WASHINGTON—In commemoration of the upcoming anniversary of the Battle of Wilson's Creek on August 10, the National Park Foundation (NPF), National Park Service (NPS), and the Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield Foundation announced they have secured all the funds needed to renovate the visitor center at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield, which tells the story of the first major Civil War battle fought west of the Mississippi River.
“The expansion of the Wilson’s Creek Visitor Center will allow the park to bring truly unique historic artifacts out of storage and into the public view,” said Senator Roy Blunt. “The Wilson’s Creek Foundation and the National Park Foundation have worked together to maximize local contributions. The Centennial Act matching funds have done exactly what that fund was created for. Five hundred thousand dollars of private contributions were matched and that $1 million allowed the park service to move a visit to Wilson’s Creek to a dramatically improved experience.”
“I’m pleased to see this major renovation coming to Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield in Republic,” said Senator Josh Hawley. “The newly secured funding will ensure that students from across Missouri will continue to learn the history of Wilson’s Creek for generations to come.”
“From my time working at the Grand Canyon, I saw how important these awe-inspiring parks are to the American public and what great foresight Theodore Roosevelt had in preserving and protecting them,” said Representative Billy Long. “Along with preserving and protecting, maintaining and improving go hand in hand. I would like to personally thank Wilsons’s Creek National Battlefield Foundation, the National Park Foundation and the many philanthropic supporters involved in raising funds to complete this major renovation project here at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield. I look forward to touring the exhibit once it’s completed and appreciate the great work of all partners.”
The announcement marks a well-rounded combination of private philanthropy and federal funds to preserve and enhance a site of major historical significance. Thanks to NPF, NPS, Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield Foundation, individual donors, corporate partners, and the U.S. Congress, the public will soon be able to access a new exhibit of a collection of artifacts considered to be one of the finest publicly held museum collections representing the Trans-Mississippi Theater of the American Civil War.
“Before the establishment of this park, a committee to preserve Wilson’s Creek Battlefield worked with private citizens, community leaders, and the State of Missouri to promote Wilson’s Creek as a battlefield within the National Park Service, and this concept of working together continues today,” said Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield Superintendent Ted Hillmer. “It has been my honor to be a part of a partnership that has accomplished this major construction project, which will allow future generations to better understand and appreciate history.”
Together, NPF and the Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield Foundation provided $500,000 in philanthropic support, which was matched with $500,000 in federal funding authorized and appropriated for NPF under the 2016 National Park Service Centennial Act (PL-114-289) for a total of $1 million in support toward the total estimated cost of $4.5 million. Bass Pro Shops’ previously announced $25,000 lead gift has been followed by many individual and corporate donations, including a recent major donation from Arvest Bank. These contributions are part of the $500,000 in philanthropic support.
“The National Park Foundation is proud to support the partnership to renovate the Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield Visitor Center,” said National Park Foundation President and CEO Will Shafroth. “This project is a perfect example of how a holistic funding model, involving private philanthropy and federal funding, can enhance the visitor experience.”
“The Wilson's Creek National Battlefield Foundation exists to help preserve and promote the history of the Battle of Wilson's Creek, and we are honored by the broad public support we received from area businesses and individuals on this project,” said Wilson's Creek National Battlefield Foundation President Mike Ussery. “When the Foundation led the effort to establish the park nearly seventy years ago, it was for moments like this and the opportunity to ensure that present and future generations are able to learn about the amazing history of the Battle of Wilson's Creek. As a Foundation, we are proud to have played an integral role in bringing this project to fruition."
“Bass Pro Shops is proud to support this historic battlefield because of its significance to our nation’s history and its role as a thriving ecological habitat for people from the Ozarks and across America to enjoy,” said Bass Pro Shops Manager of Community Affairs Sarah Hough.
The renovation, which includes adding 1,873 square feet of exhibit space, will enable visitors to view, enjoy, and learn from the park’s extensive collection of artifacts. Currently, most of the park’s more than 81,000 artifacts are in storage. Updates will also provide for interactive displays and “virtual displays,” making it possible for people to digitally view fragile artifacts and other items in storage in 3D. The renovation also includes an upgrade of the visitor center’s heating and air conditioning systems to protect fragile artifacts and provide a positive experience for the more than 200,000 people who visit the park each year.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK FOUNDATION
The National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks and nonprofit partner to the National Park Service. Chartered by Congress in 1967, the National Park Foundation raises private funds to help protect more than 84 million acres of national parks through critical conservation and preservation efforts and connect all Americans with their incomparable natural landscapes, vibrant culture, and rich history. Find out more and become a part of the national park community at www.nationalparks.org.
ABOUT WILSON’S CREEK NATIONAL BATTLEFIELD FOUNDATION
Established in 1950, the Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield Foundation is one of the oldest private sector support groups associated with the National Park Service. It is a non-profit corporation with IRS 501(c) (3) status. Foundation members support the efforts of the National Park Service at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield with yearly membership donations to the Foundation, additional financial pledges, and volunteer involvement. Membership is open to both individuals and corporations.
Since the Foundation’s initial purchase of 37 acres on Bloody Hill, site of the heaviest fighting in the battle, the Foundation has worked to preserve and protect the park. The goal of the Foundation is to enhance awareness and appreciation of this national treasure—a haven for historians and those who enjoy the outdoors.
ABOUT WILSON’S CREEK NATIONAL BATTLEFIELD
Administered by the National Park Service, Wilson's Creek National Battlefield preserves and commemorates the site of the first major engagement of the Civil War in the West. The site is considered to be one of the best-preserved battlefields in the National Park System. The battlefield is located 10-miles southwest of Springfield, Missouri at the intersection of Highway ZZ and Farm Road 182. More information can be obtained by calling (417) 732-2662.