More than carpet

More than carpet

Dalton a wealth of history and outdoor activities

August 13th, 2012 by Mariann Martin in Glimpse 2012-a

Hamilton Street in downtown Dalton bustles with activitity on Friday afternoon. Hamilton Street is a hot spot for shopping and dining and city leaders say the downtown area will continue to thrive.

Hamilton Street in downtown Dalton bustles with activitity...

Forget Dalton's stodgy nickname, "Carpet Capital of the World."

Dalton's true claim to fame lies in its rich history, including a railroad locomotive chase to catch a Union spy, Civil War battles and Native American beginnings, local historians say.

For nonhistory adventurers, mountains and outdoor trails - such as the 240-mile Pinhoti Trail - make the area popular among bikers and hikers.

— Compiled by Mariann Martin

Georgia's gateway to Civil War history

• Dalton oozes with Civil War history, from historic houses and battlefields to railroad depots.

• The city first saw action during the Great Locomotive Chase in 1862 when James J. Andrews, a Union civilian scout and part-time spy, hijacked a locomotive known as "The General" and raced north through northwest Georgia.

• In late 1863, after being defeated in Chattanooga, Confederate troops wintered in Dalton. The area is peppered with battle sites from the spring of 1864, as Union troops pushed south during the Atlanta Campaign.

• Some sites include Prater's Mill (Georgia Highway 2), the site of Confederate and Union camps during the Civil War; Dug Gap Battle Park (West Dug Gap Battle Road),with breastworks built by Civil War soldiers; and the Confederate Cemetery and Memorial Wall (West Cuyler Street and Lynn Street).

Source: Dalton Area Convention and Visitor's Bureau

Hi-tech railroad lore

• The Dalton Freight Depot (305 S. Depot St.) is renown by train watchers for its computer monitor where visitors can see the rail system for miles.

• A former Southern Railway freight depot, the building has been renovated to preserve it 12 wooden dock doors and original interior and exterior brick.

• It is the only place in Georgia, outside of Atlanta, where the Norfolk Southern and CSX rail lines intersect and run side-by-side.

• Adjacent to the depot, a 1949 85-foot stainless steel rail car, the "Crescent City," is undergoing restoration.

• After visiting the depot, visitors can head to the Tunnel Hill Heritage Center and Clisby Austin House (215 Clisby Austin Road, Tunnel Hill) to walk through the historic 1848 Western and Atlantic Tunnel.

Source: Dalton Area Convention and Visitor's Bureau

Brawn, views and romance

• If sweating is more your idea of fun, the short, easily-accessible but muscle-testing Disney Trail is rated one of the most challenging short trails in the state.

• The trail is named after George Disney, a Confederate soldier who was killed in a battle on the ridge. His grave was found in 1912 and is marked by a stone marker along the trail.

• Several rocky cliffs, both before and after the grave, provide expansive views of the western valleys, making them the perfect spot for a romantic sunset picnic.

• Warning - finding the trail can be as difficult as climbing it. Take exit 336 off I-75 to U.S. Highway 41, turn left at the Church of the Nazarene and drive to the "family life" building behind the church. The trailhead is on the left, indicated by a wooden marker.

Source: Georgia Trails website

A good time was had by all

• Prater's Mill Country Fair - Enjoy mountain music, Southern foods, living history exhibits and handmade crafts. Craft demonstrations include blacksmithing, spinning, quilting, rug hooking, woodcarving and hand tufting. (Oct. 13-14, 2012. Admission: $5)

• Downtown Dalton Beer Festival - Sample over 40 different beers, enjoy food from local restaurants and listen to live music. (June, Dalton Green. Tickets $2 in advance, $35 at the gate)

• Dalton Red Carpet Half Marathon - Half marathon and shorter runs, with a concert headlining Lauren Alaina on Oct. 5 (Oct. 5-6. Concert Ticket: $15)

• Civil War Show and Bandy Heritage Center Civil War Colloquium - (February, Northwest Georgia Trade & Convention Center, 2211 Dug Gap Battle Road)

Source: Dalton Area Convention and Visitor's Bureau

History and a meal

• Dalton Depot & Trackside Cafe (110 Depot St.) is one of few Victorian-era train stations that survived Sherman's infamous "March to the Sea" during the Civil War.

• These days, instead of coal and train schedules, it dishes out Southern favorites such as pork chops, baby back ribs and shrimp and cheese grits.

• The restaurant also serves up live music and social events.

Source: Dalton Depot & Trackside Cafe

Carpet Capitol of the World

• Population: 33,128

• Biggest employer: Carpet mills

• Number of miles from downtown Chattanooga: 33

• Landmarks or geographic features: Rocky Face Ridge and Mount Rachel, both sites of numerous Civil War skirmishes and battles, jut above the town.

• Date founded: 1847, when the city changed its name from Cross Plains to Dalton, in honor of founder Edward Dalton White.

• Historic Info: Woodland Indians and the Creek Nation lived in the area of present-day Dalton until being pushed out by the Cherokee Indians in the mid-1700s. The Cherokees were forced out of their homes in 1838 when the U.S. government relocated them in what has become known as the Trail of Tears.

• Most famous residents: J.R. Martinez, winner of "Dancing with the Stars," retired U.S. Army soldier, actor and motivational speaker; Deborah Norville, television broadcaster and journalist; Marla Maples, former wife of New York developer and reality TV star Donald Trump; Saul Raisin, former professional cyclist.

• Fun fact: When the area around Dalton first became famous for its handmade bedspreads and, later, carpets, it was known as Peacock Alley, the most popular bedspread design.