December 16, 2021
Chattahoochee River NRA
The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area protects most of a 48-mile stretch of this historic river. We spent the morning wandering the Island Ford Visitor Center and taking a nice stroll along this scenic river.
While small, the visitor center provided a lot of information. A very helpful park ranger also pointed out the best places to visit. Sadly, we did not have the time to see them all.
In the early 1800s the Chattahoochee River formed a southwestern-facing barrier that separated the state of Georgia from Creek and Cherokee Indian tribes. That barrier didn’t last long as land-hungry Americans used the Indian Removal Act of 1830 to force the Indians from their lands.
The river of today is quite different than the one long ago. There were few fords and fewer bridges. Today’s road names give clues as to where the bridges, ferries, fords, and mills had been.
Island Ford trail loops around a pond, through the forest, and along the river.
Our hike took us past a very scenic, human-made pond. I learned that ponds are “meadows in the making.” Without human intervention, ponds will eventually fill with silt and organic matter.
The trail eventually led us to the river…
where we spotted a surprising number of geese having a grand time hanging out. But getting a good photo of them wasn’t easy. More often than not, I ended up with shots of goose butts. But persistence paid off.
Old Mill Park
We continued our day at Old Mill Park in Roswell, GA. Here was another gem of a park where we learned a lot about the trials and tribulations of an “Old South” cotton mill.
Three mills were built on this site – in 1839, 1853, and 1882. The 1839 mill no longer exists; its location is marked by wooden posts. The 1853 mill is in ruins and sits just below the mill dam. The 1882 mill has been restored and is used as an event center.
Mill machinery was water-powered. To provide that power a mill dam, which still stands, was built upstream of the 1853 mill’s location.
Signs along the trail told you about the textile industry in the 19th century, life in a mill village, and how the mills worked.
When the Civil War started, the site comprised two mills, cotton warehouse, picker house, blacksmith shop, machine shop, general store, and lodging for 400 workers. Union troops burned the mills in July 1864.
After the war, the 1853 mill was rebuilt but the 1839 mill was not. The last mill was built in 1882.
A more recent addition is a beautiful covered bridge, built by the city of Roswell to connect Old Mill Park with the Vickery Creek Unit of the Chattahoochee River NRA.