FACES & PLACES: Park, Rambo bring Civil War to life

Published 11:30 am Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Editor’s note: This story appeared in The Clanton Advertiser’s annual Faces & Places publication. Copies are still available at the the Advertiser’s office at 1109 Seventh St. N. in Clanton, or you can read the full publication online here.

Civil War enthusiast Bill Rambo enjoys living for “magic moments.”

Although Rambo said the moments rarely come, he experiences them during the times he reenacts a Civil War battle.

“A reenactment deals with none of the horrors of war,” Rambo said. “However, you can be in uniform, on the battlefield being immersed with horses, wagons, tents, etc. and look around and for a brief moment feel as if everything is real, and that is a magic moment.”

When Rambo isn’t immersed on the battlefield in his Civil War military garb, he can be found as the site director for the Alabama Historical Commission’s Confederate Memorial Park in Verbena.

Bill Rambo, site director for the Alabama Historical Commmission’s Confederate Memorial Park is instrumental in giving an up-close and personal view of the Civil War.

Bill Rambo, site director for the Alabama Historical Commmission’s Confederate Memorial Park is instrumental in giving an up-close and personal view of the Civil War.

Most days, Rambo oversees the 102-acre park dressed in civilian clothes as he jingles with a key chain attached to his hip making sure everything runs smoothly for visitors to the park.

The park, equipped with a museum, research facility, authentic historical structures, ruins and two cemeteries with more than 300 Confederate soldiers, attracts guests both locally and from different parts of the country.

“We have a lot of visitors that come visit the park throughout the year,” Rambo said. “People enjoy learning about Alabama’s role in the War Between the States and our park covers that,” Rambo said. “This is the only museum that is strictly devoted to the Civil War and the Confederate side.”

New additions to the park for 2013 have included a newly built pavilion for family reunions, parties and picnics among the visitors and new visitor signs built along Interstate 65 North and South attracting those traveling to the park.

“We were really excited to be able to have the signs attracting visitors who might see them and want to stop and check everything out,” Rambo said. “We also added the phrase ‘Park and Museum’ to show we have something a little bit more than just a park.”

Rambo spent two years working with the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) to create the blue attraction signs that will soon have the park’s logo on the exterior.

Another project completed this year included a replica of Civil War barracks built to Civil War standards with nothing visibly electric used to create them and a nature trail with interpretive signs made to educate children on how water was collected during the Civil War time.

“All of the additions to the park this year have made everything more user friendly,” Rambo said. “We have seen an increase in visitors this year due to more people wanting to stop by and find out a little bit more about us.”

Another event held at the park each year is the Civil War Living History Program for all ages to get an up-close and personal view of the Civil War.

Typically, the program is held for one day in the spring so school children can attend as a field trip with their school.

Rambo plans to expand the event for two days for April 4-5 in 2014 to encompass those who might be unable to attend during a school day.

“We are going to have a battle on April 5 which will be a lot of fun for those who want to see something like that,” Rambo said. “So many young people don’t know their history and how special this country is and the living history programs allow them to be able to learn something they might not know.”

For more information about the park, call 755-1990.

Confederate Memorial Park is located at 437 County Road 63 in Verbena.