published Saturday, June 19th, 2010

Cell towers put Georgia battlefield "at risk"

by Andy Johns
Audio clip

Charlie Crawford

The Civil War Preservation Trust has named two Northwest Georgia battlefields in their 15 "at risk" sites.

The national group said the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park and the Resaca Battlefield are at risk, but for different reasons.

  • photo
    Staff Photo by Angela Lewis/Chattanooga Times Free Press Joe Sweetapple takes photos from Wilder Tower at the Chickamauga Battlefield on Tuesday.

Chickamauga "is beset by proposals for cellular communications towers" and Resaca is still struggling to secure funding and move forward with an interpretive center, the group said.

"The cell towers were used as just two examples, but there are other potential things," said Jim Ogden, historian for the Chickamauga park. "Just being in this half-million metropolitan area, there are plenty of places where construction ... may impact some part of the battlefield or the visitors' understanding."

The Civil War Trust specifically mentions a plan for cell towers on Missionary Ridge and near McLemore's Cove, a hollow between Lookout and Pigeon Mountains west of LaFayette, Ga.

In addition to the at-risk sites, the group listed 10 "most endangered" battlefields where there are more severe threats. The most endangered spots are threatened by wind turbines, mining, casinos, a Walmart and other development.


* Camp Allegheny, W.Va. (wind turbines)

* Cedar Creek, Va. (limestone mining)

* Fort Stevens, Washington, D.C. (encroaching development)

* Gettysburg, Pa. (casino)

* Picacho Peak, Ariz. (park closing)

* Pickett's Mill, Ga. (limited park hours/reduced staff)

* Richmond, Ky. (new highway interchange)

* South Mountain, Md. (natural gas site)

* Thoroughfare Gap, Va. (cell phone tower)

* The Wilderness, Va. (Walmart)

Source: Civil War Preservation Trust

The list of 15 at-risk sites include a Knoxville battlefield with development issues and a few such as the Resaca Battlefield where preservation funding has slowed to a trickle or been stopped altogether.

Matt Nodine, chief of staff for the Federal Communications Commission wireless division, said the Missionary Ridge cell tower was already in the early stages of construction when preservation groups challenged its permit.

When the FCC reviewed the documentation, the board found the permit was not valid, stopped construction and asked the tower company to resubmit is proposal. In the latest action, the company filed an appeal with the FCC, asking commissioners to reconsider the ruling, he said.

Mr. Nodine said earlier this week that he was traveling and did not have available information about a tower near McLemore's Cove.

Mr. Ogden said the towers would detract from visitors' experience, adding that McLemore's Cove "maintains a lot of the character" of the way the land was during the Civil War battle. He said visitors need to be able to see the land as the commanding officers did to understand the troop movements.

Charlie Crawford, president of the Georgia Battlefields Association, said that, even without cell towers and construction, all the parks are in danger due to state cutback in staffing.

"No battlefield, no matter how old it is, is getting the care it needs and it deserves," he said.

Continue reading by following this link to a related story:

Article: Benge brings change while preserving the past at Chickamauga Battlefield

about Andy Johns...

Andy began working at the Times Free Press in July 2008 as a general assignment reporter before focusing on Northwest Georgia and Georgia politics in May of 2009. Before coming to the Times Free Press, Andy worked for the Anniston Star, the Rome News Tribune and the Campus Carrier at Berry College, where he graduated with a communications degree in 2006. He is pursuing a master’s degree in business administration at the University of Tennessee ...

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Wilder said...

Dalton, where the Army of Tenn. wintered and regrouped after Missionary Ridge, had an extensive system of connected fortifications constructed at strategic points to the north and west of town.

One of the most significant and undistrubed segments of this system was in Mill Creek Gap. The county aquired several hundred acres of adjacent land to preserve connecting fortifications.

In a move that defies all logic, Dalton Utilities decided to place a sewage plant right in the center of this line of fortifications. They not only destroyed the integrity of a key segment of the defenses, but diminished the historic value of the county's purchase.

Ignorance has no boundries.

June 19, 2010 at 10:17 a.m.
EaTn said...

Emphasis on educating our youth and adults on the history of the Civil War is key to preserving the battlefields. An understanding and appreciation of the reasons and dedication for the war on both sides is necessary for continued preservation support. Knowing what and why when standing in the middle of a battlefield is key.

June 19, 2010 at 5:37 p.m.
InspectorBucket said...

If that report is true, perhaps the designated "sewage plant" usage reveals something about the local culture, education level, and sense of history?

Keep you hands off of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park.


Mill Creek Gap

Confederate Defense of Mill Creek Gap

Dalton Markers

June 19, 2010 at 5:43 p.m.
Wilder said...

If that report is true, perhaps the designated "sewage plant" usage reveals something about the local culture, education level, and sense of history?

It is true. See for yourself. As you pass through the gap in the north bound lane of I-75, look to your right. The only structure that you will see in what was the completely undeveloped side of the Interstate, just a couple of years ago, is the ugly metal building with a shiney new chain link fence around it.

"At Mill Creek Gap, known locally as Buzzard’s Roost, there were more formidable earthworks. According to Sherman, batteries extended the “whole length from the spurs on either side, and more especially from a ridge at the farther end like a traverse directly across its debouch.” Johnston had fortified all approaches to Dalton from the north and west to protect the junction there of the East Tennessee & Georgia Railroad with the Western & Atlantic."

You will notice that the new sewage plant is directly in front of the "ridge at the farther end" that Sherman refers to as the key position. They have totally destroyed the historic integrity of this site.

"...reveals something about the local culture, education level, and sense of history?"

The good ole' boys who control the town are oblivious to the town's history and culture. It is way down their list of priorities.

June 20, 2010 at 8:18 a.m.
croljr said...

The Pickett's Mill Battlesite is one of the most prestine and best preserved civil war sites in the Nation. The vast majority of the site appears as it did during the horific fighting of May 27th, 1864. The ratio of deaths to woundings was essentually reversed in this battle from that of most battles, as Union soldiers charging fortified positions uphill Towards Cleburnes men tended to be shot in the head and skulled as they rose up from a revine.

It's a shame that the little amount needed to maintain this site to keep it open for public exposure and use is just not available.

June 23, 2010 at 1:40 p.m.
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