Three National Historic Parks in northern Georgia and southern Tennessee offer a journey through a wide range of our history. Exciting news in the U.S. Senate this week offers the possibility that two of these parks will expand in the largest expansion of federally protected land in a decade.
Ocmulgee National Monument was protected by President Franklin Roosevelt and was a major WPA and CCC project during the Depression. The park protects prehistoric American Indian heritage. Though occupied for over 17,000 years, around 1000 BCE the Mississippians began constructing a huge ceremonial center with temple mounds and earth lodges. The largest structure is Temple Mound which offers a view of some surrounding features.
In the far right of the image above can be seen the Earth Lodge. The CCC did extensive archaeological work and reconstructing of the interior. Carbon dating of the floor shows occupation from around 1015 CE. The restoration included uncovering a large eagle platform.
The Senate passed the National Resources Management Act this week 92-8. If it also passes the House and is signed into law, Ocmulgee will be designated a National Historic Park and will quadruple in size. Some are working to eventually designate this park outside Macon, Georgia as a future National Park. If passed, the bill will add 2 million acres of protected land, much around Death Valley and Joshua Tree National Parks in California.
Near Murfreesboro, Tennessee is Stones River National Battlefield commemorating a Union victory fought on and around January 1, 1863, the day the Emancipation Proclamation was effective. The victory allowed the army to cut off Southern supply lines and continue to move toward Atlanta. The victory also resulted in the freeing of the enslaved near Murfreesboro.
The location pictured below was named the Slaughter Pen reminding soldiers of the Stockyards in Chicago. Union troops used these rocks as protection, but were then trapped there in a Confederate rush and slaughtered among these rocks.
In Atlanta is the remarkable Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park preserving Dr. King’s birth home, Fire Station No. 6 integrated in 1963 and accepting women fire fighters in 1977, and Ebenezer Baptist Church were King was baptized and ordained and where his funeral was held. Dr. King and Coretta Scott King’s tombs rest nearby at the Center for Nonviolent Social Change.