PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT AT MOORES CREEK
EARLY PARK DEVELOPMENT, 1933-1956
At first, the transfer of Moores Creek NMP to the NPS brought about little change. George Moore continued as superintendent until his retirement in 1935, while Charles Moore continued as caretaker. Due to low attendance in 1933, the MCBA discontinued the celebrations and became inactive for a decade. The NPS was pleased to see the celebrations end since they had no association with the historical significance of the park and brought large crowds that damaged park resources.
Due to limited funding, initial NPS work at Moores Creek NMP involved minor improvements to the grounds and drainage system. Between August 1933 and July 1935, park staff hauled silt from the low grounds adjacent to the creek and distributed it over the area enclosed by the earthworks. The ground was harrowed and disked to prepare a seed bed; grass was then planted in the area using lime and fertilizer to facilitate growth. Ground that had been sterile was consequently covered with vegetation. In addition, the park installed a drain for one ditch. A gas-powered generator was installed in 1934 to run the water pump and generate electric power.
Following Moore's retirement, the regional office appointed Clyde B. King superintendent and directed him to report to Coordinating Superintendent B. Floyd Flickinger of Colonial National Historical Park in Virginia. Flickinger was to oversee Moores Creek NMP as part of a southern Revolutionary War group that included Guilford Courthouse NMP, Kings Mountain NMP, and Cowpens National Battlefield Site. In April 1936, Flickinger made his first inspection tour of Moores Creek and recommended immediate upgrades in the park's day-to-day administration, including paperwork and record-keeping procedures.
Between 1936 and 1938, King initiated planning for the park's development. His vision called for a complete reorientation of the park's layout to emphasize the historical significance of the site over its commemorative and recreational functions. To this end, the core battleground area was to be restored by removing intrusions such as the MCMA's buildings, roadways, formal plantings, and fencing around the monuments. The historic appearance of this area was to be achieved by fully reconstructing the earthworks, the historic road causeway, and a more accurate bridge. The landscape was to be restored to its historic appearance with curvilinear trails following natural contours. New recreational and support facilities were to be located on the periphery of the battleground. The superintendent's residence across Highway 602 from the park entrance was to be replaced by a picnic area with a parking area, an information station, restrooms, and concession stands. An area northeast of the Heroic Women Monument was to be the support area with a superintendent's residence, a laborer's residence, a garage and storage shed, an administrative office and museum, and utility structures. In order to accommodate the new facilities and provide fire breaks, at least thirty acres were to be acquired for park boundary extensions. King's general development plans were accepted by Flickinger, the director of Region I, and the director of the NPS. 
Figure 7. The entrance to Moores Creek National Military Park, 1938
Like many grand ideas, King's plan lacked funding. One source that he attempted to tap was the work programs of the New Deal. The Civilian Conservation Corps, Work Projects Administration, Public Works Administration (PWA), and other programs undertook numerous projects for local, state, and federal parks during the Great Depression. Several times during the 1930s, NPS officials unsuccessfully sought PWA funds for the development of Moores Creek. The main problem was the lack of technical staff at the park to prepare the plans necessary to gain PWA assistance. Despite King's requests, his superiors were unable to provide needed technical support. After an unsuccessful attempt for a six-year PWA project in 1938, NPS officials decided to proceed with development plans without outside funding.
In the continued absence of funding for major development activities between 1936 and 1938, King undertook modest efforts to restore the battleground landscape, improve the drainage system, and adapt the MCMA's buildings for temporary use. Mowing of certain areas was discontinued, and certain varieties of native trees and shrubs were planted. A number of the MCMA's drainage ditches were eliminated; others were tiled to prevent further erosion. In some cases, new ditches were dug to take advantage of the topography and natural drainage patterns. This work resulted in a more effective system with fewer ditches. Lacking funds for new construction, the park adapted the existing MCMA buildings for new uses. One of the concession stands became a temporary office; another building was used to house the park's two electric generators.
In 1938, the regional office began paying more attention to Moores Creek, resulting in the park's first formal master plan. Archeologist Thor Borresen visited the park in February to gather information for the master plan. He excavated cross sections of the earthworks and determined the original height and breadth. Profile drawings of the proposed reconstructed earthworks were completed in May. In March, the park was visited by four staff members from the regional office, including Regional Historian Roy Edgar Appleman. He noted that the park "is undoubtedly one of the areas under the jurisdiction of the Park Service which needs attention." While emphasizing the need for formal planning, Appleman recommended development steps similar to King's plan, including acquiring land west of the creek, building a nature trail along the creek with a footbridge, placing interpretive markers on the battleground, and improving highway signs directing motorists to the park.
