Thursday, Apr 3, 2008
Petersburg National Battlefield held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new visitor contact station at the Five Forks Battlefield on the morning of Wednesday, March 26th.
Attending the event were Congressman J. Randy Forbes; John Talmage, chair of the Dinwiddie County Board of Supervisors; Allen Reed, principle architect of GWWO, the firm that designed the new contact station; Alan Clark, vice president of Enola Contracting Services, the firm that won the bid to build the new structure; Dave Schulte, executive director of the Petersburg Area Regional Tourism organization; and about 50 members of the public, stakeholders and local neighbors. A local minister, Reverend James Blankenship Sr., gave the opening invocation.
The short ceremony kicked off a $2.4M construction project that will get underway in May. Superintendent Kirby acknowledged the excellent support the park received from the Denver Service Center and gave high praise to Patrick McDonald, the project manager there.
âThis is an especially exciting day for me and for the staff of Petersburg National Battlefield,â said Kirby. âMany of us have spent years getting to this moment. This project is more than buildings, trails and parking lots. At the heart of our effort is the basic mission of the National Park Service to preserve and protect the battlefield resources and to provide them for the education and appreciation of the American people.
âIâm happy to say that this facility gives us another good reason to join forces with our friends and partners at Pamplin Historical Park and the Museum of the Civil War Soldier and to be aided in that mission by our new friends at the Petersburg Area Regional Tourism office. And, of course, to continue on with all our old friends and community partners such as the Dinwiddie County Historical Society, The Civil War Preservation Trust, the National Parks Conservation Association and the Conservation Fund and others who will be there with us for the future as they have been so generously in the past. This is a great day for Petersburg National Battlefield, Dinwiddie County, and The Commonwealth of Virginia and maybe most importantly for the memory of those who fought and died here.â
The Five Forks Battlefield is one of the most intact battlefields within the park, reflecting the 1865 Civil War landscape. The new visitor contact station will be a 2,400-square-foot building with a large exhibit space, small theater, a book store and access to eight miles of newly constructed trails in the surrounding forests and fields. A new maintenance facility will also be added to maintain the facilities and trails.
On April 1, 1865 Union troops attacked the Confederate defenders of Five Forks, a rural road intersection that protected the last Confederate supply route to Petersburg. The Federal victory prompted General Ulysses S. Grant to launch an assault all along the defenses of Petersburg and Richmond, which lead to the fall of the Confederate capital and to Lee surrendering on April 9th.
The Five Forks Battlefield is part of Petersburg National Battlefield and is located at on Courthouse Road (Rt. 627) near the intersection of White Oak Road (Rt. 613) in Dinwiddie County.