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Red Top Mountain State Park wins innovative programming award

In recognition for its candlelight tour of Allatoona Pass Battlefield, Red Top Mountain State Park captured the Most Innovative Historic Site Program Award at the recent Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites Managers Conference.

“I am ecstatic that we won the programming award,” Red Top Park Manager Kelly Howington said. “A lot of this was due to Steve Hadley’s hard work and planning.

“Just before the Battle of Allatoona Pass event, we hosted the Pickett’s Mill re-enactment which was even larger in scale. I believe there was a lot of extra effort, energy and excitement, not just from park staff but also volunteers, because this was the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. And we hope to repeat these kinds of events in the future so that people don’t forget about the Civil War.”

As mentioned by Howington, the site paid tribute to the Battle of Allatoona Pass’ sesquicentennial by offering a wide array of programming in 2014 that provided attendees a better understanding into the warfare that transpired on Oct. 5, 1864. With many of its original trenchworks intact, the Allatoona Pass Battlefield still bears reminders of one of the Civil War’s bloodiest conflicts.

Presented by Red Top with Etowah Valley Historical Society’s assistance, Battle of Allatoona Pass Remembered was held Oct. 4, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Oct. 5, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The annual event included a tent city with Civil War re-enactors, musket and cannon firing demonstrations, and battlefield tours. The candlelight tour Oct. 4 from 7 to 10 p.m. — organized by Red Top, EVHS and the Bartow History Museum — featured re-enactors performing dramatic vignettes.

“The Battle of Allatoona Pass program was a collaboration among local stakeholders, the Friends of Red Top, park staff and volunteers,” said Ray Smith, assistant region manager for Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites. “They did a great job of integrating the cultural, historical and recreational aspects of the event. Plus, they presented the program in such a respectable way that honored those who passed away in the battle. That was really important to us.”

The Battle of Allatoona Pass occurred nearly a month after the fall of Atlanta when the Confederate Army tried to destroy the Union’s supply line, the Western & Atlantic Railroad at Allatoona Pass. The railroad was cut into the Allatoona Mountain range in the 1840s and was about 360 feet long and a maximum of 175 feet deep.

According to the EVHS’ website, http://evhsonline.org, the battle consisted of 5,301 soldiers — 2,025 Union and 3,276 Confederate — and resulted in 1,603 casualties, where men either were killed, missing or wounded. Six Confederate and five Union states participated in the battle, including Missouri, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina, Louisiana, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio.

Since taking over the site’s operations about eight years ago, Red Top Mountain State Park continues to lean on the guidance of EVHS members, who had maintained the battlefield and made it more accessible for the public from the early 1990s to October 2007. Under Red Top’s management, the site’s hiking trails have been revamped and interpretive signs along the paths have been replaced with sturdier markers and more detailed messages.

For more information about Red Top, visit http://gastateparks.org/RedTopMountain/ or call 770-975-0055.