The Park Trust Helps Complete Washita Battlefield National Historic Site
National Park Trust Donates Integral Parcel of Land to Washita Battlefield National Historic Site
Rockville, MD – National Park Trust is excited to announce a key donation of the last inholding of privately owned land inside of Washita Battlefield National Historic Site, in Roger Mills County, Oklahoma. This acquisition “completes” the park, giving National Park Service (NPS) ownership of the land within the park boundaries.
The land within this purchase is the ideal overlook for the site of the November 27, 1868, surprise dawn attack on the village of Southern Cheyenne Peace Chief Black Kettle. The U.S. Army 7th Cavalry commanded by Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer made the attack in which 103 Cheyenne men, women and children lost their lives, including Peace Chief Black Kettle and Medicine Women Later, his wife.
The acquisition of the property had been stalled for over 20 years due to a perceived title defect. The Park Trust learned of this obstacle from the Denver regional office of NPS. The Park Trust staff completed archival research and came up with a strategy that enabled NPS and the Oklahoma Office of the Attorney General to clear the title so that the Park Trust could purchase the property. The Park Trust then transferred the title of the land to the park. By completing the purchase, and thus “completing” the park by May 31, 2018, Washita Battlefield National Historic Site was eligible to receive over $1 million dollars in funding from NPS that otherwise would have expired. This funding will be used to improve the visitor experience by renovating the structures on the property and constructing a new, accessible overlook pavilion and trail which will provide access to the site of Chief Black Kettle’s encampment along the Washita River.
“We are thrilled that the timing of this property’s acquisition will finally complete this national historic site just in time for the 150th anniversary of the battle,” said Phil Selleck, park projects director of National Park Trust. “This land donation will provide generations of visitors with access to the site of the Cheyenne encampment and will preserve its history with a brand new interpretive trail.”
“The acquisition of this parcel allows the National Park Service to move forward with constructing accessible facilities, identified as the preferred alternative in our 2001 General Management Plan,” said Superintendent Tucker Blythe. “Constructing these facilities will provide all visitors with extended learning opportunities within the park landscape and should be completed by the 150th commemoration activities in late November. We are grateful to the National Park Trust for their help in completing this transaction for the American people.”
The newly-acquired land will be the site of numerous activities for the Sesquicentennial celebrations in November 2018. For more information visit: https://www.nps.gov/waba
This land purchase was made possible with the research assistance of NPS Intermountain Regional Office, Denver; U.S. Department of the Interior Office of the Solicitor, Denver; the Oklahoma Historical Society and the Office of the Oklahoma Attorney General.
ABOUT NATIONAL PARK TRUST
National Park Trust’s mission is preserving parks today; creating park stewards for tomorrow. In the 35 years since the Park Trust was established, the non-profit organization has completed 62 land acquisition, restoration, and mitigation projects in 30 states, 1 U.S. Territory and Washington, D.C. including 49 National Park Service projects. In 2009, the Park Trust launched its nationally recognized Buddy Bison Programs which currently supports more than 200 Title I schools across the country. Since 2011, the Park Trust has organized Kids to Parks Day, an annual national celebration of America’s parks hosted on the third Saturday in May.
For more details about the Park Trust can be found at www.parktrust.org.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the national park system for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The National Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world. www.nps.gov