Appomattox Court House National Historical Park Re-Opens After Shutdown
Lynchburg, VA - The Appomattox Court House National Historical Park re-opened Thursday morning to anxious visitors from all over the country.
Rangers say they were waiting on pins and needles Wednesday night, as they watched the Senate vote on national TV.
Each employee received a phone call that a deal had been reached and the park would re-open at 8:30 a.m.
But there's certainly a trickle down effect -- from the national park to private museums and even Appomattox businesses.
After driving from St. Louis to visit Civil War sites, Paul and Janet Porch spent the last two days waiting..
"Thinking maybe, miracle of miracles, Congress will get off the dime and do something that they're hired to do," Paul Porch said.
Workers at the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park are glad they're back to work.
"This is not a job that you get into because you want to make money. It's a job you do because you love sharing the American experience with the American public. And to not be able to do that, that hurts," Brandon Chamberlin, the park's Lead Ranger.
There aren't any official numbers yet, but Chamberlin estimates they lost between 1,500 and 2,000 visitors over the 16 day shut down.
Some went down the road to the Museum of the Confederacy. Others canceled their trips altogether.
"Appomattox is always a name. It is always on somebody's bucket list. Most people who are civil war enthusiasts are going to get here eventually," Linda Lipscomb, the museum's director explained.
The owner of the Lee Grant Civil War Gift Shop says sales are down 70 % because of the government shutdown.
"I don't think they understand business or people," Harry Lillie said of Congress.
He says perhaps politicians in Washington D.C. should take a field trip to the McLean House and get their own lesson on American history.
"There was a feeling of reconciliation, of healing, of moving forward. And I'd like to see that sort of thing happen in 2013," Chamberlain said.
National Park Service Employees will receive back pay for the 16 days the parks were closed. But many are still worried about what will happen three months from now.