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UPDATE: Cumberland Gap National Historical Park re-opened following government shutdown

By: Angela Sparkman Email
By: Angela Sparkman Email
The Cumberland Gap National Historical Park has re-opened following the federal government shutdown.

MGN Online

MIDDLESBORO, Ky. (WYMT) - The Cumberland Gap National Historical Park has re-opened following the federal government shutdown.

Officials say the park's workers furloughed during the shutdown returned to work on Thursday.

The park's acting superintendent says all buildings, campgrounds, and trails are open.

The events scheduled this weekend will go on as planned.

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The government shutdown closed national parks across the nation, including the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park in Middlesboro.

Workers shut down the park on Tuesday morning and forced visitors to leave.

"We were just going to ride through the mountains, check out everything," said David Cook, a motorcyclist from Pensacola, Florida. He and several friends came from Florida to visit the park, but when they arrived, barriers blocked the roads and signs said the park is closed because of the federal government shutdown.

"We've always wanted to come up here, me and my biker buddies. We just wanted to come up here and finally made it. Four years, four times trying and now they're closed," Cook said.

Tuesday morning, employees closed all the park's roads, buildings, campgrounds, and trails.

"We're definitely sad," said Carol Borneman, Park Acting Superintendent.

One group from Arkansas came to visit for the fall but could not get in the park.

"We were coming to see that beautiful view from the Pinnacle, Disappointed isn't the word, I feel betrayed," said John Hughes.

Park officials say fifty-two employees were put on furlough. Park officials say law enforcement rangers are not furloughed and are working during the shutdown to keep the park safe.

"We want to make sure people are safe. We want to make sure that resources are protected. Shame on people who think they're going to be able to come into the park and vandalize and steal the resources," said Borneman.

As visitors left on Tuesday, park officials gave them maps and recommended other places to visit in the area.

Some, like the biker buddies from Florida, told us they plan to stay in town the rest of the week and will visit the park if it re-opens this week.

Republicans say the GOP-controlled House intends to pass legislation to re-open portions of the government including the national parks.


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