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Ohio Representative joins Barr in support of naming Jessamine County’s Camp Nelson a national park

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

Efforts by one member of Kentucky’s Congressional delegation to have a Jessamine County historical site named a national memorial have been bolstered by another.

Rep. Andy Barr, R-Ky., has been working on having Camp Nelson receive such designation from the National Park Service and co-sponsored legislation with Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, last year in the House.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel, R-Ky., announced on Friday from Washington, D.C., he has introduced a companion measure in the Senate.

A refugee shanty replica in the Camp Nelson Interpretive Center. Support is growing to make the historical site a national park. (Camp Nelson park photo)

The Camp Nelson Heritage National Monument Act would preserve, protect and interpret for the benefit of present and future generations, the nationally significant historic resources of Camp Nelson and its role in the Civil War, Reconstruction, and African-American history and civil rights.

McConnell said he was proud to support the “Kentucky treasure” and thanked Barr for his leadership in working with the Nicholasville community.

“The Camp Nelson Civil War Heritage Park is truly a special place that has the ability to unite the community and inspire a greater understanding and appreciation for a pivotal period in our nation’s history,” Barr said. “I appreciate Leader McConnell for recognizing the importance of this significant site and introducing his bill in the Senate.”

The next stop for the legislation is to incorporate Camp Nelson into the National Park System, Barr said.

In May, the Lexington Congressman brought officials from the U.S. Department of the Interior to central Kentucky as part of his effort. National Park Service Deputy Director Dan Smith and local leaders held a community forum at the site.

According to its website, Camp Nelson provided the Union Army with more than 10,000 African-American soldiers, making it the third-largest recruiting and training depot for African-Americans in the nation. Many of them brought their families with them to Camp Nelson and eventually the army established a refugee camp for these individuals. Thousands of African-Americans came to Camp Nelson and eventually gained their freedom.

In addition to the African-Americans, several regiments of white troops from Kentucky and Tennessee were formed at Camp Nelson and many others from the Midwest and New England spent a good deal of time at the Kentucky base.

Camp Nelson is located on US 27, six miles south of Nicholasville and overlooks the Kentucky River Palisades.

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