State Invests in Historic Battlefields

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They're a major tourist attraction across Virginia, and they're scattered all over the Valley.

However, the state wants more out of its historic battlefields.

John Hutchinson, from the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, says, "They are a potential for tourism that really hasn't been tapped all that well."

Millions of dollars in grant money from the Commonwealth Transportation Board will go towards enhancements of Civil War tourism.

Hutchinson says it's something he has been waiting for years to see.

He says, "It's a smart investment. People have been working towards it for two decades now to generate the support from the public."

It is something that could benefit localities like New Market.

New Market Councilman Gary Comer says, "By putting money into the battlefields, we will feel the effects of it."

With a battlefield located in his town, Comer says the investment can lure people to the area.

"Tourism is very important to New Market and it has been for many years. It's basically our main industry," adds Comer.

While it could prove to be an economic force, the enhancements will also serve another purpose.

Hutchinson says, "It will create a more stable base for battlefield preservation and land conservation in the future."

The grant money will fund a partnership between the Department of Transportation and the Virginia Tourism Corporation along with several other organizations.

Some of the grant money has also been reserved for Virginia's wine industry.

The Virginia Wine Board is using the 150th anniversary of the Civil War to promote wineries in the state.

Gov. Bob McDonnell will sign the Virginia Wine Promotion Fund into law Saturday at a ceremony at the King Family Vineyard in Crozet.

New multimedia terminals at each of the state's welcome centers will direct people to sites like battlefields and vineyards in the Valley.