Friday, August 15, 2008

Dixie Highways

My first stop on my state-wide ramble was a in Hendersonville. On Sunday afternoon, there was a rededication of a marker commemorating the “Dixie Highway.” The Dixie Highway, according to Wikepedia, was created in 1914, with the goal of connecting the Midwest with the South. Rather than being one large road, the Dixie Highway “is better understood as a small network of interconnected paved roads. It was constructed and expanded from 1915 to 1927.” There were three routes. The western route ran between Chicago and Miami, through Nashville, Chattanooga, and Atlanta. The eastern route connected Sault Ste. Marie with Miami via Lexington, Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Atlanta. The central route “was a short cutoff between the western division at Macon and the eastern at Jacksonville, forming a shorter rout to Miami… The Carolina Division cut the distance between Knoxville and Waynesboro.” The route today is known as US 25.

The marker in Hendersonville was erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1926. Why the rededication? The monument, a boulder featuring a bronze plaque with Robert E. Lee on it, originally sat in front of the courthouse, which fronts US 25. The courthouse has recently been remodeled, and the monument moved to the rear of the building. But the monument still fronts US 25. The road is now a divided one-way street, running both in front of and behind the old court house.

After attending the UDC-led re-dedication, we went inside to tour the recently opened Henderson County Heritage Museum, located in the old Henderson County Court House. Their inaugural exhibit is entitled “Let Freedom Ring” and features the story of Henderson County men and women who have served in the armed forces. Displays range through the days of the American Revolution to Desert Storm. Their Civil War displays are good, with some period pieces and a great map of battlefields and the names of those Henderson County men who lost their lives. The museum, which is free to the public, is well worth a stop.

Counting the Dixie Highway marker, I saw three Civil War markers on the courthouse grounds.

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