With completion of a master plan in 1938, development at Moores Creek began in earnest. Intrusions within the historic core of the battleground were removed, including a concessions stand, the large pavilion, ornamental plantings, and roads. In addition, the Battle of Moores Creek Bridge Monument and the Stage Road Monument were relocated to less conspicuous locations. Remaining MCMA buildings were adapted for new uses. The small pavilion was enclosed and remodeled for use as a temporary museum, and the barn was relocated as a fuel house. The stable was remodeled for use as a picnic shelter with the surrounding grounds serving as a picnic area. New facilities in this area included outdoor ovens, seats, and tables built with lumber salvaged from the large pavilion. This work marked the gradual transition of the battleground from a commemorative and recreational park to a historical site with some degree of integrity. The park sought to encourage its educational use by smaller groups, especially school children.
Figure 8. The temporary office, large pavilion, and covered well, 1936
Besides the above improvements, King pushed for partial restoration of the earthworks, which had suffered damage from weathering and earlier development activities. He proposed repair of the earthworks at points where roads had been cut through by the MCMA. The master plan had proposed full restoration to battle-period conditions, but the park could not afford the resultant increase in maintenance costs. King considered repair of the road cuts a feasible alternative to full reconstruction. Regional officials agreed but wanted an archeologist to be present during the work.
Believing that he had full permission from regional officials, King began repair of the disturbed sections of the earthworks in December 1939 without an archeologist present. Although successful in reestablishing a complete line of earthworks, he was criticized for proceeding without an archeologist. Regional officials maintained that the work actually constituted reconstruction rather than repair. Interestingly, Borresen later concluded that no damage had been done to the earthworks.
Besides the earthworks restoration project, King drew criticism for his decision to enclose the small pavilion for use as a museum. The regional director questioned King's authority since such plans required clearance from the regional supervisor for historic sites and the branch for plans and design. King responded that he had acted on the understanding that building alterations for maintenance purposes were within the authority of the park superintendent. He maintained that adaptation of the pavilion did not constitute a new project and that his intention was only to temporarily use the building. King assured the regional director that any plans for a permanent structure would be conducted through proper channels.
Although King transferred to the Natchez Trace Parkway in January 1942, development at Moores Creek continued to focus on ways of upgrading the park and attracting more visitors. King's successor, Oswald E. Camp, further developed the picnic area by installing drinking fountains enclosed within hollow cypress stumps to blend with the natural environment. Camp urged county and state officials to improve the approach roads to the remote park for better visitor access. After Camp enlisted the aid of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce and the North Carolina State Department of Archives and History, Highway 602 was widened during November 1942 in preparation for paving. However, the project was delayed by the nation's mobilization effort during World War II.
Visitation at Moores Creek NMP increased during the war when soldiers stationed at nearby Camp Davis and workers from the Wilmington shipyards began visiting the park during off-duty hours. On several occasions, the park was made available to soldiers for day-long outings. The first of these occasions attracted a crowd of 650 people in June 1943. Two months later, the 225th Searchlight Battalion visited the park; 550 soldiers and their wives attended. In addition to recreational outings, the park accommodated the U. S. Army during maneuvers at Burgaw. The park provided water for the troops as well as dry grass for mattresses. Such activities continued until Camp Davis was closed in October 1944.
Meanwhile, regional and park staffs devised new development plans for the park. One area of contention was Camp's insistence on a museum. Although the park had no artifacts for display, he considered a museum to be essential for interpretive purposes. Coordinating Superintendent Jean C. Harrington and the regional director disagreed. In their opinion, a museum was unnecessary since the battleground itself was sufficient to tell the story. Indeed, Harrington argued that the park did not even need to be staffed throughout the year. The regional director thought a modest contact shelter could function as the focal point for visitors with space for a historical display, storage of pamphlets, comfort facilities, and a public shelter. Camp disagreed and continued to push for the museum.
