Wheeling, WV, Receives New Civil War Trails Signs

Each sign, like this one at the historic location of Camp Carlile, received new content panels and new aluminum stands earlier this year. Although the signs are educational each site is marketed internationally helping drive economic development through tourism. Courtesy, Civil War Trails, Inc.

Last month three new Civil War Trails signs were installed in Wheeling, WV. This effort was the result of a continued partnership between Civil War Trails, Inc., Wheeling Heritage, West Virginia Independence Hall and Visit Wheeling, WV. This is the first phase of a project focused on updating the Civil War Trails content and improving the visitor experience throughout the City.

These new signs replace older versions which have served travelers from around the world for over a decade. They now offer more engaging text and media to help fuel the imagination of visitors as they stand where the historic events which took place. The new signs can be found at the historic location of Camp Carlile on N. Wabash St., West Virginia Independence Hall at the corner of 16th and Market, and the historic location of the Wheeling Hospital at 108 Main St.

The Civil War Trails (CWT) program is noted for continually refreshing content on their signs and associated brochures. Drew Gruber, Executive Director of CWT said, “Our program is unique in that the sites are constantly being updated to keep pace with new scholarship, amenities, and as expectations from our dynamic audience change.”

Several local historians including Deborah Jones, ECW’s Jon-Erik Gilot, Betsy Sweeny, and Margaret Brennan brought new research and insight to the project. “Wheeling Heritage is happy to see these signs receive important updates,” said Betsy Sweeny, Director of Heritage Programming for Wheeling Heritage. “We know that many people enjoy learning about the Civil War, and it is our goal to communicate those stories in an accurate, relevant manner. The updated language in the new signs centers the reader, and gives them a sense of the moment in time that they are reading about. We hope these signs will inspire the reader to dig deeper into the complicated history of the Civil War in Wheeling.”

Chris Brown, assistant director of Civil War Trails, levels the new sign pedestal which was installed in a more handicapped accessible location in front of Independence Hall. Courtesy, Civil War Trails, Inc.

Each CWT site is networked together with over 1,400 others across six states. Each CWT site is marketed internationally by state tourism offices, destination marketing organizations, and municipal partners. This means that although the signs provide educational content the program helps to drive economic development by promoting travel. “West Virginia’s statehood is a direct result of the Civil War, which makes our many trails, battlefields and reenactments an integral part of our tourism industry,” Secretary Chelsea Ruby said. “We continue to see an interest from visitors looking to experience our rich history, and thanks to the support of the Civil War Trails organization, we’re able to mark and promote these stops to new travelers every day.”

The program’s popularity continues to grow, especially over the past two years since each CWT site is located outside and the tour is self-guided. According to Gruber the program recently added staff to help respond to increasing visitor inquires and process new site applications. Additionally, the West Virginia Department of Tourism is reprinting the popular Civil War Trails brochure. This is good news for Wheeling businesses. Olivia Litman, Marketing Director for Visit Wheeling, WV said, “Visit Wheeling has always used our destination’s history as an amenity to our visitors. We were very pleased to be involved with updating the signs that will allow our visitors to learn more about our destination.” The partners hope to complete the second stage of the project early next year.

For more information about the Civil War Trails program or to request a brochure please visit civilwartrails.org. For more information about Wheeling or for a visitor guide check out wheelingcvb.com. Check out the new sites and snap a #signselfie with #civilwartrails and #visitwheelingwv.

Chris Brown (left) and Drew Gruber (right) pose with the completed sign at Independence Hall. That same week they updated over a dozen other signs throughout Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland. Courtesy, Civil War Trails, Inc.

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