Camp Nelson National Monument announces Oct. hours and events

Published 2:00 pm Wednesday, October 19, 2022

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The National Park Service (NPS) has announced the fall operating hours at Camp Nelson National Monument. The park’s visitor center and museum will be open five days a week, Wednesday through Sunday. The building will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The grounds remain open from sunrise to sunset.

The calendar features the 2nd Annual Luminaria and Memorial Walk on Saturday, Oct. 22, from 6:30-8 p.m.

The event will mark the anniversary of Camp Nelson’s largest expulsion.

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On Nov. 22, 1864, the U.S. Army forcibly expelled 400 African American refugees from the camp during a winter storm, resulting in the deaths of 102 souls. It was the eighth and largest expulsion of refugees from the base since its establishment in April 1863. The November expulsion garnered national attention and reached the halls of Congress in Washington D.C, which passed legislation on March 3, 1865, granting emancipation for any enslaved person seeking refuge with the U.S. military.

The special event will feature interpretive talks by NPS staff and guests, a musical performance, and a guided walk to Graveyard No. 1, where 400 luminaries will be lit to honor the people expelled.

The event begins outside the park’s visitor center. The half-mile walk will be conducted over paved roads and a mowed grass path. Visitors are advised to wear comfortable footwear and warm clothing and bring flashlights.

All events start at the Camp Nelson National Monument’s visitor center.

The park is located six miles south of Nicholasville along Highway 27 and directly north of the Camp Nelson National Cemetery. During the Civil War, the U.S. Army established Camp Nelson as a supply depot in 1863. Later, the base became one of the country’s largest recruiting and training centers for African American men, who served in the United States Colored Troops, and a large refugee center for enslaved people seeking emancipation.