Thursday, December 9, 2010

Canton, Ga. Resident Writes Guide to Civil War Sites in Georgia

“Crossroads of Conflict” book signing Dec. 16 at Yawns Book Store

Soleil Laurel Canyon resident, Rich Elwell of Canton recently completed the book “Crossroads of Conflict” A Guide to Civil War Sites in Georgia”. The book details the impact of the Civil War in Georgia and its influence in the United States’ most tragic conflict. The book is published by UGA Press and includes a forward from University of Georgia former athletic director and football coach, Vince Dooley.

Elwell, a former program coordinator and administrator for the Georgia Civil War Commission, retired command historian for the Georgia Army National Guard and current historian for the Georgia State Defense Force, penned the book with Barry Brown, a heritage tourism specialist for the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

The two will be signing copies of the book at Yawns Book Store in historic downtown Canton on Dec. 16 from 5-7 p.m.

Based on a comprehensive survey of sites identified by the Georgia Civil War Commission in 2000, “Crossroads of Conflict” covers 350 historic sites in detail, bringing the experience of the Civil War to life. The full-color edition is an updated and significantly expanded version of the guide originally released by the state in 1994.

“We greatly expanded the original version,” said Elwell. “We added historical context and a lot of photos and renderings including rare images we were able to find from The University of Georgia’s Hargrett Rare Book Library and Atlanta History Center. We really focused on images that were one-of-a-kind.”

The book is arranged geographically, separating the state into nine distinct regions. Beginning in northeast Georgia, sites are followed west to east, north to south. Detailed maps of each region are supplemented by inset maps of urban areas. For each site, the guide provides a detailed history, driving directions, online resources and GPS coordinates.

Elwell’s love of Civil War History began at young age. While just 11 years old, Elwell who lived in Orlando, Fla. had a deep desire to visit the Cyclorama in Atlanta, a panoramic painting of the Battle of Atlanta that was fought on July 22, 1864. Although his parents did not have the time to plan a family trip, his dad did put him on a bus to Atlanta by himself so that he could visit the Cyclorama.

“You’ve got to understand, it was a different time and place,” said Elwell. “This was the early 1950s. My dad paid the bus drive and told him when we got to Atlanta to get me a cab to the Cyclorama. It was a 14-hour bus drive with all of our stops. When I got to Atlanta, I spent three hours at the Cyclorama and then got back on the bus for a 14-hour ride back.”

Elwell said that the three hours spent viewing the Civil War painting was the spark that turned into a flame and the rest as they say is history.

Elwell moved to Soleil Laurel Canyon in June 2007. Far from the traditional active adult community, Soleil Laurel Canyon includes activities and clubs for every lifestyle. With a clubhouse that is equipped with a full-time, on-site lifestyle director who helps coordinate the community’s more than 50 social clubs, there is always an activity that meets the needs of the residents.

Nestled in Soleil Laurel Canyon’s expansive property are walking trails, bocce ball courts, six lighted clay tennis courts, a greenhouse and horticulture center and an outdoor amphitheatre. Soleil Laurel Canyon’s 50 social clubs which are organized by the residents, include three cooking clubs, a singing group, a garden club, quilting society and many more.