All things 1860’s “Civil” War are losing the interest of an increasingly vapid public.
FORT OGLETHORPE, Ga.—Is Civil War tourism history?
Once a tourism staple for many Southern states and a few Northern ones, destinations related to the 1860s war are drawing fewer visitors. Historians point to recent fights over Confederate monuments and a lack of interest by younger generations as some of the reasons.
The National Park Service’s five major Civil War battlefield parks—Gettysburg, Antietam, Shiloh, Chickamauga/Chattanooga and Vicksburg—had a combined 3.1 million visitors in 2018, down from about 10.2 million in 1970, according to park-service data. Gettysburg, in Pennsylvania, the most famous battle site, had about 950,000 visitors last year, just 14% of how many it had in 1970 and the lowest annual number of visitors since 1959. Only one of these parks, Antietam, in Maryland, saw an increase from 1970.
When Louis Varnell opened a military-memorabilia store near Chickamauga Battlefield here in the 2000s, he had several competitors. Today, his store is the only one left. Only about 10% to 20% of his sales are Civil War-related; he mostly sells stuff from World War II or other conflicts, he said.
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It may be that subconsciously the sheeple begin to suspect that the next civil war is much closer, temporally, than the last one. Tick, tick, tick…