Most of you are no doubt aware of the impending construction of a Wal-Mart on land near the Chancellorsville Battlefield. Likewise you probably have heard the hue and cry surrounding the possible development of land outside Gettysburg as a casino complex. These two parcels of land have something other than their proximity to major NPS parks in common: they’re NOT situated on battlefield land.
On Bolivar Heights-South at Harpers Ferry, development threatens property that IS battlefield land: on the evening of September 14-15, 1862, the right wing of Stonewall Jackson’s three division force under the command of A. P. Hill occupied Bolivar Heights-South as he maneuvered to turn Union General Dixon Miles’s position on Bolivar Heights, a move that effectively compelled the Federal commander to surrender the town.
Now that land, 406 acres known as Old Standard Quarry, is slated for 2.3 MILLION square feet of commercial space. That’s more than 16 Super Wal-Marts, according to Harpers Ferry NHP Chief Historian Dennis Frye. Add to that floor space acres of asphalt parking, streets, and lighting. Last fall, under the guise of a timber harvest, the developers clear-cut the western face of the hillside, which you can see in the picture below, on the far side of the central strip of vegetation, as viewed from the position of Jackson’s center on School House Ridge.
These are the same developers who in 2006 notoriously and illegally dug up and installed water and sewer lines on the School House Ridge battlefield ground on NPS property! These lines, which make the development of Old Standard Quarry possible, are still functional thanks in part to our Department of Justice, which for some unknown reason has never taken action against the scofflaws. The developers have somehow obtained a regulatory exemption through the State of West Virginia that absolves them of adherence to local planning and zoning ordinances – that’s right, these guys are obligated to follow almost no regulations. What’s up with that?
The National Parks Conservation Association, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Civil War Preservation Trust, the Friends of Harpers Ferry Park, and the Harpers Ferry Conservancy have united to counter the developers. If you want to know how you can help, follow the links provided.
Steven Mynes beat me to the punch on this here.