Cowpens National Battlefield

Center for the State of the Parks: Park Assessments

Published June 2010


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The Battle of Cowpens on January 17, 1781, was a pivotal victory for the Patriots and a turning point in the Revolutionary War. Today, the soldiers’ stories and the history of the battle and 18th century backcountry life are preserved and interpreted at Cowpens National Battlefield. The park’s diverse cultural and natural resources draw approximately 225,000 visitors each year to explore historic structures and the battlefield landscape, hike a portion of the Overmountain Victory Trail, or enjoy the park’s natural setting.

NPCA’s Center for State of the Parks recently completed a review of Cowpens National Battlefield’s cultural and natural resources. This assessment determined that cultural resources are in “fair” condition overall; natural resource conditions were not rated due to a lack of information. Cowpens National Battlefield faces challenges protecting cultural resources, largely due to a lack of funds and staff. At the very least, the park needs a permanent law enforcement position for stewardship and resource protection, a historian, a project-specific or regional archaeologist, a project-specific archivist, and a full-time museum technician who will be shared with Ninety Six National Historic Site (which is located about two hours south of Cowpens). This lack of staff limits research and preservation and results in missing or outdated planning and management documents.

Park staff are doing all they can to protect Cowpens’ natural and cultural treasures with the resources available, and they have accomplished some significant projects. For example, the park has made great strides toward restoring the battlefield to its Revolutionary War appearance; encouraged children to get outdoors and be active by offering medals to young hikers on the Overmountain Victory Trail; completed upgrades to the park’s museum facilities; and restored and stabilized a key historic structure.

 

 

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