Exploring Northeast Georgia Crescent Hill Baptist Church -A Time for Thanksgving By Kitty Stratton


Exploring Northeast Georgia

Crescent Hill Baptist Church -A Time for Thanksgving


Kitty Stratton


Tucked away in the gentle and peaceful Nacoochee Valley there is a small church of timeless beauty.  Crescent Hill Baptist Church is located near the junction of Hwy 17 and Hwy 75 in the Nacoochee Valley close to the ancient Indian Mound with the gazebo on top.

Crescent Hill Baptist Church was completed in 1872 by Captain James Nichols, a civil war veteran from Milledgeville, who also built the nearby Hardman House which opened as Georgia’s newest State Historic site just a year ago. The church was first known as the Nacoochee Presbyterian Church but changed owners several times before becoming the present Crescent Hill Baptist Church.

Captain Nichols sold the church, along with his home in 1893 to Calvin Hunnicutt from Atlanta. In 1903 Dr L.G. Hardman, (Governor of Georgia 1927-1931) purchased the church and Hardman Farm and it remained in his family until the Hardman property was donated to the state of Georgia in 1999.

Crescent Hill Baptist Church - Nacoochee - Kitty Stratton

This small but picturesque wood frame church is built on a stone foundation with many notable features. The windows are a Gothic Revival style, which was popular from around 1830-1860.

Crescent Hill Baptist Church Windows - Kitty Stratton

Other characteristic details of the Gothic style are steeply pitched roofs and front facing gables with delicate wooden trim called vergeboards. The wooden trim is often called “gingerbread” and the Hardman House and outbuildings, within walking distance of the church, also have excellent examples of this distinctive architectural style. Other distinctive features of the church are the portico or porch with the slender Gothic columns and ornate church spire.

The Nacoochee Presbyterian Church stopped having services in the building in the early 1900’s. In 1921 Dr Hardman allowed a Baptist group to worship there and the church was renamed Crescent Hill Baptist Church. The church is well worth a visit if you are in the area and you can see the original craftsmanship of the 1870’s in the Gothic architecture and the stained glass windows.

At this time of year we give thanks for a church that has stood the test of time and has remained unchanged for almost 150 years.


Exploring Northeast Georgia – A Time Gone By – Kitty Stratton





As the warm days of September give way to the cooler, crisp mornings of October and God’s glory is reflected in the rich palate of autumn colors, our minds shift back to a different time when Northeast Georgia was sparsely populated. Visitors came to enjoy the cooler mountains and enjoy the splendor of fall. Most of the resorts these visitors came to are long gone but if you look close enough there are reminders of this bygone time.

White Sulphur Springs was a resort just north of Gainesville, close to Lula. Similar to the resorts in Tallulah Falls and Mt. Airy, wealthy visitors and families would spend time at these elegant hotels looking to escape the summer heat and disease caused by mosquitoes carrying malaria. The hotels would provide relaxation for visitors, large porches with rocking chairs, outdoor activities, tennis or walking and in the evenings there would be fine dining, music and dancing.

Exploring NE Georgia - A Time Gone By  White Suphur Springs today - Kitty Stratton

Steps leading to the White Sulphur Springs Resort Hotel circa 1920’s and the ruins today

Many of these beautiful resort hotels were destroyed by fire, White Sulphur Springs burnt in 1933 and today a few poignant reminders exist of what had been a thriving health resort. Visitors would come to the springs and drink the healing waters. Today the ruins of this once beautiful resort are scattered over private property but a shadow of what existed can be seen in traces of stone steps and pillars, moss covered walkways and broken fountains.

Mt Airy, established in 1874 was another Northeast Georgia town that attracted visitors with the beautiful views from Grandview Avenue looking out over Lake Russell and the Chattahoochee National Forest. Mt.Airy lies on the Eastern Continental Divide, which means the waters falling on the east side of town run eventually to the Savanah River and into the Atlantic Ocean. The waters falling to the west flow eventually to the Chattahoochee River and then to the Gulf of Mexico.  With an elevation of 1545 feet, it was the highest point between New Orleans and New York on the Richmond and Danville railway line. Hotels established in Mt Airy were the Mount Airy Hotel which was built by Colonel Wilcox in 1886 and the Monterey Hotel which was built by the Gresham brothers from Virginia in 1902.  The Monterey Hotel stood where City Hall now stands but in its day the three-story structure boasted 150 rooms and 50 bathrooms. The Monterey Hotel, tragically suffered the same fate as other resort hotels in Northeast Georgia and burnt down in 1907. It was rebuilt and then sadly burnt again.

