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Region using Civil War as lure

December 16, 1999|By LAURA ERNDE

From museums to driving tours, the four-state area is doing a lot to promote Civil War tourism, lawmakers and others attending a conference in Hagerstown said Thursday.

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The region is uniquely positioned to benefit from the nation's heightened interest in the Civil War, said Marci Ross, who is working on a system of Maryland Civil War Trails for the Maryland Office of Tourism Development.

"We own a part of this history that sets us apart. It gives us an advantage of tourism that nobody else has," she said.

Maryland Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, organized the conference so groups doing Civil War events or projects could learn from each other. Shank chairs the Civil War Heritage Committee of the Quad-State Legislative Conference.

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Just as Civil War generals conducted their campaigns without regard to state boundaries, lawmakers from Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania can't let those boundaries impede tourism progress, Shank said.

"It's tremendously exciting, what's happening in our region, that we're all working on independently," said Clarence E. "CEM" Martin, chairman of the Berkeley County Roundhouse Authority, which is restoring a Civil War-era railroad roundhouse in Martinsburg, W.Va.

All of the splinter groups need to communicate better so the projects fit together and benefit each other, Martin said.

Martin, for example, is concerned about whether a proposed Hagerstown Roundhouse and Sports Complex will hurt Martinsburg's roundhouse effort.

The complex would be the home field for the Hagerstown Suns as well as a railroad museum.

"I don't know if there's going to be a stadium or not. That remains to be seen," said Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington.

Del. Vicki Douglas, D-Berkeley, said she was envious of the other state's programs.

West Virginia often lags behind because it's a poor state and its state capital is so far from the Eastern Panhandle, where many small skirmishes took place during the Civil War, she said.

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