Camp also sought to acquire additional land. Since the park lacked authority from Congress to accept more acreage, U. S. Congressman Graham A. Barden of North Carolina introduced legislation in 1942 calling for the park's enlargement. Endorsed by the secretary of the interior, the bill authorized acceptance of donated property. However, the legislation stalled in Congress and did not pass during the session. In October 1943, Barden introduced almost identical legislation, HR 3384, which again authorized acceptance of donated property. Delayed by World War II, Congress finally approved HR 3384 on September 27, 1944. At a conference in Wilmington the following year, the state agreed to fund the land acquisition. Between 1947 and 1948, the North Carolina General Assembly appropriated the necessary funds and purchased over twelve acres for donation to the park. Transfer of the land took place during the 175th anniversary observance of the battle in 1951.
A 1944 list of proposed construction projects at Moores Creek NMP included trails, roads, parking areas, utility facilities, and a superintendent's residence. However, these projects would have to wait until the Mission 66 development program due to lack of funding. By 1945, the War Department's 1931 reconstructed bridge was in danger of collapse. Although reconstruction of the battle-period bridge was a priority, NPS officials decided against it since little was known of its design and any reconstruction would be based on conjecture. The park removed the bridge's timbers and left the concrete abutments in place. A second reconstruction would have to wait until more research could be conducted.
Despite drainage system improvements since 1933, the park continued to experience flooding in its low areas. A September 1945 flood was unusually severe with six feet of water flowing through the park's office. Besides periodic flooding, the park suffered damage from hurricanes that hit the coastal plain of North Carolina during the 1940s and 1950s. Winds during an August 1944 hurricane removed the Moore Monument's obelisk from its base. Between 1954 and 1960, Hurricanes Hazel, Connie, Diane, Helena, and Donna flooded low areas and destroyed dozens of trees at the park. Weather problems continue to plague the park. In 1996, Hurricanes Bertha and Fran caused flooding, downed trees, and closed the park for more than forty days. Further flooding in 1998 closed off access to sections of the park for more than a week.
With World War II over, the state began paving Highway 602 in 1946. In November 1950, the highway was dedicated as the Moores Creek Battleground Highway. During the following year, the highway bridge across Moores Creek was replaced. The road was redesignated as Highway 210 in January 1952.
By 1943, a revived MCBA renewed its annual celebrations. In addition, the association began sponsoring annual Easter services at the park. Within a few years, the MCBA was lobbying for improved facilities to accommodate these activities. At a meeting called by North Carolina State Senator J. V. Whitfield, the association asked the NPS to construct a meeting room and amphitheater. Harrington responded that the NPS would consider incorporating a meeting room into a future administration building but that the amphitheater idea would need more study. A major obstacle to fulfilling the MCBA's request was the lack of NPS funding. Consequently, the association approached Barden with draft legislation for a federal appropriation to construct an auditorium at the park. In January 1950, Barden introduced the bill into the U. S. House of Representatives where it was refused passage. The MCBA continued to press its case for the next fifteen years.
Since its establishment, Moores Creek NMP had enjoyed strong local support. In 1954, this support was galvanized by a park closure threat. In January of that year, the Raleigh News & Observer published an article about Secretary of the Interior Douglas McKay's report on the potential divestiture of NPS areas believed to be of questionable national significance. Moores Creek was identified as one of the areas to be examined for possible removal from the national park system. After the Wilmington Star-News published a similar article, a storm of public protest led to a mass meeting on the issue at the Pender County Courthouse. In addition, the NPS and the Department of the Interior were flooded with letters urging retention of the park. For its part, the MCBA organized a committee to meet with NPS Director Conrad L. Wirth. The meeting proved unnecessary when the NPS reaffirmed Moores Creek's significance to the national park system, thereby assuring its continued existence as a national park.
Figure 9. The superintendent's residence during the 1945 flood.
MISSION 66 AT MOORES CREEK, 1956-1969
Due to limited funding during World War II, the NPS undertook few park improvement efforts. After the war, visitation to national parks exploded due to economic prosperity, increased leisure time, and greater automobile use. Visitation at Moores Creek, for example, increased from 8,000 in 1949 to 26,000 in 1956. At parks across the nation, outdated facilities were ill-suited to meet the needs of increasing numbers of visitors. Consequently, NPS Director Wirth convinced the Eisenhower Administration and Congress to support a ten-year building program, which was coined Mission 66. Initiated in the mid-1950s at a cost in excess of one billion dollars, Mission 66 sought to substantially upgrade park facilities nationwide in time for the fiftieth anniversary of the NPS in 1966. Like many small parks, Moores Creek was transformed by Mission 66.
