High Bridge Trail State Parkis pleased to announce a new form of interpretive program by offering van tours along the Trail.
This will provide Park visitors a sightseeing experience that may focus on any number of themes ranging from natural to historical including the thrill of crossing the majestic High Bridge!
Various tours will be developed with each emphasizing a different theme. The first will be Farmville to Burke's Tavern-The Evacuation of General Thomas A. Smyth.General Smyth was the last Union General officer to die in the American Civil War. Mortally wounded while approaching Farmville and suffering paralysis, he was evacuated toward Burkeville where he could be transported to Richmond. When his condition began to rapidly deteriorate, he was taken to Burke's Tavern where he died at 4:00 a.m. on April 9, 1865.
The Friends of High Bridge Trail State Park travel across High Bridge!
The AmeriCorps Volunteer, Waverly Garner,we headed down the Trail.
The first stop was the approximate location of Smyth's mortal wounding for an account of the incident that halted the Second Division's advance on Farmville. Further along, the field hospital where Smyth was initially removed to was pointed out in the distance. A short distance from High Bridge, we stopped to speak of the brick home that was constructed by John Mottley Overton around 1841.
Arriving at the west end of High Bridge affords the perfect opportunity to disembark stretch legs and take pictures. A talk here features the construction of the original bridge in the early 1850s and its subsequent modifications transitioned into the steel viaduct's erection in 1914.
Next is probably the most thrilling part of the tour as we drive across High Bridge! Be sure to bring your camera and binoculars to enjoy the spectacular view far above the countryside. After reaching the east end we again disembark to walk out onto the bridge and gather at the river overlook. High above the Appomattox River separating Cumberland County and Prince Edward County is the perfect place to discuss the battle that occurred here on April 7, 1865.
Experience the thrill of crossing High Bridge
Afterwards we retire to the shade and picnic tables near High Bridge to enjoy a box lunch and converse while getting better acquainted. There are several comfort stations with restrooms positioned along the Trail that provide convenient access to visitors. After a last glimpse of the scenery from High Bridge we see one of four forts constructed to guard the approaches to High Bridge.
As we head east and cross above U.S. 460 on our way into the village of Rice, a large antlered buck deer bounds out of the forest and gallops along in front of the van before turning and leaving the Trail. We pass through geologic outcroppings of stone, cuts made for the railroad to traverse adding contrast to the surrounding topography. As we reach Orchard Road in Nottoway County, my trustworthy AmeriCorpsgatekeeper, Waverly, raises the heavy metal cross arm and we leave the Park onto hard surface pavement headed to Burke's Tavern. There we park at the old brick Burke's Store facing the Tavern and recount the story of Smyth's last hours. Now heading home, we drove the van on pavement via US 460 back to the original starting point at the Osborne Road parking lot.
Historical Burke's Tavern Along High Bridge Trail
Anyone interested in attending this van tour may contact the park office at (434) 315-0457 or email us hereto reserve your seat. The scheduled dates for fall 2013 are: September 5th and 19th; October 3rd and 17th; November 7th and 21st.
There is a $25 fee per person which includes a homemade boxed lunch from Walker’s Diner. Further details are available from the Park office.