Racers Battle Civil War Buffs in N.C.

Banker Dave Ridson wants to build a racetrack on a site preservationists say is an historic Civil War site. But where the battle actually fought is a matter of debate.

"It's a clash between two Southern staples - the Civil War and racing.

The dispute centers on a former textile mill and 130 acres of forest just north of this Rowan County railroad town near the Yadkin River.

Here, former Boston investment banker Dave Risdon is clearing land to build a 2.15-mile "country club" raceway for amateur drivers of souped-up sports cars and motorcycles. The raceway would include a clubhouse and 120 townhomes lining the track.

But for preservationists, the land is sacred. They claim it as part of a Civil War battlefield where Confederates won their last victory in the Carolinas on April 12, 1865 - three days after Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox, but two weeks before North Carolina troops surrendered.

Two weeks ago, the nonprofit Civil War Preservation Trust included the site, about 45 miles north of Charlotte, among its annual list of the nation's 25 most-endangered Civil War battlefields.

"We're not anti-development, but we try to get people to take a hard look at where they're trying to build things," said the trust's Mary Koik. "You can move a school - or in this case a racetrack - but you can't move a battlefield.""

Full Story: Preservationists wage new civil war

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