Dr. Carroll Van West, director of the M.T.S.U Center for Historic Preservation and Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area and co-chair of the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission standing at the podium as the curtains were drawn back. Photo
The important role Tennessee played in the Civil War and attracting tourism to the region were the highlights of the dedication of the new permanent Civil War exhibit at the Tennessee Welcome Center on I-81 in Bristol.
With Civil War exhibits to eventually be in all the welcome centers, including in Unicoi County in Erwin, Each Tennessee Civil War Exhibit features an overview of Tennessee’s role in the Civil War, as well as the regional impact of the Civil War and will also promote rural tourism development through the Tennessee Civil War Trail and Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways programs.
The Bristol exhibit, titled “Tennessee’s Great Valley in Flames”, highlights several of the local Civil War sites including the future Blountville Battlefield Park, Hale Springs Inn in Rogersville, the Bull’s Gap Battlefield and the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site located in Greeneville. Its purpose is to educate visitors and Tennesseans as to the important role Tennessee played in the Civil War.
“Tennesseans are proud of our commitment to tell the whole story of the Civil War through our statewide auto trail system, our many historic sites, and national battlefields,” said Dr. Carroll Van West, director of the MTSU Center for Historic Preservation and Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area and co-chair of the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission. “The new Welcome Center exhibits not only introduce our story and approach to any and all visitors; they are also part of the commitment that Tennesseans today make to the future: to tell the whole story of the Civil War and to remind everyone that the Civil War era issues of national unity and citizenship still shape our world.”
Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey spoke during the ceremony telling how his home and business are located on Civil War sites, how he and many others can trace family back to the era and the importance of history to this area both in heritage and in tourism.
The project was made possible through a partnership with the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, M.T.S.U. Center for Historic Preservation, Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Are and the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission and was funded by the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration, State Capital Commission.