. Exploring Northeast Georgia Hardman Farm Georgia’s Newest State Historic Site. By Kitty Stratton

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.  Exploring Northeast Georgia

Hardman Farm

Georgia’s Newest State Historic Site.

By Kitty Stratton

Hardman Farm is the newest jewel in the crown of Georgia’s State Historic Sites. The Hardman House sits in the beautiful Nacoochee Valley with a view of the area’s well known gazebo atop an ancient mound. This area is ripe with history and one of Northeast Georgia’s most beautiful landscapes. The mountains in this area are some of the oldest in the world.

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The gazebo atop the Indian Mound was built by the first owner, Captain James Nichols. The mound was excavated in 1915 and there was evidence of approximately seventy burials. The artifacts that were found are on loan to the Smithsonian Institution. It is probable that the mound predates the Cherokees and dates back to the mound builders. One piece of pottery from the valley floor is on display at the Pottery Museum in Sautee.

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The Hardman House is amazing in that it has been lovingly preserved for over one hundred years without much change to the original structure. The Italianate style house was built in 1870 by Captain James Nichols, who lived in Milledgeville with his wife and family. The family suffered during the civil war and Captain Nichols, a civil war veteran, recovering from malaria needed a quiet and peaceful place for his family to rest and recuperate. The beautiful waterfall near Unicoi State Park, Anna Ruby Falls was named after Captain Nichols only daughter Anna Ruby. She and her father rode horses over their large estate and enjoyed rides to the Anna Ruby Falls area.

The second family to own the house were the Hunnicutts who lived there during the summers from 1893 to 1903. Dr Lamartine Griffin Hardman was the third owner of the Hardman House and owned it from 1903 to 1999 at which time the family donated the house, farm and land, including the Indian Mound to the Georgia State Parks system. Dr Hardman had been Governor of Georgia from 1927-1931 and spent many summers with his family at their beloved Nacoochee Valley home.

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The tour includes a look at many of the original outbuildings including the separate outdoor kitchen building, servant’s quarters, a spring house, carriage house and the large barn that housed the Nacoochee Dairy operation from 1910 until the mid-1920s. Visitors will learn how the milk was processed and transported from the Nacoochee railway station.

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The Hardman House and outbuildings are open to the public four days a week on Thursdays through Sundays with tours currently at 10am, 12.30pm and 3pm. The tour lasts for one and a half hours and includes an extensive history of the house including the many outbuildings. The Indian Mound is not available for tours. Reservations for guided tours of the house and outbuildings are recommended. Visitors must be accompanied by park staff when inside buildings. Group reservations are required and can be made by calling 706 878 1077. 

Ticket prices are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors (62 and older), children 6-17 $7.00 and younger than 6 is $3.00. Entrance to the property is off of Hwy 75 coming into Helen on the right just past the intersection of Hwy 17 and Hwy 75.  The visitor’s center is in the red brick building when you first turn in at the property. 

More information about Hardman Farm and scheduled events can be viewed at the following website, http://gastateparks.org/HardmanFarm

Exploring Northeast Georgia Chenocetah Tower By Kitty Stratton

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Exploring Northeast Georgia

Chenocetah Tower

Kitty Stratton

Many visitors to Northeast Georgia may unintentionally bypass some of the area’s hidden treasures as they move rapidly northwards up the 441 corridor. Almost hidden away in a quiet neighborhood of Cornelia. overlooking the area from an 1,830 feet elevation the Chenocetah Tower is a surprising structure.

Chenocetah Tower

The tower was constructed in 1937-1938, and built by local craftsmen, who used native granite to build the fire tower and entrance columns. Chenocetah Tower was constructed on top of Chenocetah Mountain located on a 472 acre tract of land.  In 1820 the property had been owned by Caleb Griffin and at that time Chenocetah Mountain was named Griffin Mountain. There had also been a wooden tower before the current stone tower and the mountain had once been named Tower Mountain.

