Civil War trail — ‘Experience the End’

Published 10:09 am Friday, March 15, 2019

“Experience the End: The Appomattox Campaign” is a cooperative effort by national, state and county level historical organizations to retell events of the final days of the Civil War in Virginia. Events are scheduled daily from March 30 through April 14 at 11 historic sites from Petersburg National Battlefield through central Virginia to the American Civil War Museum at Appomattox.

Chris Calkins, park manager at Sailor’s Creek Battlefield Historical State Park who coordinated the effort between participating sites, said programs will cover historical events on that day in history “in an effort to cohesively tell a linear story of the final contest between generals Lee and Grant.”

Robin Snyder, superintendent at Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, said, “This collaborative effort of national park sites, Virginia state parks, county governments and private museums is an opportunity to explore our rich history in an open-air museum that will bring these stories alive.”

Snyder continued, “What happened along this route at the end of the Civil War was not only a symbol of the war’s end, but also a point of departure for a transformed nation,” providing visitors “a place-based experience on some of the most sacred ground in our country.”

For Calkins, the programs have been 25 years in the making. Initially established in 1994 as the Lee’s Retreat Driving Tour, the route consisted of signs at each site and a narration over AM radio. Calkins said, “The trail has evolved and expanded to include music events, museum tours, living history reenactments and remembrance ceremonies that allow visitors to interact with the history on a personal level.”

Organizations participating in the 2019 anniversary programs include Petersburg National Battlefield, Pamplin Historical Park, Amelia County Historical Society, Nottoway County Historical Association, High Bridge Trail State Park, Sailor’s Creek Battlefield Historical State Park, The American Civil War Museum, and Appomattox Courthouse National Historical Park