Those of us connected with civil war history and sites, as well as preserving it have long felt that properly marketed and managed, civil war history sites are profitable ventures. Now comes an article via the Civil War Preservation Trust that states just that!!
Officials Say Civil War Means Business
By Charles Oliver
More than 1,100 schoolchildren from Whitfield County and Bradley County, Tenn., stared wide-eyed at Civil War re-enactors as guns cracked around them Friday. They came to learn more about the Civil War from the men who will recreate the Battle of Tunnel Hill Saturday and Sunday.
And about a dozen business and political leaders came to the Tunnel Hill battlefield Friday for another matter.
“If you want to see the value of our historical artifacts and areas in Whitfield County, just look around,” said Whitfield County Board of Commissioners chairman Mike Babb. “Our heritage is very important to us. But today, we are not here to talk about history. We are here to talk about business.”
Babb and others unveiled a new driving tour of Whitfield County’s Civil War sites that they hope will bring more tourists to the area.
“In the state of Georgia, heritage tourism brings in more than $450 million a year. We want to make sure here in Dalton and Whitfield County we get our just and fair share,” Babb said.
He noted that Tunnel Hill was not only a site of battle as Union Gen. William Sherman prepared for his Atlanta campaign, but that the nearby railroad tunnel has a lot of history as well.
“When it first opened (in 1850), it was one of the engineering marvels of the world. And more than 10 years later, it played a role in what was called the Great Locomotive Chase,” Babb said.
That was when Union soldiers stole a train near present-day Kennesaw and drove it north towards Chattanooga, trying to do as much damage to the railroad as they could on the way.
The sites on the driving tour are marked by special signs, and a book and CD package will be sold at the Tunnel Hill Heritage Center and at the Dalton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau’s visitors center for $15, which will direct travelers to the sites and tell the stories behind them. Other places where the package can be found will be listed on the CVB’s Web site, http://www.visitdaltonga.com/.
“All the money goes back into advertising and marketing the area,” said Babb.
Whitfield County administrator Bob McLeod said the idea to do a driving tour came up about 14 months ago when local tourism officials were talking about ways to market the area.
“Hopefully, this is just the first step. There will be other projects coming along,” McLeod said.
Dalton Mayor David Pennington said the driving tour is just the first of several planned projects to draw attention to Whitfield County’s historic sites in preparation for the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, which starts in 2011.
“This is something that a lot of hard work has been put into,” said CVB board chairman John Davis. “The folks who put this together did a good job gathering a lot of hard facts.”
Ken Sumner, one of the re-enactors gathered for the weekend, praised local leaders for helping to preserve local historic sites and bringing them to the attention of visitors.
“The driving tour will get people off I-75,” he said.