Heritage travelers expected to increase with 150th anniversary of Civil War
by Marie Nesmith
Nov 19, 2010 | 2633 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Civil War re-enactors fire their rifles at the annual Battle of Allatoona Pass observance in October.
SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News, File
Civil War re-enactors fire their rifles at the annual Battle of Allatoona Pass observance in October. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News, File
From the Booth Western Art Museum to the Allatoona Pass Battlefield, Bartow County's Civil War-related attractions currently are highlighted on www.gacivilwar.org. Launched in late October by the Georgia Department of Economic Development's Tourism Division, the website commemorates next year's sesquicentennial of the Civil War.

According to a news release from the GDEcD, "GaCivilWar.org is one of the state's key marketing initiatives encouraging locals and visitors to explore and experience all facets of Georgia's Civil War history. Features of the site include an interactive map of museums, battlefields, landmarks, historic homes and other significant locations; calendar of events; a timeline of events that took place in Georgia between 1861 and 1865; a news section; links to educational resources and related Civil War sites, and more. The second phase of the site will include Civil War driving trails; stories and written observations from Georgians during the Civil War; a multimedia section for video and images and more."

With Bartow being rich in Civil War history, Regina Wheeler, deputy director for the Cartersville-Bartow County Convention & Visitors Bureau, believes the war's 150th anniversary will bring an increase in heritage travelers during the next five years.

"There are initiatives in all the states [that participated in] the Civil War. Virginia [and] many other states are working very hard to put forth efforts in marketing," Wheeler said. "We're very fortunate that the state of Georgia is taking the lead in that as well. And yes, we do feel like there will be re-enactment groups, Sons of Confederate Veterans -- these type of groups that will be traveling and commemorating the paths of their ancestors, if you will.

"Heritage tourism, it is hard to put a percentage mark on that," she said referring to its impact on Bartow's overall tourism dollars. "I will say that it is a very vital part, a very important reason as to why people do visit the area. Heritage tourism is not just the Civil War. It [also] is Native American history. It is the historic charm of downtown Cartersville, the history of Lottie Moon, Sam Jones -- our religious forefathers. So we're very fortunate to have a diverse program of heritage tourism here in our county. The key to this though is getting people in the right places. You really don't have tourism unless cash registers are ringing. So we're always very mindful of bringing people into the commercial areas so that they can eat and dine and spend the night and shop and do all of those great things that makes it become economic development."

Among Bartow's many Civil War-related venues, Wheeler specifically mentioned the Allatoona Pass Battlefield and the preservation efforts of the Etowah Valley Historical Society and the state of the Georgia to maintain the Cartersville site.

The Battle of Allatoona Pass occurred on Oct. 5, 1864, 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 Mountain State Park'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 its operations about three years ago, Red Top continues to lean on the guidance of EVHS members for the annual Battle of Allatoona Pass observance -- featuring tours and re-enactors conducting various weapons demonstrations -- in addition to raising money for monuments honoring the battle's soldiers.

"People look for that history, for those foundations of our lives, so the Civil War is extremely important," Wheeler said. "We have tour groups that travel specifically tracing major battles of the Civil War. We are very fortunate that the Etowah Valley Historical Society first committed its time and resources to working to preserve the Allatoona Pass Battlefield, and then of course the commitment from the state of Georgia to now use that as a resource and have that operated through Red Top Mountain State Park. [It] is a great commitment to [maintaining our] heritage."