April 24, 2014

Scouts’ work helped make park opening possible

The Daily Citizen

— Neither snow nor rain nor bitter cold stopped two local Boy Scouts from completing work vital to opening Whitfield County’s newest historical park.

The Potato Hill Civil War Battlefield Park on Reed Road will be dedicated Saturday at 11 a.m. with Georgia Battlefields Association President Charlie Crawford delivering the keynote address. Parking will be available at Poplar Springs Baptist Church, with volunteers driving people to the park.

The park preserves and opens to the public some of the Confederate fortifications that ringed Dalton in 1864 at the start of Union Gen. William T. Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign.

And many people had a hand in its creation. Save the Dalton Battlefields, a private group, identified the site and pushed for its preservation. That group convinced the Georgia Battlefields Association to provide funds to acquire the property. The Whitfield County Board of Commissioners agreed to accept the site and maintain it, and built a pavilion and parking lot.

But some of the key work was done by Austin Cole and Chase Lynch, two juniors at Coahullla Creek High School who are working on becoming Eagle Scouts.

For his Eagle project, Lynch carved the trail from the parking lot to the top of the hill, where the fortifications stand. To get the trail finished by the park’s planned spring opening, Lynch was out there during some of the worst weather in one of the worst winters in many years. Lynch said on the worst day, he and the people working with him just kept breaking mattock and pick handles.

For his Eagle project, Cole built the wooden fencing around the fortifications. That involved hauling heavy materials up the steep side of the hill and digging into the ground to erect the fencing.

Both young men had help from other members of their troops. Part of the Eagle project is showing you can organize and manage others. But they did all the planning and a great deal of the physical work.

“We would not be able to open this park now without the work these two young men did,” said Bob Jenkins, president of Save the Dalton Battlefields.

If you go to the dedication ceremony for the park on Saturday, and we encourage you to do so, please take the time to thank all who helped in its creation, especially these two young men who put so much time, work and energy into making it attractive and easy to use.