Frequent visitors of the Highlands to Islands Midland Trail in Gainesville will now spot a new addition- giant letters spelling “Midland” along the old Midland Rail Track.
A news release from the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce states the letters were installed by Vision 2030 Public Art as a way to recognize the contribution the Midland Rail System made to the birth and growth of Gainesville.
In addition, the letters symbolize the endurance of the community over the near 200 years of the city’s existence.
“An anonymous donor had a real interest in the old Midland Rail System and wanted to help people remember that,” said Elizabeth Higgins, Executive Director of Vision 2030. “So that was kind of the impetus for starting this.”
Higgins said along with educating the public about this history of the rail system, the letters are a landmark for the enjoyment of residents of all ages.
“I think so many places across the United States have these big places where people gather to do Instagram posts or just take pictures, and these are seven feet tall and climbable!” said Higgins. “So it’s not only art and something of interest, but it’s almost like a play area.”
Higgins said there will also be a sign installed nearby so everyone who visits the letters knows what they stand for.
The installation of the letters was made possible through a gift arranged by the North Georgia Community Foundation and matching funds raised through Vision 2030’s 2019 block pARTy event. The project became a collaboration between Vision 2030 Public Art, Gainesville Park & Recreation, the City of Gainesville, Paden Dunagan and Dunagan Welding (creator of the letters) and Warren Bennett of Bennett Service Company.
Vision 2030 Public Art is a community project of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce that works to spotlight and create an appreciation for local art and artists. Some of this organization’s other projects include the Free Range Art Project, GOGO Art and the fundraising initiative block pARTy. Since the founding of the organization, Hall County has seen over 120 new art installations.
The Highlands to Islands Trail is part of a 15-mile trail loop system that will ultimately connect the downtown Gainesville Square, Rock Creek Greenway and University of North Georgia Gainesville campus. The project is to be completed by Hall County personnel in two phases.