Although the Civil War was waged across the country — from Arizona to Maine — some of the heaviest and most decisive fighting took place in the beautiful rolling countryside of Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. The Piedmont, as it's called, stretching from the eastern flank of the Appalachian Mountains to the Atlantic seaboard, is dotted with historic sites, and U.S15 runs right through the thick of it..
Now, a 180-mile stretch of the old highway from Charlottesville, Va., to Gettysburg, Pa., has a new name: the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Scenic Byway, a designation granted in 2009 to recognize the historic richness of a region encompassing 13 national park units and the homes of nine U.S. presidents, along with a panoply of Civil War sites such as Manassas, Brandy Station and Ball's Bluff in Virginia, Antietam and Monocacy in Maryland and Harpers Ferry in what is now West Virginia but then was part of Virginia.
Maps and tourist brochures for the byway area, thought to contain more historic sites than any other in the U.S., help travelers find accommodations, restaurants, picnic sites, hiking paths, waterfalls and rivers to canoe such as the Potomac, which is crossed at beautiful Point of Rocks Bridge. From there the horse country of Virginia yields to the mountains of western Maryland, home of the Camp David presidential retreat and the town of Frederick with its National Museum of Civil War Medicine.
Farther north, travelers cross the Mason-Dixon Line (which is also the Maryland-Pennsylvania line) on the way to the route's terminus at Gettysburg National Military Park, where a museum debuted in 2008.
Along with giving sightseers an easy-to-follow route through history, the byway protects a corridor of handsome American landscape from the escalating suburban sprawl of the greater Washington, D.C., area. With development held at bay, the countryside appears as it did to soldiers in blue and gray who gave their lives fighting for it.
Info: Journey Through Hallowed Ground, http://www.hallowedground.orgCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun