DALTON, Ga. - Heritage tourism will never replace the economic engine of the now sagging carpet industry, but local leaders say it could bring a significant injection of revenue.
Many testaments of history dapple the valleys, mountains and buildings of Whitfield County, but none have as much interest as the clash of the Blue and Gray here in early 1864. Some of that Civil War history is in plain sight, but Confederate and Union fortifications still remain largely hidden on the wooded ridges and hillsides.
Earlier this month, heritage tourism consultant John Veverka unveiled a master plan to preserve and promote the county's known and little-known assets. He said it can bring "some new businesses and new life," while also preserving irreplaceable features.
* Develop local driving tours
* Make Dalton a hub for area tourism information
* Preserve and map surviving Civil War fortifications
* Acquire private land where fortifications are located
* Create downloadable Web materials, including audio tourism information for MP3 players
* Develop interpretive tours
Source: Dr. John Veverka
"We want to make this area a tourism shopping mall," Dr. Veverka said.
Dalton-Whitfield Chamber of Commerce President Brian Anderson said heritage tourism won't create a lot of jobs, but it will cause an influx of spending by tourists.
"The negative is, it isn't thousands of jobs. But the positive is, it doesn't take a lot to implement them, either," Mr. Anderson said. "When you've got natural assets from the Civil War that are there, you don't have to buy them."
Dalton Councilman Charlie Bethel said Civil War tourism has been neglected. He said, though, the city's rich history still can be harvested, especially with the approach of the 150th anniversary in 2011 of the start of the Civil War.