Area battlefields seeking cleanup volunteers

A trio of local Civil War battlefields are among 125 historic sites included in a nationwide volunteer cleanup and restoration campaign scheduled for next month.

Local organizers are hoping for a big turnout at the battlefields: Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park in Middletown; the Kernstown Battlefield and the New Market Battlefield State Historical Park.

The New Market and Cedar Grove cleanups are scheduled for April 2 and the Kernstown event for April 16. Volunteers should arrive at 8:30 a.m. at Cedar Creek, 9 a.m. at New Market and 8:30 to 8:45 a.m. at Kernstown.

Site managers describe the effort as a form of sweat equity intended to make the battlefields more attractive and accessible to visitors.

The cleanup at Cedar Creek will involve brush cutting and trail maintenance that will allow the 19th Corps Trench Trail to be extended about 6/10th of a mile, about twice its current length.

Eric Campbell, a National Park Service ranger at the site, called the effort “a true partnership” undertaken by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Cedar Creek Battle Foundation; and the Belle Grove Plantation.

“It’s an exciting project,” Campbell said, adding, “It’s going to open a site that never has been accessible before.”

Volunteers arriving at the site will have to fill out some paperwork at the National Park Service Visitor’s Center at 7712 Main St., Middletown. Those wishing to sign up in advance can contact Campbell at eric_campbell@nps.gov.

At Kernstown, volunteers should go to the visitor’s center at 610 Battlepark Drive. David Jenkins, the battlefield’s director of buildings and grounds, said the main task will be painting the exterior of a restroom and general maintenance around the battlefield.

“We’re providing lunch for whoever shows,” Jenkins said, adding that volunteers should bring gloves and work clothes that can be used while painting. People with questions or wishing to sign up in advance can do so by emailing Jenkins at djenkins849@outlook.com or calling him at 247-3362.

Troy Marshall, who oversees the New Market battlefield at 8895 George Collins Parkway, said clean up will focus on painting fences around the historic Bushong Farm at the site.

“It’s not elegant. It’s just really needed,” Marshall said of the painting.

Volunteers or anyone else with questions can contact Marshall at 866-515-1864 or 740-3101 or email him at marshalltd@vmi.edu.

p id=’reporter_info’>Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com