Whitfield County, Georgia (population 83,525), has a thriving industrial economy based largely on the carpet industry, which has important historic roots in the area. Dalton, the county seat, is known as "The Carpet Capital of the World," and is the site of numerous "firsts" and innovations in the tufted textile industry throughout the 20th century.
During the previous century, Whitfield County history was shaped by other, more violent forces of change, including the forcible removal of the native Indian population, and the Civil War.
White settlers first came to the area in the early 1800s and coexisted with the native Cherokee Indians until the Cherokee were forcibly removed in the early 1830s. Historic sites associated with the Cherokee are plentiful in the area, and Dalton serves a gateway city for the Chieftains Trail, a heritage tourism driving route highlighting the area's Indian heritage.
Whitfield County played a major role in the Civil War, being the site where the Union Army launched its Atlanta Campaign. Several important engagements were fought in the area, and the county has the largest collection of intact Civil War defense works in the Nation. In 2002, Whitfield County and the City of Dalton purchased a large portion of the Rocky Face Ridge battlefield to ensure its preservation.
Whitfield County has also used Transportation Enhancement Funding to help preserve the Western and Atlanta Tunnel, site of a Civil War battle and one of the oldest railroad tunnels in the South. The tunnel has become a heritage tourism destination following its restoration and the development of an interpretive center.
Using proceeds from its hotel-motel tax, Whitfield County has partnered with other county governments and non-profit organizations to develop and promote numerous heritage tourism driving trails and guides, including the Blue and Gray Trail; the Chieftains Trail; the Backroads and Battlefields Guide; the Atlanta Campaign Guide; and the Georgia Civil War Heritage Trail.
Designated a Preserve America Community in March 2004.