Petersburg National Battlefield tells the story of pivotal battle in Civil War

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The Petersburg National Battlefield recently opened a major new addition that will significantly expand the ability to tell the story of one of the pivotal battles during the Civil War.

Last month, the National Park Service unveiled a new $3 million visitor contact station at the Five Forks Battlefield. The 2,400-square-foot center offers much more exhibit space than the previous center, and a new 8-mile trail system allows visitors a chance to see the battlefield by foot, bicycle or horse.

It took decades of effort to first secure the battlefield itself and then to build a visitors center. In 1962, federal legislation was passed to obtain ownership of the battlegrounds. But it wasn't until 1989 that the National Park Service became the new owner. It took about 19 years to for the new visitors center to become a reality.

Much of the credit goes to Chris Calkins, former chief of interpretation at Petersburg National Battlefield and now park manager of Sailor's Creek Battlefield Historical State Park. He was instrumental in securing the battlefield grounds as federal property and a strategic planner for the visitor center,

In some ways, the Five Forks Battlefield and visitor contact center is Calkins legacy. But in greater ways, the battlefield is the legacy of all of us. "This is our legacy, and it is our legacy that we have to worry about," Calkins said. "Preserving the battlefields is very important to me."

The importance of the new facilities at the battlefield, and the fact the battlefield is part of the National Park Service, cannot be understated.

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