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Efforts continue to purchase Prairie D’Ane battlefield

By Staff, 06/22/17 11:18 AM


PRESCOTT – Efforts continue to raise money to purchase 807 acres of the Prairie D’Ane Civil War battlefield.

Mary Godwin, executive director of the Prescott-Nevada County Economic Development Office, said it’s all about tourism, and the Prairie D’Ann battlefield, along with the Elkins Ferry battlefield, can put Prescott and Nevada County on the map for heritage tourism. These tourists, she said, tend to stay in communities longer and spend more money while they’re there.

According to the Civil War Trust, Blue and Gray equals green. In five states, Missouri, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, 15.8 million people visited spending nearly 4442 million in the communities there. The typical family of four will spend around $1,000 during a battlefield visit. This translates into tax revenue for these areas as well as more local jobs.

The effort to purchase Prairie D’Ane began almost immediately after the Nevada County Depot Museum acquired 448 acres of the Elkins Ferry battlefield. At a celebration for the acquisition, Dr. Pat Hale offered to sell 807 acres of the Prairie D’Ane battlefield. The initial asking price was $1.4 million, but he donated $500,000 to the cause, literally reducing the asking price to $900,000. The Civil War Trust supplied a grant for $700,000 for the purchase, while the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program donated $40,000. The Arkansas Economic Development Commission, working with the Prescott EDO along with State Sen. Bruce Maloch and Larry Teague, donated another $50,000. Donations of $5,000 each were made by the Ross Foundation, Prescott Economic Development Charitable Foundation and Bank of Prescott. Southern Cross chipped in $8,000, while the Arkansas Historic Association added $1,000. Private contributions in the amount of $20,000 have been made as well.

Another $60,000 must be raised by Nov. 1, 2017, in order to complete the purchase. Should the fundraising effort fail, all donations will be returned to the donors.

“This project,” Godwin said, “has the potential to a significant one for Prescott, Nevada County and the surrounding area for tourist development. This will translate into economic development and money for the community in various ways. It has the potential to make Prescott a tourist destination and bring Civil War enthusiast to the area.”

The Depot Museum’s board of directors had an interpretive plan developed at a cost of $29,000. The plan was done by Mudpuppy and Waterdog, Inc. and provides detailed directions on what needs to happen to develop Prairie D’Ane and the other Nevada County Civil War battlefields, including two in Clark County – Terre Noire Creek and Okolona. The three in Nevada County are: Prairie D’Ane, Elkins Ferry and Moscow. All of these battlefields were part of the Camden Campaign.

Judy Duke, secretary of the museum’s board, said the board believes the interpretive battlefield plan will serve two goals. One is to raise the awareness and appreciation of the battlefields and encourage residents to take an active role to protect them. The other is to create a heritage tourism destination that would revitalize Nevada County’s economy. She said anyone interested can go to the museum’s Facebook page at Nevada County Depot Museum and fill out a pledge card or sign up to volunteer at the museum.

The Friends of Nevada County Battlefields, are also working to reach the financial goal to buy the land. The group consists of Pete and Meredith DeWoody, Paul Ridgell, Duke, Glen Vasser, Godwin, Larry Jones, Jr., Peggy Lloyd and Terri Vandiver. Members of the museum’s board are Ridgell, president, Jones, vice president, Duke, secretary, Lloyd, Pete DeWoody, Traci Graham, Frank Henson and Brad Crain. Anyone, Godwin said, can make a donation to this project by talking to any member of the Friends of the NC Battlefield, going to the museum or mailing it to P.O. Box 592, Prescott, AR. All donations need to be received by Nov. 1. “Small donations help and we’d like everyone to be a partner in this project.”

“It will take all of us to do this,” Duke said. “Please join us in this partnership.”

When the goal is raised, all donors will be publicly recognized at a celebratory event. Both Duke and Godwin encourage everyone to be part of what could be a historic and history changing event for Prescott and Nevada County.

Mark Christ, communications outreach director for the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, said people at the local, state and federal levels were impressed by how the community came together to purchase the Elkins Ferry property, saying it was the best one in the state. The Prairie D’Ane project is being operated the same way. “We’re at a critical time,” Godwin said.

She reminds everyone the museum is a 501(c)3 organization and all donations are tax deductible.


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