Sunday, February 8, 2009

Chattahoochee NRA: Sope Creek

Yesterday was drop dead gorgeous here in Atlanta, warm and sunny, so we decided to spend some time wandering around the Sope Creek unit of the Chattahoochee River National Recreational Area. The Sope Creek unit is absolutely riddled with a maze of trails, both official and social. The official trails are, in general, pretty easy walking. The social trails, which are so well established it can be difficult to distinguish them from the NPS sanctioned trails, get a little trickier. Park management has markers at each official intersection, though, so if a person is paying attention it's fairly easy to figure out where you are in the maze. You can do long loops, short loops, or something in between, to wend your way from the parking lot to Sopes Creek, the papermill ruins, or the river, depending on how ambitious you're feeling.
Given my strong interest in industrial archeology, we picked the shortest route possible from the parking area to the papermill. It's an impressive set of ruins. According to the book-on-a-stick in the parking area the mill first operated before the Civil War, was burned down by Union forces, rebuilt in 1871, and operated until 1902. NPS has done a nice job of stabilizing it.

The complex is fairly large -- there are ruins on both sides of the creek. The photos don't really give a good sense of scale. The one quibble I had was the site could use a good interpretive wayside, something that included historic photos or a map showing exactly how big the complex was when it was in operation and explaining briefly how a 19th century papermill operated.

There were two books on sticks in the parking lot, both placed by the Georgia Historical Commission, and standing more or less side by side. Odds are, though, that few people notice the markers, especially when they're located over half a mile from the actual ruins. I was moderately amused by the text. The one focusing on the papermill's history described it as being located on Sope Creek. The other one, which focused on a Civil War skirmish, called it Soap Creek.

After admiring the ruins, we did some looping around before heading back to the parking lot. One of these days we'll have to go back and try wandering into a different part of the maze and seeing how things look closer to the river.


  1. Looks like an interesting area, the weather here has been pretty decent for this time of year also, since that one snow dump left.

    IMHO a major problem is too many people today believe the line the Republicans are pushing that "The New Deal didn't work."

    I’m thinking that it’s more like the capitalists are pushing that the new deal didn’t work because they didn’t get their fat slices of it. And I think they are concerned about that now, no matter which party they are in.

  2. Hey - that is beautiful! I wasn't familiar with it. It's so gorgeous here, I feel guilty being at my computer.

  3. Cool! Very reminiscent of Virginius Island at Harpers Ferry, site of the Hall Rifle Works, a paper mill, and sundry other water-powered factories.


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