounts feature. In addition, the team will shift sign locations to improve accessibility and wayfinding.

The Civil War Trails program connects visitors to more than 1,200 sites across six states. The program’s signature signs bring the modern landscape to life as visitors stand in the footsteps of soldiers, citizens and those fighting for their freedom. Each Civil War Trails site is marketed internationally by state tourism offices, destination marketing organizations, and municipal partners.

“Every day, we deliver economic development by the carload,” said Drew Gruber, executive director of Civil War Trails. “Places off the beaten path, personal stories, experiences, and unique amenities are exactly what our visitors are after — and St. Mary’s County delivers in every category.”

The Civil War Trails program continues to experience record visitation each year, providing a strong return on investment and revenue for local jurisdictions. With visitors looking to get out of the house and experience history in a socially distanced way during most of this year, the program was positioned best to fill this niche. What’s more, all the Civil War Trails signs are environmentally friendly and 100% recyclable, so every time new signs are made, the old ones are cleaned, reused and repurposed for new content.

The Maryland Office of Tourism is reprinting its popular Civil War Trails map-guides. Also, Civil War Trails has launched a GPS-enabled page on its website to aid travelers.

For more information, call Civil War Trails at 757-378-5462 or connect on social media @civilwartrails #openairmuseum.

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