Morristown National Historical Park
Exhibit: June 1 – September 4, 2017
Art due: Monday April 17 (postmark date)
Theme: Ingenuity in the Face of Adversity
In 1933, Morristown National Historical Park became the first historical park in the National Park Service. But long before it was making waves as an innovator in the historic preservation movement, Morristown, heralded “Where America Survived,” was the site of ingenuity in the face of adversity. It was the strategic location for two Revolutionary War military encampments, and the winter encampment for the Continental Army from 1779 to 1780, the coldest in recorded history. Military accounts, like the one kept by Joseph Plumb Martin, reveal an exceptionally harsh reality for soldiers camping at Jockey Hollow.
“I was soon relieved from this guard, and with those who were able, of our two regiments, sent to reinforce those in the fort [Mifflin], which was then besieged by the British. Here I endured hardships sufficient to kill half a dozen horses. Let the reader only consider for a moment and he will still be satisfied if not sickened. In the cold month of November, without provisions, without clothing, not a scrap of either shoes or stockings to my feet or legs, and in this condition to endure a siege in such a place as that was appalling in the highest degree.”
It was their survival skills and ability to overcome hardships that is the truest testament to their inventiveness. Archeology finds like a make-shift grill made from a barrel hoop and an old shovel head turned frying pan further demonstrate just how adept soldiers were at being resourceful in lean times.
The establishment of the park itself also illuminates that scrappy “can do” spirit. For the first twenty years of the National Park Service, it was concerned with conserving natural landscapes. Morristown National Historical Park was the first major foray into the preservation of a site recognized for its historic merit. As part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal project, the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC), locally referred to as “Morristown’s Other Army,” worked to bring history to life in a post-depression economy. In Jockey Hollow, the young men built many of the trails, performed extensive archeology around the Soldiers Huts, Wick Farm and Guerin House. They also constructed the tour road, Wick House garden and replanted the apple orchard at the Wick House. The CCC worked in all the states and territories of the U.S. for 9 years from 1933 to 1942. During this time about 3 million boys signed up for the CCC and their accomplishments were amazing. Throughout the life of the program the CCC planted upwards of 3 billion trees, constructed approximately 125,000 miles of road, built more than 3,000 fire lookout towers and spent 8 million man hours fighting forest fires. We are able to enjoy our public lands the way we do today because of the hard work of the CCC.
Today Morristown NHP includes four park sites: 1. Jockey Hollow, 2. Washington’s Headquarters Museum and the Ford mansion, 3. Fort Nonsense, and 4. New Jersey Brigade.
Get a downloadable version of this theme at https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3VmmD_bi9xPWG50Y3dEbzBCOGM/view?usp=sharing
Exhibit location: Morristown National Historical Park, 30 Washington Place, Morristown, NJ 07960, www.nps.gov/morr/
Exhibit organizer: IFC Project’s The Dream Rocket Project. If you have any interest in learning more about this program email Jennifer@thedreamrocket.com.