Park battle moves to Senate; Maumee Mayor Pauken to testify on Fallen Timbers

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

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Maumee Mayor Steve Pauken will head to Washington later this month to do battle on behalf of Fallen Timbers.

Mr. Pauken has been asked to testify before a Senate subcommittee on behalf of a bill that would make the Fallen Timbers battleground a National Historic Site.

“It’s pretty exciting,” he said. “I’ll be working hard on my speech.”

Mr. Pauken will testify at a hearing on April 22. He is the only person scheduled to give testimony on Senate Bill 548, and will likely be introduced by U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine (R., O.), its sponsor.

The Battle of Fallen Timbers pitted a confederation of Native American tribes against U.S. forces headed by Gen. “Mad” Anthony Wayne. General Wayne’s 1794 victory led to the Treaty of Greeneville, and allowed the successful white settlement of much of the midwest.

A marker was erected near the Maumee River decades ago to commemorate the battle. But Heidelberg College professor G. Michael Pratt led a team of volunteers in 1995 that discovered that the battle took place some distance from the marker, near the intersection of I-475 and U.S. 24. That property is owned by the city of Toledo.

Mr. DeWine’s bill would:

* Create a National Historic Site that would include the Fallen Timbers battleground, the battle marker, and nearby Fort Miamis, also in Maumee.

* Allow the National Park Service to provide “technical assistance” in the maintenance of the site, as well as the creation of an interpretive center.

Mr. DeWine submitted similar bills in 1996 and 1997, but neither received a hearing.

One reason cited by the senator in a letter last year was that Maumee and Toledo had been unable to reach a consensus on what to do with the property.

Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner wanted to sell the battlefield land at a high price for industrial development.

But Mr. Finkbeiner reversed course in August – on the 204th anniversary of the battle – saying he wanted to see the battlefield preserved.

Also helping the bill’s cause is a National Park Service report issued in December that says the battlefield is “nationally significant” and should be made part of the National Park System.

The Fallen Timbers monument is listed as a National Historic Landmark, and Fort Miamis is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

“We’re very pleased that this is moving forward,” said Charles Boesel, Mr. DeWine’s spokesman.

“This is a great opportunity for northwest Ohio to share a little history with the senators who represent states to the west of us, who might not be here if it wasn’t for this battle,” Mr. Boesel said.

According to the subcommittee’s staff, the hearing will feature testimony on other historic sites around the country seeking to achieve special status.

Generally, only one person is called to testify for each piece of legislation; Mr. Boesel said Mr. Pauken was chosen to testify “because he knows the most about the bill.”

Mr. Boesel said “all systems are go” for the bill, which could reach the floor of the Senate later this year.

U.S. Sen. George Voinovich (R., O.) has signed on as a co-sponsor.

U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) has introduced a companion bill, H.R. 868, in the House of Representatives.

That bill has been referred to the House’s subcommittee on national parks and public lands, but no hearings are scheduled.

U.S. Rep. Paul Gillmor (R., Old Fort) has signed on as a co-sponsor.