532Harpers Ferry on endangered list
- Feb 27, 2002From today's Hagerstown Herald-Mail....
"Civil War battlefields on endangered list"
The Harpers Ferry Civil War battlefield is one of the 10 most endangered in
the nation, according to a watchdog group's list released Tuesday. The Civil
War Preservation Trust named battlefields in Harpers Ferry, Gettysburg, Pa.,
and six other states as the most threatened by development.
The Trust also named 15 other battlefields as "at-risk," one step below the
top 10. None of the other 15 are in the Tri-State region. The Trust, a
nonprofit battlefield preservation organization, said that 2,729 of the 7,199
acres in the Harpers Ferry battlefield area are protected.
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park spokeswoman Marsha Starkey said 2,300
acres are within the park boundaries. She said she didn't know how the other
429 acres are protected. Starkey said "it's an honor" for the battlefield to
be on the Civil War Preservation Trust list because of the attention it
draws. At the same time, "Our hope is (that) sometime in the future we won't
make the list," she said.
In 1993, the Civil War Sites Advisory Commission identified 384 U.S.
battlefields and rated their historical significance and likelihood of
preservation, Civil War Preservation Trust spokesman Jim Campi said. The
Harpers Ferry battlefield is ranked Priority I (highest possibility of
preservation) and Class B (second-highest historical significance).
At a battle in Harpers Ferry in September 1862, more than 12,000 Union
soldiers surrendered to Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson's Confederate
force. Developers are considering building 188 houses and a 130-foot water
tower on 99 acres near the park. The parcel, west of the park, is known as
Opponents have said the project would mar the landscape and desecrate a
historically important piece of Civil War and civil rights history. The
property was once home to abolitionist John Brown's fort. After convening the
Niagara Movement at Harpers Ferry in 1906, W.E.B. DuBois went on to help
found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
The Park Service has been mentioned as a possible buyer for Murphy's Farm.
Under a mandate from Congress, the Park Service will hold four public
meetings in March about expanding the park. Starkey said up to 500 acres are
being considered, "a good percentage of it" to the west.
Another 280 acres on Schoolhouse Ridge, outside the national park, also are
vulnerable to development, Campi said. The Trust started compiling its annual
list last year. Harpers Ferry was on that list, too.
At its Web site, the Trust says its goal is "to preserve historical
battlefield land through outright purchases, conservation easements, and
partnerships with federal, state, and local governments." The Trust says it
has helped protect more than 14,000 acres in 18 states.
POSTED BY: Tom Shay
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