Help preserve Arnold AFB history

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  • Arnold AFB Cultural Resource Management Team

At Arnold Air Force Base, the Cultural Resource Management team investigates, manages, preserves and protects cultural resources, archaeological sites and historic buildings, according to state and federal law, Department of Defense instructions and Air Force regulations.

What is the purpose of preservation?                                                            

“Historical and archaeological resources are tangible evidence of our past,” said Dr. Amy Turner, National Environmental Policy Act, Natural and Cultural Resources planner for Arnold Air Force Base. “They are the physical evidence of human activity. These include a site, object, landscape or structure important to a group of people. They provide information about past societies, environments and our nation’s history. However, these are finite resources, what remains of eras from decades past is all that will ever exist from a specific time and place. Once a resource is looted, damaged or changed without documentation, the information it could have told us is lost.”

What is archaeology?

Archaeology is the study of the human past. Archaeologists study objects from the past, or artifacts, and their relationships to each other, as well as contexts within a site, to understand the people who left them behind.

“Archaeological sites provide information and understanding of past human behavior and culture,” said Shawn Chapman, base archaeologist. “The farther you go back in history the fewer written records of events exist, particularly from the Civil War era and earlier and, if they do exist, they may be incomplete. By studying the artifacts left behind, archaeologists can reconstruct what they ate, how they lived, where they lived and much more.”

Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act requires every federal agency to "take into account" the effects of its undertakings on properties that are listed in, or are eligible for, the National Register of Historic Places, or NRHP. The Arnold Cultural Resources Management team, or CRM, works with historic preservation staff on both federal and state levels as well as with Native American tribal governments, who are interested in archaeological discoveries relevant to their ancestors who once lived here.

At Arnold AFB, the CRM team spends time identifying and preserving archaeological sites on base to ensure the history is known and understood.

The team is responsible for the review of base facilities to determine their historical significance.

In 2017, the Arnold CRM team completed an inventory and evaluation of base facilities and 86 test and support buildings including the Administration and Engineering Building and the Propulsion Wind Tunnel, both of which are eligible for the NRHP due to their contributions in aeronautical research and testing during the Cold War era.

How can you help preserve the past of Arnold AFB?

Here are some important guidelines:

  • Artifacts and archaeological sites are non-renewable resources. Leave artifacts in place and report them to the CRM team to help preserve important information and allow the team to investigate these important objects and sites.
  • Removing artifacts from federal lands is illegal. The Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 gives the federal government the authority to protect artifacts and archaeological sites on federal lands. Do not remove, damage, deface or excavate any cultural resource at Arnold AFB. Violations may result in fines and/or imprisonment.
  • Don't collect artifacts, such as arrowheads, old farm tools, bottles or pottery. Items more than 100 years old are considered cultural properties and are protected by federal laws on federal lands. The Air Force collects and stores artifacts, preserving the history of the area for future generations.
  • Don't use a metal detector anywhere on base property. It is illegal for the public to use them on DOD property. Items like bullet casings or buttons from the Civil War are considered cultural properties.

What do you do if you find an artifact?

Leave the object you found in place. Note your location and immediately report the discovery to the Arnold AFB CRM team at 931-454-5466.

At Arnold AFB some artifacts can pose a danger since it is a former training range. Unexploded ordnance, or UXOs, can still explode, despite age or rust. There is potential for injury, even death, if these items are disturbed. UXOs have been found on Arnold AFB property.

What should you do if you find a suspected UXO?

Leave the object you found in place. Note your location and immediately report the discovery to the Arnold AFB Operations Center 931-454-7752 or 931-454-7688.

What do you do if you have a need to dig on Arnold AFB property?

Obtain a dig permit. Ground disturbing activities have the potential to alter or destroy cultural and historic sites. Even small ground-disturbing activities, such as digging foxholes for training, adding a utility pole at the recreation area or digging fire pits in scout camps, require permits. All activities which involve digging, drilling or trenching on Arnold AFB property require an approved digging permit prior to commencing work.

Tenants, scouts or visitors should make their request through the Arnold AFB Operations Center 931-454-7752 or 931-454-7688 at least 10 business days in advance.

Contact the CRM at 931-454-5466 to determine if any permits or permissions are required for renovations of a facility.