Tallulah Falls at one time, probably boasted the largest number of hotels in Northeast Georgia. The first hotel to open there was the Tallulah Hotel in 1840. When the railway finally came to town in 1882, this brought more tourists and more hotels were needed. Tallulah Falls had, at its height of popularity, seventeen hotels and boarding houses.

Cliff House Hotel, Tallulah Falls.jpg

Cliff House Hotel, Tallulah Falls, Ga.

From 1882 until 1921, an almost forty year span of time, Tallulah Falls flourished and was referred to as the Niagara Falls of the Southern States. People came mainly to see the Falls, but the hotels offered varied activities, music and dancing in the evenings, wonderful front porches to relax on and games such as billiards and tennis.  The end came in December 1921 when a fire broke out and burned for days. Most of the buildings were never rebuilt but the magic of that era can still be found in old postcards and photographs and history books.


Exploring Northeast Georgia

Foxfire – Glowing in the Dark

Kitty Stratton

In our, modern, fast paced world, we don’t spend much time walking through the forests at night. Native Americans were probably familiar with the glowing lights on the forest floor during spring on a moonless night. Whether they knew the origin of these lights, almost certainly they sparked myths and legends of spirits wandering the forests at night.

Foxfire  Glowing in the Dark - Kitty Stratton

Foxfire has nothing to do with foxes or fire and was sometimes referred to as “fairy fire”. Although no-one really knows for sure, the word “fox” may originate from an older version of the French word for false “faux”. False fire would have made a suitable name for a plant that glows like embers but is cold to the touch.

Today we know that Foxfire is a bioluminescent plant, or more simply put, fungi that live and are nourished by rotting wood. As the forest floor heats up during springtime, especially in moist oak woods, the fungi grow and emit their eerie lights.

Foxfire Glowing In the Dark #2  Kitty Stratton

So, why does Foxfire glow?  Simply put bioluminescence is a chemical reaction that helps plants or insects (such as fireflies or glow worms) lure prey, attract mates or camouflage themselves. Foxfire might be any of several different types of fungi, but usually the honey mushroom.

So, now that your interest is captured and you want to adventure out one evening to see the glowing Foxfire, here is a safe way to hike in the forest at night without getting lost or stepping on snakes!

Anna Ruby Falls Park next to Unicoi State Park has a program in May and June at 8pm on Thursday evenings. You will need to call ahead in April to make a reservation for this one hour hike up to the beautiful falls to see the glowing Foxfire. Hikes last about an hour and cost $5.00. Group capacity is 40 to 50 hikers. Remember to bring comfortable walking shoes and your camera!

Exploring Northeast Georgia – Summer Nights & Movies under the Stars – Kitty Stratton


Exploring Northeast Georgia

Summer Nights & Movies under the Stars

Kitty Stratton

In the high heat of the summer months along with cool creeks and watermelon, homemade ice-cream and fireflies, I think of cool movie theaters and resting long enough to escape the soaring temperatures.

Have you ever stopped to think how many movies have been made in your own backyard? Not literally, of course, but in our North Georgia mountains. On a quick look on the internet for movies made in Northeast Georgia, the majority have been made in Rabun County. I counted seventeen but there may be more than that.


The Disney movie “The Great Locomotive Chase” released in 1956 was filmed in North Georgia and North Carolina, using the now abandoned Tallulah Falls railway.

This Walt Disney adventure movie was based on a real Great Locomotive Chase that happened in 1862 during the Civil War. Fess Parker starred as James Andrews the leader of a group of Union soldiers. The group led by Parker, go behind Confederate lines disguised in everyday clothing and steal a Confederate train north of Atlanta. The adventure gathers momentum as they drive the locomotive back to the Union army in Tennessee.

The Great Locomotive Chase is a great family movie to watch and sit back and relax with a big bowl of popcorn, watch out for local Northeast Georgia scenery and teach the kids a little history along the way.

Other family movies made locally in the area include the 1987 Hallmark Hall of Fame TV movie, Foxfire. Jessica Tandy won an Emmy Award for her performance in the movie.


