Work on Smokies archive to begin this summer

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TOWNSEND, Tenn. (AP) - Federal officials have announced that construction will begin this summer on a $4.3 million archive of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The Mountain Press (http://bit.ly/1hKND47) reports U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and acting park Superintendent Pedro Ramos made the announcement Monday, saying that the project is expected to be completed by the fall of 2015.

The Joint Curatorial Collections Facility near the Townsend entrance to the park will house nearly 900,000 historical artifacts and archival records about the park and region, including photos, operating records, clothing and weapons.

“It is really important not just to have these artifacts, but to take care of them, because they won’t be around for generations to come if we don’t take good care of them,” Jewell said. “The National Park Service is in the business of taking care of these assets forever.”

The facility is being funded with $2 million in federal money and $2.3 million from private.

“This facility is a home for the things that were in the homes of the people who lived in the park; it’s a way to celebrate the way of life that was here and continues to be in this region of our United States,” Alexander said. “This is a great day for anyone who loves the Great Smoky Mountains, and there are millions of people who do.”

Other federal parks will also be able to use the new facility, including the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Cumberland Gap National Historic Park and the Obed Wild and Scenic River.

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Information from: The Mountain Press, http://www.themountainpress.com

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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