02 August 2006 by Published in: Battlefield preservation 6 comments

One of the things that I was able to learn during my trip to Trevilian Station last week was precisely which parcel of land was the subject of the recent acquisition. The parcel in question is on the west side of the Fredericksburg Road, Rt. 669, just to the north of the old railroad depot. The parcel starts just on the other side of the CSX right of way and extends to the north, connecting with the nearly 1000 acre parcel that was the first major acquisition by the Trevilian Station Battlefield Foundation. It’s really a very important parcel of land, and it gives an unbroken link to the railroad itself.

The old train station, which is post-war, used to serve as the post office for the hamlet of Trevilians. I was surprised to find that the post office has moved out of the building, which now sits vacant. CSX has told the TSBF that it can buy the building for $1.00. Sounds like a great bargain, right?

Wrong. If the TSBF buys it, it will have to move it immediately, as it sits in the right-of-way and moving it would be a condition of sale. That means that TSBF would have to have a place to put it, as well as the money to physically relocate it. The building’s not in great shape, and would require a lot of fixing up. There’s too much endangered land out there, and I’m pleased to report to you that the TSBF has its priorities straight–it would rather devote its scarce resources to land aquisition than to buying this building that wasn’t even there at the time of the battle. Smart call, even if a fixed-up version of the depot would make a decent battlefield visitor’s center.

The logical place for a visitor’s center for the Trevilian Station battlefield would be the reproduction of the Netherland Tavern that sits adjacent to the original site of the tavern. There are also problems with it. First, and foremost, it’s on private property, and the owner sees it as a money-making venture. Second, when it was built, it was done 1864-style. It has no electricity, and it has no running water. It would have to be wired and plumbed, and heat and air conditioning installed for it to become a viable visitor’s center. It also is short on parking. Thus, it is far from the optimal choice, either.

Some day, the issue of a visitor center for the Trevilian Station battlefield will need to be addressed. However, for now, it need not be. The simple truth is that there aren’t that many battlefield visitors yet, and there’s far, far too much endangered land at Trevilians to devote the resources to developing one when those dollars would be better spent buying more of the battlefield.

Scridb filter

Comments

  1. John D. Mackintosh
    Thu 03rd Aug 2006 at 8:50 am

    Eric,

    Interesting points. You are right, they would be chasing the wrong goal wasting money on a post-war train depot. As for a Vistor’s Center, I can’t help but wonder if by not developing one they are losing potential visitors. More casual tourists would be prone to visit there if “there was something there to see” (words from my imaginery stereotypical tourist) which a Visitor’s Center implies for many with a marginal interest in the battle. You know the type–Mom, Dad and Kids drop by Little Bighorn Battlefield, go to the bathroom, walk through the museum, climb Last Stand Hill and leave, all in 30-40 minutes. With Trevilian Station, more visotors in turn would bolster their case with those local elements who denigrate the battlefield’s potential positive economic impact.

    Sort of like what I was telling you about with what happened here with the River’s Bridge Battlefield. Our State Parks closed the small museum/visitor’s center there due to cost-cutting and, unless you are a student of Sherman’s March through South Carolina, there is less of an incentive for those passing nearby to visit than there once was.

    John

  2. Thu 03rd Aug 2006 at 9:47 am

    Good points, John, but I think for the moment while so much land is in danger – I was there with Eric again a little over a month ago, and new cheesebox houses are springing up all over – the TSBF can only devote its limited monies to procuring land. I really think it has to come first, and a VC must be secondary. The prime land must be saved in order for visitors to see something, after all. Having a VC with publicity, etc, would certainly raise visitation I’m sure, but if money were no object it probably would have been built already.

    J.D.

  3. John D. Mackintosh
    Thu 03rd Aug 2006 at 1:42 pm

    J.D.

    You are probably right. Trying to preserve history unfortunately comes down to too many hard choices due to too few dollars, in a race against the clock of “progress” which threatens to obliterate the past if one doesn’t move fast enough.

    John

  4. Thu 03rd Aug 2006 at 9:20 pm

    Very true. Eric and I were astonished to see the amount of development already taking place along roads in the area since we were last there. Thank goodness that a good bit of the land is saved, but what is not preserved is being developed quickly. And much of the land that might be available is going to be awfully pricey.

    J.D.

  5. Terry Perkins
    Fri 04th Aug 2006 at 10:42 pm

    Just wanted to say that the tour and lecture by Eric last week regarding Trevilian Station was fantastic. I would recommend that anyone that has a chance to attend a lecture and/or tour by Eric to take advantage of it. You will not be disappointed.

  6. Fri 04th Aug 2006 at 10:46 pm

    Thanks, Terry. I’m very flattered, and I’m very pleased to hear that you enjoyed yourself.

    I thought I was going to have to do another talk on Saturday morning (and had told David H. that I was prepared to do so), in case the cause of the “audio difficulties” didn’t show up. In some ways, it’s too bad he did.

    Eric

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