The Brandy Station and Cedar Mountain State Park Alliance is pitching the proposed state park that would incorporate Culpeper County’s two largest battlefield as a “turnkey” operation.
Already considered jewels of the county, Brandy Station Battlefield and Cedar Mountain Battlefield would likely attract 75,000 visitors in its first year as a state park, according the the Community Use + Economics Group. By year two 100,000 visitors would be expected and approaching 200,000 within five years of existence. In the first year, an estimated $1,770,000 would be generated in tourism dollars.
Those are tantalizing numbers Brandy Station Foundation President William Truitt concedes, made even more impressive by the fact that the BSF has just paid off the mortgage of the Graffiti House, the Civil War-era hospital that is a treasure trove of both Confederate and Federal soldier markings. In addition to the Graffiti House, there are approximately 1,400 acres of land that has already been purchased and preserved at the two battlefields.
“The way we are presenting this is as a turnkey operation,” Truitt said. “All the land at the Brandy Station Battlefield and the Cedar Mountain Battlefield is already paid for. Right now we’re trying to garner as much support as we can from the grassroots efforts. We’re asking everyone to go to the CWPT website and sign a letter to show your support for the park. We’ve had over 6,000 letters sent in so far.”
Having already received support from the Culpeper County Board of Supervisors and the Culpeper Town Council, Truitt and representatives from the Civil War Preservation Trust traveled to Richmond this winter in an effort to garner support from the local legislators.
“Culpeper is uniquely positioned in that you have three Senate districts and two House districts that intersect here,” Mark Coombs, CWPT Deputy Director of Government Relations said.
Truitt said the group met with Sen. Emmett Hanger (R-24th District) and Delegates Nick Freitas (R-30th District) and Michael Webert (R-18th District).
All seemed on board with the plan for a state park, but funding was not available this year. The alliance is hoping that 2018 will allow them to find funding, but point out that unlike other state park proposals, there is already infrastructure in place at Brandy Station and Cedar Mountain.
Coombs also said that the CWPT has offered to stay on to help manage the lands for five years.
While the historical aspect of the battlefields are well known, Coombs said that there are still present day uses for them.
“One of the most exciting parts of the park is that in addition to being a living monument to veterans past, Marines from Quantico come to Brandy Station Battlefield to do staff rides and do military training,” Coombs said. “These are actual living training grounds for the modern military. They are able to hone their unique skill sets before going to Iraq or Afghanistan.”
The next step in moving forward is continuing the education process with the other legislators in Richmond.
“What we found with this state park, is there is uniform support among Culpeper delegation,” Coombs said. “But the process of education is really highlighting the lack of infrastructure needed.”
Truitt pointed out that the BSF would still be available to be stewards of the land, volunteers and be able to share their knowledge of the battlefields.
Brandy Station recently added the Hansborough Ridge campsite to the lands available for a state park. Hansborough Ridge, located in Stevensburg, has original campsites and offers unique archaeological resources.
“Once we are able to entrust the land to a good steward like the state park program, that opens up the CWPT to more land acquisition,” Coombs said.