“The Georgia Civil War Heritage Trails’ project has been an ongoing project for some time,” Wheeler said. “It is a nonprofit organization and, of course, our county stepped up some years ago to financially support this effort. But we are excited from a tourism standpoint because it does give those [directional] signs as well as more documented information and provides some additional weight to many of the stories that we share in marketing heritage tourism here in Cartersville and Bartow County. Of course, the Civil War is a large part of our heritage, and with many sites from Adairsville all the way down through to Allatoona Pass, there are quite a few locations that could be marked and that we attempt to guide visitors to.
“Any road signs that we can ever get [or] interpretive signs just provides more information to those that are coming South to follow in the footsteps of ancestors. ... People will always come not just during the sesquicentennial years of the Civil War but in future years for many generations. So any money that’s spent to support heritage tourism is money well spent. So I’m very excited for the grants that have been given and the support that Bartow County has offered. ... I know there’s many different activities taking place this weekend at Tunnel Hill. We look forward to an equally grand celebration when our marker is placed at Allatoona Pass.”
As Wheeler mentioned, the path from Dade County to Jonesboro will wind its way through Bartow, with an interpretive marker at Allatoona Pass and about 20 roadway “trailblazer” directional signs installed by the end of the year. Primarily funded through a grant from the Georgia Department of Transportation, about 350 trailblazer signs — consisting of a Civil War cannon surrounded by the outline of the state of Georgia — will be placed along the driving route that highlights the Union and Confederate armies’ paths during the 1864 Atlanta Campaign.
Currently operated by Red Top Mountain State Park, Allatoona Pass is the site of a battle that occurred nearly a month after the fall of Atlanta on Oct. 5, 1864, 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, where men were either 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.
“It’s both an educational program and also a tourism [promotion project],” said Steve Longcrier, founder and executive director of Georgia Civil War Heritage Trails. “It’s really kind of a dual purpose. The thought was to obviously mark the loop that the armies took at least the best we could 150 years later. Obviously a lot of the roads have changed but some of the roads are amazingly still the same; like Hall Station Road, for instance, on the northern part of the county is still essentially the same road it was back then. It’s just paved now. We wanted to be able to trace the routes of the armies and be able to educate the public at a number of locations.
“Our first marker in Bartow County is going to go at Allatoona Pass. Because Georgia Department of Natural Resources a few years ago did a very good job of interpreting the site itself, our marker is not going to really retell or rehash that story. But it’s going to tell more of an overall strategy of how the armies approached Allatoona Pass during the Atlanta Campaign and why they didn’t fight there then but then there was another battle there later in the year and how that came about.”
Longcrier continued, “... We hope to have more [markers] because obviously there’s a lot of Civil War history in [Bartow County]. It really depends on how much interest there is locally, how much funding we can obtain because unfortunately those markers aren’t free. ... We’ve had a lot of support both locally from the [Cartersville-Bartow County] CVB and also on a statewide basis from the state tourism department because we do see this as something that out-of-state visitors will come [to]. In fact, based on the inquiries we’ve gotten for our brochures from our website, we’ve had a lot of interest from out-of-state visitors who want to go on some or all of the trail.”
Along with the Cartersville-Bartow CVB, Longcrier said his organization received support for the Allatoona Pass marker from Bartow County government awarding a grant and the Etowah Valley Historical Society, with Guy Parmenter penning the content.
For more information or to place a donation, visit the Georgia Civil War Heritage Trails’ website, www.CivilWarHeritageTrails.org.