Civil War Trails, Inc. has teamed up with the Historic Hopewell Foundation, Inc., and the City of Hopewell, Virginia to launch a new Civil War Trails sign at Weston Manor. The new story recounts the heart-wrenching experiences of twelve-year-old Emma Wood and her family. The sign was installed last month in advance of Women’s History Month. beginning on March 1st.
Hopewell offers 5 Civil War Trails sites, including Weston Manor. These sites are networked with over 500 others in Virginia and over 1,400 across six states. The Civil War Trails program encourages visitors to stand in the footsteps of history, exploring each unique landscape and story through the eyes of those who were there and Weston’s new sign is a great example of this approach to story-telling.
The new sign was researched and originally written by Historic Hopewell Foundation (HHF) board members Robin Somers-Strom and Daniel Jones. “Through our research and interpretive narratives, we at HHF strive to personalize the diverse lives and rich experiences of Emma, and all who lived and worked to sustain life at Weston Manor, including the enslaved,” said Robin. The proposed new sign then went through a rigorous review process to ensure it resonated with a variety of audiences.
This new sign is the first of several updates being planned for the Civil War Trails sites in the Hopewell-Prince George region. The work is made possible by the participation of the City of Hopewell who sponsors each site allowing for product updates, maintenance, and the collaborative marketing efforts. “Our program is unique in that the signs are always being updated, offering something new for travelers.” said Drew Gruber, Executive Director of Civil War Trails, Inc. “Stories like Emma’s are relatable to many, especially families who have been forced to move and adjust to difficult circumstances.”
Each Civil War Trails site is marketed internationally by state tourism offices, regional destination marketing organizations, and municipal partners. This means the educational product is part of a much larger economic development mission. “We see self-guided outdoor tours like Civil War Trails as very important to tourism in our region…” said, Becky McDonough, CEO of the Hopewell-Prince George Chamber. “Civil War Trails has helped us update the stories which are now found in places of historic context and economic return.”