FULL STORY: BNSF contributes $50,000 to WCNB Foundation film
By: Amy Brant, Republic Monitor
Updated 03/05/2008 02:07:04 AM CST
The Wilson's Creek National Battlefield Foundation received a boost this week in its efforts to preserve history, as BNSF Railway officials made a $50,000 contribution to the Foundation.
Robert E. McConaughey, BNSF Railway General Manager for the Springfield Division, presented the check to Foundation Vice-president Mike Williamson during a special press conference on Feb. 20.
"On behalf of BNSF Railway Company and our Burlington Northern Santa Fe Foundation, I am pleased to present this check to the Wilson's Creek National Battlefield Foundation," said McConaughey.
According to Battlefield Superintendent Ted Hillmer, the money will be used to pay for half of the new interpretive film that is being made for the battlefield's visitor center. Hillmer said the film, which Wide Awake Films of Kansas City, Mo., shot last summer in the park cost $100,000 to produce. The donation will save the Foundation half of the amount so that it can use it for other worthwhile projects to better and/or preserve more of the battlefield.
"Wilson's Creek National Battlefield is a treasure of history and a marvelous learning resource for our children," said McConaughey. "We are pleased to support the learning opportunities the new interpretive film will provide for all future park visitors."
Hillmer said the film should be ready in April. It will tell the story of the Battle of Wilson's Creek, one of the earliest battles of the Civil War and the first battle fought west of the Mississippi River. The purpose of the new film is to provide a background for the events leading up to the battle on Aug. 10, 1861, both in Missouri and on the national scene. It will explain the tactical elements of the battle, and introduce the commanders whose decisions decided the fate of their armies. Visitors will learn how the surrounding families were affected by the battle and its bloody aftermath.
According to Roseann Blunt, Director of Finance, the old film has been very useful, and has told the story to over 8,000 school children each year since it was first done in the early 1980s.
"While it has been an effective tool to communicate the message of Wilson's Creek National Battlefield, techniques are now available to tell the story of the battle in a new and exciting way," said Blunt, who expressed her appreciation of the contribution.
However, the $50,000 donation is not the first time BNSF Railway has contributed to Wilson's Creek.
"BNSF has partnered with the Foundation on several occasions to make Wilson's Creek National Battlefield an exciting place for families and individuals to visit," said Blunt. "We appreciate their commitment to making the Ozarks a good place to live, not only for their employees and their families, but for all area residents."
Roger Howard, another representative of BNSF Railway, said the BNSF Foundation was pleased to take part in this latest project of the Battlefield Foundation.
"We are always glad to have the opportunity to give back to the community through projects such as this, which serves so many people."
BNSF Railway also contributed to the restoration of the Ray House, which is one of the stops on the tour road.
Congressman Roy Blunt also used the press conference to announce the appropriation of $450,000 in the federal budget to help the National Park Service acquire an additional 42.39 acres of land adjacent to the park. The property is currently in the possession of the Wilson's Creek National Battlefield, which purchased it in June of 2007 from Missouri Partners Inc. The land was originally to be a part of the Terrell Creek Housing Development.
Congressman Blunt, who has always been supportive of the battlefield, said it is his opinion that the Battle of Wilson's Creek was the battle that kept Missouri in the Union.
"Telling that story is an important part of who we are," he said.
He said the battlefield foundation tries to attain the land as it becomes available, and is a willing purchaser to help the government in its acquisition. He said the foundation takes great risk in purchasing the land, hoping then the government will appropriate funds to transfer it to the National Park Service for the price it paid.
In concluding the press conference, Hillmer said, "It's a great day for the battlefield."