Representatives of the Tennessee Parks & Greenways Foundation (TennGreen) were in Fayetteville last week to seal the deal with Lincoln County on the Joy Gleghorn Nature Preserve, a 114-acre woodland with rare plant life, springs and waterfalls.
Wednesday’s meeting at the Lincoln County Courthouse saw all the key players coming together to sign documents finalizing agreements, which will see the preserve protected under a conservation easement for the public’s use and enjoyment in perpetuity.
Among those present was Charles Gleghorn, who purchased the property from the City of Fayetteville in 2012 for $143,200 and then conveyed it to TennGreen, which in turn deeded it to the county as a gift as long as its protection was insured. Representing the foundation Wednesday were Steve Law, executive director, and Christie Henderson, director of land conservation.
Also present were Lincoln County Mayor Bill Newman, County Attorney Ed Simms, County Finance Director Cole Bradford, and County Commissioner Darren Walker, a member of the county’s parks and recreation committee.
“TennGreen is delighted to have partnered with the Gleghorn family and Lincoln County to ensure this beautiful property is both permanently protected and accessible to the public for hiking and nature observation,” said Law. “With its trails, waterfalls and streams, this new park and nature preserve is a tremendous asset to be enjoyed by everyone. We are especially pleased that this preserve will forever honor Joy Gleghorn.”
The Lincoln Commission had voted unanimously last month to accept the deed from the Parks & Greenways Foundation and protect the property by placing upon it a conservation easement.
Formerly known as Wells Hill Park, the preserve is named for Gleghorn’s late wife, Joy, who passed away Nov. 28, 2013, a year after her husband acquired the property. The Joy Gleghorn Nature Preserve is located just south of Fayetteville off of Wells Hill Road.
Over recent years, the pristine woodland has drawn the attention of noted naturalists and conservationists who have touted its beauty and uniqueness. The area includes natural springs, waterfalls and rare plant life. Over 100 varieties of vegetation prevail there, along with the Rainy, Dogwood and Wildcat falls.
The City of Fayetteville had sold the property five years ago when it made a decision to sell its non-essential properties due to budget constraints. The decision also allowed the city an opportunity to focus its attention on the development of Camp Blount State Historical Site.
Adjoining the Joy Gleghorn Nature Preserve is another 12 acres still owned by the city, which city officials have indicated they will turn over to the county. That acreage, which includes the headwater for the first gravity flow water system in the United States, is expected to be joined with the preserve.
As reported in The Fayetteville Observer on May 5, 1898, the first gravity water flow system in the United States would be designed and built in Lincoln County to serve Fayetteville. A franchise proposal for a first-class water system with fire hydrants was presented to then Mayor C.A. Diemer. The franchise was granted to Fayetteville Water Works, retaining the options to buy it at any time. The city bought the franchise in 1898.
Fifteen springs from the Pea Ridge area, including Wells Hill, supplied the city from 1904 to 1954 with 225,000 gallons of fresh water a day. The cost of the project was $34,000. The Observer’s news made it all the way to The New Yorker. Engineers from around the country came to see the design and its operation.