Counties look for a future in their past

Carroll looking to share Civil War tourism with Frederick, Washington

May 24, 2000|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

Though no famous Civil War battles were fought in Carroll, the county is hoping to tap into the lucrative heritage tourism market by promoting the area's little-known role in the four-year conflict.

Carroll leaders are highlighting a skirmish in downtown Westminster and the movement of Union troops down dusty roads leading to Gettysburg, Pa., in a bid for state recognition as a Civil War Heritage Area. They are joined in the effort by Washington and Frederick counties - the sites of well-known battles between Union and Confederate troops.

In a 2-1 vote, the commissioners agreed yesterday to share the cost of advertising for a consultant who would draft a management report for the tri-county application. If the application is accepted, the counties could receive state funding to preserve and promote their Civil War-related sites."We're going to benefit from the big battlefields in Washington and Frederick counties," said Barbara Beverungen, Carroll tourism director. "The thousands of people who visit Antietam will find out about Carroll County. Hopefully, we'll be able to draw them and the dollars they spend."

Last year, Beverungen and her Washington and Frederick counterparts secured a $100,000 state grant that will help pay for the management report, a step required for state certification.

Each of the three counties is expected to contribute about another $35,000 for the report - a bill Commissioner Donald I. Dell does not want to pay."If this is a state idea, let them pay the bill and get on with it," said Dell, who cast the dissenting vote.

He told his colleagues that advertising for a management consultant would put Carroll in "a very precarious predicament," making it hard for the county to back out of the regional effort.

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 consisted mainly of marching - and sleeping - soldiers.

Horses, wagons, cannons and soldiers passed through Carroll on their way to major battles - most notably Gettysburg.

In 1863, Union Gen. George G. Meade, planning for a battle with Gen. Robert E. Lee along Big Pipe Creek, set up camp just outside Taneytown. But when Union and Confederate forces accidentally clashed in Gettysburg, Meade rushed north. History did, too.

Meade's journey is repeated daily, as motorists drive through Maryland on their way to Gettysburg.

Maryland draws more than 19 million visitors annually, generating $6.5 billion in visitor spending, about 100,000 jobs and $516 million in tax revenue, according to the Maryland Office of Tourism, Film and the Arts.

Tourism officials in Carroll, Washington and Frederick counties are hoping to claim some of those tourism dollars by offering visitors a comprehensive Civil War experience, Beverungen said.

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