Friday, November 19, 2010

Part 2 of the Civil War sign saga

You may recall a recent Picket item on a Civil War marker propped incongruously against a utility pole near a busy metro Atlanta highway.

What you don't know is that these signs sometimes have legs.

I had noticed the sign at Memorial Drive and Interstate I-285 in DeKalb County, about 10 miles east of downtown Atlanta. I called the local government. Steve Longcrier, executive director of the Georgia Civil War Heritage Trails, read a blog item I posted and suggested I contact the state.


Thursday, an employee for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources picked it up.

The sign, which details the movements of the Federal left wing in Decatur in 1864, had been missing for some time, said Frankie Mewborn, cultural resources manager.

In fact, it had orginally been placed two miles north of where it was spotted.

"If it's not damaged, we put them back up," said Mewborn.

He estimates the state gets calls once a week about missing or broken signs. With zero budget, the DNR depends on discretionary funding, the Georgia Historical Society and civic groups and individuals to fund the repairs or installation of signs. A new post alone costs about $200.

"Across the state there are people who have a keen interest in this," Mewborn said.

Mewborn estimates there are about 700 such Civil War signs across Georgia, with nearly 500 describing the Atlanta Campaign.

Signs are often displaced by road and commercial work. Some signs are stolen, he said. "It's a rare thing."

Of course, not all historical signs are about the Civil War. Mewborn related the story about a sign in Darien, Ga., that went missing. Fort King George was an early British garrison in Georgia before the Revolutionary War.

A sign about the fort ended up at a local gas station. It was located and an individual with a tie to the fort's history helped to pay for it to be put back up.

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