"We went to the Corps of Engineers in 1995 and asked them if we could rehabilitate the battlefield and we've been going down there ever since," Hill said. "Guy Parmenter was the driving force behind it. We did a lot of manual labor down there and we continued to do it up until the time we turned it over to [Red Top Mountain State Park]. The last few years, it was mostly maintenance, just going through the trails and clearing off any trees that had fallen or picking up trash.
"It gives us a great feeling of satisfaction to see what it has become. [The site is significant because] it had one of the highest casualty rates in the Civil War. ... Thirty percent of the participants in the battle were either dead, wounded or missing in action at the end of the battle."
On Oct. 5, 1864, 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 and 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. The battle consisted of 5,301 soldiers -- 2,025 Union and 3,276 Confederate -- and resulted in 1,603 casualties. Six Confederate and five Union states participated in the battle, including Missouri, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina, Louisiana, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio.
Now under Red Top's management, the site's more than two miles of hiking trails have been revamped and about 25 interpretive signs along the paths have been replaced with sturdier markers and more detailed messages.
Since taking over the site's operations about three years ago, Red Top continues to lean on the guidance of EVHS members, such as Hill who currently serves as a consultant. Along with advising Red Top about Allatoona Pass, Hill also is helping EVHS raise money to install monuments to honor the state's whose soldiers fought in the battle. To date, six states have been recognized with a monument: Alabama, Illinois, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas.
For his dedication to safeguarding Bartow County's heritage, the EVHS presented Hill with its Lifetime Achievement Award Friday. Along with the recognition, he received an engraved crystal bowl for his contributions.
"It means a lot. It is a very prestigious award and I was honored to receive it," said Hill, who has served as EVHS' president for the past six years. "It's a good organization to belong to.
"We do a lot for the history of the community. ... I'm a Yankee but Bartow County has a lot to offer. We have an awful lot of history in this county going back to prehistoric times. I think it's important that we keep stuff like this going or our children will grow up knowing nothing about the tremendous history we have here."
While the winner does not have to be a member of the group, the award is presented annually to an individual who represents the society's objective "to promote and enhance the awareness and preservation of the heritage and traditions of Bartow County" over a period of 20 or more years.
"About nine years ago the board of directors of Etowah Valley Historical Society decided that there should be some award that goes out to recognize an individual who has given so much to the history and preservation of Bartow County," EVHS Vice President Dianne Tate said. "That person does not have to be a member of the society. They just have to live in Bartow County and [to] have shown a lifelong interest in the history and preservation."
Along with his contributions to Allatoona Pass, Tate said Hill is involved in various other community projects.
"He's very passionate [about historic preservation]," Tate said. "Not only has he worked with Allatoona Pass, but the Friendship Cemetery on Tennessee Street, which was the original First Presbyterian Church cemetery. He cleans that up.
"He's been the editor for the historical society's quarterly newsletter, and he and his wife together oversee the volunteers in the 1903 Courthouse. So he was the nomination of a lot of people and you can see why."
Past recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award include Mary Ellen Taff, Martha Mulinix, Lizette Entwisle, Susie Wheeler, Emily Champion, J.B. Tate, Guy Parmenter and Jodie Hill.