Civil War trail among region recipients of top state history honors

2013-11-06T17:30:00Z 2013-11-07T07:27:14Z Civil War trail among region recipients of top state history honorsTimes Staff nwitimes.com
November 06, 2013 5:30 pm  • 

A historical preservation and tourism initiative honoring region Civil War veterans is among three Northwest Indiana entities capturing top honors from the Indiana Historical Society this year.

The South Shore Civil War Memorial Trail and historical exhibit will be awarded the Historical Society's Outstanding Event or Project Award in an Indianapolis ceremony next month, the society announced.

Also winning in the same category is the Porter County Museum of History for its "Central Stories" project, which tells the history of people and architecture of Valparaiso's central neighborhood.

Recent Valparaiso University graduates Emily Royer and Jake Just, both 24-year-old AmeriCorps workers at the museum, performed the research and designed the "Central Stories" exhibit, which is on display through January.

And Hobart historian Elin Christianson will receive the society's Hubert Hawkins History Award for outstanding contributions during her 42 years of local history preservation, including serving as Hobart Historical Society president since 1980.

Three of the Indiana Historical Society's top awards going to Northwest Indiana entities is a coup for an area often overlooked in Indianapolis, said Porter County Museum of History Director Kevin Pazour.

The Civil War trail is an initiative to provide a web-based tour guide and restoration efforts for the grave sites of hundreds of Northwest Indiana Civil War veterans.

In addition to volunteer work that has replaced more than 80 broken, worn or missing region Civil War veteran headstones, the trail also guides visitors to veterans' local graves and provides biographical information and photos of dozens of the veterans on a trail website. The website is accessible on mobile devices by scanning QR code links at various cemeteries.

The trail — a project of the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority in partnership with local volunteers, Ziese & Sons Excavating and key sponsorship from The Times — also hosted a historical exhibit from April through June.

The exhibit, which attracted more than 8,500 visitors to the Indiana Welcome Center in Hammond, told the stories of region Civil War veterans and their regiments through hundreds of photos, artifacts, narrative text and five to-scale battle flag reproductions. A new version of the exhibit is scheduled to open in February.

News of the Historical Society Award comes as the trail is preparing to unveil a South Shore Line series poster painted by artist Mitch Markovitz. The trail also will be featured later this month on the statewide PBS program, "Savor Indiana."

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