New Faces of '08

Dozen Distinctive Destinations show ever more variety.

The film No Country for Old Men has received much critical praise recently, and now one of its overlooked stars—the mountainous countryside of West Texas—is getting some recognition from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Trust recently named Fort Davis, a small community near where the movie was filmed, a Distinctive Destination. "People don't even know there are mountains in Texas," says Lisa Nugent, executive director of the Fort Davis Chamber of Commerce.

The Dozen Distinctive Destinations program is an opportunity for communities with a strong preservation ethic to gain national recognition and help in promoting heritage tourism. Although some places on this year's list, like Portland, Ore., and Wilmington, N.C., are easily recognized, others are small communities in more remote locations, like Friday Harbor, Wash., and Apalachicola, Fla. "They're not really well known, so it gets them national exposure," says Carrie Johnson, special projects coordinator at the Trust.

The 2008 winners were chosen from 60 nominations by a jury looking for communities that are unique, livable, and diverse. The other winners are Portsmouth, N.H.; Aiken, S.C.; Columbus, Miss.; San Juan Bautista, Calif.; Ste. Genevieve, Mo.; Crested Butte, Colo.; and Red Wing, Minn.

Red Wing is Minnesota's first Distinctive Destination. Steve Kohn, assistant planning director for the city, says preservation has played a big role in making the town a tourist attraction, and he hopes that the publicity will draw even more people to the historic downtown to shop at locally owned businesses. "It's good for the local merchants," he says, adding that "it does pay off to preserve."

Nugent says that the designation has been a great educational experience for the town and that the Dozen Distinctive Destinations program can help communities realize what they have been taking for granted. "Many places don't feel like they have a lot," she says. "They don't see the uniqueness of what's in their own town." Although tourism is a big part of the Fort Davis economy, she hopes more than anything that being a Distinctive Destination will help preserve the town for future generations. 

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