Washington, DC –U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand introduced legislation to begin the process of making the Newtown Battlefield National Historic Landmark a National Park. As the site of a critical victory for the Continental Army during the American Revolution, the Newtown Battlefield is an important historic and cultural landmark for the people of Chemung County and New York State.
“Making Newtown Battlefield a National Park is an integral part of Chemung County’s economic development, bringing jobs and businesses to the region,” Senator Gillibrand said. “New York is known for her history, and this designation would attract more tourism for the area and strengthen our commitment to preserving our landmarks.”
“We believe that this important piece of American History deserves protection and that as part of the National Parks System it would also serve as a catalyst to increase tourism in the region,” said Bruce Whitmarsh, Director of the The Chemung County Historical Society.
The Newtown Battlefield National Historic Landmark, spanning across the towns of Elmira, Chemung, and Ashland, is the site of The Battle of Newtown, which was the most significant military engagement of the Sullivan Campaign of 1779 and a major victory for the Continental Army during the American Revolution.
In 1972, the Federal Government recognized the Newtown Battlefield as a significant historic resource by naming the site a National Historic Landmark. In 2007, the National Park Service confirmed the site’s historic importance through their Report on the Historic Preservation of Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Sites, in which they categorized Newtown Battlefield as a Class A site, finding, also, that the battlefield is largely unprotected by either public historic preservation agencies or nonprofit organizations.
This legislation would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a special resource study to evaluate the significance of the Newtown Battlefield and the impact of making it a National Park. This study, an important first step in the process of making Newtown Battlefield a National Park, will also examine the logistics of operating the site, and its potential impact on the general public.
Making the Newtown Battlefield a National Park has the potential to bring significant federal resources to Chemung County and the surrounding area, stimulating economic development, preserving the historic battlefield and increasing tourism in the region.