As summer arrives, many of us look forward to graduations, summer vacations and travel. Mark Twain once said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” While the spring brought many school groups to Pamplin Historical Park, the summer months see a transition to walk-in visitors from across the country and even international guests. We are usually a stop on their journey among other historical destinations or part of a series of family vacation spots. Statewide visitors and locals still visit the Park and all learn more about the American Civil War, agriculture and slavery.     

There’s much to learn about the 292-day Petersburg Campaign by visiting the Breakthrough Battlefield, museum and historic homes that stretch across Pamplin Historical Park’s 424-acres and they’re all connected by bridges and trails. Many of you visit the Park to follow in the footsteps of those 14,000 Union 6th Corps soldiers who assaulted our fortifications on the morning of April 2, 1865. Hearing their stories and putting yourselves in their shoes, enables you to better relate to their apprehension, fears and physical exertions of that day. You can follow other trails to stand in place of the greatly outnumbered Confederate defenders, who had the additional element of being surprised by the massive pre-dawn assault.

 Annually thousands of grade K-12 students also walk our trails with educators who, in addition to the Breakthrough Battle, share the story of the common Civil War soldier, the agrarian antebellum south and the lives of the enslaved and their journey towards freedom. Our staff and volunteers bring the past alive as they share up to six different educational programs both in our facilities and out on the Park trails. In the very visual world of today, on-site programs and guided tours are the best method to reach students and bring the past into the future. Teachers continue to come back to the Park each year with their students because they know we provide a context that cannot be fully appreciated in the classroom. 

Others still visit the Park to enjoy our trails in a post-COVID world, which offers a sense of both personal and physical safety in a picturesque environment, far removed from the past history of armed conflict. It’s easy to social distance on nearly five miles of trails and enjoy a time of contemplation or reflection. After nearly two years of COVID restrictions, it’s not a surprise that people want to explore our 424-acres as they shake off their cabin fever. 

With all of this use by so many visitors and exposure to the elements, the trail system and its bridges now need rehabilitation. Much of the rock on our trail system has been either pushed off the trail by shuffling feet or washed away by torrents of rain. The bridges are made of wood and have succumbed to wear and decay over time, requiring replacement of their numerous planks. Pamplin Historical Park has always set a high standard of excellence for the Park. We now need you to help in raising this extensive trail system back to the high standards you’ve come to expect.  

Our 2023 Capital Campaign goal is $50,000 which will enable the rehabilitation of our trails and we ask for your support. Each of you were led to the Park for your own reasons and it has become part of your own personal journey. Please help us share this National Historic Landmark treasure with those who desire to experience the Park and the past on their own journey of exploration in the present and for those future travelers. 


Colin Romanick

Executive Director

Pamplin Historical Park