Expansion of North Anna park helps tell full Civil War story
A Doswell park will have more to offer its visitors than just trails and nature by springtime.
The parks and recreation department is extending the nearly 18-year-old North Anna Battlefield Park by adding 90 more acres of historic land.
“We wanted to tell the entire story of the North Anna battle,” said Greg Sager, director of parks and recreation.
As visitors walk along the path and stop at more than 25 different stations, new information would be revealed about the civil war. Two new historic attractions were acquired with the new acreage: killing fields and the “Yankee V trench line.”
Martin Marietta, of the company Martin Marietta Materials, donated the un-utilized land to the county in exchange for an expansion of the Doswell Quarry plant, Sager said.
“We wanted to open it for the public so that everyone had an opportunity to see the history itself,” he added.
The projected cost of the trail expansion was about $85,000. Sager said the parks department is scrounging up money and volunteers to finish the rest of the almost seven-mile-long trail. The original trail is roughly one to two miles long and the newer path begins three-fourths of a mile into the park.
Sager said the department encourages everyone and not just history buffs to stop by the historic site, noting that the park has other offerings such as its proximity to the North Anna River.
“It’s just a really pretty spot,” he said.
The project extension began in September and will wrap up April 1. Sager said the entire project will be completed in time to commemorate the 150-year anniversary of the battle, which occurred on May 24 and 25 in 1864. After its completion, there will not be any other additions to the park.
An education organization representing both sides of the war, Blue and Grey, is making signs for each station, which will have information and facts about the battle that took place there.
A group of workers from Dominion Virginia Power volunteered their time and constructed a set of stairs leading to the new addition as well as a visitation deck overlooking rifle pits nestled in the woods.
After the rest of the path is cleared, Sager said the second phase of putting down gravel and installing signs will begin. Most of the hard work will occur during the fall and winter.
Because the trail is so far into the woods, it is difficult for any large trucks to travel to the construction sites. Though Sager said that some items could be transported on four-wheelers out to the new location, staff will have to devise a plan to move large amounts of gravel for the last phase of the project.
“The biggest challenges are yet to come,” Sager said.
The “passive” park will have a few more benches and resting stops for walkers, but it will not have any restrooms.
Sager said he wanted to make sure visitors were given the opportunity to walk in the shoes of both union and confederate soldiers.
“[We want to] try to get folks to almost relive what those folks went through,” he added.