ETOWAH RIVER HISTORIC SITES

IN BARTOW COUNTY, GEORGIA

(BY: David G. Archer)

 

  1. Allatoona Dam – Congress authorized in 1941; construction delayed by WW2; construction started in 1946; and completed in 1950.
  1. Etowah Village – site of Cooper’s Iron Works and sizable town; Iron Works purchased by Confederate Government around 1863; Town and Iron Works destroyed by Sherman’s Union troops on 4/21 or 22, 1865. Town site mostely under Allatoona Lake since 1950.
  1. Hurricane Creek runs through Hurricane Hollow – site of extensive mining pre-civil war; post civil war site of Bartow Lumber Company and workers lived in 20 houses – closed operation in early 1900’s.
  1. Railroad Bridge Rock piers in river – Built in late 1830’s/early 1840’s; used Cherokee Indian labor prior to removal in 1838; destroyed (burned) by retreating Confederates in 1864. Sherman’s Union engineers rebuilt in 6 days; In 1862 Andrew’s Union raiders crossed in stolen locomotive “General”; usage ceased in 1946 pursuant to Railroad rerouting associated with construction of Lake Allatoona.
  1. Above Railroad Bridge was a Union Fort on hill on north (right) side of river; Union troops protecting Bridge during Civil War. Fort was earthen with cannon ports.
  1. Etowah Station was located on north side of river prior to and during Civil War; Mark Cooper’s 2 mile spur track joined the W&A Railroad there; During Great Locomotive Chase, Conductor Fuller, chasing Andrew’s Raiders in the General, commandeered Cooper’s small locomotive “Yonah” and chased Andrews to Kingston, GA where he switched to a larger locomotive “Texas”.
  1. Rock piers in River just below Etowah Station were supports for a wooden covered bridge for pedestrians/wagons during Civil War and afterwards – dismantled around 1935 when new concrete bridge was constructed (Highway 293).
  1. Sally Hughes Ferry was located in vicinity of Wagon Bridge piers. Sally was a somewhat wealthy Cherokee Indian who owned property and several log cabins, barns, etc. in that area. Her ferry and real estate holdings were taken by white settlers during the Cherokee Removal of 1838 and the events that preceded it.
  1. Below Sally Hughes Ferry site is the old mill dam across the river that was used by Thompson & Weinman Company to generate electricity with water powered generators. The nearby abandoned brick building is the old City of Cartersville Water Works, which was built in the late 1800’s and operated until 1960’s. The City could no longer use the River as water supply after Allatoona Dam went into operation because of its effect on the River.
  1. Below there on the left side is Paga Mine property, which operated for almost 100 years mining barite, which ceased operation around 2003/2004. It was last operated by a division of Haliburton Corp.
  1. On the right side of the river is Old Mill Farm, which trains thoroughbred racing horses and during the 1950’s and 60’s trained two Kentucky Derby winners, Decidedly and Northern Dancer, who also won the Preakness and was narrowly beat for the triple crown at Belmont.
  1. Where Pumpkinvine Creek joins the river there was ancient Indian Village, with at least 3 mounds (left).
  1. Just down river is the famous Etowah Indian Mounds site which is now a state park with a museum.
  1. On the left, across from Etowah Mounds, is believed to be the site of the Cherokee Village and Mission called Hightower, reportedly the site of the last battle between Cherokees and General Sevier’s Militia from Tennessee in 1793; and, of a Moravian mission to teach Indian children.
  1. Cherokee villages along the right side of the river were burned and destroyed by American Revolutionary War soldiers under General Andrew Pickens of South Carolina near the end of the war, according to an affidavit given by John Wright, who was a small boy living at Hightower Village at the time and swore the affidavit in 1829. Mr. Wright stated that the soldiers did not cross the river and Hightower was not burned.
  1. The iron truss bridge just down river was constructed in 1886 on rock piers that pre-date the Civil War and was used until the concrete bridge was constructed in the 1980’s. The original wooden bridge was burned during the Civil War. The iron truss bridge replaced a second wooden bridge built after the Civil War in the late 1860’s. There are plans to restore the bridge for pedestrian usage with a series of hiking trails in the area.
  1. In the area of the iron truss and concrete bridges, an early pioneer, James Douthit, operated a ferry prior to the construction of a bridge across the river, and again operated a ferry after the Civil War prior to construction of the wooden bridge to replace the destroyed bridge. He is buried on the hilltop on the left, near the bridge.
  1. At or near the bridges, there were 2 Indian burial mounds, one on each side, which have been plowed under. The mound on the south (left) was within the River Chase Subdivision.
  1. The rock weirs at several places across the river were Indian fish traps that date prior to 1500 A.D.
  1. Down river, the river bends through the property of Confederate General PMB Young, an 1861 West Point classmate of Union General George Armstrong Custer. Troops commanded by Young and Custer fought against each other during the Civil War. After the War, General Young served as a United State Congressman and Ambassador to Guatemala and Russia. Custer went on to Little Big Horn.
  1. On the left side, just before crossing under the Highway 61/113 Bridge, one thousand years before the Etowah Mounds were built around 900 A.D., there was a large Indian village with a palisade wall around it. The village included 3 mounds and numerous burials have been excavated by archaeologists on the site. Spanish artifacts dated prior to 1600 A.D. have been found, leading to the belief that Desoto visited the village in about 1540. The mounds were used as fill dirt in construction of Highway 61/113 around 1940.
  1. On the right at Rowland’s Bend, a few hundred yards away is Ladd’s Mountain, upon which there were pre-historic rock walls that encircled the crest of the mountain. These walls were studied and diagrammed by Smithsonian Institute Archaeologists in 1886. There was similarity with the rock walls atop Fort Mountain in Murray County, Georgia. In 1936, the rocks were crushed and used to pave Highway 61/113 through Cartersville.
