March 27, 2014

Group members deserve thanks for helping to preserve area’s history

The Daily Citizen

— One individual can make a difference.

Seven individuals working together can not only help preserve some of Whitfield County’s most historic sites, but also help open them up to the public.

On Saturday at 11 a.m., an opening dedication ceremony will be held for the Mill Creek Gap Civil War Battlefield Park on U.S. Highway 41 just in front of the Georgia State Patrol barracks in Rocky Face. The keynote speaker is historian and author Richard McMurry. The public is invited.

The park is owned and maintained by the Whitfield County government. Whitfield County Board of Commissioners Chairman Mike Babb recently gave credit to a small group of local citizens for the park, saying the county’s role was limited to accepting the property, putting up signs and cutting out a trail to Civil War earthwork fortifications on the ridge above the state patrol barracks.

“They really spearheaded this,” Babb said of the group Save the Dalton Battlefields.

This group — Kevin McAuliff, Paul Belk, Bill Blackman, Jim Burran, Greg Cockburn, Bob Jenkins and Kathryn Sellers —  formed about three years ago to help preserve the Civil War earthworks that dot the mountains and ridges surrounding Dalton. Members say Whitfield County has more undisturbed earthworks than any place in the country as well as the greatest variety of earthwork types.

They convinced the state to transfer the site of the park to Whitfield County and allow county officials to turn it into a park.

The group also won funding from the Georgia Battlefields Association to purchase property at 2261 Reed Road that the group donated to the county. That land is being turned into the Potato Hill Park. The opening dedication ceremony for that park is Saturday, April 26, at 11 a.m.

These are the first triumphs for the group, but we hope they will not be the last.

These forward-thinking individuals, along with proactive local officials, are helping to preserve Whitfield County’s history and developing attractions that promise to make the area a better place to live and a more attractive place to visit.