WASHINGTON-ROCHAMBEAU REVOLUTIONARY ROUTE, NATIONAL HISTORIC TRAIL

W3R, Newsletter No. 64, May 25, 2009

Editor Hans DePold, Bolton Town Historian

Our goal is the stewardship of the Washington Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail (W3R NHT) that passes through Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, and the elevation to a higher level the quality of heritage preservation all along the route. This newsletter tries to represent the point of view of the patriots who respected Washington and Rochambeau, the ones who, if alive, would be working with us to honor them today.

Five Bus Tours of the W3R NHT given in Bolton

The Washington Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail (W3R NHT) is now law.  President Barack Obama signed HR 146, the Omnibus Public Land Management Act into law on Monday, March 30.  That bill contained the designation of the W3R NHT. Bolton 7th grade history teacher Tiffany Novak immediately proposed the first tour on this new national historic trail.  I quickly put together the route, sites, and suggested stops where the students could get out and walk on the army encampment and the route where they walked.

Then on April 14, 2009, ninety Bolton 7th grade students from the five history classes had bus tours of W3R NHT in Bolton.  It started with an ice cream at the Fish Farm on the west abandoned but preserved end of the route; visits the French and Continental Army camp site and several colonial homes; finally it arrived at Bolton High School where the W3R passes into Andover on abandoned Bailey Road.  Tiffany and I spoke on the first three bus tours and Tiffany Novak gave the last two.  Local living history is already seeing the first benefits of the new national trail, as its history becomes alive and part of Bolton’s local school curriculum.

The Bolton Historical Society will host a Trail Forum, at Bolton Town Hall, June 4 at 7 PM

The Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route (W3R) National Historic Trail (NHT) goes through Bolton and is expected to be a partnership of private, local, and state interest groups under the leadership of the National Park Service (NPS) reporting to Congress. 

Many residents have learned that trails help a preserve the quality of life in town.  But there is a need to know how we go about making trails on abandoned portions of the W3RNHT with standards, protection and safeguards so that we can learn from natural and historic heritage without exposing them to negative effects.

The informational meeting June 4 at Bolton Town Hall at 7 PM will discuss the W3R NHT and other intersecting trails.

Agenda:
1) Introduction of the panel and the agenda.
2) The CFPA will share experiences and give guidance on things to look out for as Bolton creates and officially documents local trails intersecting the W3RNHT.  The CFPA also organizes Trails Day in Connecticut and is celebrating their 80th anniversary this year. See the latest Connecticut Trails Day brochure at:

http://www.ctwoodlands.org/sites/default/files/TD%20Brochure%20FINAL%20-%20CfpaTrail09.pdf

3) The Panel will address some prepared questions

  • How we go about creating and maintaining trails such as on abandoned portions of the W3RNHT with standards, protection and safeguards so that our communities can learn from and protect our natural and historic heritage?
  • How do state laws free homeowners and towns from litigation originating from accidents on trails that they permit to cross their property?
  • How we can protect our sites because sometimes pothunters and vandals visit the special places of interest?
  • How might the state agencies, state and local governments, and private organizations cooperate and partner in planning and making a success of the W3R NHT?
  • Eventually the National Park Service will build one W3R NHT visitor center in each of the nine states along the route. The heritage displayed is local, state, and American. What should such a center offer the public?

4) If time permits the panel will address additional questions from the audience

The Panel will consist of:
Mary Ann Handley, CT State Senator, Deputy Majority Leader,

Mary Donahue, Historic Preservation & Museum Division, CT Commission on Culture & Tourismhttp://www.ct.gov/cct/cwp/view.asp?a=2211&q=293780

Laurie Giannotti, AICP, CPG
CT DEP Recreational Trails & Greenways Program
See the website: http://www.ct.gov/dep/rectrails

Robert Butterworth
Chairman, CFPA Trails Committee

Rodney Parlee, Chairman, Bolton Conservation Commission

The W3RNHT and Our Cultural Preservation

Our culture is our highest expression of what it means to be not just American but a human being.  We began as those peculiar peoples who could not fit any mold that came with chains attached.  We advertised ourselves on the Statue of Liberty saying, “Give us your poor, your tired, your huddled masses longing to be free.”

A sense of place is universal to all cultures and it comes with its own expressions reflecting a full range of emotions.  The W3R NHT is a national trail that gives us a new and greater sense of place.

Cultural Preservation recognizes that the many strands of our culture: our values, ideals, aspirations, languages, skills, and legends; buildings, sacred sites and artifacts.  Landscapes retain the memories of their early American patterns of use and values that shaped America. Each time a well-loved colonial building is torn down, or a hallowed Revolutionary War campsite is paved over, a strand of our culture is forever broken.  In the context of the W3R NHT restoring culturally significant buildings and sites adds to our cultural renewal.

