Harpers Ferry Announces Changes in Fee Operations
May 20, 2002--Harpers Ferry Park visitors parking at the train station on weekends, holidays, and during some special events beginning May 18, will find National Park Service rangers on hand to assist them with parking and park entrance fees. Park rangers will greet visitors, provide a park brochure, tour schedule and answer visitors' questions before they visit the park.
Most vacationers have just a few hours to visit the park, and helpful guidance can save visitors time, maximizing their enjoyment of Harpers Ferry. The entrance station next to the Civil War Story in lower town will remain open for visitors walking into the park.
Most park visitors will continue to be served by the entrance station at Cavalier Heights. Local residents parking and passing through the park to the rivers, the C & O Canal towpath, or going to other destinations outside the park are not required to pay an entrance fee. Public transportation and Amtrak riders will not be affected by these changes.
There is no change in the park's entrance fees this season. The fee remains $5 for all persons in a single vehicle, or $3 for bicycles or walk-ins. Entrance fees are good for three days, so visitors staying in the area can return to the park the following two days after visiting other attractions in the area.
In 1987, Congress mandated the NPS to collect entrance fees in federal parks, including Harpers Ferry. Over the years, a few visitors have misinterpreted that the fee is for parking; however, the intent of Congress is to charge a fee for entering the park (like going to a movie).
Entrance fees traditionally have gone to the General Fund; recently, however, Congress has changed the law allowing parks to keep 80 percent of the entrance fee revenues collected at the park and compete for a portion of the remaining 20 percent with other parks in the National Park System. Harpers Ferry National Historical Park depends on this funding to operate.
entrance stations in the park were located in lower town. When the Cavalier
Heights Visitor Center opened in 1990, the NPS collected there and in the lower
town. Over time, cutbacks in staff led to one entrance station at Cavalier
Heights and donation boxes in other locations.
Proceeds from fees stay in the park to help maintain an attractive appearance, cleanliness, a safe environment and to provide visitor services. When visitors pay the entrance fee, they will see direct benefit to their national park.
(National Park Service news release.)
USS Monitor Turret Recovery Project Officially Set to Start
May 17, 2002--What will probably be the final recovery operation on the wreck of the USS Monitor will take place this summer as divers and a heavy-lift derrick attempt to raise the turret of the gunboat, officials of the Mariners' Museum in Newport News, Va., the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and the Navy have announced.
The turret, a groundbreaking design that was the "cheesebox" in the famous description of the Monitor as a "cheesebox on a raft", will join other parts of the ship at the Mariner's Museum eventually. It is expected to take as much as ten years to reverse the effects of 140 years of exposure to salt water and other corrosion to allow the objects to be put on display.
Made of cast iron, the turret and its two 11-inch naval guns weigh 120 tons. Complicating matters is the fact that the Monitor landed upside down after sinking in a storm on Dec. 31, 1862, meaning that the rest of the hull of the ship will have to be moved to gain access to the turret itself.
Cmdr. Barbara Scholley, commander of a Navy diving and salvage unit, said visiting the Monitor's undersea grave is an emotional experience, especially for Navy divers.
"You can feel it," Scholley said. "Those were sailors, just like we are today, they were our brothers back then."
"For generations, the Monitor's extraordinary revolving turret has been seen in books, paintings, prints, even playing cards, representing America's first remarkable steps toward the iron age at sea," said John Hightower, president and chief executive of the museum.
"Few ever thought the original, long-lost gun turret would ever be located, much less recovered and placed on public view," he told the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot.
The recovery plan, announced on Wednesday, will be a joint effort of the The federal government, the state of Virginia and private funds will finance the $30 million project, with $6 million raised so far.
The wreck of the Monitor was located in 1973, 16 miles off Cape Hatteras and 240 feet down. Since then, divers have brought up various artifacts, including the ship's steam engine, propeller, anchor, a lantern and numerous mustard bottles.
Lifting the turret is a major challenge, requiring special heavy equipment and planning. The Monitor lies at the western edge of the Gulf Stream, where the currents can be unpredictable.
The ship hit
bottom upside down, and the hull and a heavy band of armor
must be moved so the turret can be taken from underneath, placed on a platform, and raised to the
Once on land, the turret and its two guns must undergo perhaps a decade of conservation to prevent further deterioration before going on permanent display at the
The salvage effort is complicated by the caprices of the Atlantic off Hatteras, where hundreds of ships have been lost over the centuries.
