As Civil War sites attract fewer visitors, Stones River National Battlefield sees growing attendance

WTVF, Channel 5, June 2, 2019

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WTVF) — As the number of visitors at Civil War sites across the country are declining, battlefields in the mid-state’s backyard are able to buck the trend.

Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported declining attendance at some of the nation’s most popular Civil War sites. It’s a trend that has been happening steadily for decades, but a trend that Murfreesboro’s Stones River National has avoided.

Stones River has seen a growing number of visitors coming through its gates over the years. In 2018, the park had its fourth highest attendance in its 92 year history. It’s highest number of visitors came in 2016, when thousands flocked to the area to watch the solar eclipse, and the National Park Service celebrated its 100th birthday.

Park Ranger Jim Lewis attributed the visitor growth to being in the middle of an area that’s on the rise.

“As more and more people come to call our city home, they say, ‘oh, we have a national park in our area,’ so certainly I think that is one of the big drivers, just the growth in our area,” Lewis explained. “There’s more and more people that are able to access us easily.”

Lewis added that the park’s ability to be used for biking, running and other recreation helps bring in new visitors as well.

Many thanks to WTVF for this wonderful article!