Gone with the Wind is the most recognized book and subsequent film to come out of the South, penned by Margaret Mitchell in 1936 and adapted for the screen in 1939. The epic novel tells of Scarlett O’Hara, the spoiled heroine who goes through the tribulations of the American Civil War.
The impact of the film and book are long-standing, even today. It was easily the most notable role to date for both Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh and the film’s Atlanta premiere at the Loew’s Grand Theatre brought in one million people. It is still considered the most successful film of all time.
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What is the “Gone With The Wind” Trail?
The Gone with the Wind Trail is a self-drive tour and joint effort from the visitor’s bureaus of Marietta, Atlanta, and Clayton County to promote the sites important to fans of the book and movie. Mitchell’s book is set in Clayton County, where the characters were based on real families and events, so a stop there is a must.
And despite popular opinion, none of the movie was filmed in Georgia. A number of plantations served as inspiration for Tara, including Charleston’s Boone Hall. Unofficial locations are those that can further expand upon the history of that time and provide background knowledge for Civil War buffs.
Official Trail Locations
Marietta Gone with the Wind Museum, Marietta
Marietta Gone With the Wind Museum, also known as “Scarlett on the Square,” has amassed its artifacts from private collectors of Gone with the Wind memorabilia, Herb Bridges and Dr. Christopher Sullivan.
Highlights of the museum are the “bengaline gown” worn by Vivien Leigh in the film, one of the few remaining costumes, rare translations of the novel, and pieces from the film’s Atlanta premiere. It moved into a larger space a few years ago.
The Margaret Mitchell House, Atlanta
Known by Mitchell as “The Dump,” it was this Crescent Avenue apartment where she lived with husband John Marsh and wrote Gone with the Wind.
It was saved from demolition in the 1980s and has since remained a historical landmark operated by the Atlanta History Center. The Margaret Mitchell House and Museum regularly hosts literary events and guided tours daily every half hour.
Visit this museum and other locations on the ‘Gone With the Wind and Margaret Mitchell’s Atlanta’ – Private Tour.
Atlanta-Fulton Public Library, Atlanta
Atlanta-Fulton Public Library‘s Central Branch in downtown Atlanta has a small but unique collection of Mitchell’s belongings from her life in the city, including the typewriter she used to write the novel, pictured above.
Also included are her library card, personal photographs, and books she used as research for her novel. The special collection is one of the more under-the-radar attractions, so ask at the desk when you enter the library and the staff can direct you to the fifth floor.
Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta
Oakland Cemetery is a circa 1850 cemetery is where Atlanta‘s most notable citizens have been laid to rest, so it’s only fitting that Margaret Mitchell herself is interred here. The rural garden cemetery has a unique mix of headstones and mausoleums.
Other notable graves include golf legend Bobby Jones and Atlanta mayors Ivan Allen Jr. and Maynard Jackson. It also has large Confederate and Jewish sections. Maps for self-guided tours are available for $4, but you’re welcome to wander on your own for free.
Road to Tara Museum, Jonesboro
Set in a historic train depot, Jonesboro‘s Road To Tara Museum has also benefited greatly from private donations from Herb Bridges. The museum starts with information on the Civil War and specifically the battles waged in the small town.
From there, you can see clips of the film, replicas of costumes and translations of the book. For an extra $13.95, I recommend taking the Gone with the Wind bus tour that leaves from the museum daily. The guide tells stories of the real people that inspired Mitchell’s classic.
Unofficial Trail Locations
Atlanta History Center, Atlanta
The Atlanta History Center has one of the best exhibits on the Civil War anywhere in the nation, with over 1,500 artifacts. They tell the history of Atlanta and the region throughout the last two centuries.
The grounds include the history center, the Swan House, the Centennial Olympic Games Museum, and the Smith Family Farm, pictured. General admission tickets can get you into all of the grounds as well as the Margaret Mitchell House.
The Atlanta Cyclorama & Civil War Museum is the largest of only three in the United States and depicts the Battle of Atlanta. It is 42 feet tall and 358 feet in circumference. It was previously located in Grant Park, but now has its own building in the history center. A Rhett Butler figure is even included in the diorama.
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield, Kennesaw
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park is a nearly 3,000-acre battlefield that was the site of a battle during the Atlanta Campaign. Today you can hike the trails throughout the park or even up the mountain, which has views of downtown Atlanta. The visitor’s center has information on the battlefield’s significance in the Civil War.
Stately Oaks Plantation, Jonesboro
Stately Oaks Plantation is a Greek Revival plantation and grounds that are great examples of the Antebellum homes that inspired Mitchell. The historic community includes the main house, a one-room schoolhouse, a country store, and a cookhouse.
The home has been furnished with period-accurate pieces. Owner Rebecca McCord, like Scarlett, had to protect her home against Union soldiers during the Civil War.
Looking for a place to stay during your visit? The Georgian Terrace Hotel in Atlanta hosted the 1939 Gone with the Wind Gala with stars Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, and author Margaret Mitchell. It continues to host celebrities to this day.
Special thanks to the Road to Tara Museum and the Marietta Gone with the Wind Museum for their hosting me at their respective museums. Image header courtesy of the Gone with the Wind Trail.