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Science and the Environment

Preserving Wilson’s Creek; 155 Years and Counting

Since Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield opened to the public in 1960, the staff there have made preserving its land a top priority.

Summer touring hours are now in operation at the park, which is open daily from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

“We are probably one of the best preserved parks in the United States,” says Park Superintendent Ted Hillmer.

The Battlefield, Hillmer notes, has been maintained to appear the same as it did over 155 years ago. He says during that time, citizens planted 18 trees per acre, which is what you see at the Battlefield today.

“This park is very, very in tune for the cultural landscape as we call it, because that is what battlefields really have turned into, cultural landscapes. And our job is to protect that, so we can kind-of picture that battle that was here, back in 1861 today.”   

Wilson’s Creek is a 2,011 acre parcel of land southwest of Springfield. On August 10, 1861, it was the site of the first major battle of the Civil War west of the Mississippi River.

Hillmer explains that they are hoping to plant corn in some of the fields this summer in order to preserve the cultural landscape.

“This is where we have some of our corn fields here, because there would have been corn planted back in those days, that is what we would call the cultural landscape here.”

Hillmer says that there are few places in the United States where visitors can see how battlefields used to be fought in open areas, which is why he believes this place is so unique.

Last year over 180,000 people visited Wilson’s Creek, and Hillmer hopes the park can exceed those numbers in 2017.

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