Historic sites won't open during the Black Bear Festival/caboose dedication

With the relocation of Chatsworth's Black Bear Festival away from the downtown area to the old recreation center, members of the Whitfield-Murray Historical Society announce they will not open the historic properties for the festival this year.

Ordinarily, the Wright Hotel, the Chatsworth Depot, the Section House in City Park and the Big Blue Train would be a part of Black Bear (Oct. 17-18) as they have been for festivals called by many names for the last three decades. This year the newly refurbished caboose would have been added to the tours as well.

However, with the change in location, the two dozen-plus volunteers involved with preparing and opening the sites did not feel the visitation would justify the expense. Since other depot and hotel events scheduled this year have already been canceled due to low attendance brought about by COVID-19, revenue is down and funds are tight. The historical society relies on sales, event income and donations to maintain and operate the historic properties -- they are not government funded.

The historical society continues to collect and preserve archival materials as well as artifacts from all aspects of local history at the Chatsworth sites. The group also assists countless residents as well as visitors from other states and countries with genealogy and historical research questions, offers internship experiences for high school and college students, and awards scholarships to recent graduates of area public high schools. Both of the historic properties (the Wright Hotel and the Chatsworth Depot) are also available to rent for private events.

The next meeting of the historical society will be the dedication of the restored caboose on Sunday, Sept. 20, at 2:30 p.m. The outdoor event will be followed by socially-distanced tours of the caboose, the depot and the hotel hosted by members of the Depot and Hotel Committees.

The historical society is headquartered at the Crown Gardens and History Center at 715 Chattanooga Ave. in Dalton. Chatsworth resident Tina Pankey is executive secretary and can be reached at director@whit fieldmurray.org or (706) 278-0217.

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