2017-08-03 / Front Page

Unveiling ceremony celebrates Jefferson Davis Heritage Trail

After years of groundwork be­ing laid by the Georgia Civil War Heritage Trails (GCWHT), Lincoln County has the honor of being added to the Jefferson Davis Heritage Trail, which outlines the flight of the Confederate president through Georgia after evacuating Richmond in April 1865. Aiding the GCWHT in the project are the Lincoln County Development Authority, the Lin­colnton Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce, the Lincoln County Historical Society, along with the county itself.

“This trail is a part of an effort to connect tourism development with historic education,” said Dr. Mark Waters, a member of the board of trustees for the Georgia Civil War Heritage Trails.

With this push at the forefront of the heritage trail’s mission, a special dedication of the two Lincoln County informational markers will take place on Tuesday, August 8, at 11 a.m. at the Hester’s Ferry boat ramp in northern Lincoln County.

Though the ceremony will take place adjacent to the marker located at the boat ramp, the second marker – located near the corner of Elberton Road (Highway 79) and Graball Road – will also be “unveiled” as part of the ceremony.

The marker at the boat ramp is lo­cated near the spot where a pontoon bridge across the Savannah River allowed Davis and his entourage to cross. The marker near Highway 79 tells the story of the “Mystery of the Lost Confederate Gold,” near the location where the gold shipment was raided on the night of May 24, 1865.

The public is invited to attend this free unveiling, which commemorates Davis’ entry into Georgia on May 3, 1865, just a week before he was captured in Irwinville, and recalls the story of the “Confederate Gold.”

The marker was funded by contri­butions from the Development Au­thority, the Chamber of Commerce, the Historical Society, and county government.

The ceremony will be presided over by Historical Society President Gary Edwards and will include remarks by Development Authority Director John Stone, and Georgia Civil War Heritage Trails Executive Director Steve Longcrier. Dr. Waters will speak on the historical context of the two markers.

These markers, along with the one on The Square in Washington, were the first three of over 20 informational markers to be erected throughout the state, as the Jefferson Davis trail is one of the first of three trails currently under development by the GCWHT. These three trails – the Jefferson Davis Trail, the Atlanta Campaign, and the March to the Sea – wind through 48 counties in Georgia and will include over 130 interpretive markers, along with 1,100 roadway “trailblazer” signs set to be installed. Completion is projected for the next 18-24 months.

On the whole, the objective of the GCWHT is to promote six historic driving trails across the state for its intended purpose to interpret all as­pects of the time period, including not only battles, but societal and political histories. This initiative will include parking “pull-off” informational ar­eas, and brochures, that tie into the website www.gcwht.org.

“Everyone agrees that preserving our history is important for educa­tional and cultural purposes, but it also has tremendous economic de­velopment potential,” director Stone said. “This potential is especially pronounced for Lincoln County, which already has an existing draw from our status as a lake resort.

“According to research by Harbin­ger Consulting, a specialist in regional economic development analysis, the average family visiting a Civil War battlefield site spends around $1,000 on the trip,” Stone added. “The Civil War Trust reported in 2013 based on that research. Blue, Gray, and Green: Economic and Tourism Benefits of Battlefield Preservation shows where the money is spent: an average $290 on food, $240 on lodging, and $230 on shopping.

“Now, we don’t have a battlefield here,” the director continued. “But as part of the Civil War Heartland Lead­ers Trail we can certainly begin pull­ing in our share of these economic benefits as we develop and grow our historical sites. These signs are a great step in that direction.”

Historical Society President Ed­wards added, “The financial contri­butions by the Development Author­ity, the Chamber of Commerce, the county and the Historical Society were made back in 2002 – this under­scores the difficulty of undertaking this project and the perseverance on the part of the Civil War Heritage Trust that it took to pull this off.”

The Hester’s Ferry boat ramp is located at the Hester’.s.Ferry.Camp­ground. .

For those traveling from Lincolnton, go north on Elberton Highway (Highway 79), turn right on Graball Road at Chennault, take Graball Road to the end, turn left onto Graball Lisbon Road, turn right on Hester’s Ferry Road, and follow on to the boat ramp after entering the campground.

For more information on this event, contact the Lincoln County Historical Society at 757-831-9556, visit www.lincolncountyhistorical­societyga.org or visit the society’s Facebook page.

For more information on the Jeffer­son Davis Heritage Trail or the Geor­gia Civil War Heritage Trails visit www.civilwarheritagetrails.org.

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