The inside of the tower is not open to the public but includes a wooden observation room that can be reached by climbing a spiral metal staircase. For those who have viewed the surrounding area from the observation room the panoramic views are spectacular.

Chenocetah Tower historic marker

In June of 1984 the tower was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The tower has been protected and in 1985 the Chenocetah Conservation Corps was formed.  The goal of the Corps is to “preserve and maintain the scenic beauty of the Chenocetah Tower area”.

From 1938 to 1971 the tower was used for fire observation. For a period of time from 1971 to 1986 the tower was inactive when the Forest Service began to use aircraft to watch for fires on public lands. From 1986 to 2000 the tower was reactivated by the Georgia Forestry Commission to serve as the only stone fire tower in the state of Georgia.

From 1999 to 2000 the tower benefited from a restoration project implemented by the U.S. Forest Service. The slate roof was replaced, along with windows and the stone structure was cleaned and sandblasted

I was fortunate enough to visit the tower on a beautiful cool, January Sunday when the sky was clear and blue and true to the meaning of Chenocetah, which means “see all around” in Cherokee, the views of the surrounding landscape and especially Lake Russell were truly awesome.

View of Lake Russell from Chenocetah Tower

According to information in the USDA Forest Service brochure, “A History of Chenocetah Tower”, the tower area has one of the largest stands of Rhododendron minor in the nation and there is a Rhododendron Trail from Chenocetah Tower to Lake Russell.

Thanks to a unique partnership between the U.S. Forest Service and the The Chenocetah Conservation Corps the Tower and surrounding area are lovingly protected and maintained.

Giving Thanks in the Oldest Church Still In Use in Northeast Georgia

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Giving Thanks in the Oldest Church Still In Use In
Northeast Georgia

Kitty Stratton

For generations the families of Northeast Georgia have been worshipping and giving thanks in churches tucked away in mountain valleys and perched on hilltops with their church spires gleaming in the autumn sunshine. The sight of a pretty white church against a background of flaming autumn colors and the church spire silhouetted against a sky the bluest of blue can bring words of praise to young and old.

Grace-Calvary Episcopal Church in Clarkesville established in 1838 as Grace Protestant Episcopal Church is a treasure tucked away in the heart of Clarkesville. It is believed to be the oldest church building of any denomination still in use in Northeast Georgia.

Grace-Calvary Episcopal Church, Clarkesville GA.

To better understand the history of this beautiful, old church, learning more about the history of Clarkesville is essential. Clarkesville was one of the first major resorts in Northeast Georgia. Many families would come from the swampy lowlands of Georgia and South Carolina, where yellow fever and other diseases were rampant. They would spend the summers in the cooler mountains and stay for sometimes as long as six months. Some of these families owned large plantations around Savannah and Charleston and would bring servants with them and some built summer homes in the area. A large number of these summer visitors were either Episcopalian or Presbyterian.

Desiring a place to worship Grace Protestant Episcopal Church held a service for worshippers for the first time on October 28th 1838. The first Rector came from New York State as a missionary. The Rev. Ezra B. Kellogg held Episcopal services twice a month in the Methodist Church building which used to stand where the old Clarkesville Cemetery is today.

In 1839 the acre lot where the present church building stands was purchased and $1,335.00 was raised to fund the construction. Construction was slow and records indicate that rainfall was so low that year, the water-powered saw mill on the Soque River could not operate.

Amazingly, the Grace Church building frame structure, remains essentially unaltered today. It is described in the church website history as “a superb example of Greek-Revival architecture, characterized in front by tall pillars and a portico. It is the second oldest Episcopal Church building in Georgia”.

