The Civil War left a lasting impression on our nation, while leaving an interminable footprint across the state of Tennessee. What started as delightful pageantry to many, turned into one of the bloodiest wars the United States has seen.
Civil War battlefields, historic markers and other notable points of interest also serve as some of the top tourist attractions in the United States. With Tennessee playing such a strategic part in the war, that history is entrenched in our soil, and brings numbers of tourists to places like Franklin, Stones River in Murfreesboro, Shiloh and Savannah.
The Civil War Trails program has installed more than 1,000 interpretive markers at Civil War sites in Virginia, Maryland, Tennessee, West Virginia and North Carolina. Driving tours following major campaigns have been created, and a series of regional brochures is available.
Now, thanks to the governor’s Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, along with a generous donation by Metro Moore County Councilman Glenn Searcy, Lynchburg will officially be on the Tennessee Civil War Trails map as well.
Lee Curtis, Director of Program Development with the Department of Tourist Development, spoke to the Metropolitan Moore County Council in September about the prospects of getting a marker placed in Lynchburg.
“The Tennessee Civil War Trail Program is one of the major projects of the Commission,” said Curtis. “The first marker was erected in 2008 and right now we have 273 markers in the ground in 76 counties. There are 39 markers waiting to be installed that are in the application process going through TDOT.”
Curtis said that 90 counties in the state have committed to the project.
“We have two years to finish out this program. Our goal in the next two years is to make sure we dot every county across the state,” added Curtis. “Tennessee was recognized by Congress 14 years ago as a National Heritage Area for Civil War. It is the only National Heritage Area designated by Congress that encompasses the entire state and I think that is very important.”
The Tennessee Civil War Trails program started with the installation of interpretive signs in the Franklin area and in Blountville. More than a dozen signs in Columbia and Franklin outline a critical phase of Confederate Gen. John B. Hood’s 1864 campaign to regain control of the state.
With the program nearing its end, Curtis was at the September meeting to give Lynchburg an opportunity to be placed on the trail.
A one-time $1,100 fee was needed to get the project started.
After a 5-minute video presentation and a short address by Curtis, the council followed with a question and answer session.
She said the Commission would like to put the marker at the Courthouse, adding that about 80 percent of the markers in the program in Tennessee are located at courthouses. Because it is a Federal program, there must be ADA parking nearby.
It is a Federal project with an 80/20 grant. Moore County’s local match of that grant is $1,100. After the first year in the program, the county is responsible for a $200 per year maintenance fee. The $200 would pay for replacing or repairing the marker if it were stolen or damaged. It would also pay for the highway signs if they were stolen or damaged.
“You will be on two websites, the marker will be replaced every five years and there will be Civil War highway signs along (state Routes) 82 and 55,” said Curtis, adding that the county does not have to pay for printing the map each year or distributing the brochures to the numerous welcome centers.
After hearing the details concerning the one-time fee, Searcy asked if the money could be privately donated. When Curtis said that it could, without hesitation Searcy offered to pay for it out of his own pocket.
Because the county would not have to appropriate funds for the one-time fee, Chair Pro-Tem Marty Copeland said that all the Council needed to do is give permission to put the marker in the Courthouse yard. Tommy Brown made a motion to give permission to have the marker erected in the Courthouse yard and Linda Wolaver seconded the motion. It passed by acclamation.
The Civil War Trail program has been in existence for quite a while.
As a key project of the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, and in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Transportation and the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area, this well-funded, community-centered program is the platform not only for the state’s Civil War-related heritage tourism initiatives but also a platform for public engagement.
Curtis added that Lynchburg would be in the same program marketing the state’s Civil War history as Gettysburg, Baltimore and Virginia.
“Since we printed over 1.7 million of these brochures, Tennessee has been the most requested and most downloaded brochure in the five state program and has been since 2010,” added Curtis. “What this brings to a community is economic impact.
“I know you have something down the road that brings billions of visitors. I’m not saying you need a reason for visitors to come here, but with your history and the Tullahoma campaign right up the road, it’s a great way for Moore County to honor your history.”