Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Resaca battlefield site: NW Georgia county still hoping for a May grand opening

Pavilion at new Resaca historic site (Georgia Battlefields Association)

Storm cleanup, work on trail markers and the installation of corrected interpretive markers are among the items Georgia officials have been completing as they prepare to hand off operation of the new Battle of Resaca historic site.

The Department of Natural Resources had hoped to finish work on the site by the end of October, but work on the punch list continued until early this year.

Mary Kathryn Yearta, director of public and government affairs for the department, told the Picket last week that crews were cleaning up from storms over the Christmas holidays (the 500-acre property off Interstate I-75 in Gordon County is in a flood plain).

“Some of the trails and roads had debris and were washed out due to the large amount of rainfall we received,” she said. “After the storm cleanup, the work done on the property by DNR will be complete.”

The DNR and Gordon County are slated to meet this month about setting up a final review prior to county commissioners accepting a transfer of Resaca Battlefield State Historic Site for operation and maintenance, said county Administrator John A. King.

During our last visit, we noticed that the new entrance sign looked very nice, and all of the trails that we observed were in the best condition that we have seen so far. Some of the trail markers needed attention; and several of the interpretive signs, which had been slated for correction, were still pending installation,” King told the Picket. The county is pleased with the progress that DNR had made on the site, and we are continuing to discuss a soft opening this spring that would precede a grand opening in May.”

Marker for the 103rd Ohio (Georgia Battlefields Association)

Charlie Crawford, president of the Georgia Battlefields Association, said visitors to the site will see well-preserved trenches from both sides and most of the battlefield on the early afternoon of May 14, 1864. Late-afternoon action is on the east side of the interstate. 

On May 13-15, 1864, Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s army and Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s Confederate Army of the Tennessee bloodied each other at Resaca. There was no clear winner, but Sherman continued his march toward Atlanta, which he took several months later.

Opening the park has not been easy. For two decades, supporters of the site have been frustrated by false starts, permit problems, negotiations by state and local governments, construction delays and a massive road project at the interstate interchange at Resaca.

Ken Padgett, a leader of the Gordon County Historic Preservation Commission and Friends of Resaca Battlefield said he is anxious for the project to be completed and acceptable to Gordon County. “Enough delays,” he said.

The park will have trails and signs, but no interpretive center, when it opens.

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