Kinston, NC, has discovered heritage tourism. Here's a well thought out article that cuts to the chase:

Few tools exist to measure the impact of heritage tourism - that is, the money spent by out-of-towners who visit a city for a certain historical attraction. But that's not stopping small towns across Eastern North Carolina from trying. There's gold in them battlefields, supporters say.

Try this, too:

"Just walking the streets of Fredericksburg (Va.) a couple of weeks ago, it was wall-to-wall people," Sampley said. "They have a theme. Theirs even goes back to the Revolutionary War. I watched them. People were actually going in all the shops and buying things." Field of green?

Now, the thing that strikes one about Antietam field, as an area resident, is the abundance of private land around the site and the total lack of interest on the part of locals in erecting shops or services on that land. I don't think this is a mistake; nor is it likely good taste that keeps merchants away. The absence of commerce is telling us something. And consider the draw potential of Antietam versus Kinston, my dear city fathers, before erecting that 20,000 sq. ft museum to house the CSS Neuse.

Tourism based on the wending byways of General Ambrose Burnside ... hmmm. Is "Ambrose Burnside and Modern Economic Renewal" a thesis awaiting its author?

(p.s. On a related note, the latest on the CSS Ram Neuse Gunboat Association in Kinston appears here.)