Alexander: New Smokies Archive Center Shows How Much People Care About Sharing the Stories of East Tennessee’s Families

Thanks Interior Secretary Jewell for starting the project two years ago, credits successful public-private partnership with funding the project

Posted on May 6, 2016

TOWNSEND, May 6, 2016 – Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said at the opening of the Collections Preservation Center that the new facility is “great news for everyone who loves the Great Smoky Mountains and the history of the park.” He credited a successful public-private partnership with getting the project funded and finished: Alexander welcomed Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to the Smokies in March 2014 to announce construction of the new facility.

“Those of us who grew up and live in the backyard of the Smokies have adopted the park as our home and feel like we own it because many of our families did,” Alexander said. “I have tried to imagine how hard it must have been for many of those families to be uprooted and moved from their homes so future generations could enjoy the new national park. The Collections Preservation Center honors the sacrifice and contribution of those families and their descendants.”

Alexander continued, “The opening of the new collection facility is great news for everyone who loves the Great Smoky Mountains and the history of the park. This facility, which Interior Secretary Sally Jewell approved after only a year in office, demonstrates how much interest there is in preserving Tennessee’s cultural heritage and stories for generations to come.”

The Collections Preservation Center, near the Townsend entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, will preserve 418,000 historical artifacts and 1.3 million archival records, including land records, oral histories, historic photos and park records. It will also house items such as clothing, vintage weapons, logging equipment, farm tools and other possessions used by people who lived on the farmsteads of the Southern Appalachians before the park was founded.

Alexander has championed construction of the facility since 2009. The facility cost approximately $4.2 million. More than half of the funds were provided by private donations, including almost $2 million from the Friends of the Smokies and the Great Smoky Mountains Association. The Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center also donated the 1.6-acre parcel of land where the facility is located.

In fiscal year 2010, $1.5 million in federal funds were directed towards building the new facility.

Records and artifacts from 4 other federal parks and recreation areas, including the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Cumberland Gap National Historic Park and Obed Wild and Scenic River, will also be preserved in the new facility.

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For access to this release and the senator’s other statements, click here.

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