Park Day 2016 In Review

Celebrating 20 Years of Volunteer Stewardship

Park Day Cedar Creek
Cedar Creek & Belle Grove National Historical Park, Va.

Park Day 2016 was truly one for the record books! In addition to marking the popular annual event’s 20th anniversary, some 6,000 volunteers gathered at an unprecedented 130 sites in 31 states and the District of Columbia. The enthusiastic participation of sites related to to the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 created a truly nation-wide effort sprucing up historic sites to welcome spring and summer visitors.

Projects were almost as diverse as the participating sites themselves. In many places, trash clean up and removal of invasive vegetation were the order of the day. Others had more ambitions or technical plans. On Shy’s Hill at Nashville, volunteers carried hundreds of honeysuckle bushes down those once-bloody slopes. At Perryville, significant portions of historic fencing, both wooden and stonewalls, were replaced. And at Connecticut’s Fort Trumbull, cadets from the Coast Guard Academy worked to install and implement new computer software to aid the Friends of Fort Trumbull in their management of the site.

Participants ran the gamut from school groups to families to neighbors to out of town visitors. According to Kinston Battlefield organizer Jane Phillips, “Volunteers ranged from age 13 to 76 — students to a lawyer, chemical engineer, the retired president of our community college, a metal artist, teacher and retirees. Fun [was] had by all!” But the Buford Massacre Battlefield may lay claim to the oldest, and most personally invested, volunteer: 86-year-old Emily Franklin Carnes, a direct descended of Jacob Carnes, who, as a teenager, was impressed by the British into digging mass graves — and had a finger shot off as punish-ment when he refused to bury a wounded soldier alive.

This year, the Trust was able to add an addition element to events at Antietam and the Wilderness, integrating our new Generations program into the day’s events. After lending a hand sprucing up these iconic locations, young people were able to march over the battlefield with historians offering age-appropriate interpretation, and experience aspects of soldier life for them-selves. Participants at Antietam even posed for a period tintype group photo-graph! Response to this new offering was enthusiastic, and we hope to add Generations events to more sites in conjunction with Park Day 2017. 

To learn more about Park Day — including how to help a site near you enroll in next year’s event — visit

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