Jessica Tandy plays the part of Annie Nations, an older Appalachian woman who has spent her whole life living in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Her husband, Hector, played by Hume Cronyn, although passed away for five years, is still very much in her thoughts.  John Denver, who plays their country music singer son, Dillard Nations, is trying to convince his mother Annie to sell the farm and move to Florida and live with his family. Annie has to decide for herself.

Before Foxfire became a movie it was a play based on the Foxfire books written by Susan Cooper and Hume Cronyn. The movie captures forever the timeless plight of the people of Southern Appalachia. Does a rural mountain family keep a family home place or move away in the name of economic progress?  Annie Nation’s decision is heart rending.  Does she stay in her log cabin on the land, in the mountains that she and husband, and generations before them, worked so hard for or does she move away from all that she has ever known and loved?

Other movies filmed in Rabun County, may not be for the whole family to watch.  The 1976 movie, Whiskey Mountain by William Grefe, features a group of motorcyclists on a treasure hunt who are terrorized by a gang of murderous psychopaths.

The 1976 film Grizzly was filmed in Clayton. The movie is about a fifteen foot tall Grizzly bear that creates terror in a National Forest setting. The movie cast had many local residents in supporting roles, including Catherine Rickman, who played one of the victims. Catherine was the daughter of Frank Rickman.

Frank Rickman (1924-2004) played a large part in bringing the movie industry to Rabun County.  For further reading about movies filmed in Rabun County visit the Rabun County Historical Society website http://www.rabunhistory.org  and reference Frank Rickman and the role he played in bringing the movie industry to Rabun County.

Exploring Northeast Georgia – Who was William Bartram? By Kitty Stratton


Exploring Northeast Georgia

Who was William Bartram?

Kitty Stratton

Living in Rabun County you may have come across a trail marker for the William Bartram Trail. But who was William Bartram and what was he doing in Northeast Georgia in 1775?


William Bartram

William Bartram was born in Kingsessing outside of Philadelphia on April 9th, 1739.  He had a twin sister named Elizabeth. They were raised in a Quaker family and their father John, was America’s first professional botanist. William’s role model was his father and he was fortunate enough to be able to accompany his father, at the age of 26 on a trip to explore the wilds of Florida.

At that time Florida was newly acquired by Britain from Spain. As the King’s Botanist, John Bartram was commissioned to explore the flora and fauna of Florida. William and his father travelled to Charleston, South Carolina, Savannah and Augusta and then boated up the St John’s River in Florida.

Researching the life of William Bartram shows a man who was never content to work indoors. He loved the out of doors and exploring. He had many talents including writing and drawing and authored the book, “Travels”, which is still purchased and read today. He is known for his detailed descriptions of his natural surroundings as he travelled through the newly discovered southeastern areas of North America.

William Bartram and his father have been credited with discovering and naming the Fraser Magnolia.  The Fraser Magnolia grows in a very small range in the mid-south Appalachian Mountains.  The Bartrams named the tree after a well-known Scottish botanist, John Fraser.

Bartram Magnolia

Fraser Magnolia discovered in 1775 by Bartram

As a result of William Bartram’s well documented travels throughout Northeast Georgia we have a detailed account of the areas he visited. The Bartram trail covers 36.5 miles in Northeast Georgia and is well marked with historic markers such as this Historic Marker located on Warwoman Road, 2.7 miles east of Hwy 441 near Warwoman Dell.


We know from Bartram’s account of his travels that he crossed the Chattooga River and followed Warwoman Creek. He then headed through Courthouse Gap and followed Stekoa Creek to nearby Clayton.  He then headed north through Rabun Gap. While reading accounts of his travels we realize that his journey was not without fear and difficulties.  When we place his travels in the timeline of history we see that 1775 was just prior to the start of the Revolutionary War but also more importantly for Bartram, riding alone on horseback, this was a time not long after the Cherokee War which ended in 1761. The war had severely damaged the Cherokee Nation. Bartram was well aware of the bitterness the war had caused between the Cherokees and frontier settlers.


Bartram Trail in Northeast Georgia

Today, we might look back at William Bartram’s travels through Indian territories during war-torn times as risky at the least, especially on a mission to collect flowers and plants. However when we read the account of his journey in his book, “Travels”, we realize that he was well aware of the dangers ahead of him. However, history tells us that he was friendly and had a very deep respect for Native Americans.

William Bartram died at his home near Philadelphia on July 22nd 1823.

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.