Local News

April 26, 2014

New park honors memory of men who fought there

Whitfield County’s new Potato Hill Civil War Battlefield Park serves as an example of how historic properties can best be preserved, said Georgia Battlefields Association President Charlie Crawford.

“First, local people knew there were fortifications there,” he said. “Second, there was a local group, Save the Dalton Battlefields, that wanted to acquire the property and stayed in touch with the landowner and when the opportunity came up was ready to act. And finally, you had a local government that was willing to accept the property and improve and maintain it. When the Georgia Battlefields Association sees that sort of cooperation, we are almost always willing to help to the extent we can.”

Save the Dalton Battlefields, a private group of individuals, acquire the seven-acre property two years ago with a $25,000 grant from the Georgia Battlefields Association and donated it to the county.

On Saturday, officials officially opened the park on Reed Road, with Crawford serving as the keynote speaker.

Crawford noted that the vast majority of Civil War sites in Georgia remain in private hands and spoke of the importance of preserving even small sites such as Potato Hill.

“Each site honors the sacrifice of the people who served there and fought there and sometimes died there,” he said. “In some cases, those people are our ancestors. But even if you came to this country in 1880 or 1910 or 2010, you have an obligation to acknowledge the sacrifice of those who made this country what it is.”

Whitfield County Board of Commissioners Chairman Mike Babb said that preserving sites such as Potato Hill does more than preserve history, it also helps attract tourists to the area.

“People who are interested in Civil War history want to see the actual places where the battles they have read about took place. They want to stand on the ground these men fought on,” he said. “The more of these sites we can preserve, the more of those opportunities we can give them, the more likely they are to come here and eat in our restaurants and shop in our stores and stay in our hotels and motels.”

Babb said that taking on the Potato Hill site was an easy decision for the commissioners to make because it had such strong support from local volunteers.

Two of those volunteers were Boy Scouts Austin Cole and Chase Lynch, both juniors at Coahulla Creek High School. For his Eagle Scout project, Lynch cut a 600-yard trail to the top of the hill. And for his Eagle Scout project, Cole erected wooden fencing around the fortifications at the top of the hill.

Cole said he was glad to see so many people turned out for the dedication ceremony.

“Chase and I put a lot of work into this, and I am happy that so many people will get to see it,” he said. “This just reinforces to me why it was so important to do things right. People are going to come out here not just today but for years into the future and they deserve and expect to see good work.”

Save the Dalton Battlefields President Bob Jenkins said the Community Foundation of Northwest Georgia also provided financial assistance for surveying the land and closing costs on group’s purchase. He said that his organization provided the materials for the pavilion and kiosk, which were built by county public works employees.

“All of the materials for this park and for the Mill Creek Gap Civil War Battlefield Park were purchased through donations and gifts,” he said. “We still want to raise another $5,000 to $6,000 to be able to complete the work.”

Those wishing to donate to help can contact Jenkins at (706) 259-4626.

 

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