In March 1958, the NPS began Mission 66 improvements at Moores Creek with the letting of contracts for the removal of existing buildings and groundbreaking ceremonies for a major building program. By January 1959, the J. W. Hunter Construction Company of Wilmington had completed a visitor center with a museum, an equipment storage building, and two employee residences. Later that year, Greenbriar Farms of Norfolk, Virginia, completed a contract for erection of a flagpole and landscaping for the visitor center and residential areas. Other Mission 66 work included the construction of an entrance road, a parking area, additional trails, and a sixty-foot water storage tank.
Figure 10. A 1972 map of Moores Creek showing the Mission 66 layout.
Figure 11. The Mission 66 visitor center at Moores Creek.
With the completion of major Mission 66 projects, Moores Creek had finally acquired the essential facilities to operate independent of Colonial National Historical Park. In July, the regional office instructed the park superintendent to assume responsibility for all administrative functions and report directly to the regional director. Appointed in February 1959, James M. Ford was the first superintendent to manage the park under this new arrangement.
As the Mission 66 program at the park neared completion in 1964, the MCBA renewed efforts to have a meeting hall built for special gatherings. The association wanted a building and amphitheater on the slope between the visitor center and the earthworks; however, NPS officials objected that this plan would be an intrusion on the battleground. Instead, the regional director proposed a shelter with a speaking platform and restrooms near the picnic area located across Highway 210 from the earthworks and the historic bridge site.
In January 1965, the chief architect of the NPS met with U. S. Congressman David N. Henderson and Whitfield to discuss the MCBA's proposed meeting hall. The existing facilities in the picnic area consisted of an open shelter, pit privies, and no definite parking area, drives, or walks. Since the area was almost entirely situated within the floodplain, the proposed structure would be located on higher ground at the site of the 1907 superintendent's house, which had been demolished in 1959 as part of Mission 66 activities. Designed as a forty-foot-by-ninety-foot building constructed of materials compatible with the natural environment, the proposed structure included meeting space, audiovisual capabilities, and restrooms. However, only $47,300 had been programmed for all remaining Mission 66 development activities, including utilities, landscape improvements, a new entrance road, parking, and walks. Since the estimated cost for the meeting building alone was $37,000, the politicians were forced to seek additional money.
Through the lobbying of the MCBA, additional funds were allocated for a facility that would serve as a picnic shelter, meeting hall, and comfort station, including a parking area, an entrance road, utilities, and improved grounds. The park awarded the contract to Dixie General Contractors of Wallace, North Carolina. In August 1965, the contractor cleared the site and began work. Upon its completion the following year, the facility was dedicated by the park as Patriots Hall.
The issue of expansion proved less fruitful. The acquisition of 12.23 acres in 1951 had allowed for the construction of the Mission 66 entrance road and parking area, but the park still lacked sufficient land for full development of the planned facilities. As both state senator and president of the MCBA, Whitfield began urging the NPS to acquire land on the west side of the creek, which had been the site of Caswell's camp the night before the battle. Whitfield believed acquisition would enable the park to reconstruct the battle-period bridge; however, the land west of the creek had not been identified in the park's acquisition program. The NPS considered the creek a logical natural boundary and had concerns about potential protection problems in a detached area, which the land west of the creek represented. In addition, reconstruction of the bridge was not a park priority since little was known about the battle-period bridge. Nevertheless, Whitfield and the MCBA continued to pursue state funding for land acquisition.
Meanwhile, other Mission 66 projects were completed. A well was dug in the vicinity of the elevated tank, and its natural flow entered a six-hundred-gallon underground tank. The water was then pumped to the elevated tank and treated with sulfuric acid to prevent precipitates. Dixie General Contractors completed construction of a brick-veneered wall and gate at the park entrance. In addition, this company worked with the state highway department to improve the drainage system adjacent to Highway 210 at the park entrance. A post and split rail fence was installed on both sides of the highway through the park.
Flooding had long been a serious problem at the park. Since Moores Creek was always prone to overflow its banks, previous drainage measures were never completely successful in protecting the park. Though drainage ditches reduced the area's dampness and high water table, flooding continued. In 1965, the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed clearing the creek and digging a bypass channel to improve the drainage of floodwaters. Park Superintendent Russell A. Gibbs had reservations about the plan because of the possibility that the existing creek bed, which included the historic bridge site, would fill in or become a backwater swamp. In addition, the bypass would cut through land on the west side of the creek-the site of Caswell's camp. At a December meeting with the Corps of Engineers, the MCBA joined the NPS in expressing its concerns. In the end, the proposed channel was never built.
