The Conservation Fund and Northwest Arkansas Land Trust have announced the purchase of a key Civil War battle site in Benton County. The Northwest Arkansas Land Trust, with assistance from The Conservation Fund, recently acquired the historic 140-acre Williams Hollow Farm and intends to donate the property to the National Park Service once funding is secured.
Bordered on three sides by the Pea Ridge National Military Park, the property has been a conservation priority for the National Park Service since the national park’s designation during the Civil War Centennial of 1963 and is crucial to the preservation of the historic Civil War battlefield. In March 1862, U.S. Brigadier General Samuel R. Curtis’s 10,500 troops in the Union Army of the Southwest clashed for three days with commander of the Confederate Army of the West, Major General Earl Van Dorn’s 13,000 troops. The battle ended in Union victory and prevented the Confederates from advancing into and enabling the secession of Missouri. The Williams Hollow Farm was an integral site used before, during and after the battle.
“Northwest Arkansas Land Trust is excited to partner on the permanent protection of Williams Hollow Farm,” said Marson Nance, Land Trust director of land protection and stewardship. “For over 16 years Northwest Arkansas Land Trust has worked tirelessly to protect open spaces throughout the region for protection of natural resources and our cultural and historic heritage. The Williams Hollow acquisition is a perfect example of collaboration between national, regional, and local partners working to protect sites of great ecological and historical importance. Northwest Arkansas Land Trust is proud to be a part of this effort.”
“We’re excited to continue working with our partners to protect this important battlefield. Williams Hollow Farm is important to the park as it helps tell the story of the battle that took place 158 years ago,” said Kevin Eads, superintendent of Pea Ridge National Military Park and board member of Heritage Trail Partners. “Its preservation will help to protect cultural and natural resources.”
Once protected, the Williams Hollow Farm will secure the viewshed of the Pea Ridge National Military Park and conserve mature forest habitat for migratory songbirds and rare bats, including The threatened northern long-eared bat. Keeping the property undeveloped will also help provide water quality protection of Sugar Creek within the Elk River watershed.
“The Conservation Fund has a long history of preserving critical Civil War sites throughout the United States, and we are proud to advance this effort to conserve the Williams Hollow Farm,” said Clint Miller Midwest project director for The Conservation Fund. “The significance of this property is truly unique and multi-faceted, from protecting a key part of the battle to providing important habitat for rare species and preserving the memory of other historic events, including the Trail of Tears.”
The Williams Hollow Farm played a significant role in pre-Civil War history as well. Passing by the property to the northeast is Telegraph Road, a historic transportation route through northwest Arkansas that takes its name from the first telegraph lines in the area. Beginning in the 1830s, Telegraph Road was used as a route on the Trail of Tears, the forcible relocation of the Cherokee people and other Native Americans to Oklahoma in the winter of 1838-39 after the enactment of the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The historic road was also part of the Overland Mail Company route, a transcontinental mail system that also offered stagecoach transportation to settlers, miners and businessmen traveling between St. Louis, Missouri, and San Francisco from 1857 to 1861.
The permanent protection and transfer of the Williams Hollow Farm to the National Park Service will depend on fundraising. Various organizations have stepped forward already to assist, including the Pea Ridge National Military Park Foundation and National Park Foundation.
“It is a rare opportunity that we have the chance to preserve our past for future generations in a setting such as this,” said Pea Ridge mayor Jackie Crabtree, who is also chair of the Pea Ridge National Military Park Foundation and vice-president of Heritage Trail Partners. “While the acquisition of this historic property is exciting, it is critical that we raise the funds to permanently make the Williams Hollow Farm part of the Pea Ridge National Military Park. Time is of the essence, and we need our community to step up and bring this project home.”
In addition, the property will be conserved, in part, by funding and technical assistance in partnership with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) made available through mitigation efforts by Plains All American Pipeline in conjunction with ongoing construction and maintenance of the Diamond Pipeline, a crude oil pipeline that currently extends from Cushing, Okla. to Memphis. The Conservation Fund serves as the administrator of the funding source and works collectively with Plains and USFWS to achieve mitigation solutions with the highest conservation value.
For more information on how you can support the permanent protection of the Williams Hollow Farm, visit: https://www.pearidgefoundation.com/get-involved/.