Richmond tourists encounter locked landmarks amid government shutdown

Posted at 6:53 PM, Oct 03, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-04 07:00:59-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - This is not the welcome tourists like the Carter Family from Mississippi were expecting in Richmond. The Carters are seeing fewer landmarks during their east coast Civil War tour.

"Bathrooms locked. Water fountains turned off," says Wanda Carter. "It has been frustrating. We just wish the government had more common sense. It has definitely put dampers on plans we've had."

The Carter's aren't alone. The government shutdown is affecting more than 715,000 people that visit 401 national parks each day in October.

"Spotsylvania--it was completely closed down and we couldn't even walk the trail there," Carter said. "We've seen things from a distance. “

Like other, the Carter family “moved some cones and walked on through.”

There are 13 national park sites operated by the federal government in the Richmond area including the Maggie L. Walker Home in Jackson Ward. All are closed for business.

Richmond-based Park Ranger Tim Mauch says most of his colleagues are furloughed. Mauch is part of a skeleton crew including one maintenance worker and members of the national park police.

"We just say be patient we're going to try to get it open as soon as we can. We can give them some brochures but until further notice we're closed down," says Ranger Mauch.

Christy Coleman, Executive Director of the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar said her non-profit, and the entire region will suffer.

"It is disappointing," she said. "The Richmond national parks draw hundreds of thousands visitors to the Richmond region every year.”

“Everybody is going to feel it. Every single business will feel it."

Jack Berry, with Venture Richmond, said that while visitors have plenty of options in the Richmond region, the shutdown hurts.

"Not only from a tourist point of view but a business point of view, we're going to have to wait till this blows over to get back to business," says Berry.

The Carter family may have missed a lot on their trip here, but they said they are leaving Richmond with pleasant memories.

"Besides the (shutdown) we've gotten off road and seen a lot of things we wouldn't have seen. There is a positive to that too," says Steve Carter. "We have had a good time."

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