By the late 1960s, Mission 66 development activities at Moores Creek NMP had been completed and the emphasis shifted to maintaining the new facilities. Painting and cleaning schedules were instituted for the visitor center, Patriots Hall, and the employee residences. Grounds work consisted of routine activities such as tree trimming and periodic repair of the drainage ditches. With completion of the Mission 66 program, limited funding and staffing levels once again curtailed park initiatives.
DEVELOPMENT UNDER MASTER AND DEVELOPMENT CONCEPT PLANS, 1969-1998
In 1969, park and regional staffs prepared the Moores Creek NMP Master Plan. Among the plan's priorities were the acquisition of additional land, the relocation of Highway 210 from the center of the park, and the restoration of the landscape to its battle-period appearance. These and other goals were outlined in more detail in the Moores Creek NMP Development Concept Plan (DCP) several years later.
In 1970, a team from the regional office highlighted problems caused by the shortage of funds and staffing at the park. The report recommended that more money be allocated to the park and that the permanent staff of four be increased to six. It also suggested that consideration be given to clustering Moores Creek with Cape Hatteras National Seashore or Cape Lookout National Seashore. Overall, the report concluded that there was an attitude of indifference toward the park by regional officials who considered Moores Creek " . . . as an end of the line, low priority park, largely because of its small size, isolated location, little known story, and low visitation."
Even with the limitations faced by park staff, the planning process continued with the completion of the Moores Creek DCP in 1972. Prepared by landscape architect Geoffrey Swan, this plan outlined the park's future physical development in accordance with the 1969 park master plan. The most important proposal in the DCP was acquisition of lands adjacent to the park, including twenty-one acres to the east, twelve acres to the west, and two and one half acres to the of the west bank of Moores Creek, and the creation of buffer zones around the park's historic and developed areas. The relocation of Highway 210 was a significant component since the highway was a major visual intrusion on the historic scene and a safety hazard. Once the highway's roadbed was removed, the park's layout could be redesigned. In addition, the DCP called for the creek to be restored to its battle-period course. The existing entrance road would be replaced by a new road leading directly to the visitor center with spurs to the residential area and Patriots Hall. The drive between the visitor center and the earthworks would be removed along with its two parking areas. Additional parking areas were planned for both the visitor center and Patriots Hall. New interpretive trails would be developed through the earthworks and past the monuments, three of which would be relocated. A nature trail loop was to be constructed south of the visitor center. In order to improve interpretation, the historic bridge would once again be reconstructed; a separate footbridge would provide access to the west side of the creek; and new interpretive markers would be placed would be designated for the purpose of vegetation management.
The development proposals in the DCP received a boost when the NPS included Moores Creek in its American Revolution Bicentennial development program. From July 1973 to June 1976, this program sought to upgrade facilities in time for the nation's bicentennial at the twenty-three national parks with thematic ties to the American Revolution. For parks like Moores Creek, the approaching Bicentennial provided cause for significant improvements.
In September 1974, the park initiated its plan under the American Revolution Bicentennial development program. The Simon Construction Company of Wilmington began removal of the drive between the visitor center and the battleground parking areas and relocation of the Loyalist and Patriot Monuments. By March 1975, the asphalt drive and parking areas throughout the historic zone had been removed, and a new soil-cement trail had been constructed from the visitor center through the historic area. A loop nature trail was created in the wooded area southeast of the north. Possession of these lands would allow for the relocation of Highway 210, the preservation along the trails, including some audio units. Three zones-historic, transitional, and developed-visitor center. The parking lots at the visitor center and Patriots Hall were enlarged, and asphalt walks were added. In addition, the visitor center was renovated. By the Bicentennial in 1976, several major DCP proposals were completed.
Figure 12. A map from the 1972 DCP showing the proposed changes to the park's layout.
During the Bicentennial, greater attention was given to maintaining the park grounds. Curbs, sidewalks, and roads were edged; shrubs were trimmed and shaped; dead material was removed from the trees; and all use areas were cleaned of leaves and other debris. Shrubs were even removed to facilitate crowd movement, stored at a nursery, and later replanted.
