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LEONARDTOWN, MD – Civil War Trails, Inc. has teamed up with the St. Mary’s County Museum Division, Visit St. Mary’s MD, Historic Sotterley, and the Maryland Department of Conservation and Recreation to revamp and reinstall eight Civil War Trails interpretive markers at historical sites throughout St. Mary’s County.
Earlier this year, in March 2020, the first of eight new signs were installed at Historic Sotterley, officially launching the effort scheduled to be completed and ready for visitors by the first week of November 2020. Sotterley’s new Civil War Trails sign tells a “fuller story,” which now includes information about the formerly enslaved men who served with distinction in the United States Colored Troops.
During the COVID-19 shutdown this year, the organizations worked together to thoroughly research the seven remaining sites in the county and produce new signs for each. The goal was to make each more engaging and relevant for the modern enthusiast, telling unique and fascinating stories of the interesting people these accounts feature. In addition, the team will shift sign locations to improve accessibility and wayfinding. Signs will be reinstalled at St. Clement’s Island Museum, St. Clement’s Island State Park, Piney Point Lighthouse Museum & Historic Park, the Old Jail Museum in Leonardtown, Chaptico, Point Lookout State Park and the St. Mary’s County Visitor Center at the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum.
The Civil War Trails program connects visitors to more than 1,200 sites across six states. The program’s signature signs bring the modern landscape to life as visitors stand in the footsteps of soldiers, citizens and those fighting for their freedom. Each Civil War Trails site is marketed internationally by state tourism offices, destination marketing organizations and municipal partners. “Every day, we deliver economic development by the carload,” said Drew Gruber, Executive Director of Civil War Trails. “Places off the beaten path, personal stories, experiences and unique amenities are exactly what our visitors are after – and St. Mary’s County delivers in every category.”
The Civil War Trails program continues to experience record visitation each year, providing a strong return on investment and revenue for local jurisdictions. With visitors looking to get out of the house and experience history in a socially distanced way during most of this year, the program was positioned best to fill this niche. What’s more, all the Civil War Trails signs are environmentally friendly and 100% recyclable, so every time new signs are made, the old ones are cleaned, reused and repurposed for new content.
Civil War Trails is part of the extensive menu of visitor offerings that the St. Mary’s County Department of Economic Development, the St. Mary’s County Museum Division and Visit St. Mary’s MD, the county’s destination marketing organization, offers to visitors. Other trails and byways that sites in St. Marys County also appear on include the Religious Freedom National Scenic Byway, the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail, the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail, and many more.
To complement the work being done throughout St. Mary’s County, the Maryland Office of Tourism is reprinting its popular Civil War Trails map-guides. Also, Civil War Trails, Inc. has launched a GPS-enabled page on its website to aid travelers. For more information, please contact Civil War Trails, Inc. at 757-378-5462 or connect on social media @civilwartrails #openairmuseum.