published Monday, April 5th, 2010

Park Day helps Civil War sites


by Kelly Jackson
Audio clip

Mary Koik

DALTON, Ga. — Summer at Prater’s Mill will be filled with family reunions, company picnics and visitors fishing and canoeing, said Judy Alderman, president of the Prater’s Mill Foundation.

That’s why it’s crucial that volunteers participate in Park Day on Saturday, she said.

“It’s spring cleaning,” Ms. Alderman said.

The Civil War Preservation Trust began Park Day 14 years ago, said Mary Koik, deputy director of communications.

IF YOU GO

* When: Saturday

Local work sites:

* Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park: Meet at the Visitors Center in the Chickamauga section or at Sanders Road picnic area on Lookout Mountain at 8:30 a.m.

* Prater’s Mill: Meet on the mill’s porch at 10 a.m.

* Dalton Confederate Cemetery: Meet at the main gate (inside West Hill Cemetery) at 9 a.m.

* Old Western and Atlantic Railroad and Clisby Austin House: Meet at Tunnel Hill Heritage Center at 10 a.m.

Volunteers should wear work clothes (no open-toed shoes, etc.). Commemorative T-shirts available. For more information, visit: www.civilwar.org/aboutus/events/park-day/.

Source: Civil War Preservation Trust Web site, various officials

The nationwide event has grown over the years, and now about 100 Civil War sites in 23 states participate, she said. Twelve are in Georgia, according to the trust’s Web site.

“This really kind of started as a way to get these historic sites looking their best and ready to greet all the visitors that come through over the course of the summer,” Ms. Koik said.

Volunteers at Prater’s Mill near Varnell, Ga., can help remove the invasive privet plant and with general cleanup while learning more about the historic site’s role in the Civil War, Ms. Alderman said.

“Prater’s Mill was a host to both the soldiers from the North and the South, but fortunately not at the same time,” she said.

In Dalton, volunteers can help clean the historic Confederate Cemetery.

Organizer Marvin Sowder said Dalton was a hospital town during the Civil War. Injured and sick soldiers were sent there by train for treatment, and more than 400 Confederate soldiers are buried there, he said.

Mr. Sowder said hundreds of people visit the cemetery each year, many looking for family graves.

“(Park Day) is an opportunity to give back to your community,” he said.

Other Park Day sites in North Georgia include the Old Western and Atlantic Railroad and Clisby Austin House in Tunnel Hill and the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park.

Patrice Glass, volunteer coordinator for the military park, said last year organizers had more than 130 volunteers, and they’re hoping for a similar turnout.

Projects there include restoring historic fencing on the Brotherton farm, removing privet near Wilder Tower and improving picnic areas on Lookout Mountain and in Chickamauga, she said.

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