“1610 AM Sailor’s Creek, Virginia”

Albumleaf 84: May 14, 2012 (Farmville)

There is too much history here in central Virginia to be preserved pristinely. For every monument and museum, there are another dozen Civil War relics waiting to be found and a score of dilapidated sharecropper shacks falling down in the woods. At nearby Sailor’s Creek, site of the Civil War’s last major battle, one experiences this tension between history’s permanent and transitory aspects by tuning in to 1610 AM. This radio station is supposed to inform a visitor of the battle’s events as he or she drives around the battlefields. Yet the station’s signal is rather weak. Often the tour guide’s voice disappears into a chaos of interference when the road descends into a little gully or runs alongside a power line. The experience is strange, poignant, and more profound than the dioramas housed in the park’s museum.