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National Battlefield Gets New Fiber Optic Map

Visitors to Wilson's Creek National Battlefield can enhance their experience there by viewing the new fiber optic battle map. KSMU's Mike Smith recently talked with Wilson's Creek National Battlefield Superintendent Ted Hillmer and has this report:


Visitors to Wilson's Creek National Battlefield will have an enhanced experience at the park this summer as they enjoy a new fiber-optic battlefield map program and extra resources in the Civil War Research Library. At a 10:00 a.m. news conference on Wednesday, June 7, 2006, the Wilson's Creek National Battlefield Foundation announced these exciting new additions. Most of the 200,000 visitors to the park each year view the map to learn about troop positions and movements during the August 10, 1861 battle, and many of them will also use the Compiled Service Records of Union and Confederate Soldiers Who Served from the State of Missouri and Civil War Unit Histories: Regimental Histories and Personal Narratives for Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, and Iowa.

At the unveiling of the new map today, Wilson's Creek National Battlefield Foundation President Ron Elkins, Jr., expressed his thoughts, "A picture is truly worth a thousand words, and this map gives visitors to the park a visual image of what happened here over one hundred forty years ago. We are very pleased to support the battlefield by providing valuable resources like the rehabilitated map program and new research documents for the Civil War library."

The fiber optic map, which was originally installed in the Visitor Center in1982, was in desperate need of repairs when the Wilson's Creek National Battlefield Foundation decided to sponsor the rehabilitation of this important battlefield asset. The project included refinishing the surface of the map and installing a technologically advanced fiber optic light and audio system. Restoration of the map by Fiber-Optic Systems of Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, began in November of 2005, and the map was shipped back to the battlefield to be reinstalled in May of 2006.

The Foundation's partners for the map project are AT&T and the Community Foundation of the Ozarks. Funding was provided through the AT&T Excelerator Grant program, awarded to non-profit organizations for projects relating to technological advancements. The Community Foundation of the Ozarks contributed funds from its Education and Social Justice Grant program.

Also announced by the Foundation at today's news conference is the acquisition of additional resources for the Wilson's Creek Civil War research library. The Missouri Compiled Service Records microfilm, totaling 972 additional reels, contains detailed information on the Union and Confederate soldiers from Missouri who served in the Civil War. Any genealogist or historian interested in Missouri's role in the Civil War will benefit from consulting these records.

The Civil War Unit Histories includes basic reference works on the war history of each state and features some 2,000 personal histories and other narratives, most written by Union and Confederate soldiers. The collection covers works published from 1861 to 1920.

Today's event highlights a few of the projects that the Foundation has sponsored to benefit Wilson's Creek National Battlefield over the past year. Established in 1950, the Wilson's Creek National Battlefield Foundation is one of the oldest private sector support groups associated with the National Park Service. It is a non-profit corporation with IRS 501(c) (3) status. For information about how you can help, contact the Foundation by calling 417-864-3041 or by visiting