© Chesapeake Bay Program (Chesapeake)

Journey Through Hallowed Ground

The Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area is a rich historical and cultural corridor extending from Gettysburg, Pa., through Maryland and West Virginia to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello outside Charlottesville, Va. 

180 miles long and 75 miles wide, this stretch of land is laced with battlefields and historic sites, charming towns, scenic rivers, and rural and natural beauty. “The Journey” is also home to an astonishing concentration of historically significant sites. This vast collection includes nine presidential homes, 18 national and state parks, 73 National Historic Districts, 15 historic Main Street communities, several significant African American historic sites, and the nation's largest share of Civil War landmarks.

The Journey is a public-private partnership championed by more than 150 organizations that include not just historic sites and societies but town councils, county boards of commissioners, business groups, and land trusts, as well as landowners, farmers, and citizens. Designed as a means of encouraging tourism across the region, the Journey also represents a concerted effort to protect the corridor from the threats it faces.

With its proximity to Washington, D.C., and other Mid-Atlantic metropolitan areas, the Journey faces the pressure of land conversion, exurban development, and habitat loss through virtually the entire length of the corridor. By mobilizing together, the partners aspire to build a public consensus on the region’s standards of development before these threats diminish its scenic beauty, historic towns, magnificent vistas, and rural character—and the character that people now treasure.

The region’s role as the cradle of democracy and the seat of numerous Civil War campaigns is well-known, but historic landscape includes other riches—Native American settlements; sites from the French and Indian War and the American Revolution; the Underground Railroad; World War I and II history; and the struggle for Civil Rights.

Visitors can explore the Journey’s natural surroundings by car, bike, canoe, or kayak—even on foot or on horseback. The rural countryside encompasses an array of farms and orchards, woodlands and forests, and rivers and streams, all set among rolling hills with unspoiled mountain views. The agricultural bounty adds local flavor to its historic downtowns, numerous inns and wineries, and outstanding arts and cultural scenes.

Explore the Journey

Read biologist and author Will Stolzenburg on Virginia’s Hallowed Ground

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