By Maggie Behringer
This weekend's Dixie Highway Yard Sale through North Georgia may not be the world's longest yard sale, but the event has revitalized one of the original tourist traditions of the South.
"It was really and truly the beginning of tourism in the South," said Ellen Archer, executive director of the Cartersville-Bartow County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Miami land developer Carl Fisher first envisioned the route in 1912 as a way to bring winter-weary Northerners to sunny vacation destinations. When completed in 1927, the network of interconnected roads dubbed the Dixie Highway connected Michigan to Miami. The Dixie Highway Association headquarters settled in Chattanooga.
Because there was no federal or state aid for highways, individual towns along the way built the portions of the road and any bridges that ran through their communities.
Each segment was named and themed to highlight local history or attractions, she said. The section between Chattanooga and Atlanta, known as The Battlefield Route, featured the Civil War history in Chickamauga, Resaca and Allatoona Pass, as well as Tennessee attractions Rock City and Ruby Falls.
Nearly 100 years later in 2006, a group of Georgia historians proposed re-establishing North Georgia's portion of the route, which had become U.S. Highway 41 or been replaced by Interstate 75, as a driving tour.
After the success of a Kiwanis Club yard sale, Kennesaw resident Joe Bennett suggested the addition of the 90-mile-long yard sale.
"Here's a tremendous amount of traffic," Mr. Bennett said. "I thought it was a good way to bring that traffic to the towns."
IF YOU GOWhat: Dixie Highway Yard SaleWhen: Today-SundayCommunities involved: Ringgold, Tunnel Hill, Rocky Face, Dalton, Resaca, Calhoun, Adairsville, Cassville, Cartersville, Emerson, Acworth and KennesawInformation: www.dixiehighway.orgContinue reading by following these links to related stories:Article: Dixie Highway sale, 1890's Days approaching Article: Old Dixie Highway the place to be for bargain hunters Article: Massive yard sale next month
The sale's "tremendous bargains" are more than enough reason to pull off the highway, he said.
Those bargains may include chenille bedspreads, a dirt-track stock car, original Dixie Highway road signs, a "Tiffany blue" salon hood hair dryer, antique rugs, crystal vases, cookie jars and even cars.
Ms. Archer estimates more than 1,000 yard sales will line the road between Ringgold and Kennesaw. Many churches and businesses rent out space to vendors.
People from as far away as England have visited the yard sale as well as coinciding events such as the Georgia BBQ Classic in Cartersville and local landmarks such as Ringgold's Chow Time Drive In and the Barnsley Gardens in Adairsville.
"It's taken on a life of its own," Ms. Archer said.