Exploring Northeast Georgia – Our Wild and Scenic River – By Kitty Stratton


Exploring Northeast Georgia

Our Wild and Scenic River


Kitty Stratton

The Chattooga River or Tsatugi named by the Cherokees marks the border between Rabun County in Georgia and Oconee County in South Carolina. This area was well known to the Cherokees. There was a village named Chattooga Town close to the meeting point of the Chattooga River and the West Fork of the Chattooga River. A census taken in 1721 shows roughly ninety people living in the Chattooga Town village.

Dugout Canoe at Oconee Heritage Center

Dugout Canoe from the Chattooga River

On display at the Oconee Heritage Center in Walhalla, South Carolina is a 32 ½ foot Native American, dugout canoe, discovered in 2004, which has been carbon dated from the late 1700’s. The canoe was made using iron tools and constructed using Southern Yellow Pine.

The fifty mile Wild and Scenic Chattooga River begins at the base of Whiteside Mountain near Cashiers, North Carolina. It descends rapidly until it flows into Tugaloo Lake in Northeast Georgia. The Chattooga is well known for its abundance of whitewater rapids and waterfalls.

At the headwaters of the Chattooga River, weather and terrain conditions combine to create a high rainfall of more than eighty inches a year, creating a rich moist atmosphere. This creates one of the most biologically diverse regions in the nation. These lush forests are home to eastern hemlocks, mountain laurel, rhododendrons, ferns, trillium and lady slipper, to name a few.

Chattooga River Wild & Scenic River Designation Boulder Hwy 76

Boulder with Inscription

On May 10th 1974 Congress designated the Chattooga River a Wild and Scenic River. A boulder, shown above, commemorates this designation at the parking area near the Highway 76 Bridge. Very few rivers have been awarded this designation. The Chattooga is one of the few remaining free-flowing rivers in the Southeast. The Wild and Scenic designation is a result of the outstanding scenery, geology, biology and recreation of this remote and primitive treasure.

Chattooga River at Bull Sluice

The Chattooga River at Bull Sluice

This article is dedicated to my brother Tom Green who passed away on April 12th 2015.


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