Courtesy of: Civil War Interactive: The Daily Newspaper of
the Civil War
"Gateway Gettysburg" Project May Trump New Visitor Center
May 16, 2002--Developer Robert Monahan has unveiled the plans for his new complex to be built at the intersection of Routes 30 and 15 northeast of town to be called "Gateway Gettysburg."
To be built over several stages starting late this year, the complex bears a certain resemblance to plans Monahan put forth several years ago for the new Gettysburg National Park Visitor Center, a competition he lost to developer Robert Kinsley.
One feature of the "Gateway" project that would not have been included in any visitor center is a 250 room Marriott Hotel and conference center. Monahan said during the press conference announcing the complex that he felt it would have a ripple effect on local businesses, communities and the national park.
“We intend to be good partners and we have a real interest in what happens in Gettysburg,” Monahan, an Adams County native, told the Gettysburg Times.
“We are intricately connected to Gettysburg.”
Monahan said he hopes to begin construction on the 100 acre site in late fall or early winter, although preliminary steps including approval by Straban Township officials must be taken care of first. He said the project will be constructed in phases, but added that construction is expected to progress quickly.
“You probably won’t notice the end of one phase to the beginning of a second,” he said. Monahan declined to specify the cost of the project, but said that it will create a substantial number of jobs.
Among the tenants already scheduled to move into the complex is the Gettysburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, which suits Monahan's design just fine.
“There are four major airports within an hour and half drive of Gettysburg,” he said. “Not many places can offer that. Gettysburg has never had a large enough facility to draw conventions."
Other features will include an IMAX theater. Such a big-screen venue was originally to have been included in the new NPS visitor center on Hunt Avenue south of the battlefield, but was removed after objections that the five-story high screen would require a building so large as to obtrude on the "viewshed" from the park.
Gateway Gettysburg will have regular-sized theaters as well, between four and six of them, Monahan said, to be run by RC Theaters. Retail shops, many offering historic art and sculpture, food and beverage services and golf outlets such as chip-and-putt and driving range will also be included.
Monahan's big entertainment plans for the center is something completely new. He calls it an "immersive entertainment experience" and says he has hired designers to create a system involving holograms.
“We can put people in the middle of the battle or into Lee’s tent as he talks with his generals,” said Monahan. The system might also be used to bring to life presidents with Gettysburg connections such as Lincoln and Eisenhower, each in his own Oval Office discussing the issues of the time.
While the complex is geared primarily to attract visitors, Monahan said the local community will also benefit, noting that Gettysburg College and other businesses and organizations will be able to create events that employ Gateway Gettysburg.
No date for the opening of any part of
the complex was announced. The new NPS Visitor Center expects to spend the next several years raising funds before breaking ground on the new facility, whose costs are now estimated in the $100 million range.
Civil War Interactive: The Daily Newspaper of the Civil
His Name Still Mudd to the End, Lincoln Assassin Doctor's Descendant Dies at 101
May 22, 2002--Dr. Richard D. Mudd, grandson of Dr. Samuel A. Mudd who was convicted of involvement in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln days after the end of the Civil War, has died at his home in Saginaw, Michigan. He was 101 years old.
Mudd had spent most of the latter part of his life in an attempt to overturn the conviction of his grandfather. Despite gaining the sympathies of at least two presidents, he never achieved his goal.
Samuel Mudd was eventually pardoned for setting the broken leg of Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth. In July 1979, Richard Mudd's efforts brought a two-page, single-spaced letter from President Carter supporting Mudd's position on his grandfather's innocence.
Carter expressed regret that he "had been advised the findings of guilt and the sentence of a military commission that tried Dr. Samuel Mudd are binding and conclusive judgments and there is no authority under the law, by which, I, as president, could set aside his conviction."
He tried again with every president as new ones took office. In December 1987, Mudd received a note from President Reagan that also lamented that the law precluded changing convictions from the military court.
"In my efforts to help," Reagan wrote, "I came to believe as you do that Dr. Samuel Mudd was indeed innocent of any wrongdoing."
Mudd was a teen-ager when he happened on an account of his grandfather's conviction for aiding and abetting conspirators in the assassination, the Saginaw News reported.
Richard Mudd was born Jan. 24, 1901, in Washington, D.C.
Longstreet May Be Main Beneficiary of Wilderness Battlefield Addition to Fredericksburg Park
May 22, 2002--Gen. James Longstreet, known as "Old Pete" to some and "my old war horse" to his boss Robert E. Lee, is in many ways the forgotten figure of the upper ranks of Civil War commanders. And when he's not being forgotten he has often been reviled.
