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LaFollette Civil War site receives marker

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By Charlotte Underwood

Some things are worth the wait, and after nearly a year’s worth of efforts, the Big Creek Gap Civil War site received a historic marker yesterday.

Through the Civil War Trails program, and with efforts from local citizens such as Bill Claiborne, the valuable historic site will finally receive the recognition it deserves.

The Civil War Trails program is a multi-state program that identifies, interprets, and creates driving tours of both the great campaigns and the lesser know Civil War sites, according to Director of the Civil War Trails program, Mitch Bowman.

“I’m thrilled; I feel like it’s only appropriate to have what is regarded as the only physical evidence in the county acknowledged,” said Claiborne.

“We find time and again that interpretation leads to appreciation, which more often than not leads to preservation,” said Bowman. He said this is a rare and significant site, because of the 900 sites throughout the Civil War Trails program; this site is the only one, which has earthworks that were used in part to guard against the confederates, according to Bowman.

Directional markers leading to the site, along with a historical marker at the site and a link on the Civil War Trails website, will lead travelers to the location.

“We like to put travelers right at the scene and let the landscape do as much of the talking as possible,” said Bowman. He hopes to have a statewide map guide to all of the significant sites in Tennessee in the next 28 months.

“The program here in Tennessee is growing fast and the more rural the site the more people like to get out and see it,” explained Bowman, who has been marking these historical sites for around 15 years.

“Marking sites like these are important because it helps people realize that the home front was the war front and this is particularly true of Big Creek Gap,” said Bowman. He explained due to its location, East Tennessee saw much conflict in the war due to the division of some residents siding with the Union, while others remained staunch Confederates. Both Bowman and Claiborne said they hope the marking of the site will increase the appreciation of it.

“This site was important to the county, and important in the American Civil War, the history of the nation reached down to Campbell County Tennessee,” said Bowman.

“It’s just great to have people know it’s there and understand about the historical significance of the area in the Civil War,” said Claiborne.

For more information, visit www.civilwartrails.com.

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