SAR Members – Iowa needs you!

  Please read the following email from Bill Whitaker.  What can YOU do to help?  Fort Madison in danger, assistance needed.  The Fort Madison site (1808-1813) is arguably the most significant historic site in Iowa. It was the first U.S. Military post on the Upper Mississippi, the site of the only War of 1812 battle west of the Mississippi, the location of Black Hawk's first military action against the U.S., and the site of the first military cemetery in the Upper Midwest. Excavations in 1965 demonstrated that the fort is well preserved under parking lots in the city of Fort Madison, and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Despite its obvious national significance, the Fort Madison site is now in danger; the owners of the parking lots are considering developing the site or selling it to other developers. There is no legal way to force a landowner to preserve an important  site. Attempts to purchase the site by the Archaeological Conservancy have stalled and thus far attempts to get the Fort Madison City Council involved are not taking root. Our next strategy is to get as much public support as possible for preservation of Fort Madison. If we lose this site it will be a embarrassment and disgrace for anyone who cares about U.S. history.  Our goal is to find stable public or private ownership for the fort, to transform the site into an attractive park that describes the importance of its history, and to erect a memorial for the soldiers that fought, died, and were buried there.  At this time, we need to identify people willing to speak up about preserving Fort Madison. Activities include writing letters to newspapers, TV stations, and legislators. We need to do this in a coordinated manner, to make sure the message gets out to the people who need to hear about it. We also need people who are comfortable talking to the press and legislators.  If you are interested in helping or want more information, please send me an e-mail (william-whittaker@uiowa.edu) Please include your name and the city you live in. Please forward this to any others who might be interested.  Thank you,  Bill Whittaker Archaeologist, editor of Frontier Forts: Indians, Traders, and Soldiers in Iowa, 1682–1862.  University of Iowa Press, Iowa City (coming out in 2009). 

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