The African American Heritage Trail is a 75-mile driving tour featuring 11 historical sites in the African American history of Spotsylvania County.

Spotsylvania County in Northern Virginia offers a unique road trip option that celebrates the historical contributions of the county's many African Americans throughout history. The African American Heritage Trail is a loop (with a few offshoots) of 11 historically significant sites in Spotsylvania County. Each of these sites offers an opportunity to learn more about 23 prominent people, events, or places in African American history as you drive along a serene rural route.

map of loop

  • John J. Wright Educational & Cultural Center: This site was originally the only high school in the county to serve African American kids between 1909 and school integration. The cultural center includes a museum in the original library.

  • Mount Olive Baptist Church: A natural spring runs under the property of this church, and for over 100 years, the well that was built to access it was the only source of clean water for families in the area without running water.

  • Branch Fork Baptist Church: The location of another one-room schoolhouse that was moved to the Marshall Center and renovated so that visitors could get a sense of how school life was for African American children in those days.

  • Chewning Park: This community park sits near the site of the Goodwin mine. The mine played a big role in the life of Free Woman Molly Pierce, who went on to free another slave named Gilbert after securing part of the property for herself.

  • Little Mine Road Baptist Church: This church was the first established African American church in Spotsylvania County.

  • Piney Branch Baptist Church: Adjacent to the church is the only one-room school for African American children that is still standing in its original location.

  • Wilderness Elementary School: This site includes historical markers for the Battle of the Wilderness, the first known fight of a full African American regiment on Virginia soil.

  • Ruins of Chancellorsville Home: The site of another Civil War battle, Chancellorsville was simply the name for the intersection where the Chancellor family house was. The house was destroyed during the battle and later rebuilt, only to be destroyed again in the 1920s. The outline of the original foundation serves as the historical stop.

  • Courthouse and Jail: The courthouse and county jail are a place of justice, but during the Civil War it also served as a field hospital.

  • The Marshall Center: This site includes a recreated one-room schoolhouse, the Good Hope Colored School.

  • Marshall Park: A field that was bought specifically to built a baseball field for the Spotsylvania Yellow Jackets, the county's all-African American baseball team.

In total, the driving tour covers about 75 miles of road and many years of African American history. If you'd like to read more about the stops on this trail, check out the brochure.

Have you done this road trip? Tell us what you think in the comments!