The latest effort to create a Colonial-era historical "trail" to attract tourists to the eastern edge of Georgia brought history buffs and tourism officials to Screven County.
With Sylvania Mayor Margaret Evans playing hostess at R&D's Restaurant on Feb. 26, visitors brainstormed ways to create the 13th Colony Heritage Tourism Trail, which would span 300 miles and connect at least 18 counties, including Columbia County, by highlighting their ties to the 1730-1820 era of American history.
For Evans and others from Screven County who attended the session, the aim also was more local: to gain recognition for the site of the Battle of Brier Creek in Tuckahoe.
The Battle of Brier Creek, fought March 3, 1779, was a devastating defeat for the American patriots at the hands of British forces, and occurred just three weeks after the better-known patriot victory at the Battle of Kettle Creek in Wilkes County.
"A memorial is long past due," Evans said.
She was joined at the session by Sylvania City Council members Ben Mercer and Joe Cleland and Screven County Commission Chairman Stan Sheppard.
The representatives were joined by others from Columbia, Effingham, McDuffie, Wilkes and Lincoln counties, along with members of the Coastal Georgia Regional Development Center, the Georgia Department of Economic Development, archaeologists from the LAMAR Institute and many area residents.
Bruce Green, the director of product development for the Georgia Department of Economic Development, presided over the meeting.
"This will transform into a story -- into many stories -- and it's our story," Green said. "It's up to us to tell this story."
Lori Hennesy, the tourism representative for the Magnolia Midlands region, which includes Screven County, said historical trails provide an opportunity for tourists to see a structured path they can visit on vacation. Ultimately, she said, this leads to the tourists spending money in the communities.
"It's all about regionalism and crossing regional boundaries," said Jeannie Buttrum, the tourism representative from the Classic South Region.
Buttrum said a series of attractions and sites, such as what the 13th Colony Trail would offer, would persuade travelers to get off the highways and visit.
David Jenkins, representing the city of Washington, said federal and state funding for the trail and sites such as Brier Creek are available.
"We do have the resources in line," Jenkins said. "We have an opportunity to strike quickly and establish a trail for our children and grandchildren."
The session was the second held by the group, which next plans to meet in Effingham County.
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