"After the war, Longstreet infuriated the South," said Don Pfanz, a historian with Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. "He was really considered a pariah."
Now the acquisition of a large chunk of the Wilderness battlefield may give the NPS an opportunity to showcase Longstreet's genuine military achievements during the war, with the blur of postwar recriminations stripped away.
National Park Service has purchased 462 acres of the Wilderness battlefield in western Spotsylvania County--the place where Longstreet outwitted the Yankees with a surprise flank attack. The land, south of Orange Plank Road, had been slated for residential development.
While militarily brilliant, the day was hardly a high point of Longstreet's personal life.
What was arguably Longstreet's greatest moment of glory during the war came at 11 a.m. on May 6, 1864. Longstreet moved four brigades along an unfinished railroad bed into position on the left flank of the Union Army.
The Confederate troops burst out of the woods, catching the Union troops
off guard. His opponent, Union Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock, said Longstreet's flank attack rolled up his line "like a wet blanket."
But like Stonewall Jackson the year before, during the heat of battle Longstreet was shot in the lower portion of the neck by Virginians who mistook one of their own regiments for the enemy; Longstreet became a victim of "friendly" fire.
"It was one of Longstreet's most impressive accomplishments during the war," Pfanz said. "The entire Union line unraveled and the federals ran panic-stricken toward Brock Road."
About 30,000 soldiers either were wounded or died in the four days of fighting at the Wilderness. Many were burned alive after the woods caught fire from muzzle flashes. Longstreet lay in torment from his wound, refusing to allow surgeons to amputate his badly damaged right arm.
The limb was never very functional thereafter and caused him difficulties for the rest of his life. During his recuperation he taught himself to write with his left hand to be able to sign orders. Even with all the problems, though, he survived.
"There's no question if Longstreet had died in the Wilderness, he would be among the pantheon of Confederate heroes," Hennessy said. "But he lived long enough and made choices controversial enough to diminish his stature in the eyes of his former followers."
By the end of next year, park officials hope to open the site to the public with walking trails, interpretive signs and parking areas.
"We eventually want visitors to be able to walk in the footsteps of Longstreet's men," said John Hennessy, chief historian of the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania park.
"The fact that the park service just spent $6 million to acquire the land is a testament to how significant it was," Hennessy said. Longstreet's flank attack is "one of the more obscure, spectacular events of the Civil War.
McDowell Battlefield Named to "Virginia's Top Ten Endangered Sites" List
May 21, 2002--McDowell Civil War Battlefield area in Highland County has been named one of the "Ten Most Endangered Historic Sites" in the state by the Preservation Alliance of Virginia.
"People are most familiar with efforts to save historic dwellings and historic institutional buildings," alliance President Donna J. Seifert said of the group's list, its second. "We wanted to look at other types of places as well that document our history, places that don't necessarily get any attention."
The battle of McDowell took place on May 8, 1862, as part of Confederate Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson's famous campaign in the Shenandoah Valley. Union forces under Brig. Gen. R. C. Schenck and Brig. Gen. R. Milroy were forced to retreat to Franklin, VA, after the conflict.
Objections to the issuance of the list came from Dave Russell, founder and past president of a Florida organization called Citizens for Constitutional Property Rights. He said such lists are the first step for private property owners to lose control of their land.
"It's never just a [Civil War] trench or a house or a canal." he told the Richmond Times Dispatch. "The tendency is to expand and expand and expand until they have all the surrounding property."
The core of the battlefield on Sitlington's Hill was bought some years ago by the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites (now Civil War Preservation Trust) and the Lee- Jackson Foundation.
The website of the American Battlefield Protection Program concerning the field (see below) noted in 1995 that the "battlefield of McDowell retains the highest integrity of all of the Shenandoah Valley battlefields surveyed; this is due to its location and the rugged nature of the ground, which precludes almost any land use other than agriculture or woodland. Highland County retains a low population density (fewer residents now than at the time of the battle) and a distinct rural character."
For more information on the Battle of McDowell, the National Park Service's American Battlefields Protection Program provides the following website:
Courtesy of: Civil War Interactive: The Daily Newspaper of
the Civil War
Gettysburg to Add New Women’s Memorial
Pa. - The true horrors of the Battle of Gettysburg didn't dawn on Elizabeth
Thorn, the curator of Evergreen Cemetery.
