Years in the making, state and local leaders will gather at the Camp Blount Historic Site here Friday morning to break ground on the first phase of the 39-acre development where thousands of Tennessee soldiers mustered more than 200 years ago under the leadership of Gen. Andrew Jackson against the Creek Indians in the War of 1812.
The groundbreaking, scheduled for 10:30 a.m., is yet another huge step forward as the integral part of Tennessee’s history and the history of our country is made into an historical park and preserved for future generations.
Among the key leaders on the agenda for Friday’s ceremonies will be Randy Delap, president of the nonprofit Camp Blount Historic Site Association; Dr. Farris Beasley, who championed the project from its start and went on to serve on the Tennessee State War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission; State Reps. Pat Marsh and Rick Tillis and State Sen. Shane Reeves, legislators instrumental moving the project forward; Patrick McIntyre, executive director of the Tennessee Historical Commission; the Hon. Steve McDaniel, deputy House speaker and active in battlefield preservation efforts; Jim Tracy, former state senator and current state director of USDA Rural Development; and Fayetteville Mayor Michael Whisenant, representing the city which has agreed to maintain the site.
Others participating will include representatives of Croy Engineering. Presenting the Colors will be the War of 1812 Honor Society, Boy Scouts of America Troop 489, and both the Fayetteville High School and Lincoln County High School drum corps. Victoria Matheny will also be on hand to sing the National Anthem.
A sign marking the park’s entrance off the Huntsville Highway, not far south of the Elk River crossing, will soon be erected, and in March, the statue of The Volunteer should be placed – the form is in Montana at the foundry now, according to officials, noting that they are hoping for an unveiling on March 21, 2020.
Included in Phase II of the Camp Blount Historic Site is the paved entrance off the highway, the entrance sign, a large parking area for buses and another parking area for other visitors, restrooms that will be built in such a way to easily accommodate a visitors’ center later on, a pavilion, and then a trail to the plaza where the statue will be situated.
Federal funding and a number of state grants have been secured to assist with the project, including a $40,000 Rural Development grant funding the sign, a $40,000 Tennessee Wars Commission grant to go toward the statue, and $500,000 from former governor Bill Haslam to quicken the site’s overall development. Also associated with the project is a $1.1 million grant awarded by the state for a walking bridge that will eventually span the Elk, connecting Stone Bridge Memorial Park with Camp Blount as part of the city’s Master Greenway/Blueway Project.