With all the news of late about the National Park Service lacking money to buy important lands, it's nice to know that every now and then someone donates some land to the service. The latest involves 35 acres being added to Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park.
Of course, it wasn't a donation in the truest sense, as third parties were needed to buy the land -- with the help of some sizable federal dollars -- and then turn it over to the Park Service. The transaction was made possible by the Trust for Public Land, a non-profit land conservation organization that worked through a number of channels to buy the land for $3.6 million and then give it to the Park Service.
The 35 acres was owned by Mr. Sam Hensley, a former Georgia state legislator, and is the largest addition to the 2,888-acre national battlefield since its establishment in 1935. The additional property includes Civil War trenches built in 1864 by Union troops under General William Tecumseh Sherman’s command.
“Our parents never let us forget that we stand on hallowed ground. They always told us that it was never going to be developed and that we would never see rooftops on this property,” said Sam Hensley, Jr. “That became a very difficult thing to accomplish over the years. There was not a week that went by that my father did not have an unsolicited call from a developer or somebody that wanted to build a subdivision out here.”
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park is the largest green space in Georgia's Cobb County, which is located just north of Atlanta. The Atlanta metropolitan area is the second-fastest growing metropolitan area in the United States, just after the Dallas-Fort Worth area, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
As recently as 2005, the Civil War Preservation Trust listed Kennesaw Mountain as one of the America’s most endangered Civil War battlefields. According to the Trust, 1,200 homes were built on the battlefield’s borders in the past decade, with 160,000 cars passing through the site each day. As of March, 2008, the Trust’s annual list of endangered battlefields has Kennesaw Mountain listed as at-risk.
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park was established to commemorate the 1864 Battle of Kennesaw Mountain and the Atlanta campaign of the Civil War.
Dr. John D. Fowler, associate professor of history at Kennesaw State University, says the site is the most important Civil War battlefield because the success of the Union during the 1864 Atlanta campaign led directly to President Abraham Lincoln being re-elected and continuing the war.
U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson and U.S. Representative Phil Gingrey obtained approximately $3 million in federal funding for the purchase of the land with Cobb County and the Woodruff Foundation chipping in $500,000 and $320,000, respectively.