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National Park Foundation Awards $10,000 to Friends of Cumberland Gap National Historical Park

Cumberland Gap National Historical Park

National Park News

Grant to Support Interactive and Engaging Projects That Will Strengthen Americans’ Connection with Their National Parks

The National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, is proud to award the Friends of Cumberland Gap National Historical Park a 2012 Impact Grant to support the development of the education DVD The Civil War at Cumberland Gap, which will look at the homefront and slavery issues along with the multiple military occupations at the historic Cumberland Gap.   The grant is part of the National Park Foundation’s Impact Grant program which gives parks the critical financial support needed to transform innovative, yet underfunded ideas into successful in-park programs and initiatives.

Jubilant in the park’s Friends Group being a recipient, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park Superintendent Mark Woods explains “Still in its infancy at two and a half years, the Friends Group has already assisted the park in numerous ways: welcoming visitors at our special events; trail maintenance; helping to staff the visitor center desk; and of course, securing donations to support and foster educational programs.”  John Brown, Chairman of the Friends of Cumberland Gap, was elated when receiving word of this prestigious grant “which will catapult the Friends Group to a new level as this venture involves multiple partners with whom we will be working, including Lincoln Memorial University and the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum in Harrogate, TN and FamFive Productions, Incorporated of Knoxville, TN.”

Park Superintendent Woods provides further details about the exciting project.  “Carol Campbell, Director of Programs and Tourism at the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum, approached the park and asked if we would be interested in partnering in this significant undertaking.  We jumped at the opportunity as a major goal of this endeavor is providing students within the Appalachian region and across the nation with a new opportunity for academic growth.  The project will also provide students with a more personal awareness of the people who lived during the Civil War years and the hardships they and their families endured.” 

The project follows three factual family or personal histories that play out on a steadily progressing timeline of the Civil War. The Cumberland Gap's military history is necessarily part of the project, but the individual sagas of Appalachian people will be the mechanism for explaining the Civil War at the Cumberland Gap.  Specifically, through re-enactors, three stories will be conveyed: (1) the desperate and heartbreaking family struggles of Union Soldier Franklin Jones who deserts while in the military hospital at Cumberland Gap; (2) the murder of a former slave known as Samuel by presumed bushwhackers is also investigated; and, (3) the unusual final military confrontation at Cumberland Gap as experienced by a young Confederate homefront soldier named Jeremiah Dean.  These stories, superimposed over the Gap's military activities, provide an overview of the diverse experiences and highlight the divisiveness of the war as it existed in Tennessee and throughout the country.  Just as the frustrating legal battle for justice in Samuel's death exemplifies the minimal legal system that operated during the war years, the family crisis experienced by the Franklin Jones family highlights the difficulties facing those remaining on the homefront.  Pecuniary losses suffered by Confederate Jeremiah Dean indicate the economic decisions many soldiers faced as they either chose or were forced to serve in the armies.”

Lesson plans will accompany the educational DVD and will be aligned with the National Council for the Social Studies Standards and will meet all criteria for the No Child Left Behind initiative.

The project is expected to be completed in August 2012 with the DVD being provided free of charge to teachers and home schooled groups.

A precursor for the development of the education DVD is the story of Federal soldier Franklin Jones produced for WBIR-TV, the NBC affiliate in Knoxville, TN, as part of a long running program on that station known as The Heartland Series.  The hour-long segment aired on WBIR during the fall of 2011.

“With these strategic grants, we have been able to positively impact hundreds of national parks across the country,” said Neil Mulholland, President and CEO of the National Park Foundation.  “This unique program helps the parks enhance the visitor experience, engaging more people, and ultimately building a stronger community of park enthusiasts who share an appreciation and commitment to protecting America’s Best Idea, their national parks.” 

The National Park Foundation, in partnership with ARAMARK through the Yawkey Foundation, The Fernandez Pave the Way Foundation and The HISTORY Channel, awarded Impact Grant grants to 62 national parks across the country totaling more than $500,000.

A full list of grantees is available on the National Park Foundation website



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