In 1978, Superintendent John Stockert attempted to solve a problem that had long been a concern at Moores Creek. Over a number of years, the historic road causeway leading to the bridge site had suffered from steady erosion. Stockert requested the U. S. Department of Agriculture's district conservationist to investigate the problem and suggest solutions to mitigate the erosion. The investigation determined that the erosion was a natural process and could not be stopped, but the district conservationist offered alternatives to stabilize the slopes. In November 1980, a contract for causeway stabilization with rip-rap and stone was completed by T. D. Eure Construction of Morehead City, North Carolina. Since this action only slowed the rate of erosion, the park continued to haul in sediment after each episode of flooding. With conditions again deteriorating, the park received additional funding to stabilize the causeway in 1995. The Corps of Engineers designed and contracted for rip-rap replacement and revegetation. This work was completed by November 1997. The El Nino rains of December 1997 and early 1998 put the causeway under water for almost two months, frequently with swift-moving water. The stabilization efforts have proven successful, and the park is currently working with the Corps of Engineers to stabilize the area of the reconstructed bridge abutments. A draft plan should be completed by the end of calendar year 1998.
By 1980, the park was prepared to officially change its name as recommended in the master plan. Park officials believed that designating the site as a national battlefield was appropriate since the park had traditionally been known as the "Moores Creek battleground." In addition, park staff believed that "national battlefield" was a clearer designation for the park than "national military park," which might suggest a military facility. The idea was endorsed by the MCBA and the local community. Accordingly, on September 8, 1980, the official park name was changed by federal legislation from Moores Creek National Military Park to Moores Creek National Battlefield (NB).
The early 1980s saw the culmination of land acquisition efforts as proposed by both the park master plan and the DCP. Although the North Carolina General Assembly had appropriated funds for land purchases, the proposed acquisition required federal legislation to authorize boundary extensions. This authority was provided in Public Law 93-4771, which was signed by President Richard Nixon on October 26, 1974. Within three years, the park had acquired all of the desired land except for property on the west side of the creek. In 1978, Stockert reported that nearly all of the buildings on the new lands had been removed. However, condemnation proceedings on the land west of the creek continued until 1982. A court trial in Wilmington in mid-March of that year awarded $125,000 to the owner, Dr. Charles F. Simpson. The federal government had offered $59,000; Simpson sought $213,000. With this last tract, Moores Creek NB totaled 86.52 acres in size. Adjacent landowner H. D. Hates donated 1.23 acres along the western boundary in 1997, bringing the total acreage to 87.75.
During the early and mid-1980s, a number of improvements were made to the water and septic systems at the park. This work included the replacement of the two septic tanks in the residential area, the removal of the Mission 66 underground water tank, the replacement of water lines installed during Mission 66 activities, and the installation of new water lines between the visitor center and the earthworks to irrigate the area and to supply water for a new drinking fountain. Lastly, the park received permission from the state to stop treating water with sulfuric acid-a treatment that the park had been required to do since 1967. In 1994, the water system was further upgraded with the construction of a new water treatment building in the residential area. Built by Moores Creek and Cape Hatteras National Seashore staff members, this structure replaced a smaller one.
In 1986, the long-awaited relocation of Highway 210 finally began, allowing for major alterations to the physical layout of the park. The North Carolina Department of Transportation awarded a contract to remove the existing highway and build a new bypass through a newly acquired tract of park land east of the visitor center. With the highway relocated, the park constructed a new entrance road, realigned the road system within the park, and relocated the picnic area parking lot to a site behind Patriots Hall.
During the 1990s, reconstruction of the historic bridge across Moores Creek was completed after two decades of debate. Although the NPS had decided against reconstruction in 1945 due to insufficient information on the battle-period bridge's design, the park had never abandoned the idea. Subsequent planning documents, including the 1969 master plan and the 1972 DCP, continued to recommend the bridge's reconstruction. However, NPS officials at the Denver Service Center and the Southeast Regional Office opposed any further attempt to reconstruct the historic bridge during the 1970s. They argued that reconstruction was generally inconsistent with NPS management policies and that an authentic reconstruction could not be assured. Denver Service Center Historian John Albright recommended against "the folly of using even more time and effort in looking for the exact structure of the bridge."
Figure 13. A map showing boundary changes at Moores Creek between 1897 and 1997. The key is as follows: the original 30.0 acres transferred to the NPS in 1933, A; the 12.23 acres acquired in 1951, B; the 35.82 acres acquired in 1974 under the DCP, C; the 11.77 acres acquired after condemnation proceedings in 1982, D; and the 1.23 acres donated in 1997, E.
