Segways slipping silently across the battlefield might resemble the charge of the very, very light brigade, but the two-wheel, stand-up scooters could be an ideal way for tourists to inspect hallowed Civil War sites.
Beginning in June, the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park offered Segway tours of the Spotsylvania Court House Battlefield, where a ferocious, close-quarters battle was fought in May 1864.
Segway tours last two hours, not counting a half-hour to orient first-time riders to the scooters. So far, only a handful of visitors have ponied up the $55 rental fee, but those who have were delighted with the results. “They absolutely had a blast,” said supervisory historian Greg Mertz.
At 12 mph, a Segway can cover sprawling battlefields four times faster than a visitor walking at a brisk pace. And they offer a more intimate tour than do motor vehicles.
“Even at 25 miles an hour, if you drive, you’re really zooming by,” Mertz said. Plus, guided tours are easier, because Segway riders don’t have to worry about parking.
The Segway pilot program was scheduled to last through mid-August, at which point it would be reassessed by park officials.
Article originally published in November 2010 America’s Civil War.