13-state region invites tourists with a new map

The Appalachian Regional Commission has helped states throughout the mountainous region build roads and other infrastructure, and provide high-speed access to the Internet. Now the agency is turning its attention to another economic development tool: tourism.

The commission has partnered with the National Geographic Society to develop a "geotourism" map promoting an eclectic mix of more than 350 attractions reflecting the diversity of the 13-state region.

Attractions include the mainstream and the obscure, from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y., to what's billed as the oldest continuous flea market, in Ripley, Miss.

Also featured are Civil War sites, museums, parks, hiking trails, festivals, historic districts, spas and resorts, celebrity birthplaces, prehistoric Indian mounds and notable farms.

"This map delivers a taste of Appalachia's distinctive culture and heritage to a wide audience, exposing this 'undiscovered national treasure' to many first-time visitors," a commission statement said.

The Appalachian region covers all of West Virginia and parts of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia.

In a 2003 report, the ARC's Tourism Council said tourism's overall economic impact on Appalachia was $29.1 billion and the industry employed 601,431 workers.

The ARC made a grant of $85,000 to the National Geographic Society for development of the map. It was distributed as an insert in the April issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine, which has about 900,000 subscribers and can also be purchased from National Geographic.

Tourism offices throughout the Appalachian region will distribute another 300,000 copies. The ARC also plans to make the map available to schools, libraries and civic groups. An Internet version of the map, which has information on about 130 attractions, is also available.

The Appalachia Geotourism map is available for $10.99 plus $8 shipping and handling; order through the Web site ( / appalachia) or by calling 800-962-1643.

For more information on the Appalachian Regional Commission, visit its Web site:

Gettysburg museum project receives Ford Fund grant for $3 million

The foundation raising money to build a museum and visitor center at the site of the Battle of Gettysburg has received $3 million from the Ford Motor Company Fund.

The Gettysburg National Battlefield Museum Foundation has a fund-raising goal of $95 million, a dollar amount that foundation officials say the cash-poor National Park Service likely would never raise.

Groundbreaking for the project was scheduled to begin this month, and construction should be finished by 2007. The museum will tell the story of the war from the perspectives of presidents Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, a common soldier, the home front, and newspaper correspondents.

In recent years, national parks increasingly have cut their staffs and relied on volunteers and partnerships with private organizations to maintain the parks.


The tiny town of Weiser is a quiet farming and ranching community nestled near the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area in Idaho.

But for one week every summer, the town throws off its sleepy mantle and becomes the fiddle capital of the world. This year, the National Oldtime Fiddlers' Contest & Festival is set for tomorrow through Saturday.

"There is music everywhere," said Cindy Campbell, a board member for the festival organization. "People young and old are able to jam together. They play all day, all night, and there's always people listening to the music."

Weiser's hotels often get booked a year in advance for the festival and are usually full. Tents and RVs take over Weiser's high school field and parking lot, and many residents rent their yards and spare rooms to tourists.

Some of the finest musicians don't come for the competition, said Walt Werme of Camano Island, Wash., a prize-winning fiddler who is a judge this year. Instead, they just come to play -- in parking lots, on sidewalks and in city parks.

"You can wake up at 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning and there's music," he said.

For more information: www.

The best of America

The top "American treasures," from a survey by the Travel Industry Association of America:

1. The Grand Canyon.

2. The Statue of Liberty.

3. Yellowstone National Park.

4. White House / monuments of Washington.

5. Niagara Falls.

6. Hawaiian Islands.

7. Mount Rushmore.

8. Redwood forests.

9. Glaciers / fjords of Alaska.

10. Rocky Mountains.

-- From wire reports

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