Besides this opposition, reconstruction of the bridge was further delayed since the land on the west bank of Moores Creek was not within the park's boundary at the time that the DCP was formulated. With acquisition of the land west of the creek in 1982, the park renewed its research efforts. In 1986, the park received a grant from the Eastern National Park and Monument Association to conduct a study in conjunction with the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Officer. The study provided design guidelines for reconstruction based on a "minimum of conjecture." With the study's findings, Superintendent Fred Boyles began pushing for the reconstruction against the opposition of other NPS officials. He met with regional officials in 1987 and prepared a position paper the following year. Boyles argued that a reconstructed bridge was necessary for the interpretation of the battle since other interpretive techniques were inadequate. In addition, he pointed out that the 1974 park expansion legislation was in part justified by the need to reconstruct the bridge. Boyles's case prevailed and the park received the director's permission for reconstruction in June 1988.
Development of the bridge reconstruction plan by the Southeast Region's Historic Architecture Division was slow but steady. In July 1990, a Corps of Engineers soil analysis of the creek bed resulted in a modification of the bridge's structural supports from concrete mud sills to concrete and timber pilings, a design which sought to reduce disturbances to the historic creek bed. Plans were made for U. S. Army troops at Fort Bragg to reconstruct the bridge as a volunteer project, but the initiation of Operation Desert Shield prior to the Persian Gulf War postponed the project indefinitely.
To get the project moving forward again, the Pender County Commissioners made a donation to the MCBA towards the cost of reconstructing the bridge. Superintendent Dusty Shultz approved the project's feasibility as other donations came in from the local community. Eddie Corbett of Wilmington provided cypress trees for the pilings and the center sleeper of the bridge. The MCBA paid for additional lumber and for the trees to be hand-hewn into timbers. In October and November 1992, following the removal of concrete abutments from the 1931 bridge, the new bridge was constructed by a preservation crew from Cape Hatteras National Seashore. After nearly fifty years, a replica of the historic bridge once again spanned Moores Creek. With completion of the bridge, the major development proposals of the 1969 master plan and the 1972 DCP had been implemented.
In 1994, NPS agency restructuring brought about several new planning initiatives which affected Moores Creek NB. The park was placed within the Fort Sumter Group, under the administration of Superintendent John Tucker. Tucker revisited the 1972 DCP and determined that ample direction remained for upgrading existing facilities. In 1996, the History Trail was reconfigured to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines. The earthcrete was removed; the trail was relocated off the historic road; and a new paved surface was laid. The Tarheel Trail was completely relocated to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and to place the trail on higher ground, directing it past the most visible tar kiln remnant in the park. Like all federal agencies, the NPS undertook a strategic planning process in 1997 to begin meeting the requirements of the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA). Due to the field level implementation of GPRA in the NPS, Moores Creek NB prepared park-specific, five-year goals with mission statements for various areas of park operations and specific actions to achieve stated outcomes.
Figure 14. The completed bridge reconstruction, 1992.
In 1997, construction began on new restroom facilities in the area just north of the visitor center, including a new lift station and drain field. This doubled the restroom capacity and allowed for potential expansion of the museum area into the footprints of the old restrooms. The plans were provided by the Southeast Support Office, and construction was conducted by staff from Moores Creek, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, and Fort Sumter National Monument. The lift station and drain field work was contracted. The new restrooms officially opened in February 1998.
A number of administrative changes occurred during the late 1990s. By 1996, Fort Sumter National Monument Chief Ranger Ann Childress was serving as Moores Creek's first-line supervisor, visiting the site every month. Administrative Officer Hattie Squires served as team leader for day-to-day operations from June 1995 through September 1996. Chief of Interpretation Linda Brown served in this position between October 1996 and December 1997. An operating budget increase was granted to the park in the 1998 fiscal year, allowing for an on-site superintendency which was assumed by Childress in January 1998. However, the park remained part of the Fort Sumter Group. Cooperative efforts were also renewed with MCBA as the organization neared its centennial. Association member Ken Newbold chaired a meeting of the MCBA board to establish both short-and long-term goals for the organization. In addition, the association gained 501 (c) (3) status under the federal tax code as a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization. The group decided to revive the annual picnics to attract new members, and the first one was held in June 1998.
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