Fort Necessity National Battlefield

Center for the State of the Parks: Park Assessments

Published June 2004

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In 1754, numerous American Indian tribes joined French and British troops (including colonists) in the battle to control the Ohio River valley in the French and Indian War--called the Seven Years' War in Europe. Historians assert that this war led to the American Revolution and thus was the beginning of America's path to independence. In the area of Fort Necessity, a 22-year-old George Washington led his troops against the French and their Indian allies in the first battles of the French and Indian War. Washington was forced to surrender. The only time in his public life that he did so was at this site.

Established as a national battlefield in 1931, Fort Necessity commemorates this battle and educates nearly 90,000 visitors each year about the war's critical significance to the country's heritage. Located in southwestern Pennsylvania, this 900-acre park is composed of three sections. The main site includes a visitor center, the reconstructed Fort Necessity, and the Mount Washington Tavern. The tavern, built on land once owned by George Washington, provided food and lodging for travelers on the National Road, the first highway built entirely with federal funds. Jumonville Glen marks the place where the first shots were fired in the 1754 Fort Necessity campaign, and the Braddock Grave section of the park is where British Major General Braddock was buried after his failed attempt to take the French Fort Duquesne.

In the summer of 2004, Fort Necessity National Battlefield will commemorate the 250th anniversary of the start of the French and Indian War. In honor of this milestone, the National Parks Conservation Association's State of the Parks program conducted an assessment to determine the condition of the park's cultural resources and staff's capacities to protect those resources (stewardship capacity). Fort Necessity's natural resources were also considered in this assessment, but their condition was not rated.

The current overall condition of cultural resources at Fort Necessity rates a "poor" score of 54 out of 100. The park's ability to care for its resources, also known as its stewardship capacity, also rates a "poor" score of 44 out of 100, due primarily to critical and chronic operational funding shortfalls. Because the State of the Parks methodology strictly assesses current conditions, the overall rating does not reflect a significant investment of $12 million to build a new visitor center and state-of-the-art exhibits, due to be completed in mid-2005.



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