  1. The rail road trestle next to the Highway 61/113 Bridge was constructed originally about 1870 for the Cartersville Van Wert Railroad Company, with bond proceeds that were embezzled by Georgia’s Reconstruction era Governor Rufus Bullock, resulting in public scandal, resignation and criminal indictment and acquittal.
  1. Downstream on the bluff above the river on the left, until about 1900 stood the white columned plantation home of Mrs. Cecilia Stovall Shelman, which burned when struck by lightening. During the Civil War, Union General Sherman spared Mrs. Shelman’s home because of a past romance.
  1. Further downstream on the right lies the property of the Norton family descendants of the original settlers, the Sproull and Fouche families, who constructed the magnificent brick and white columned plantation home constructed in the late 1830’s. Former owner Sproull Fouche served in the United States Consular service in Romania in 1920’s and traveled as a commercial attache´ for the Secretary of Commerce in India, China and Japan.
  1. The next bend in the river travels through the property of the Knight family, descendants of William Henry Stiles, former congressman from Savannah, who initially acquired several hundred acres as a summer retreat from the coastal climate, but eventually moved his family to Bartow County in the late 1830’s. The Stiles were close personal friends with Robert E. Lee and kept up a friendship for many years. Mr. Stiles built his plantation home called Etowah Cliffs near the river, and his relative Juliette Gordon Lowe, as a child, visited several summers and swam in the shoals of the river. During the Civil War, General Sherman and several thousand Union soldiers forded the river at those shoals in 1864. Sherman telegraphed General Grant that he had crossed the “Rubicon” – During the 1850’s Mr. Stiles served as U.S. charge-d-affairs to Austria for several years.
  1. Down river is iron truss Milam Bridge which replaced the wooden bridge destroyed during the Civil War. The rock piers predate the Civil War. Thousands of Confederate and Union troops crossed the bridge and/or forded the river near here. In the 1950’s the last person electrocuted from Bartow County was sentenced to death for murdering a 12 year old girl from Rome, Georgia and throwing her body in the river from Milam Bridge after weighting her with chains and concrete blocks. The bridge was abandoned in the 1980’s.
  1. Near Milam Bridge, Euharlee Creek runs into the river in the small city of Euharlee, which was a farming community during the 1800’s. There was a grist mill with only foundations left, near one of the most picturesque wooden covered bridges over the creek.
  1. The river turns north now and after some distance passes under the iron truss Harden Bridge (formerly Gillem’s Bridge) which is still in use for cars, soon to be replaced with a new concrete bridge. The rock piers predate the Civil Ware and the former wooden bridge was crossed by thousands of Union troops under Sherman’s command. On the right bluff on both sides of the bridge are remnants of Civil War trenches built for protection of the bridge, but it was burned anyway. On the right is the antebellum home of Col. William Harden, who served the U.S. as agent in dealing with the Cherokee Indians prior to their removal to Oklahoma in 1838.
  1. Then there is a southerly bend in the river. In the middle of the bend on the left side is the site of an ancient Indian village that was excavated and reported upon by archaeologists working for the U.S. W.P.A. during the 1930’s with many significant artifacts discovered.
  1. Down river is Island Ford. An island used as a river ford prior to the construction of bridges. The island is now owned by 2 men from Cartersville. What would you do with it?
  1. After passing under the bridge at Highway 411, where Two Run Creek joins the river there is the site of Two Run Village, a Cherokee village of some size shown on maps dated as early as 1755. Many burials and artifacts have been discovered in the area.
  1. The next bend in the river is called Reynolds Bend, after the Benjamin Reynolds family who built a brick home in the 1840’s a short distance from the river. Again, it is still owned by descendants of the original builder
  1. In the middle of Reynolds Bend on the right is the Skinner/Bass plantation and home, complete with a widow’s walk. They were early settlers and the home was built in the 1840’s. It has been restored, but much of the property has been sold off.
  1. The rock piers in the river next are the ruins of Wooley’s Bridge, which was burned during the Civil War and never rebuilt. The Civil War era Wooley’s lived on the right side of the river.
  1. Also on the right side of the River can be seen where tracks once were for the Railroad from Rome to Kingston, and I am told that there are ruins of an old river crossing trestle, maybe over into Floyd County. This is the Railroad upon which the locomotive “Texas” traveled to Kingston and into the Great Locomotive Chase in 1862. I believe that this Railroad operated until the 1960’s, but I am not sure. At some point the iron tracks were taken up and sold for scrap iron.
  1. I believe it is just past Wooley’s Bridge on the left where Ravenel Cave is located. During the Civil War, the Confederate Government conducted a nitre extraction operation. See attached Exhibit “B” for further details.
  1. The next bend in the river loops around the current site of the Atlanta Steeple Chase, and into Floyd County.
  1. Just over into Floyd County is the site of the Bass Ferry. The Bass family bought the property in the 1840’s, but did not live on the property and operate the ferry until after the Civil War. Descendants of the Bass family owned the property until it was sold by my Great Grandmother Martha Gordon Gibson in 1954.
  1. The River and its tributaries from Allatoona Dam to slightly over into Floyd County is on the National Registry of Historic Places as an approximately 40,000 acres district since the mid 1970’s, in large part because of the area’s significance archaeologically as to prehistoric Indians, and the Civil War activities in the area; and because of the plantation culture and homes that predate the Civil War.

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