August 21, 2013

Trash or History?

Did you know that litter on National Park land belongs to the government? The same goes for anything interesting you might find.

If you find something really interesting in a national park, the proper protocol is to take photos of it, note it's location and notify the ranger.  Many people are unaware of this or don't think anything of picking up these items and keeping them or giving them to the rangers.

To many, artifacts are the treasure. But to anyone studying history, the context is the treasure. To illustrate, it is the difference between finding a button from a Civil War soldier and finding a button from a Civil War soldier who was only 16 years old and delivered a letter to Stonewall Jackson minutes before he was killed.  

Do you think that there are so many visitors that you shouldn't even bother keeping your eyes open? Very interesting things are found on historic sites each year. Weapons, ammunition, buttons, helmets, and coins are found on battlefields every year. Some visitors even find soldiers. 

Last year, a visitor stumbled upon the remains of a Civil War soldier at Antietam, in a groundhog hole. While no charges were filed against him for bringing the remains to the rangers, this man at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield wasn't so lucky. He found remains sticking out of a river bed, excavated them and sent them to the park service. He was fined over $5,000.


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