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Vandals caught on camera damaging Civil War artifacts

BELL COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - Officials say vandals are damaging historical artifacts used in the Civil War that are on display at the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park.

Park Rangers are now using surveillance cameras to catch those responsible.

The cannon on top of the Pinnacle in the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park is part of history.

"The gun tube itself was used in the Civil War. We're talking a real artifact here, not just some decoration," said Chief Ranger Dirk Wiley.

Chief Ranger Wiley says some people are vandalizing the part of history. People are carving initials, names, even profanity into it.

"These are tangible links to our past and it's very disrespectful to do that to all the soldiers who lost their lives in this conflict," said Martha Wiley, the Park Historian.

To catch those responsible, Park Rangers set up surveillance cameras. Chief Ranger Wiley says they have already caught five people on video. All face federal charges.

"We do get tired of people vandalizing the cannon and there comes a point you have to do something about it," Chief Ranger Wiley said.

"These are parts of our history and it does make me very angry to see people just be so casual and just desecrate," said Martha Wiley.

Officials say this not only damages historical artifacts, they also have to spend money to clean it up.

"In a time when everybody is concerned about the federal budget, where's our federal money going and where's it wasted? I can't think of a bigger waste of time than law enforcement rangers having to constantly keep an eye on the cannons and maintenance workers having to constantly re-paint the cannons," said Chief Ranger Wiley.

In the court cases, the park is seeking restitution from the accused vandals. Those convicted could also be ordered to pay fines.

Park officials say the internet helped them identify some of the accused vandals. They say some out of state suspects posted pictures of themselves and the cannon on Facebook.


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