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Civil War Museum Opening in Virginia

May 16, 1999

The 5-year-old Pamplin Park Civil War Site, which preserves the site of a crucial 1865 battle in which Union forces broke through Gen. Robert E. Lee's defenses near Petersburg, Va., is refashioning itself as a living history attraction and being renamed the Pamplin Historical Park.

The centerpiece of the changes, which debut May 26, is the 25,000-square-foot, $10-million National Museum of the Civil War Soldier. It allows visitors to trace the war's history by following the fate of any of 13 soldiers, whose lives are reconstructed from diaries and letters.

A "Trial by Fire" section, designed by Burbank-based BRC Imagination Arts, re-creates the sounds and sights of battle, with big-screen videos of the advancing enemy, shouted orders from the commander and even floors that shake when cannons fire.

Other additions are a military encampment with costumed re-enactors, a restaurant and a what's billed as a major Civil War bookstore. The previously opened Tudor Hall, a restored antebellum plantation house, adds costumed guides, demonstrations of local life and slave quarters.

The 363-acre park, 31 miles south of Richmond, Va., is open daily. Adult admission is $10 (up from $3 before the expansion). Information: toll-free telephone (877) PAMPLIN.

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