Friday, September 12, 2008

Trail Markers

Tomorrow we dedicate our Civil War Trail Markers in Avery County. We have three: Cranberry, covering the mines; the Blalocks; and the underground railroad in Banner Elk. Over the past couple of days, I’ve gotten some stats in about Civil War Trail Markers. Here is a run down.

“As of summer 2008, 177 sites have been interpreted and the majority of them are first time interpretations.”

I saw on another email that there are 68 counties in North Carolina that have Civil War Trail markers. That leaves 32 counties without Trail Marker signs. One of those counties is Watauga. A few months ago, I was asked to come up with a list of possible sites within Watauga County. That list included:

Boone – skirmish in March 1865, a part of Stoneman’s Raid.
Boone – a fort, one of five, was built here to protect Stoneman’s line of escape. There are Federal soldiers buried in the town cemetery who died while garrisoned here in April 1865.
Deep Gap – a fort, one of five, was built here to protect Stoneman’s line of escape.
Blowing Rock – a fort, one of five, was built here to protect Stoneman’s line of escape.
Cove Creek – the second of two home guard camps were established here. This camp was captured in February 1865.

I could probably come up with a dozen more, but those are the major ones. The information that I got read that in Virginia, where the program originated, that in 2003, “the Virginia Civil War trails was the single most-requested program for the state with 85,000 inquiries fulfilled. This out-paced all other niche programs by nearly ten to one.”

Also, “Eleven percent of all travelers to Virginia actively seek out one of their Civil War sites. Two profile studies done for the car route visitor in Virginia show that these travelers spend $75 pp/pd and each trail averages 16,500 tourists annually. This comes out to nearly $1.24 million dollars per each of the five trails.”

It is amazing that more communities are not involved in this program.

A few days ago, I talked to a friend in Buncombe County who is trying to work on NC Civil War Trail markers for Asheville. He has run into opposition from the mayor of the city of Asheville, who has emphatically stated that no NC Civil War Trail Marker signs will be erected on city property. Others in city government have said the same things. Do the business owners in Asheville realize that their elected officials are taking away this potential revenue? In a time when tourism dollars are getting harder and harder to come by, one would think that no opportunity would be passed up to benefit the people of Asheville. It is also regrettable that certain individuals are elected to be servants of the people of a city, but then refuse to honor that city’s past. Like an alarming number of other leaders, these individuals are apparently so enamored with their own points of view that they refuse to acknowledge or respect the needs and wants of their constituents.

There have been 815 markers placed in 178 counties in 5 states. I am just glad that Avery County has three of them.

3 comments:

Matt Parker said...

Regarding Civil War Trail Markers, Michael stated:

"I talked to a friend in Buncombe County who is trying to work on NC Civil War Trail markers for Asheville. He has run into opposition from the mayor of the city of Asheville, who has emphatically stated that no NC Civil War Trail Marker signs will be erected on city property."

You are 100% correct my brother. But it doesn't surprise me to see the resistance in Asheville to our history and heritage. We both could look at the demographics (numerous Northerners that relocated to Asheville), and the way that the residents of Buncombe vote. Greater Asheville has moved wildly to the left...

You solidly hit the nail, if they could, or would, just remove the blinders and see that it is history, heritage, and commerce.

I reside in DFW, and our new Texas Civil War Museum (only a few years old), was originally located in Branson, MO. The owner told me that he closed shop and relocated to Fort Worth because of the lack of interest from all the Northerner tourists that not only visit the area but seem to control all things "travel and leisure."

Now, the Texas Civil War Museum, which is the largest Civil War Museum west of the Mississippi, has received all kinds of grants – both large and small.

Dev said...

They do have some great Branson shows to see!

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