Friday, July 22, 2011

Smokies Invites Comments on Proposed Historical Artifacts Storage Facility

Managers at Great Smoky Mountains National Park are inviting comments on an Environmental Assessment which lays out the impacts of a proposed new storage facility which will preserve 422,000 historical artifacts and 450,000 archival records. These items help document the history of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and four other National Park Service (NPS) areas in East Tennessee.

The historic artifacts include pre-historic projectile points, logging-era equipment, vintage weapons, clothing, farm implements, tools and other possessions that would have been found on the farmsteads of the Southern Appalachians in pre-park days. The archival collections include such things as land records, oral histories, historic photos, and Park operating records.

Currently these items are scattered among numerous sites that do not meet National Park Service standards for physical security, or environmental controls of the temperature and humidity that are essential to protect the items from mold, insects, and fire. The proposed new facility would house all these irreplaceable materials in a central location which meets all the criteria for their long-term preservation.

The National Park Service is finalizing the design for a new approximately 13,000 square-foot Joint Curatorial Collection Facility which would be located on a 1.6 acre parcel of land adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center (GSMHC) in Townsend, TN. The land is currently owned by the GSMHC, but would be donated to the National Park Service before any construction would take place. When completed the facility would be owned and operated by the National Park Service.

The items to be stored in the new facility would come not only from the Smokies, but from Andrew Johnson National Historic Site, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, and Obed Wild and Scenic River. Consolidating the collections of all the NPS areas with the Smokies’ materials would both ensure their protection and also allow for a single Museum Curator to oversee all the collections.

The EA is available for review on-line at the National Park Service’s Planning, Environment, and Public Comment website: Comments may be submitted either through that website or by mail to: Superintendent, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Attn: Joint Curatorial Facility, 107 Park Headquarters Rd. Gatlinburg, TN 37738. The comment period extends through Friday, August 26, 2011.

No word on whether or not the facility would include a public museum for people to be able to see some of these artifacts. Might be a great way for the Park to generate some revenue.


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