Paul Milde first walked through the woods northeast of our landfill in 2006 at the suggestion of Glenn Trimmer and D.P. Newton of the Friends of Stafford’s Civil War Sites (FSCWS). He saw the earthen works that today are becoming part of Stafford County’s Civil War Park, and he has been pushing hard from his board seat and his seat on the R-Board (landfill) ever since to make that park a reality. This effort has been a partnership between the Stafford Board of County Supervisors, Fredericksburg and FSCWS. We estimate that by using our military partners, local businesses and volunteers, the county has saved about $2 million.
The plain fact is that none of the money being used for this park comes from the county’s locally generated revenues. “This is especially remarkable and refreshing in a time when we are building parks paid for with borrowed money and at a staggering price, usually exceeding several million dollars each” commented Paul Milde. Trimmer recently commented that Paul’s support for the park, “and for the soldiers and airmen who have built that park, has always been exceptionally strong,” adding that during this year’s summer construction, “he was the only supervisor who visited the soldiers on site. He also, at his own personal expense, funded an appreciation dinner for the 203d Red Horse Squadron that paved this park’s roads. He knows this park, besides being available to all local citizens at no charge, will also bring visitors and revenue to Stafford County while it simultaneously preserves eight historic sites, and finally, after 150 years, recognizes the key role Stafford County played in the American Civil War.”
In response, Paul insisted that his role was limited and “the real thanks belongs to Glenn A. Trimmer, executive director of FSCWS, for his Herculean efforts. He really has been the force behind this park from inception to near completion. There would be no Civil War Park if not for Glenn”
The Park’s Story
During the Civil War, Federal troops set up fortifications in our new Civil War Park. Fortifications in the park guarded a supply line from Aquia Landing to the front lines at the Rappahannock River against Confederate attack. This summer, some VA Army National Guard troops who are descendants those Confederate troops worked to prepare the site for its opening to the public. For 31 continuous days this year, the National Guard’s 180th horizontal construction company, its 189th bridge company and the United States Air Force (USAF) 203d Red House Squadron labored to build the park off Mount Hope Church Road. The USAF contingent is from Virginia Beach.
The military volunteers provided their services free to the county and to Friends of Stafford Civil War Sites (FSCWS), the non-profit group overseeing the project. Guard and FSCWS vehicles hauled the nearly 6000 tons of stone donated by Vulcan Materials to the construction site, where it was graded, compacted and rolled. Virginia Paving Co. provided 985 tons of asphalt at cost for the project. FSCWS paid for the asphalt delivery.
Construction on the park included building 3500 feet of roads, six parking areas and two fire engine turnaround sites. Two of the parking areas are long enough for buses.
National Guard troops also graded and built a future picnic area, hauled several truckloads of debris to the county landfill, landscaped most of the park’s roadsides, spread topsoil along Dominion utility company’s right-of-way, took out several trees and sawed and stacked trees left over from last year with an eye toward using them for batteries in the park.
On one day alone, the 203d Red Horse Squadron laid 238 tons of asphalt to finish Dilger Road so it would connect to the cul-de-sac at Mount Hope Church Road.
Others assisting in the park project included Jeff Goldhardt, Steve Cosby, Doug Martinsky, Webb Engineering, Wilson Seay Trucking, VA Paving, Brian Withrow and workers at the landfill.
National Guard troops labored on the park last summer, doing initial clearing. Stafford County owns two-thirds of the park property, while Fredericksburg owns one-third.
Other cultural resources on park property include the Old Potomac Church Road, which dates from he 1780s, a colonial era stone quarry and beautiful remnants of colonial era stone bridge abutments where Old Potomac Church Road crossed a creek.
Since the roads and infrastructure for the park are finished, Stafford County can complete the road ditches and seeding projects, funded partly by last year’s $150,000 grant to the county by the Civil War Trust. The county recently contributed $50,000 of a $110,000 R-Board dividend toward the infrastructure process. The FSCWS will focus on installing eight historical signs and four picnic tables and will continue clearing and making plans for trails to access the historical sites in the park.
The new Government Island Park already is seeing more than 800 visitors each week. We should expect the same from our Civil War Park.