By Kitty Stratton
Fort Mountain, GA.
Long before I hiked the mesmerizingly beautiful trail to the summit of Fort Mountain, I had read about the legends and the disappointing lack of historical evidence regarding the age and builders of the ancient stone wall that zig zags in a serpentine type fashion for 850 ft just below one side of the summit.
So many questions and really no answers! The information sign near the wall briefly covers the Cherokee legend of the moon eyed people or Prince Madoc of Wales as possible builders.
When dealing with mysteries I like to look for coincidences or similarities and having grown up in England, the wall did somehow remind me of the rock (or stone walls) of England, Ireland or Wales. But the question remains, “why?” Why would a tribe or culture build a wall around a partial side of a summit of a mountain in Northeast Georgia?
Fort Mountain, GA. Section of ancient stone wall.
If they lived behind the wall for protection, it did not seem the ideal place for a winter home, with maximum exposure to the elements of freezing snow or rain & high winds. I did not see an obvious water source at the top of the mountain or anywhere to grow crops.
Were they may be protecting the mountain for some reason? Who was protecting whom from what? In my limited findings from internet research I did discover that there is a creek called Goldmine Creek in Fort Mtn. State Park. Placer Gold was panned from this and maybe other creeks on Fort Mountain years ago. Apparently, there is a reference to a large vein of gold on Fort Mountain by the United States Geological Survey when they visited in 1906. A mine was being worked in 1906 when they visited but just a few years later when they came back the mine was shut down. Another question looms, why was the mine shut down?
After reading through the Archaeological survey – ABORIGINAL STONE CONSTRUCTIONS IN THE SOUTHERN PIEDMONT BY PHILLIP E. SMITH MARCH 1962 https://archaeology.uga.edu/sites/default/files/lab-series/uga_lab_series_4.pdf some interesting findings stood out.
According to the report throughout the length of the wall there are 19 pits. I was excited by this revelation until I read on and discovered that excavations in and around a couple of these pits did not produce any artifacts or burials. The author of the survey felt that these pits were possibly made by gold diggers or vandals. At the end of the survey very little conclusion is drawn, except that there is a true similarity to other Stone Forts in the southeastern states. One of the best preserved stone forts, not mentioned in the survey is the Old Stone Fort on the Duck River near Manchester, Tennessee.
Regardless of what my explorations of Fort Mountain reveal I am now a dedicated enthusiast of exploring more Stone Forts and look forward to sharing more articles on this subject!