Another Reason to Go to Wilson's Creek----THIS year.
Wilson's Creek Civil War Museum Nearly Becomes History
Reported by: Emily Baucum
Friday, January 28 2011
(Republic, MO) -- The Battle of Wilson's Creek lives on as the National Park Service preserves the land and the artifacts.
But pieces of history nearly fell into the past in a battle to keep the Civil War museum open.
It's considered a premiere collection of Civil War artifacts from battles west of the Mississippi.
For a few weeks, the National Park Service thought the public would never see these treasures again.
It's the kind of place where everyone plays favorites.
"I'm partial to General Pat Cleburne's sash and his sword," says park superintendent Ted Hillmer. "There's only one of those. We have that."
A local doctor collected the one-of-a-kind artifacts and opened the museum two decades ago. The National Park Service bought it in 2005.
Hillmer says tighter pursestrings took a toll on the old building.
"You've seen tornadoes go through the area. There's no sprinkler system in the building."
Seventy percent of the people who visit the battlefield never make it inside the museum. So until a few weeks ago, it was history.
In a surprise move, the National Park Service decided to close the museum, devastating history buffs.
"The remainder of the objects would have been moved off site -- a place in Kansas City," adds Hillmer.
But Thursday a compromise -- a peace treaty, per se -- was brokered.
"We're going to keep the museum open until after the re-enactment," says Hillmer.
The summer celebration coincides with the 150th anniversary of the battle fought on the grounds. After that, most objects will go into storage as a new building is constructed.
"We'll have to make some decisions on which objects we show and which objects we put in cases until we get the building," says Hillmer.
That could take years, but the decision means future generations will get a glimpse of a battle that sparked real change in America.
"It wasn't a very great time of our history, but it was part of our history," says Hillmer.
There's at least a five-year timeline to build a new building. It would likely be either near or connected to the main visitor's center.
Selected works from the museum's galleries will be on display in that visitor's center in the interim.