Governor Terry McAuliffe, the Civil War Trust and NOVA Parks have collaborated to preserve 20 acres around the historic Goose Creek Bridge and the Civil War Battle of Upperville.
“This historic effort would not have been done without an awful lot of folks who have been responsible for helping with this,” McAuliffe said Wednesday. Speaking from an overlook above the battlefields and in view of the 212-foot stone-arch bridge, he gave credit to the variety of conservation groups and individuals who helped create the park.
“What you see here is a living classroom,” McAuliffe said.
“What we’re celebrating today is the completion of a long, long effort that began, by my count, almost 50 years ago, in 1958,” said Civil War Trust President James Lighthizer. He credited the idea with Ann MacLeod, who decided she wanted to save the battlefield 49 years ago. MacLeod, now 95 years old, attended the ceremony to see that work completed.
The ceremony was held on land donated by former U.S. Senator and Secretary of the Navy John Warner, who was also in attendance. He donated 12 acres to the project. It was then part of his estate, Atoka Farm.
“As we look at each of these gifts, we see that it incrementally increases and inspires others to do more,” said NOVA Parks board member Cate Magennis Wyatt.
County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) pointed out that nearly half of the Upperville battlefields has now been preserved.
“These grounds will be here for our children, our children’s children, and even their children, and going forward the great stories about what happened here will be told.”
Following those talks, several of the dignitaries in attendance—including McAuliffe and Randall—fired a Civil War-style cannon.
The land was preserved through efforts by the Civil War Trust, NOVA Parks, the Fauquier and Loudoun Garden Club, and the Virginia Department of Transportation. The bridge, built in about 1802, during the presidency of Thomas Jefferson, is one of the last remaining four stone-arch bridges in Virginia. It figured prominently in the Battle of Upperville fought on June 21, 1863, as the Gettysburg Campaign began.
Lighthizer said the Civil War Trust has preserved more than 47,000 acres throughout the United States—over half of which, 24,700 acres, is in Virginia. NOVA Parks has protected 12,000 acres across Northern Virginia.
McAuliffe’s administration has protected 1,337 natural, cultural, and recreational and conservation “treasures,” more than any other governor, according to the administration.
This article was updated Dec. 8 at 5:20 p.m. to remove erroneous information.