Communities need opportunities to celebrate themselves and their connection to time and place.  Celebration is a profound response to the magnificence of the culture in its place of trails, streams, and wildlife that define the rhythms of life in our chosen place. Our connections bind us to our land, and our culture. Our multiple intersecting wildlife corridors provide important resiliency to wildlife and sense of time and place to the W3R NHT communities.

A sense of time and place is built on acts as humble as a walk on a trail or as grand as a day of celebrating. A sense of time and place takes many forms: annual festivals, fairs, gatherings, and rituals; gardens; restaurants featuring regional and seasonal cuisine; crafts using local materials; buildings recalling an earlier time of struggle, human spirit and self sufficiency; stories, songs, and dances; films, paintings, sculpture, plays, essays, books and poetry; community bookstores, coffeehouses, shops, and gathering places.

Each time a human belief system or culture is lost, we loose an irreplaceable and exquisite way of being. Cultural preservation expresses the need to protect, restore, and honor our cultural diversity which includes the belief systems of our founding fathers.  Many Americans think the works of our founding fathers are the cornerstones of the American culture.

Where do we go from Here?

On May 2, 2009, sixteen directors from the nine on-route states (and D.C.) met in the banquet hall of the Treaty of Paris Restaurant in Annapolis to review the past year and hear suggestions for future projects and procedures. Outgoing Chair Kim Burdick  introduced speakers from the National Park Service: Steve Elkinton and Robert Campbell. State reports were presented and new Directors and national officers were elected including the new Chair – Ralph D. Nelson, Jr.,

History Press has indicated that if there were to be a book published on the W3RNHT route by a private publisher it might best be written by multiple authors so that the states and localities are represented in the manner they prefer.  The Society of the Cincinnati has been suggested as a group to vet such a book because General Washington created that group which includes the descendents of Washington’s officers including the French and German officers and officers of all the colonies.  A Michelin guide is also suggested as needed.

Periodically the NPS provides seminars on national trails and their management.  My wife and I attended one in Baltimore in late 2000.  The seminars are free but the invited guests pay for their transportation, incidental expenses, and rooms.  It would be helpful if the NPS could offer a seminar for the W3R members and representatives of state tourism and state trails some time just before or after October 19 and not too far from Yorktown.  The state groups could brainstorm plans in advance and that would make the seminars more fruitful.  It could end with a W3RNHT planning session led by the NPS.

Each community along the W3R NHT should be exploring the best time and way to celebrate our common culture.  Tourism is an excellent educational tool because it is one of the most accepted modes the public chooses to learn about our culture.   We need to make our festival schedules so that the towns and states compliment rather than compete with one another.

W3R NHT Tourism Estimation #1

Congressman John B. Larson was Bolton’s representative when we in Bolton asked him to champion the W3R study bill in 2000. He invited me to Washington DC on March 14, 2001 to discuss the W3R study plans with the NPS project directors Steve Elkinton, Larry Gall and John Haubert.  I invited our first national W3R Executive director Jim Johnson and Jim invited his Congressman Maurice Hinchey to attend. Congressman Maurice Hinchey introduced the most recent version of the W3RNHT bill.  Congressman Larson is now the Majority Whip in the House of Representatives.  For the report on that early meeting see:

https://www.connecticutsar.org/revroad/news40.htm

The W3R NHT covers nine states and Washington DC and there will be a great tourism benefit from the fact that nine states can compliment each other’s efforts.  There will be an inclination for tourists from one state to want to visit the other eight states to complete the story.  In CT it should have three districts alone involved with tourism.

The National Park Service will likely be spending between $300,000 and $500,000 per year to develop and manage the W3R program.  Each of the 24 congressional districts involved will be eligible for grants for their districts to develop tourism and sites.   A rough estimate is that each state could very soon have 10,000 tourists generated internally each year not counting visitors from the other states and other countries.  Each state will eventually have a W3R cultural/tourism/information/center with a shop.

Local tourists probably would see their state in two or three day trips.  Tourists from other states probably would spend one to three nights in hotels depending on the level to which the sites are identified, restored, and provided with signage, information and guidance.  Naturally overnight stays bring in much more state revenue.

To build a business case to solicit matching state and local support we need to develop a single best method to be used in all states.  We must work together because the greatest benefits will be derived from the longer stays of visitors from other states and from abroad.

National Trails Day is June 6 & 7 in 2009

National Trails Day is one way the hundreds of trail groups work together.  It is important that the W3R local groups support this activity and work together with the other trail groups because there is strength in numbers and the NPS needs all our support.  National Historic Trails are the only source of national cultural education many people receive later in life.  People who complain about the attrition of American values often cannot connect the dots and see that the NPS is all about preserving our culture through our sense of time and place.

Connecticut will have over 130 trail hikes and activities in just two weeks.  Many of these trails intersect the W3RNHT of which three are specifically associated this year with the W3R NHT in CT.  The CT Trails Day booklet can be downloaded now at:

http://www.ctwoodlands.org/sites/default/files/TD%20Brochure%20FINAL%20-%20CfpaTrail09.pdf