There’s no shortage of Civil War history in Washington County – and now, several towns and lands are aiming to take advantage of that connection.
The boundaries of the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area may expand in the county to include Funkstown, Keedysville and Clear Spring, in addition to areas like Fort Frederick State Park and the site of the Battle of South Mountain.
“We’re happy to see that we have all seven municipalities in Washington County included in the heritage area, so they can start taking advantage of some of those benefits,” said Rachel Nichols, the Washington County heritage area assistant. “They were kind of missing pieces of the jigsaw puzzle.”
While the battlefields of Antietam and nearby Gettysburg draw plenty of visitors for themselves, other sites in the area also saw plenty of action.
“We have a great corridor to interpret from the Confederate retreat from Gettysburg,” Nichols added.
In addition to tourism, officials said being a part of the heritage area opens the door to grants and tax credits that you couldn’t get otherwise.
“If an organization needs money to conserve a valuable artifact, to repair a building or to develop an exhibit, the heritage area is the place you go to get that type of grant,” said Dan Spedden, president of “Visit Hagerstown.”
Next week, a committee is set to review the boundary expansion request, while local officials are already thinking of the possibilities.
“All of our really relevant, significant historic sites are in the heritage area, and we won’t have to segregate them anymore because of the technicalities of the program,” Spedden explained. “Everyone’s included now.”
Washington County tourism officials hope that the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority (MHAA) will approve the expansion by mid-April.