COLUMBIA -- At a recent news conference, Gov. Henry McMaster joined with the American Battlefield Trust, the National Park Service, the South Carolina Battleground Preservation Trust, and the South Carolina American Revolution Sestercentennial Commission to announce a heritage tourism and preservation initiative to promote the Palmetto State’s leading role in the founding of the United States.
The centerpiece of the initiative is The Liberty Trail, a statewide program that will tell the unique story of this campaign that secured victory in America’s War for Independence.
“But for the valor exhibited on the battlefields of South Carolina, this nation’s quest for liberty may have been driven to a halt,” McMaster said. “The perseverance and tenacity exhibited by our forebears remains alive in the character of this state’s citizens. Now, as we prepare to celebrate the 250th anniversary of American independence, it is time to commit to ensuring their stories are told for the entire country to hear.”
The Liberty Trail is a joint effort of the American Battlefield Trust and the South Carolina Battleground Preservation Trust (SCBT), assisted by numerous partners at the federal, state and local levels. Leading the charge among these is the National Park Service, which, through its American Battlefield Protection Program, has already contributed more than $2.5 million in matching grants toward land preservation projects associated with The Liberty Trail. Overall, the effort will create a new driving tour that functions as a one-of-a-kind educational and heritage tourism resource through which key battlefields of the Southern Campaign of the American Revolution will be preserved, interpreted and promoted.
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“The project’s ultimate goal is lofty -- linking more than 70 sites across South Carolina and preserving 2,500 additional acres of battlefield land in the process,” said Trust president James Lighthizer. “But even its first phase will yield impressive results. In the near term, the Trust and SCBT look to open a segment composed of 16 full-fledged park sites, augmented by numerous additional roadside pull-offs.”
Doug Bostick, SCBT executive director and CEO, emphasized that the Liberty Trail is truly a statewide effort, reflecting the full nature of the Revolutionary War conflicts fought in the state. “During our nation’s war for independence, critical battles were fought everywhere from the shores of Charleston Harbor to the hills and forests of our backcountry. The Liberty Trail will help draw visitors into more rural communities by highlighting the top-notch historic resources centered there. In the Initial Phase, we are already engaging more than one-quarter of South Carolina’s 46 counties.”
Among those 16 park sites included in the Liberty Trail’s first phase are five being created nearly whole-cloth through Trust and SCBT-led land acquisition and interpretation efforts. The groups have already protected nearly 600 acres at Fort Fair Lawn in Berkeley County, Eutaw Springs in Orangeburg County, Camden in Kershaw County, Hanging Rock in Lancaster County and Waxhaws in Lancaster County. Further, five existing federal sites, three state parks and two regional parks will be enhanced with new interpretation, including state-of-the-art digital capabilities. Fourteen additional locations will be outfitted as roadside pull-offs -- 10 of these sites receiving their first-ever on-site historic interpretation. Finally, the effort will see the creation of a first digital Gateway Experience site on Charleston’s Marion Square, enticing visitors to the Holy City to venture further afield on their heritage tourism journey. The full list of sites included in the Initial Phase of The Liberty Trail is available at www.thelibertytrail.org.
For more information on The Liberty Trail initiative, including historic background and a list of those sites that are part of the Initial Phase of the project, visit www.thelibertytrail.org. As The Liberty Trail takes shape, partners, friends and history enthusiasts are invited to follow its progress on social media using the hashtag #TheLibertyTrail.