11 Most Endangered Historic Places

"The Journey Through Hallowed Ground" Corridor

Year Listed: 2005
Location: Virginia
Threat: Development

Significance

As one historian has noted, this 175-mile-long corridor from Gettysburg, PA to Monticello, VA "has soaked up more of the blood, sweat, and tears of American history than any other part of the country." Once, this land was a hunting ground and trade route for the Susquehannock and Iroquois tribes. Later it welcomed George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, and countless other statesmen-many of whose homes still stand today. Now referred to as "The Journey Through Hallowed Ground," the corridor also encompasses African American historic sites, numerous scenic rivers and byways, and the nation's greatest concentration of Civil War battlefields. But now this once-tranquil landscape is being radically transformed by suburban sprawl from the fast-growing DC metropolitan area where new subdivisions sprout in the midst of cornfields, meandering country roads are straightened and widened to accommodate traffic, traditional "Main Street" towns find their character threatened by incompatible new development, and venerable landmarks are engulfed by sprawl. A tri-state collaboration now seeks to find a 21st-century solution to balance economic development and historic preservation in ways that celebrate and protect the region's heritage. This is "The Journey Through Hallowed Ground" initiative, a public-private effort that must succeed, or four centuries of history could be obliterated in the name of so-called "progress."