National Park Trust, National Park Service Collaborate To Help Fort Scott

History will expand at Fort Scott National Historic Site in Kansas thanks to work by the National Park Trust to facilitate the purchase of three-quarters-of-an-acre located within the park boundaries.

The acquisition of the land from the Cummings Family includes a building that will provide storage for maintenance equipment currently held in historic facilities at the fort. Once that equipment is relocated, the park’s historic area will be extended, allowing the park to bring back the full experience of the dragoon stables, according to a release from the Trust.

In 2020, the Cummings Family’s property was incorporated into the expanded park boundaries authorized by Congress through the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act in 2019. Initially slated for funding authorization in 2021, the urgency for acquisition heightened following the sudden passing of the property owner, Mr. Cummings, prompting swift interest in selling by his heirs.

When the National Park Service asked the National Park Trust for assistance, the Trust initiated and executed a comprehensive strategic plan, including a title commitment, property appraisal, and Phase I and Phase II environmental site assessments. In addition, the Trust negotiated with the commercial retail business that occupied the building.

Although the Trust successfully concluded the $160,000 acquisition in July 2021, the National Park Service could not officially take possession and complete the purchase of the land and building from the Park Trust until December 2023. During those two years, the Trust managed the property, serving as the landlord for a retail business in the building.

“We are pleased that we were able to provide real estate expertise and resources to the National Park Service to help facilitate this multi-faceted, complex project,” said Grace Lee, the Trust’s executive director. “This land acquisition not only helps to preserve the integrity of Fort Scott but also will help visitors understand the fort’s important role in American history.”

Established in 1842, this fort was pivotal in Westward Expansion, the anti-slavery movement, and the Civil War. Initially, it safeguarded wagon trains and enforced boundaries between Native American lands and European settlers. Despite being closed in 1853, periodic soldier returns helped manage future conflicts. During the Civil War, it became a vital Union Hospital supply and training depot. Its final chapter, ending in 1873, involved protecting railroad workers from local trespassers and landowners opposing railway construction on their land.
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