President Street Station Study Act
STATEMENT OF P. DANIEL SMITH, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, EXERCISING THE AUTHORITY OF THE DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SENATE ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, CONCERNING S. 1646, TO AUTHORIZE THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR TO CONDUCT A SPECIAL RESOURCE STUDY OF PRESIDENT STATION IN BALTIMORE, MARYLAND, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
February 14, 2018
Chairman Daines, Ranking Member King, and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to provide the Department of the Interior’s views on S. 1646, to conduct a special resource study of President Street Station in Baltimore, Maryland, and for other purposes.
The Department recognizes that President Street Station would be an appropriate subject for a National Park special resource study. However, we do not support enactment of S. 1646 at this time. In order to focus resources on reducing the National Park Service’s $11.6 billion deferred maintenance backlog and addressing other critical national park needs, no increase in funding is requested for special resource studies in the Administration’s FY 2019 budget. Currently, the National Park Service is conducting 22 previously authorized studies to determine if areas have potential for inclusion in the National Park System as new units, national heritage areas, national trails, or wild and scenic rivers. Under these circumstances, we believe it would be unwise to authorize a new special resource study.
The President Street Station was built by the Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore Railroad. Opened in 1850, it served as the company’s passenger terminus with connections south to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad terminal via horse-drawn track through the City of Baltimore. Originally consisting of a headhouse, a 208-feet long barrel vaulted train shed, and a freight house, only the headhouse remains today. The property is associated with the Baltimore Riot of 1861, where members of the Massachusetts militia on their way to Washington were attacked by a mob as they transited the city, resulting in the deaths of four soldiers and twelve civilians. That event is considered the first act of the Civil War in which blood was shed. The station is also recognized by the National Park Service’s Network to Freedom program for its use by the General Vigilance Committee Anti-Slavery Society in Philadelphia, as well as other groups and individuals, to escape or to aid others in escaping slavery.
President Street Station is owned by the City of Baltimore. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is included in the Baltimore National Heritage Area. It houses the Baltimore Civil War Museum which is operated by a state-chartered organization, the Friends of President Street Station, and is open to the public.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my statement. I would be pleased to answer any questions you or other members of the Subcommittee may have.