Grace-Calvary Episcopal Church Historical Marker

The Civil War era had a damaging effect on the life of Grace Church. Many of the families who supported the church were financially destroyed by the war. The church dwindled in size and was reduced from a parish church to a mission. Fortunately some of the summer visitors settled permanently in the area. One of the main families were the Kollock family, ancestors of the well-known and beloved artist John Kollock. In 1853, the Chapel of the Holy Cross on New Liberty Road in Clarkesville was located on Kollock Land. For families who were unable to make the four mile trip traversing primitive roads to Grace Church in Clarkesville, monthly services were held at the Holy Cross location. In the early 1900’s Holy Cross was demolished due to deterioration of the building. Today the Holy Cross property, given to the church by the Kollock family, is used as a cemetery.

Grace Church has had a long and interesting history. In 1951 MGM repaired and repainted the building for the use of the church in the opening scene of the movie “I’d Climb the Highest Mountain”. Many factors have contributed to the long life and growth of the church, including the addition of the Calvary Church congregation which moved from Cornelia to Clarkesville. The Cornelia building was sold to provide funds for major structural repairs to the Clarkesville building in the early seventies.

For a more detailed and extensive history visit http://www.grace-calvary.org

Covered Bridges in Northeast Georgia – Kitty Stratton

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Covered Bridges in Northeast Georgia
Kitty Stratton

Covered bridges are not always easy to find when you’re travelling through the beautiful mountains and valleys of Northeast Georgia, some of them are tucked away in remote locations and some of them are sadly long since gone. At one time, Georgia had more than 200 covered bridges and today there are less than twenty remaining.
The few that are left are scattered throughout many Northeast Georgia counties. In the Sautee Nacoochee area Stovall Mill Covered Bridge has been well preserved. The bridge (no longer in use) spans Chickamauga Creek and was built in 1895 by Will Pardue. At one time there were mills on Chickamauga Creek owned and operated by Fred Stovall, Sr. These mills are long gone but the covered bridge, named after Mr Stovall is a living reminder of the history of the people and places of the area.
To visit Stovall Mill Covered Bridge head north from Sautee on Hwy 255.

Stovall Mill Covered Bridge

Prather Bridge covered bridge is sadly gone and all that remains are the rock pillars. Prather Bridge spanned the Tugaloo River between Stephens County Georgia and Oconee County South Carolina. The photo of the bridge in this article was the fourth bridge constructed at this location by the Prather family.
The Prather family built the first bridge in 1804 but it washed away and was replaced in 1850. The fate of the second bridge has varying stories, one being that it also washed away, but another story tells that the bridge was burned in 1863 during the civil war. This bridge was replaced in 1868 and lasted until 1920 when it too was washed away. The final bridge was destroyed by fire in 1978.

Prather Bridge - Toccoa GA

Watson Mill Bridge has been described as one of the most picturesque state parks in Georgia, Watson Mill Bridge has the longest covered bridge in the state, spanning 229 feet across the South Fork River. Built in 1885 by Washington (W.W.) King and famous covered-bridge builder Horace King. Watson Mill Bridge State Park is located northeast of Athens near Comer, Georgia in Madison County.

Watson Mill Bridge State Park

The Quanassee Path Hayesville, North Carolina – Kitty Stratton

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The Quanassee Path
Hayesville, North Carolina
Kitty Stratton

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The town of Hayesville has a strong connection with the Cherokee history and culture of North Carolina. Many organizations have worked together to create a well-marked path through the town of Hayesville so visitors can fully experience the varied exhibits and archeological sites.
There are five sites to visit on this two mile Cherokee History Trail. The first site located on the main road entering Hayesville is The Cherokee Homestead exhibit, where visitors can view authentic replicas of summer and winter houses and artwork depicting the Cherokee way of life.
The second site to visit is The Clay County Historical & Arts Museum where visitors can see a life-sized figure of a Cherokee woman basket weaver. The rest of the exhibit includes tools, pottery, baskets, leather clothing and moccasins. Call ahead for opening times 828 389 6814.
The third site on the Quanassee Path is The Cherokee Cultural Center, in the Moss Memorial Library which was created in 2013. The center has books, maps and Cherokee art. The exhibit includes baskets, darts, ballsticks, musical instruments and small replicas of the seven Cherokee clan masks.
Moving on to the fourth site along the Quanassee Path visitors will reach the Spikebuck Mound and Quannasse Village site. There is a marker at the site describing the village. The Spikebuck Mound existed before the first European explorers arrived in the 1690’s. Quanassee Village was home to several hundred people but by 1721 it was a small Cherokee town.
The fifth site is the Cherokee Heritage Trail, the .3 mile Spikebuck Connector Trail which follows along beside Town Creek. The trail meanders through areas of native trees and plants. Plans are to add more native plants that were used by the Cherokee for food and medicine. Markers will be placed to identify these plants of interest along the trail.

