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Special Programs for National Park Week

Richmond National Battlefield Park to offer special programs for National Park Week
New tour offers a 3-D view of historic Fort Harrison

This week, a variety of offerings will highlight Richmond National Battlefield Park’s celebration of National Park Week, from a new ranger-led tour of Fort Harrison, to a new trail at the Cold Harbor Battlefield, and the opening of the Shelton House at Rural Plains on the Totopotomoy Creek Battlefield.

On Saturday, April 26, the historic Fort Harrison landscape will be seen as it hasn’t been before: in 3-D.   Though primarily known for the battle that occurred on September 29, 1864, Fort Harrison was the site of some of the most interesting and important photographs of the Civil War.  Ranger and photo historian Mike Gorman will geo-locate these photographs and visitors will view them for the first time in 3-D on the site. The program will begin at 1:00 p.m. at the Fort Harrison Visitor Center, 8621 Battlefield Park Road in Varina.  3-D glasses will be provided.

The park has also developed a new mile-long trail at the Cold Harbor Battlefield. The trail explores the areas of the Confederate lines during the 1864 Battle of Cold Harbor, as well as a historic road trace where Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s Confederate troops likely marched as they made their way to join the Battle of Gaines’ Mill in June 1862.  A guide to the new trail will be available starting Saturday, April 26, at the Cold Harbor Visitor Center at 5515 Anderson-Wright Drive in Mechanicsville.

In addition, the c. 1725 Shelton House at Rural Plains is now open to the public on Saturday and Sunday afternoons from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. through the summer.  Situated in the heart of the Totopotomoy Creek Battlefield and used as a Union signal station, the house became a target of Confederate cannon fire and was pummeled with more than 50 artillery shells.  It survived the war and was the home of the Shelton family for an additional 140 years.  It is now open to the public thanks to the volunteer effort of the park’s friends group, the Rural Plains Foundation. Rural Plains is located at 7273 Studley Road in Mechanicsville.

“As we prepare to commemorate a momentous year in the American Civil War, we’re excited to offer these new ways to explore that history as part of National Park Week,” said Superintendent David Ruth.

The annual National Park Week encourages visitors to explore the nation’s 401 national parks and the rich variety of natural and historic landscapes and sites that they protect.  National Park Week also offers many opportunities for the public to explore local parks, trails, and architectural gems sustained by National Park Service programs such as the Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program and the National Register of Historic Places.

“National Park Week is a great time to discover the diverse wildlife, iconic landscapes, vibrant culture, and rich history found in our national parks,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis.  “Every park offers a different experience so I invite everyone to join the celebration and get to know a park.”

The nationwide theme for this year’s National Park Week invites visitors to “Go Wild” for history, nature, culture, wildlife, and fun in America’s national parks.  Additional information, including a list of National Park Week events nationwide can be found online at www.nationalparkweek.org.

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Fort Harrison, Cold Harbor, and Rural Plains/Totopotomoy Creek, are three of the 13 sites protected by Richmond National Battlefield Park where key Civil War battles took place in 1862 and 1864.  The park also hosts five visitor centers and a driving tour of the battlefields along an 80-mile route through Hanover, Henrico, and Chesterfield counties. A full day is required to experience the entire battlefield park.  The main park visitor center is located at Historic Tredegar (470 Tredegar Street in Richmond) and provides museum exhibits, audio-visual programs, and orientation services to help plan a visit to the battlefields.  For additional information, contact Richmond National Battlefield Park at 804-226-1981, or via the internet at www.nps.gov/rich or www.Facebook.com/RichmondNPS.

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