CHARLESTON, Tenn. -- The Olin Chlor Alkali plant here has donated $30,000 to help bring a history preservation project to reality.
"The community is preserving an incredibly important piece of American history," plant manager Ken Corley said Friday as he presented a check to members of the Charleston/Calhoun/Hiwassee Historical Society.
The society, the cities of Charleston and Calhoun and the Cleveland Bradley Chamber of Commerce are working toward a plan to share the stories of the Cherokee Nation, the Trail of Tears, the area's role in the Civil War and the importance of the Hiwassee River to the region's economy and American history.
The plan includes a heritage center, a river park and an interpretative trail to link the two.
With Olin's help, the society now is nearly halfway toward the money it needs to buy the site for the heritage center at the intersection U.S. Highway 11 and its predecessor, the historic concrete highway now listed on the U.S. Register of Historic Places.
Olin joins other area businesses in supporting the preservation and interpretative plan, said Melissa Woody, vice president of the chamber's Visitors and Convention Bureau.
Wright Brothers Construction has donated $20,000, she said, and Jonathan Cantrell of Caldwell Paving has committed to building the greenway trail.
Other supporters will be announced soon, she said.
"It's going to happen," Woody said. "It's a huge project that will change the atmosphere in Charleston and gives people a place to come to learn about history. You can literally walk in the footsteps of the Cherokee when you walk on this greenway."
Faye Callaway, society president, said the two towns here, facing each other across the river, have been an American crossroads for history and culture from the country's earliest days.
"It has been mostly an untold story, and we want to preserve the story for future generations," she said.