In order to receive the designation, communities must show that they have recently supported a historic or cultural preservation project, the governing body must adopt a resolution demonstrating their dedication to historic preservation, and several other more specific criteria in the three categories of discovering heritage through historic places, protecting historic resources, and promoting historic assets.
"We are very proud to receive this recognition," said Pineville Mayor Bruce Hendrickson.
Pineville had applied for consideration in the program after beginning a focus on the Cumberland Ford project and recent resolutions regarding the preservation and restoration of historic downtown buildings.
Mayor Hendrickson and the Pineville City Council, along with Kristen Labs and Nick Siler of Downtown Pineville, Inc., worked on the application and the required resolutions.
The recent historic preservation project that the city of Pineville has been working on is the Cumberland Ford project. The Cumberland Ford is a shallow place in the Cumberland River that has been used as a crossing point for centuries.
Beginning with primitive man following the paths of animals as they hunted them across the region, to Native Americans using the crossing as they traveled westward and northward on seasonal journeys along the Great Warrior Path, to the infiltration of European settlers during the late eighteenth century, the Ford was used consistently.
Named by Thomas Walker in April of 1750, the Ford was most likely not crossed by settlers until Daniel Boone and his expedition crossed it several years later in 1775, thus making it part of the Wilderness Road.
After Boone opened the way west, more than 100,000 settlers used the crossing as a gateway to Kentucky. During the Civil War, the Ford was occupied by both Union and Confederate troops because of its strategic location.
"People even now," said Hendrickson, "without any advertisement, visit from out of town and say they want to see the Cumberland Ford."
According to Hendrickson, nearly a dozen groups or couples came by City Hall in search of the Ford last year.
If the waters of the Cumberland River are not on the rise, the Ford is visible by looking North toward Barbourville from the middle of the New Town Bridge in Pineville.
Pineville was originally named for the Ford in 1781. A post office using the name Cumberland Ford was opened in 1818, although the name "Pineville" was also in use. The post office was later renamed as "Pineville" in 1870. Until that point, both names could be seen in use for the town.
Hendrickson expects the Preserve America designation and the work on the Cumberland Ford to affect not only Pineville, but Cumberland Gap as well.
"As this gets started, this will certainly complement and increase the interest in the Cumberland Gap," Hendrickson said.
Pineville is currently only focusing on the property owned by the city at this time but hopes to later include work on significant properties adjacent to the ford.
Plans are to include a reception or information center on the Pineville side of the ford and eventually build a catwalk over it so that visitors can take the walk without getting wet. Far-reaching plans even include an overlook that will enable visitors to see both the Cumberland Ford and the Narrows from the same vantage point on the river.
If Congress approves it, the grant application cycle for Preserve America will begin this Fall. With this new designation, Pineville will be eligible to apply.
In 2004, the average Federal grant award to historic properties was $277,000.
There are less than 250 communities across the nation with the Preserve America designation.
Detailed information on Preserve America and the community designation application form can be found at www.PreserveAmerica.gov or by calling 202-606-8503.