Officially closed on February 1, 1946, the Douglas, Wyoming prisoner of war camp that housed Italian and German P.O.W.’s during WWII represents an interesting chapter in the history of our state.
While railroad towns like Cheyenne were already developing reputations and nicknames like “Hell on Wheels,” the railroad industry was also thriving in the mountains that span the vast spaces between those towns. The early period of railroad construction throughout the west formed a strong connection between interstate commerce and transportation and what would become our nation’s national forests.
The development of the modern west was largely related to the vast open spaces that surround the towns. Many of these lands are federally owned, and contain historic resources related to homesteading, ranching and grazing, energy development, and fire suppression. The National Historic Preservation Act plays an important role in preserving these open spaces and the cultural resources that lie within them.
Historic preservation is always an ongoing process - it is rarely finished, and is often a community effort. Preservation at Heart Mountain wouldn't be possible without a community of volunteers and supporters who see the value in saving such a troubling place. Their hard work will keep Heart Mountain available for people of the next generation. Read Part III of our Heart Mountain profile to learn about long term preservation at the site and how to get involved.
Historic preservation isn't always about saving the prettiest buildings or the sites of triumph of the human spirit. Historic preservation is at its core about preserving sites that are important. Important sites can include both the triumphant and the embarrassing moments from our history. They all provide us with insight and direction about who we are, where we came from, and how we can create a more equitable future.
Oftentimes in historic preservation, there are conflicts that arise between industrial development and historic places and spaces. In this piece, AHW volunteer Kathrine Kasckow shares her personal account of how the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act helped preserve an important historic landscape on public lands.