Camp Nelson National Monument, Kentucky – Volunteer Vacations 2022
April 18 - April 24
Initially established as a Federal army supply depot and hospital, Camp Nelson was one of the largest recruitment and training centers for African American soldiers during the Civil War, and served as a refugee camp for their wives and children. Thousands of enslaved African Americans risked their lives escaping to the camp, located within the slaveholding state of Kentucky, with the hope of securing their freedom and, ultimately, controlling their futures by contributing to the abolition of slavery. Camp Nelson represents the courage and determination of formerly enslaved African Americans to secure their own emancipation. It also illustrates the nation’s struggle to define the meaning of freedom during and after the Civil War.
Over five miles of hiking trails allow visitors to experience first-hand the rolling pastoral landscape of Camp Nelson National Monument. This trail system and numerous interpretive markers provide an opportunity to explore earthworks and fortifications that protected Camp Nelson and allow visitors to walk in the footsteps of soldiers in order to gain an understanding of the sites’ significant role during the Civil War.
During the week, the American Hiking Society volunteer crew will work on upgrading the wooded Fort Jones Trail that takes hikers through the woods to Fort Jones and the two Stone Forts. Fort Jones, with its extensive stone revetment walls, is one of the best-preserved Civil War forts in the state. The Stone Fort Overlook affords a breathtaking view of the Hickman Creek Valley and the Hickman Creek Nature and Conference Center. These trails provide opportunities for viewing a beautiful central Kentucky landscape and stretching your legs, while learning about various sites that made up the busy and complex Camp Nelson supply depot.
AHS acknowledges with gratitude that this project takes place on the traditional lands of the ᏣᎳᎫᏪᏘᏱ Tsalaguwetiyi (Cherokee, East), S’atsoyaha (Yuchi), Shawandasse Tula, (Shawanwaki/Shawnee), Hopewell, and Adena peoples past and present. We honor the land itself, the Indigenous communities who have stewarded this land for generations, and those who continue to steward these lands today. AHS invites all volunteers to join us in our commitment to support and amplify the work of Indigenous communities as they work to dismantle the systems of oppression that these communities continue to face today.