COVINGTON, GA (WTVM) - 30 miles southeast of Atlanta, Covington, Georgia is a town of about 13,000 residents, yet feels a world away.
Covington, according to Clara Deemer with the Covington/Newton County Chamber of Commerce, is best known now as the "Hollywood of the South."
"So many people don't realize that "Remember the Titans" was filmed here, or part of "Sweet Home Alabama" and some of the other movies that were filmed here. We just had small parts, but they remember "In the Heat of the Night," Deemer said.
The crime drama set in Sparta, Mississippi was actually shot in Covington.
Actor Carroll O'Conner and many in the cast actually lived here for more than six years during production.
"In the Heat of the Night" fans still come to Covington to see old pictures and memorabilia.
They quickly find out what keeps the movie industry coming back, the gorgeous downtown area.
"That's what the movie people like about it. It's that the square looks like small town America," former Covington Mayor Sam Ramsey said.
Another reason, the people who live here.
"They've been receptive to the motion picture industry as well as TV series. We've had the "Dukes of Hazzard," that probably was the first one and we still have visitors from all over the world. We actually had a couple from Italy come and spend their honeymoon...this was part of their honeymoon to come to Covington because he was a great "Dukes of Hazzard" fan," Deemer said.
But the history of this town goes back much further than just a few highlights on the silver screen.
In 1864, as Union General William Sherman was making his march through the south to the sea, the Civil War was at its peak.
But unlike Atlanta, many of the large, historic, antebellum-style homes in Covington were spared.
Because of an old friend.
Ramsey recalls the story that left dozens of antebellum homes intact during the Civil War.
They remain a tourist attraction to thousands each year.