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Destination Dixie

Tourism and Southern History

Edited by Karen L. Cox

Publication Year: 2012

Once upon a time, it was impossible to drive through the South without coming across signs to "See Rock City" or similar tourist attractions. From battlegrounds to birthplaces, and sites in between, heritage tourism has always been part of how the South attracts visitors--and defines itself--yet such sites are often understudied in the scholarly literature.

As the contributors to this volume make clear, the narrative of southern history told at these sites is often complicated by race, influenced by local politics, and shaped by competing memories. Included are essays on the meanings of New Orleans cemeteries; Stone Mountain, Georgia; historic Charleston, South Carolina; Yorktown National Battlefield; Selma, Alabama, as locus of the civil rights movement; and the homes of Mark Twain, Margaret Mitchell, and other notables.

Destination Dixie reveals that heritage tourism in the South is about more than just marketing destinations and filling hotel rooms; it cuts to the heart of how southerners seek to shape their identity and image for a broader touring public--now often made up of northerners and southerners alike.

Published by: University Press of Florida


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pp. v-vi

List of Figures

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix

There are people along the way who deserve thanks for supporting this project and for greasing the rails, so to speak, to move this volume on tourism and southern history from idea to reality. Most important, as contributors, we thank Meredith...

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pp. 1-14

The American South, long perceived as the most primitive and exotic of regions in the United States, has been a destination for tourists since the country was founded. Since settlement, tourists have visited the region in an effort to better understand what set it apart from the rest of the country. Throughout the antebellum...


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1 Persistence of Fiction: One Hundred Years of Tom Sawyer at the Mark Twain Boyhood Home

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pp. 17-48

In Hannibal, Missouri, “the legends of Huck and Tom and Nigger Jim and Injun Joe won’t go away,” not that tourism officials, the local chamber of commerce, or the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum want them to. There, the story of Tom...

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2 From “Lawrence County Negro” to National Hero: The Commemoration of Jesse Owens in Alabama

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pp. 49-68

Motorists traveling on Alabama Highway 157, about seventy-five miles north of Birmingham, can easily miss the staid road sign, with its small, white font on a drab background, that points the way to the Jesse Owens Park and Museum in the Oakville community of Lawrence County. It appears below a sign of the same style...

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3 Saving “The Dump”: Race and the Restoration of the Margaret Mitchell House in Atlanta

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pp. 69-86

On the morning of May 16, 1997, a sizable crowd gathered expectantly outside a handsome three-story Victorian house on Peachtree Street in midtown Atlanta. They had come to celebrate the opening of the Margaret Mitchell House—the...

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4 “A Tradition-Conscious Cotton City”: (East) Tupelo, Mississippi, Birthplace of Elvis Presley

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pp. 87-110

Elvis Aron Presley was born a little after 4:30 A.M. on January 8, 1935, at the East Tupelo home of his parents, Gladys and Vernon Presley. She was a sewing machine operator; he, an eighth grade dropout who at various times worked as a truck driver...


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5 “History as Tourist Bait”: Inventing Somerset Place State Historic Site, 1939–1969

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pp. 113-136

At two o’clock in the afternoon on Saturday, September 6, 1969, in a ceremony “on fresh cut greens,” “under the spreading cypress trees that have shaded the plantation for almost 200 years,” Somerset Place, once a large and productive plantation...

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6 “Is It Okay to Talk about Slaves?” Segregating the Past in Historic Charleston

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pp. 137-159

Spend an afternoon today, in the early twenty-first century, sitting under the sprawling oaks at the Battery on Charleston’s southern tip, and you will be surrounded by time travelers.1 No doubt you will see an old-fashioned carriage driven by a guide...

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7 Selling the Civil Rights Movement through Black Political Empowerment in Selma, Alabama

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pp. 160-182

Perhaps no American city has touted its racist past more proudly than Selma, Alabama. With the slogan “From Civil War to Civil Rights and Beyond,” this regional center of the Black Belt commodifies its contested history for heritage tourism...


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8 “Challenging the Interest and Reverence of all Patriotic Americans”: Preservation and the Yorktown National Battlefield

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pp. 185-203

“They come not in warships and by foot,” the New York Times exclaimed in 1926, “but in flivvers, in high-speed motor cars, by airplane and ferry. They are armed not with muskets and cannon, but with golf clubs, fishing poles, and cameras.”1 Tourism...

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9 Calhoun County, Alabama: Confederate Iron Furnaces and the Remaking of History

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pp. 204-222

In a rural part of Calhoun County, Alabama, in a little town named Ohatchee, stands a once long-forgotten Civil War–era iron furnace. Its construction was barely completed before Union troops destroyed it in 1864, and it never produced an...

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10 A Monument to Many Souths: Tourists Experience Southern Distinctiveness at Stone Mountain

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pp. 223-244

Travelers who venture outside Atlanta, Georgia, “the Capital of the New South,” will discover the South as it once was, or at least as the South wants visitors to think it once was. Stone Mountain Park offers visitors the opportunity to walk the grounds...


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11 Dead but Delightful: Tourism and Memory in New Orleans Cemeteries

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pp. 247-266

When Benjamin Latrobe strolled through New Orleans in 1819, the famed architect—like many future visitors—could not help but note the peculiar means of burial. Farthest from the riverbank bustling with commerce, he found two cemeteries: one...

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12 Tourism, Landscape, and History in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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pp. 267-284

On June 15, 2009, leaders from the National Park Service, the Great Smoky Mountains Association, and the Friends of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park broke ground on a new visitor center and cultural museum at Oconaluftee, North Carolina...

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13 Authenticity for Sale: The Everglades, Seminole Indians, and the Construction of a Pay-Per-View Culture

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pp. 285-300

For much of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Americans viewed Florida as one of the last frontiers in the United States. Although long associated with the West, the Florida interior was routinely understood to be “frontier...


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pp. 301-302


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pp. 303-315

E-ISBN-13: 9780813042589
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813042374

Page Count: 320
Illustrations: 28 b&w photos
Publication Year: 2012

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Tourism -- Southern States -- History.
  • Historic sites -- Conservation and restoration -- Southern States.
  • Southern States -- History, Local.
  • Southern States -- Social life and customs.
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