Interpretive Plan

Seeing the Potomac through a different lens, Wilson Bridge Bicycle Trail, Prince George's County, MD

The Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail Interpretive Plan (plan) provides guidance for the NPS and Trail partners and envisions a unified approach for developing and sustaining meaningful, high-quality interpretive services and visitor opportunities along the Trail. The plan encourages consistent messaging and a cohesive approach to programming at Trail sites. The Trail’s significance and core interpretive themes identified in the plan will guide the NPS and its partners in finding captivating ways to bring the stories of the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake region to life. The plan encourages intellectual and emotional connections between local, national and international visitors and the Trail’s unique sites and associated history. Ultimately, these personal connections can inspire residents and visitors to become stewards of the region’s cultural and natural heritage.

This plan is a general guide to help individual site managers develop interpretive programs, services and media that matches their site-specific assets to the types of audiences they serve and connect their places to the Trail’s larger themes and to other geographic regions. Individual sites or regions are encouraged to develop more detailed local strategies for creating unifi ed interpretation and visitor services within their areas based on the broader ideas outlined in this plan.

The plan is a result of extensive public input from organizations, governments and other stakeholders who are deeply committed to preserving and promoting the Star-Spangled Banner Trail’s resources and stories. The plan envisions a collaborative of public and private partners working together to interpret the Trail’s cherished assets and advocate for their protection.

Highlights of the interpretive plan

The plan presents a comprehensive strategy for Trail partners to use consistent messages and concepts when telling the region’s many stories. These stories can be interpreted and shared to connect diverse historic sites, natural and cultural attractions, museums, schools and historic downtown areas.

The plan includes:

  • primary interpretive themes and desired visitor experiences;
  • scenarios to imagine what a Trail visitor might do and learn and how they might reflect on their visit;
  • visitor experience goals;
  • an action plan for implementing exhibits, audiovisual programs, waysides, publications, facilities, personal services, and partnership activities;
  • an evolving list of War of 1812-themed projects and programs underway throughout the Trail region; and
  • templates for partners to develop their own interpretive strategy using the Trail interpretive plan as a guide.
Ranger-led talk in Patterson Park, Baltimore, MD.

Trail interpretive themes

Four interpretive themes provide a framework for making the events, people and places of the War of 1812 relevant to Trail visitors. These themes will help Trail partners establish a rich context for the stories surrounding the War of 1812 time period.

  • The American Defense - Almost 30 years after gaining independence, Americans resisted a land and water invasion by Great Britain, and military events in the Chesapeake Bay region became central to the outcomes of a broader three-year struggle that established a foundation for the United States’ economic independence and military strength.
  • Personal Experience - During the War of 1812, individuals in the Chesapeake Bay region endured great political, economic and emotional upheaval and faced personal choices that profoundly impacted domestic life, influenced the evolution of U.S. government and commerce, and had ramifications far beyond the battlefield.
  • The Chesapeake Landscape - In the early 1800s, the Chesapeake Bay region – due to its central location on the eastern seaboard, network of navigable waterways, robust natural resources and fertile agricultural lands – served as a hub for trade, industry and government, making it a prime target for the British.
  • National Pride - The United States flag and “The Star-Spangled Banner” anthem - symbolizing the resilience of the new nation and the American character - inspired a renewed sense of nationalism in U.S. citizens after the War of 1812, and endure today as potent international icons of the United States of America.

Contact us to recieve a hard copy of the Interpretive Plan by mail.

Last updated: September 22, 2020

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Baltimore, MD 21230



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