By: Hannah Natanson

They all valued the land — thousands of rolling acres of agricultural turf in Culpeper County, Va. — but for very different reasons.

Energy company Cricket Solar saw it as a host site for more than 380,000 solar panels that could create a powerful source of renewable energy, as well as construction jobs. The coalition of Culpeper residents and historians dead-set against the installation saw it as precious historic turf, pockmarked with Civil War battlefields and river crossings pivotal in shaping the nation’s destiny, that should be kept pristine.

And for 60-year-old farmer Richard Dugan, one of a half-dozen aging Culpeper residents who own a portion of the contested plot, the land was a legacy he hoped to keep in his family by any means necessary — including by leasing it to a solar company he saw as his financial salvation.

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