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Visitor Brings Live Civil War Cannon Ball To Park VC

Fort Smith National Historic Site

National Park News

A local homeowner brought a cannon ball that he’d dug up in his garden into the park’s visitor center on the morning of April 21st. Ranger Jeremy Lynch, the park's historic weapons specialist, recognized it as a six pound cased shot (fragmentation ball) with what appeared to be a rusted but still intact fuse. Fort Smith police were called and Lynch removed the ball from the visitor center, placed it in a red wood box, and moved it out onto park grounds away from everything. After police arrived, park staff were evacuated and a perimeter was established to keep visitors and others away. There were no visitors in the buildings or on the nearby grounds at the time.  The city fire department's bomb squad arrived shortly thereafter and confirmed that the cannon ball might be live. They removed it and will arrange to have it rendered safe. The shell was found on the east side of the city on a steep bluff that is now a residential area. The site is well outside the Civil War fortifications that surrounded the town in the 1860's, but there were a number of skirmishes near this area and the bluff would have made a good target for practice. The homeowner told us that he had taken his five kids to school that morning with it rolling around in his van.


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