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Middle Georgia’s 100-mile Antebellum Trail of seven communities offers an abundant look into 19th century life and earlier. Visitors can travel the trail year-round, but many choose April 18 – 21 for the annual Pilgrimage. $25 covers entrance to everything during these four days, with passes available at each community’s welcome center. (Find welcome center addresses at www.atpilgrimage.com). Macon and Athens bookend the Antebellum Trail with abundance and distinctive opportunities fill the communities in between.
The years leading to 1860 are the focus of the trail. I entered the back edge of the Civil War, not battlefield center, with connections to Revolutionary War veterans and families, too.
Eatonton is the 1848 birthplace of Joel Chandler Harris, and the Uncle Remus Museum is 50 years old. Go to the source. You know these tales. Old and new at the same time is the Old School History Museum. Sleep in Watkinsville because the Ashford Manor wraps visitors in history and hospitality. Choose the 1840s cottage for an antebellum night or the main house, an 1893 Queen Anne. “Artland,” Watkinsville is called, and art is abundant in the 1827 Haygood House, home and gallery of Jerry and Kathy Chappelle. Frontier years enticed me, especially Eagle Tavern built in 1801 on land given to a Revolutionary War veteran.
The 1811 Heritage Hall in Madison provides family stories, exquisite furnishings and lifestyle insight in a two-story Greek Revival home with docent-led tours.The Madison-Morgan Cultural Center stretches antebellum, built in 1895, but enjoy the architecture, theater, Arts and Crafts-style furniture gallery, and history museum anyway.
Milledgeville was home to Georgia’s governors from 1839 – 1868, and their house is grandly interpreted as the Old Governor’s Mansion. Those governors received salaries but not entertainment budgets, so note the difference as you follow the Antebellum Trail. Macon’s Hay House of the same era was private, and it’s lavish. In Milledgeville’s Old Capital Museum, an 1807 Gothic building, peer into tableaux of eight antebellum women, researched from diaries and written records, most with a book you and I could read, too. Then go upstairs to imagine the mood where Georgia’s four-day secession convention was held in 1861.
These are just some of musings possible on the Antebellum Trail Pilgrimage. Click here for information on how to attend the 2013 pilgrimage.
Christine Tibbetts claimed Georgia as her home state in 1972. She covers Georgia destinations, and the world, always offering prompts for exceptional experiences and opportunities to muse. Tibbetts earned a Bachelor of Journalism from the prestigious School of Journalism at the University of Missouri and is the recipient of numerous gold, silver and merit awards from North American Travel Journalists Association writing competitions. Follow her at www.TibbettsTravel.com