Radical Expansion of Limestone Quarry Threatens National Historical Park and Civil War Heritage

Posted on: December 19th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

Federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation urges the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to closely scrutinize plans for destructive quarry expansion

Over the strong objections of local residents and preservationists, Carmeuse Lime & Stone, a Belgium-based mining conglomerate, plans to radically expand its industrial mining operation on battlefield land and immediately adjacent to the Cedar Creek & Belle Grove National Historical Park in Virginia’s beautiful Shenandoah Valley.

Although experts agree that the expanded quarry will devastate the historic landscape, Civil War battlefield, National Park, and historic Middletown, the Frederick County (VA) Board of Supervisors voted in May 2008 to rezone the agricultural landscape and double the size of the extractive mining operation. (Frederick County’s historic preservation commission and planning board opposed the quarry expansion.) Carmeuse Lime & Stone is proceeding without protecting its neighbors or historic resources.

The quarry expansion will require approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. On December 18, 2008, the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation wrote to the Army Corps of Engineers to:

  • Inform the Army Corps of Engineers that the quarry expansion threatens potential harm the National Park, National Historic Landmark, Civil War battlefield, and historic Middletown -- from intensive visual pollution, blasting, dust, and quarry truck traffic.
  • Warn that 60 percent of the unspoiled agricultural land which Carmeuse Lime & Stone plans to blast and bulldoze actually is “core battlefield” according to the authoritative 1992 National Park Service Study of Civil War Sites in the Shenandoah Valley.
  • Recommend that the Army Corps of Engineers now initiate the mandatory federal review to protect historic resources pursuant to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. This review and consultation affords the quarry owner, government agencies, concerned members of the public, and the quarry’s embattled neighbors a critical opportunity to find creative ways to avoid or reduce harm to historic resources from the quarry expansion.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation owns Belle Grove Plantation, a National Historical Landmark and the heart of the National Historical Park. U.S. Congressman Frank Wolf and Senator John Warner were early and steady champions for establishment in 2002 of the Cedar Creek & Belle Grove National Historical Park.

An active coalition of preservation groups continues to fight the unnecessary destruction of historic resources and Civil War battlefield by Carmeuse Lime & Stone, including: Belle Grove, Inc., Preserve Frederick, Civil War Preservation Trust, National Parks Conservation Association, APVA Preservation Virginia, Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, Shenandoah Valley Network, and National Trust for Historic Preservation.

We remain very grateful for the strong support of the National Park Service, Virginia Department of Historic Resources, and Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

-- Robert Nieweg

Robert Nieweg is the Director of the Southern Field Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

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