Grant’s Cabin, City Point, VA; Petersburg National Battlefield

How much can a Civil War battlefield mean monetarily to a local community? A lot. Visitation has been increasing at sites for the past several years, and is cresting now with the sesquicentennial. The best evidence of this is when trying to park at the new visitors center at Gettysburg, where the Hayfoot and I have often had to park in the far off auxiliary parking area on our way to the building. Crowds aside, you would hardly know you were in Pennsylvania what with so many of the cars having license plates from across the country. Roughly speaking, the typical visitor to the Civil War parks is a white male between 30-65. Slowly but surely this has been changing in recent years as the NPS and their state and local partners have actively reached out to a wider constituency. The best way to do this is to focus not merely on the minutaie of battle tactics and troop movements, but to interpret the causes and consequences of the war and discuss why the Civil War era matters today. Few places have done this as well as Petersburg National Battlefield. The hard work has been paying off. One of the biggest beneficiaries has been the local economy.