Remembering the Bliss of Childhood in an Old ’52 Ford Pick Up Truck – Kitty Stratton

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Remembering the Bliss of Childhood in an Old ’52 Ford Pick Up Truck
Kitty Stratton

If I close my eyes I can feel my bare feet on the hot metal of the running board of my grandpa’s old, black, 1952 Ford truck. How I loved to play on this old truck. It had wonderful smells of oil and leather and he would allow us to play all over his truck. We would sit in the seat, bouncing on and off the hot leather and holding the large steering wheel, pretending to drive.

PHOTO OF  GRANDPAS  1952 FORD TRUCK

Even better than playing in the hot cab in July and August was the bed of the truck, which held so many treasures for me. An old oil can with a snake like tube and various tools. We would play on the bed of the pickup truck for hours, making up games, climbing on and off the lowered tailgate. We would take breaks to run inside for vanilla wafers and Kool-Aid from my grandma who was always peeling, shucking and canning beneath hard working fans in a house that never knew air-conditioning

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Even better than playing on the old Ford were the times when my grandpa, a man of few words, would invite me for a ride with him to pick blackberries down a grass track into the woods near his garden. We would carry rusting, metal pails and I would come back with blackberry juice all over my hands and face for I had eaten more than I had picked. My grandfather rarely corrected me, it was simply silent companionship and love. This was the bliss of childhood.
When he left in the old truck to head to town he always took the empty coke bottle carrier back to the store to bring us more coca-colas. Back then coke was a treat, we could have a small glass in little juice glasses which my grandmother drank her Welch’s grape juice out of. I never asked to go ride in the truck unless he invited me and somehow I silently knew when I was welcome to go with him. These times are long gone but the memories and love stay forever.

The Sentinel of Currahee Mountain

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The Sentinel of Currahee Mountain
Kitty Stratton

For many years, living in Northeast Georgia, I could never quite get a fix on exactly where Currahee Mountain was until I recently moved to Toccoa. Now that I drive past the mountain on a regular basis I can clearly see Currahee “standing alone” the name given to the mountain by the Cherokees who at one time lived in and around Toccoa.

The more I study this mountain the more I am fascinated by it. It truly does stand alone, like a sentinel rising up from the rolling hills of middle Georgia. Currahee has been called the first mountain in the Appalachian chain.

One side of Currahee is steep whereas the other has a long approach. On a glorious fall day last year, my son and I climbed the steep side of Currahee. The narrow, overgrown, path that we climbed, started on Hwy 184 and snaked back and forth up the mountain until it became rocky and strewn with enormous boulders. Having read the myths and stories of hidden caves and gold in the area my imagination took flight and I scanned the giant boulders on either side of the trail looking for even the smallest of cave openings.

Unable to find any mysterious cave like openings with my naked eyes, I turned to my camera and using it like binoculars I zoomed in and took several photographs of the rock strewn mountainside.

Currahee Mtn Rock Face

The Sentinel of Currahee

Only later, when I was viewing the pictures on the computer did my gaze fall on the above photograph and I could suddenly see the sphinx like face appearance on the rock!! Take a close look and beware! To me this is the guardian of Currahee holding and protecting secrets of hidden gold and deep caverns.