In early 2020, the National Park Service asked National Park Trust for assistance in acquiring a ¾-acre private property inside the park that they would convert to use as a park maintenance office and shop. The building and property were included in an expansion of the park boundary by U.S. Congress in the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act in 2019 The initial plan was that funding would be authorized in 2021.
However, the owner, of the property, Mr. Don Cummings passed away suddenly and his wife, Ms. Peggy Cummings was interested in selling as soon as possible. The NPS was unable to react quickly enough to meet the owner’s deadline to sell, which is where the Park Trust came in. We worked with the owner to get background information and supporting documentation for the project. We also resolved a property boundary/trespass issue, with the great support of the City of Fort Scott. The Park Trust contracted and executed contracted a title commitment, property appraisal, Phase I environmental site assessment (ESA) and Phase II ESA. The Park Trust is holding the property through a limited-liability corporation until the NPS is able to accept it.
The fort was important in the westward expansion of the country, the anti-slavery movement, and the Civil War. It began service in 1842, to enforce the boundary between lands guaranteed Native Americans and white settlements, and provide security for westbound wagon trains
Though abandoned in 1853, soldiers returned periodically to police violent conflict between pro-slavery and abolitionist groups. It became a fort again during the Civil War, when it became a key supply depot for Union troops. The fort’s final chapter was to protect railroad workers from local squatters, who opposed building railways across land they were occupying. It was abandoned in 1873.
Why is it important? The park does not have a dedicated maintenance facility. They are using a building in the historic portion of the fort. This acquisition will allow the park to move the maintenance facility out of the historic fort, and reuse the park building for an education center.
Project Years: 2020-
Parcel Size: 0.76 acres
Project Cost: $190,000
Long Term Significance of the Acquisition:
- Gives the park a dedicated space, unimpeded by other activities, to manage maintenance Allows long term, more permanent configuration of the building for its planned use
- Preserves a building of state-level historic significance that might otherwise be sacrificed to more modern development in the private sector
Value to the Park and Public:
- Removes everyday maintenance activities, with accompanying noise, away from the area used by visitors
- Adds additional space on the historic footprint of the park for an additional facility that will enhance the visitor experience at the park