County to share grant of $100,000 to promote its Civil War history

Creation of heritage area would target tourism

July 16, 1999|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

The state has given Carroll County the green light to move forward with plans to tap into the lucrative heritage tourism market by promoting the area's little-known role in the Civil War.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening is expected to announce today the award of a $100,000 grant to Carroll, Washington and Frederick counties. The counties have joined in an effort to become a state-certified Civil War Heritage Area.

The state grant will be used to help pay for a $200,000 heritage area management report, a step required for state recognition. Each of the three counties is expected to contribute about $35,000 for the report.

"This is great news," said Barbara Beverungen, tourism director for Carroll. "People going through Antietam will finally find out about Carroll County. All of those people who visit the battlefields will now be encouraged to visit our main streets. Hopefully, they'll visit our towns, have lunch and do some shopping."

Beverungen and her counterparts in Washington and Frederick counties applied last fall to the Maryland Historical Trust for funding to preserve and promote their Civil War-related sites.

While Washington County was the site of the Battle of Antietam, the single bloodiest day in the Civil War, and Frederick County is well-known for the battlefields of South Mountain and Monocacy, Carroll's role in the Civil War consists mainly of marching -- and sleeping -- soldiers.

Horses, wagons, cannons and soldiers passed through Carroll County on their way to major battles -- most notably, Gettysburg. In 1863, Union Gen. George G. Meade, planning for a major battle with Gen. Robert E. Lee along Big Pipe Creek, set up camp just outside Taneytown. The battle was supposed to take place there, but when Union and Confederate forces accidentally clashed in Gettysburg, Meade rushed north. History did, too.

Meade's journey is repeated daily, as tourists stream through Maryland on their way to Gettysburg. They rarely stop.

Maryland continues to trail national averages for visitor stays and spending. The state draws more than 20 million visitors annually, generating $7.6 billion in visitor spending, about 80,000 jobs and $360 million in tax revenue, according to the Maryland Office of Tourism.

Visitors stayed in Maryland an average of 2.4 days in fiscal year 1998, up from 2.2 days the previous year. The national average for fiscal 1998 was a stay of 3.3 days. Tourism officials in Carroll, Washington and Frederick counties are hoping to boost those figures by offering visitors a comprehensive Civil War experience, Beverungen said.

"We're always looking for innovative ways to draw visitors to Carroll," she added. "This seems like a perfect way to do just that."

The Maryland Heritage Preservation and Tourism Areas Program, in its third year, is designed to help communities think strategically about how to protect and promote their resources. Only one area, Canal Place in Cumberland, has been certified as a state heritage area.

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