David Ruth, Chief of Interpretation
As interpreters of the national treasures that comprise Richmond Battlefield and the Maggie Walker site, we are constantly looking for opportunities to expand visitors' understanding and appreciation of our park stories. On page 6 you can read about the recent addition of Mrs. Walker's office desk to the Maggie Walker visitor center exhibitry. This desk stands as a powerful symbol of her courage and business accomplishments. Positive changes are also taking place on the battlefields; here are just a few that should inspire you to come and spend a day with us.
A pedestrian bridge has been installed at Beaver Dam Creek, allowing visitors to cross over the creek and see the site of the heaviest fighting of the battle. Four new waysides have also been added, and the landscape has been transformed to its 1862 appearance.
At Gaines' Mill, the existing interpretive trail has been extended nearly a mile. Ten new waysides have been placed along this trail, and this fall a monument will be erected to the members of an Alabama brigade who fought valiantly in the closing hours of the battle. Meanwhile, at Cold Harbor a new exhibit was added to the visitor center that describes the experiences of the Union Heavy Artillery units who left the security of the Washington defenses and marched to Cold Harbor, where they suffered tremendous casualties.
This summer the new visitor center for the battles of Malvern Hill and Glendale opened at the Glendale National Cemetery lodge. The feature exhibit is a new fiber optic map designed by the park staff that tells the comprehensive story of the battles. Utilizing the new acreage added to the park at Malvern Hill, a new 2 1/2 mile trail has been built with seven interpretive waysides. The ruins of the Parsonage site, where prominent Confederate officers watched the battle unfold, has been preserved and interpreted as a stop along the driving tour. Over 40 acres of trees have been removed to restore the landscape to its 1862 appearance and four Confederate cannon have been placed in the now open grassland. For the first time visitors can see the opposing lines of artillery that once were obscured by thick woods.
Finally, after some 30 years of mothball status, Parker's Battery was opened to the public on June 19. Five new waysides and a walking trail now tell the story of this impressive Confederate earthwork defended by Richmonders for nine months of the war.
See what you've missed if you haven't been to the park lately? Come and see us and call if you have any questions about tours and park hours.