Get swept away on Georgia’s Gone With the Wind Trail

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Atlanta sites bring to life the beloved novel

ATLANTA, GA – “Frankly, my dear…” Who doesn’t know the ending to this infamous phrase? Now you can get up close and personal with a plethora of hands-on experiences along the state of Georgia’s first and only designated Gone With the Wind Trail.

“I had always felt the individual Gone With the Wind attractions working together would be a stronger package, especially in the international arena,” says Theresa Jenkins, chair of the Gone With the Wind Trail committee.

Following the success of celebrations for the 75th Anniversary of the novel in 2011, a Trail committee was established.  The committee members realized the impact of all working together for marketing and public relations efforts. Members include the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, Atlanta Fulton County Public Library, Atlanta History Center and Margaret Mitchell House, Clayton County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Marietta’s Gone With the Wind Museum, Marietta Welcome Center, and Oakland Cemetery.

“Our Gone With the Wind assets are one of the most sought after vacation experiences in Georgia,” said Kevin Langston, deputy commissioner for tourism for the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “This newly designated trail offers travelers the full Gone With the Wind experience from Marietta to Jonesboro.”

“As the home and literary setting of Gone With the Wind, Georgia possesses a unique tourism lure that has been attracting visitors and creating economic impact since 1936.  Originally born from the imaginings of the Marietta Visitors Bureau, the Gone With the Wind Trail was created as an opportunity to ease the efforts of visitors planning their Georgia travels as well as a tool to strengthen key Gone With the Wind literary and film attractions throughout Atlanta metro. The newly designated Gone With the Wind Trail provides an established route of key sites serving as a direction for tourists seeking novel and film related attractions within Atlanta metro as well as encourage day-trippers to extend their itinerary within Georgia,” adds Rebekah Cline, director of marketing and communications for the Clayton County Convention and Visitors Bureau and Trail committee member.

“Together we have secured a state designation, developed marketing and public relations strategies, and will market the product as an individual and group tour destination,” says Brandi Wigley, senior manager of community initiatives at the Atlanta History Center and Margaret Mitchell House and Gone with the Wind Trail committee member. “The novel and movie are still extremely popular both domestically and internationally.  We have a story to tell, and together we can tell the story in a more complete way.”

Through the Trail, fans of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel discover the history and legacy behind one of the world’s most beloved books as they navigate a variety of stops in and around Atlanta. Step back in time with the sights and sounds of the Civil War and Reconstruction as told through the eyes of Scarlett O’Hara and her dashing romancer, Rhett Butler, at Marietta’s Gone With the Wind Museum (Admission: $7 adults, $6 seniors and students, $5 groups of 15 or more, $4 student groups of 15 or more), a mainstay since April 2003.  Courtesy of Dr. Sullivan, on display is an extensive collection of memorabilia sure to delight and intrigue any Gone with the Wind fan, from novice to aficionado.

“Having spent three years with the Margaret Mitchell House and now in my eighth year here at the Marietta Gone With the Wind Museum, you can imagine how pleased I am to see Mitchell’s dynamic creation recognized by the State of Georgia as the major tourist attraction we’ve always known it to be. I couldn’t be happier about the Trail, knowing that so many visitors to Georgia will now have an opportunity to enjoy Gone With the Wind in such a special way,” says Connie Sutherland, director of the Marietta Gone With The Wind Museum.

Following the stop in Marietta, venture to the Margaret Mitchell House (Admission: $13 adults, $10 seniors and students, $8.50 youth 4-12), a small apartment Margaret called “the dump,” where visitors trace the footsteps of the talented author and discover the birthplace of Gone With the Wind. Also at “the dump,” explore a Gone With the Wind movie exhibition and display showcasing the life and times of one of Atlanta’s most famous authors.

After the Mitchell House, the Trail directs visitors to The Atlanta Fulton County Public Library. With one of the most extensive collections of Margaret Mitchell’s photographs, books and personal items, the Central Library’s Special Collection Department is a must-see destination for all lovers of literature and Margaret Mitchell. The collection includes Mitchell’s personal books used for her research, over 400 personal photographs, motion picture stills of the film, her 1937 Pulitzer Prize, her Remington typewriter and more.

Next, travelers head to Mitchell’s final resting place, Oakland Cemetery (Admission: free, small fee charged for guided walking tours – see website for details). Historic Oakland, a Victorian garden cemetery, is also a magnificent sculpture garden, botanical garden, flourishing wildlife habitat, public park and picturesque setting for quiet reflection. Visit the gravesites of Gone With the Wind author Margaret Mitchell and thousands of other Atlanta notables and pioneers.

The adventure ends in Jonesboro, Georgia, the official home of Gone With the Wind just 15 miles south of Atlanta at the Road to Tara Museum (Admission: $7 adults, $6 seniors and children) where visitors relive Rhett and Scarlett’s sweeping romance by enjoying the Museum’s original movie props and wardrobe items, foreign edition library, original manuscripts, costume reproductions, extensive photo gallery and collectible plate and doll collection. The antebellum years and the Civil War make their presence felt through such exhibits as an authentic “Sherman’s necktie” (a section of rail twisted into a loop so as to be useless to a railroad company); and the depot’s original Fairbank Scale, used to weigh cargo, specifically cotton.

“Besides the five main designated partners to whom the Trail will lead– there are other sites of interest that link in some way to Gone With the Wind for visitors to also enjoy,” adds Sutherland.

Visitors can easily dive in for a more in depth look at Gone With the Wind and the Civil War, by exploring the Trail’s “Rhett Also Recommends” stops, including the: Atlanta History Center, Atlanta Cyclorama, Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield and Stately Oaks Plantation.

“Many people don’t know that Margaret Mitchell was quite the philanthropist. She anonymously gave scholarships to African American students studying to become doctors, she raised funds to rebuild the U.S.S Atlanta, and she gave time and money to the American Red Cross. Atlanta is a better place because of her. She couldn’t have done any of that without the success of Gone With the Wind. Gone With the Wind tells the story of survival against the odds; sometimes we need to be reminded of this – perhaps now more than ever,” adds Wigley.

“The creation and designation of the Trail has been a true team effort with each partner playing an active role in both funding and decision making. As the official home of Gone With The Wind, we look forward to regaling visitors with the truths and tales of the rich and romantic antebellum era that inspired Mitchell’s legendary novel,” concludes Cline.