By: Sherry Williams Kidd | Email: Click Here
Posted: Mar. 9, 2018 | 4:15 p.m.
DINWIDDIE – The National Park Foundation and the National Park Service announced on March 1, 2018, the donation of a 3.7-acre tract of land, to Petersburg National Battlefield, near Poplar Grove National Cemetery.
The National Park Foundation received the property as a donation in 1991, from the late Roberta Odom, who passed away in 1993. The land lies in the heart of the Petersburg Civil War landscape. The land saw heavy fighting during August 1864, Battle of Weldon Railroad, and then served as the camp for the 50th New York Engineers, during the latter part of the 1864-1865 Siege of Petersburg. After the war, it was used as a camp for the Freedmen’s Bureau.
Today, the national cemetery at nearby Poplar Grove is the resting place for more than 6,000 American soldiers. One of 14 national cemeteries administered by the National Park Service, Poplar Grove is open daily and visitors are welcome to walk its grounds.
“Private philanthropy is making it possible for more people to honor those who gave their lives in service to their country,” said Will Shafroth, president, National Park Foundation. “The 3.7-acre land donation provides access and parking so visitors can more easily explore historic Poplar Grove National Cemetery.”
“Petersburg National Battlefield is grateful for the dedication and hard work of the National Park Foundation and the generosity of those who contribute to the preservation of this nation’s historic sites,” said Lewis Rogers, Superintendent, Petersburg National Battlefield. “This donation of land will further assist us in telling the story of the Siege of Petersburg and the soldiers buried within the brick walls of the cemetery, to ensure that their sacrifice on behalf of their nation will never be forgotten.”
In 2016, with the support of numerous land conservation organizations and park partners, including the Civil War Trust, Petersburg Battlefields Foundation, and The Conservation Fund, Congress passed bipartisan legislation to expand the boundary of Petersburg National Battlefield, to include this tract and other land within the park’s acquisition boundary. With the passage of the legislation, Congress provided the National Park Service with the authority to accept the donation of the property from the National Park Foundation.
Petersburg National Battlefield provides important economic benefits to nearby communities. In 2016, the park attracted more than 191,000 visitors, generating $11.2 million in economic benefit for the local community.
Celebrating 50-years, the National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks and nonprofit partner to the National Park Service. Chartered by Congress in 1967, the National Park Foundation raises private funds to help protect more than 84 million acres of national parks through critical conservation and preservation efforts, connect all Americans with their incomparable natural landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history, and engage the next generation of park stewards. In 2016, commemorating the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary, the Foundation launched The Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks, a comprehensive fundraising campaign to strengthen and enhance the future of these national treasures for the next hundred years.
Find out more and become a part of the national park community at www.nationalparks.org.
“For me, knowing the stories of so many of the Soldiers buried at Poplar Grove Cemetery, I think it comes down to the fact that we live as long as we are remembered. There are 6,181 stories at Poplar Grove, 4,000 that we don’t even have a record of because they are unknown Soldiers; but every single one of these men had people they loved, or people who loved them, or maybe even a pet, and they gave their lives in service of their country. The donation of this land will give more people access to Poplar Grove as there has always been a problem when it came to available parking for visitors. I am so grateful that more visitors will have an opportunity to honor and remember these fallen heroes,” said Elizabeth (Betsy) Dinger, Park Ranger.