A Student of History

August 27, 2008

How come nobody goes to National Parks now?

Filed under: Historic Places,Outdoors — John Maass @ 6:25 am

Why aren’t more people visiting National Parks in the USA?

The Economist claims to have answers about why “Americans plainly think it is a good idea to live near national parks, but they are not so keen on visiting them.”  The author does not blame “television, video games and the internet.”  The culprit: they are not entertaining.

I think one needs to be careful here.  The article says that people aren’t coming anymore but that the folks at Yosemite may limit the number of folks that they let in every day because of the crowds.  Huh?  Also, if the NPS site is near a city–watch out!  I know from experirnce that places like Great Falls, Manassas NBP, etc. are often quite crowded on weekends.

Bloody Lane at antietam by Jas&Suz.


August 23, 2008

Money, but not their time

Filed under: Simple Living,The world today — John Maass @ 7:40 pm

I find this Yahoo News article interesting, and it confirms my experience with many people and family members I know, myself excluded.  ”

“When asked to volunteer their time to charity, Americans are likely to give more money,” the column reports. In one major student that asked folks to donate their time, it turns out guilt may be a factor also: “Participants in an online survey read a statement about lung cancer and a cancer research foundation‘s mission. The participants who were asked to donate time eventually pledged more than those who weren’t asked.”  A second trial also found this result: In the second test, “the same researchers introduced undergraduate college students to HopeLab, a nonprofit organization that serves children with chronic illnesses. The average donation level was nearly five times higher for participants who were first asked about donating their time to the organization.”

Now to be sure, lots of organizations need time from people and their money.  Groups that need to lobby need cash to pay their lobbyists, buy advertisements, create publicity, etc.  Some causes are by their very nature set up to take money for their causes rather than time: what can I do to find the cure for cancer, for example, other than donating money to fund current research? 

On the flip side, I have more than a few times offered to donate my time when I did not have any money, but have been rebuffed repeatedly.  The example here is my undergrad alma mater, W&L, which really just wants a check, and could care less about my willingness to actually do something for them. 

Nevertheless, having been involved with charities (esp. through church) I also would have to state that people don’t want to be bothered with others, despite Christ’s frequent call for us to do acts of charity or “good works,” and strive to assuage their guilt by forking over cash instead.

August 21, 2008

Wal-Mart Supercenter on the Wilderness battlefield planned

Filed under: Historic Preservation — John Maass @ 7:33 am

CWPT Leads Effort To Stop Wal-Mart At The Wilderness
By Deborah Fitts


THE WILDERNESS, Va. — Plans for a Wal-Mart Supercenter on the Wilderness battlefield have prompted a coalition of preservation groups to deliver a shot across the mega-store’s bow.

The 145,000-square-foot facility would be sited on a 55-acre tract in Orange County, north of the intersection of routes 3 and 20. The site lies immediately across Route 3 from Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park.

 In hopes of warning off Wal-Mart, the Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT)has rallied a coalition of groups to send a joint letter citing their opposition to the plan. Trust spokesman Jim Campi said the letter was mailed on the July 4 weekend.

“It’s the opening round,” said Campi of the letter. “It’s to put Wal-Mart and county officials on notice that we’re going to oppose this.”

Campi said of the Supercenter, “This is just going to be a magnet for sprawl.” Besides the Wal-Mart itself, he said there are plans for a large parking area and “two baby box stores” on the site.

The letter, sent to Wal-Mart CEO H. Lee Scott Jr. in Bentonville, Ark., asserts that the store “would pave the way for desecration of the Wilderness with unnecessary commercial growth. Such a large-scale development is inappropriate next to a national park.”

The letter also warned that such major development “would impair the rural nature of the area and would increase traffic dramatically.” In fact, the store would boost pressure to expand Route 20 to four lanes through the Wilderness battlefield, the letter states. “That expansion is unacceptable to this coalition.”

Leading the charge against the Wal-Mart plan are CWPT and the Warrenton-based Piedmont Environmental Council. Their “Wilderness Battlefield Coalition” also includes the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the National Parks Conservation Association, Friends of the Wilderness, and Friends of the Fredericksburg Area Battlefields. Representatives of all six organizations signed the letter.

Campi cited “significant” local opposition as well. Orange County has long indicated a desire to block major development in this area, he said. Although the land was zoned for commercial development back in the 1970s, “quite a few elected officials think that was a mistake.”

Spotsylvania County, meanwhile, right next door, “is trying to keep commercial development east of Chancellorsville.” (And in Appomattox County Wal-Mart is on track for a 26-acre project near the national park.)

The letter states that the battle of the Wilderness, fought May 5-6, 1864, “marked the first clash between legendary Civil War generals Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant.” More than 160,000 troops were engaged and nearly 29,000 were casualties.

The battle initiated Grant’s Overland Campaign, “that exhausted both armies and took the Union forces to the gates of Richmond.”

The letter also notes that the park protects 2,773 acres of the Wilderness battlefield. Although the park boundary does not encompass the Wal-Mart site, the land “is within the historic limits of the battlefield.”

Campi said Wal-Mart will need a special use permit in order to go ahead, and that will entail public comment. As of mid-July no dates had been set for a hearing.

Campi said CWPT members will be kept apprised of the Wal-Mart project on the Trust’s Web site, civilwar.org.

Wilderness Wal-Mart Site? by Civil War Preservation Trust.

Please also see this excellent article, which has a map of the proposed desecration.

August 14, 2008

To be discontinued….

Filed under: The world today — John Maass @ 6:28 am

Due to time constraints at work and personal life, I have decided not to actively post on this blog any longer.  Folks can still comment, of course, and I will try to respond when they do, but I just can’t keep up with placing anything new here. 

Best regards,



August 11, 2008

Tarleton 1781 Charlottesville Raid Event: Sept. 27th

Filed under: Early America,Historic Places — John Maass @ 7:54 am

The program will consist of lectures and a bus tour on Tarleton’s Charlottesville Raid of 1781, part of the British campaign in Virginia in June 1781 from Hanover County to surprise and capture the Virginia legislature then meeting at Charlottesville. The guided tour will visit several sites associated with Tarleton’s Raid, including Boswell’s Tavern in Louisa Co; Castle Hill, in Albemarle Co.; The Farm in Charlottesville; and the city’s court square. All sites were visited by Tarleton and his command as they rode west to capture the state’s assembly. The cost of the bus tour will be $30 for ACHS members and $40 for non-members. Lunch available for purchase.

Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society
Attn: Keri
McIntire Building
200 Second St., NE
Charlottesville, VA 22902-5245
Visit the website at http://www.albemarlehistory.org/

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