1847 is a pivotal year for the citizens of Cross Plains. In honor of founder Edward Dalton White the city changes the name to Dalton. That same year the Western and Atlantic Railroad is completed to the small town. Its location near the railroad would greatly affect the destiny of this north Georgia town.
|In the Ridge and Valley section of the state, Dalton spreads across the valley to rugged Rocky Face Ridge.|
The growth of Dalton is astonishing. Completion of the W&ARR to Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1850 creates the first rail system to the area west of the Appalachians. In 1851 Dalton is named the seat of government for newly created Whitfield County and a railroad depot is completed the following year. Built in the center of town the depot still stands, one of the few antebellum structures in Northwest Georgia.
The Civil War
During The Great Locomotive Chase (April 12, 1862) the General quickly passes through Dalton. A few moments later the Texas slows as it approaches the depot and drops Edward Henderson off. The 18 year-old Dalton telegraph operator then sends a message to General Ledbetter in Chattanooga informing him of the approaching spies.
While Dalton was pro-Union prior to the outbreak of The Civil War, after Georgia votes to secede in January 1861 only a few Unionists could be found. One suspected northern sympathizer was Ansley Blunt, postmaster and first mayor of the city whose home, the Blunt House, stands south of the downtown area.
Many of the men who would fight at Chickamauga (September 1863) arrived in Dalton by train, passing through the depot. From 1862 until 1864 Dalton serves as a front-line hospital town, sending more critically wounded men to hospitals in Marietta and Atlanta.
|A quiet lake near Dalton.|
Following the disaster at Missionary Ridge (Chattanooga, November 1863), Army of Tennessee Commander Braxton Bragg establishes his headquarters here. Bragg would leave Dalton shortly after being relieved of the command that Joseph E. Johnston would assume. For the next five months the Confederate Army uses the town as a base camp, building a nearly impenetrable line at Rocky Face, a ridge to the west. In February 1864, the Army of the Cumberland attacks the entrenchments, attempting to prevent Johnston from re-enforcing Leonidas Polk in Meridian. Generally referred to as First Dalton, this attack forewarned the Union Army of the difficulty of breaking the Confederate line. In May 1864, Thomas once again tried to launch attacks at both Buzzard's Roost (Mill Creek Gap) and Dug Gap to no avail (called the Battle of Rocky Face). Unable to successfully breach the Rebel line he joins John McPherson in an attack on Resaca. Threatened with the Union Army to his rear, the Confederate commander withdraws to the south, once again passing through the Dalton depot.
After the Fall of Atlanta (September 1864), the city of Dalton is unsuccessfully targeted by John Bell Hood at the beginning of the Nashville Campaign (Second Dalton). Solidly in Union hands for the remainder of the conflict, Dalton began to rebuild. One key to the post war expansion in Dalton was the addition of a rail line to Rome, making Dalton a hub of rail activity.
Dalton, Carpet Center
Shortly after the start of the 20th century a cottage industry starts in Dalton. Catherine Evans Whitener, using an American tufting technique known as "candlewick embroidery" begins making bedspreads. The number of bedspreads ordered quickly surpasses the quantity she can make and she teaches others the skill of hand-tufting.
|Catherine Evans Whitener|
Dalton's First Lady of Carpet is shown holding one of the bedspreads that led to the development of the Carpet Industry in Dalton
In 1917 she, along with other family members, form the Evans Manufacturing Company. From the Tennessee state line to Adairsville the homes along U.S Highway 41 were decorated with the creations of her company. The road become known as "Chenille" or "Bedspread" Alley. Some people even call it Peacock Alley for the most popular bedspread design. Once again the railroad lines would play a key role, allowing the industry to develop because of available transportation.
The technology used by the company is transferred to the manufacture of carpet. Introduction of wall-to-wall carpet gives fuels additional expansion. Today Dalton is unrivaled in its production of carpet. Almost 90% of the functional carpet produced world-wide is made within a 25-mile radius of this north Georgia city.
Today Dalton is a growing, vibrant reminder of Georgia's past and its future. Started in 1956 and only recently completed, Interstate 75 runs through Mill Creek Gap, over the site of much of the Battle of Rocky Face. The depot that witnessed almost of Dalton's growth has been reborn as a restaurant, fittingly called The Dalton Depot. Downtown Dalton features a wide array of businesses, including upscale shopping and food. The western side of the city includes three exits packed with just about every kind of fast food. In the late 1980's Tanger Outlet Mall opened its doors as a major regional attraction.
Dalton's major industry is reflected in this design of the city's police patch
In the city are The Crown Archives, the largest private archives in the state. In addition to many original documents about the city and county, the archives house information on the carpet industry and The Civil War. The Blunt House, home of the first mayor, can be rented for special occasions. It is furnished with historic period pieces donated to the historical society by the Blunt family.
West Hill Cemetery is home to 4 known and 421 unknown Confederate soldiers. Four graves of unknown Union soldiers can also be found. A monument in the cemetery honors the Confederate troops who were engaged in the area.
For more information visit the Dalton, Georgia Convention and Visitors Bureau