Only after the battle was over, July 5, 1863, did she return to her home at the Cemetery Gatehouse to find every piece of clothing, food and furniture blood-stained, broken or stolen by the Union Army.
The cemetery was littered with the bodies of dead men and horses.
Mrs. Thorn was taking care of the
while her husband Peter was serving in the Union Army. After seeing the bodies,
the president of the cemetery, David McConaughy, ordered Mrs. Thorn to bury
McConaughy picked a plot that faced East Cemetery and Culp's hills.
It was the rockiest soil in the cemetery, and the only help Thorn
was her elderly father. To make matters worse, Mrs. Thorn was six months
pregnant with her fourth child.
One can only guess what was going through Mrs. Thorn's mind during the time she was burying these soldiers. She was burying somebody else's son, father or husband. She must have been worried about the health of her unborn child. She must also have been concerned with the welfare of her three other children, who had no food, no clothes, not even a bed to sleep in which to sleep.
She buried 105 soldiers.
Her hardship was no worse then the hardships faced by other women living in Gettysburg during those three terrifying days in July 1863.
All the women were enlisted to help the wounded and dying soldiers.
Some of the nurses were Salome Myers, Carrie Sheads, Mary McAllister and the five Powers sisters, Mary, Virginia, Alice, Lydia and Jane.
the years to follow, their special involvement in the Battle of Gettysburg has
That is about to change with the help of current caretaker of Evergreen Cemetery Brian Kennel. He is raising money to help erect a monument to the woman heroes of the three-day battle. The monument will be a seven-foot statue of Elizabeth Thorn, sculptured by upstate New York native Ron Tunison.
"The monument is for all the women who served before, during and after the battle," said Kennel. "It's amazing with all the statues on the battlefield, there is not a women's memorial here in Gettysburg.
it's exciting to be in the process to erect one, there is also the other angle
that this should of been done years ago," Kennel added.
The statue will be of Mrs. Thorn taking a break from burying the soldiers, one hand wiping the sweat off her forehead and the other on her stomach. Her face is etched with the concern for her unborn child. She has a shovel resting against her, the handle in the elbow of her right arm.
It's fitting that the women's memorial will go in the cemetery where many of the women that served are buried," Kennel said. "It's tough to find a better place to erect the monument than at Evergreen.
"Kennel went on to say that changes are being made in the Gettysburg area to educate visitors about the horrors faced by the civilians during the battle.
the park service is incorporating more of the civilians' experience in their
walking tours and talks," Kennel reported. "I don't think it has been tapped
into since the 1980s."
Kennel's goal is to have the monument finished and dedicated on Remembrance Day, Nov. 16. He has invited First Lady Laura Bush to be the guest speaker at the dedication.
Kennel has been fund raising since Remembrance Day 2000. His book, "Beyond the Gatehouse: Gettysburg's Evergreen Cemetery," highlights the famous people buried there.
Some of the other residents of the cemetery are Hall of Fame pitcher Eddie Plank of the Philadelphia Athletics and St. Louis Browns of the American League and the St. Louis Terriers of the Federal League from 1901 to 1917.
buried there are James Gettys, the founder of Gettysburg, and his wife Mary Todd
Gettys, a distant ancestor of Mary Todd Lincoln.
Reprinted from The Civil War Courier
Home Sweet Home Motel Land To Be Added To Gettysburg Battlefield Soon
June 3, 2002-CWI-The Home Sweet Home Motel at 593 Steinwehr Avenue has been purchased by the Friends of the National Parks at Gettysburg for eventual turnover to the National Park Service. Spokespersons for both the Friends group and the motel management confirmed that the sale had taken place. Confusion still exists on the exact date that the turnover from the Friends to the NPS will take effect. The Friends office said the turnover would take place on or before July 15, but motel officials were emphatic that they would continue in operation until at least November 2002.
The land on which the Home Sweet Home now sits was the site of a famous flanking maneuver during "Pickett's Charge" on the third day of the battle. The 8th Ohio Volunteer Infantry found themselves in a position to pour a withering flanking fire into the side of the advancing Confederate troops.
A marker to the regiment's actions that day sits in the motel parking lot.
The park service reportedly already owns the three lots directly behind the motel, meaning that the removal of the business will greatly restore the north end of the Third Day battlefield. The land in that area has been home to a number of diverse enterprises over the years, including a tank practice range during and after World War I and a camp holding German prisoners of war for seven months during World War II.