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Georgia Natural Wonder #160 - Pine Log Mountain WMA
October 06, 2020 08:54AM

Georgia Natural Wonder #160 - Pine Log Mountain WMA

We thought we had Bartow County winding down regarding Natural Wonders of the county. We even threw in some man made digging of railroad passes and Indian mounds along with a covered bridge. We covered 9 mountains as Natural Wonders in Cobb County. Hell, there are 40 mountains over 1000 feet in Bartow County. We already covered Pine Mountain because of the popular trail. The Bartow County high point on is on the western edge Pine Log Mountain. The crest of Pine Log Mountain is in Cherokee County, but the majority of the Pine Log Mountain range is in Bartow County.



Pine Log Wildlife Management Area is located in White, GA. This 14,134-acre property offers opportunities for deer, bear, turkey, small game and dove hunting. There are over 23 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails as well as access to trout streams. Trails are closed all day during deer firearms season and before 10:00 a.m. during deer archery and turkey season. No ATVs are allowed on the property. No night hunting.



If your in the Atlanta metro area and want to get to the mountains but don't want to fight the crowds? Pine Log WMA is your answer. But before you go you MUST check the Georgia hunting season schedule because certain dates restrict access. Namely big game firearm and archery season hunting. Summer months of June and July will not be a problem.



Pine Log Bicycle Trails



From the Reviews:

I came here because the local bike trails were closed from lake Allatoona flooding. I have to say I ended up having more fun than I expected, there are some strep climbs and long downhill sections. It is a rocky road and you will see a few trucks but it was fun bombing down and negotiating the rocks. I will go back here to explore more.



Take this trail for what it is: A road to many other great trails and bushwhacks. You can hike the logging trail if you wish or you can jump off at any point to go explore the woods. This is not a dirt trail, instead a mix or worn road and gravel/rock. It's not without merit, though.



35 miles of old logging roads and very technical singletrack. Killer climbs to the top with hike-a-bikes at times.



Plenty of options for creating loops but you'll probably want to bring a GPS or a guide who's familiar with the area. Note: the overlook at the top of Pine Log mountain is located on private property and trespassing is not allowed.


Stamp Creek

Fishing for trout? Stamp Creek is an officially designated trout stream.



Although water levels are at times low, there are several deeper pools that abound with some rainbow trout.



Great for cooling off.



Iron Furnace

Looking for history? This park offers the opportunity to visit several Civil War era furnaces used to produce iron shot. To get to one, stay straight on the main road until you see a cement bridge and gate on your left. Walk across the bridge for about 200 yards and you will see the large furnace on your right.



The iron industry began near Pine Log Mountain after 1837, when Jacob Stroup built the first iron furnace. Iron ore was mined on the mountain and transported to massive pyramid-shaped stone furnaces to be turned into pig iron. Jacob's son, Moses Stroup, partnered with Mark Anthony Cooper in 1845. John W. Lewis also owned multiple furnaces.



Cooper ultimately established the industrial town of Etowah along the Etowah River, about eight miles south of the mountain, and had at least 500 workers before U. S. soldiers destroyed the complex during the Civil War. Seven of these iron furnaces, mostly along Stamp Creek, existed between Pine Log Mountain and the Etowah River.



A water wheel powered the bellows. According to G. Richard Wright and Kenneth Wheeler in their article “New Men in the Old South: Joseph E. Brown and his Associates in Georgia's Etowah Valley”:



Built of stone stacked without using mortar, these furnaces were routinely twenty to thirty feet wide at their base, and rose as high as forty feet…The charcoal fire burned constantly for as long as forty weeks at a time, at a temperature of about 2,500 degrees…



"The average furnace ate at least 150 to 250 acres of timber each year, and the result was extensive deforestation over thousands of acres.”

The Black Bank Iron Mine near Guthrie Creek on Pine Log Mountain was one of the first iron mines on the mountain, dating back to before the Civil War. The west side of the mountain, where the Cartersville Fault runs between Little Pine Log Mountain and Hanging Mountain, is rich in iron and manganese.


Early mines like this one were hand-dug by laborers, and the chunks of iron ore were transported by mules to the furnaces.

Georgia Governor Joseph E. Brown delivered a speech about the mining opportunities in Georgia on November 7, 1860, noting: “It is believed that the quantity of iron ore, of the very best quality, within [Georgia’s] borders, is sufficient to supply the demand of all the Southern States.”


Jones Mill Ruins on Stamp Creek

This mill was originally built by John W. Lewis on Stamp Creek, on the south side of the mountain, in the late 1830s. It was called Lewis Merchant Mills and had a water wheel that turned a grist mill. After the Civil War, it was purchased by R. H. Jones and Sons, who operated a sawmill on the site and built wagons, wheels, and caskets.


Ruins of the old Lewis/Poole Factory/Bloomery Forge, later R.H. Jones Carriage Co. Stamp Creek, Bartow County. The mill illustrates how much industry flourished on the south and west sides of the mountain, both before and after the Civil War.

Civil War

All of the battles in North Georgia were to the west of Pine Log Mountain. The closest Union encampments and battles were along the Etowah and the Western & Atlantic Railroad. Benjamin Franklin McCollum was a Confederate soldier who had served in the Army of Northern Virginia but who in 1864 became part of the Home Guard in North Georgia, forming a group known as “McCollum’s Scouts.”


McCollum.

McCollum had received a commission from Governor Joseph E. Brown making him a Captain in the Blackhorse Cavalry of the Georgia State Militia. However, McCollum’s group, like some other Home Guard groups, rapidly took on more of a vigilante and guerilla role. Based in Canton, and amounting to as many as 100 men, the ostensible purpose of the group was to harass Sherman’s troops and interfere with their foraging and supply and communication lines. They traveled back and forth between Canton and Cassville on the Pine Log Road and the Alabama Road, killing any Union soldiers they could find.



It is believed that Union troops burned Canton in retaliation for the depredations of McCollum’s Scouts as well as other Home Guard groups. But McCollum’s Scouts were also feared by local citizens because they were known to commandeer whatever food supplies they could find. In A Little Leaven, Frances Adair fictionalizes them as “Bert McDougal and his savage scouts.”


Burning Canton for McCollum's Scouts.

Martin Chumbler was a Union supporter who lived in Lost Town and was hanged by McCollum’s Scouts. Local historian John Brooke wrote this account of Chumbler’s fate. Chumbler had captured a Confederate soldier from Texas, likely with the intent to turn him over to authorities. However, Chumbler’s capture of the Confederate came to the attention of Ben McCollum and his Scouts, a Confederate guerilla group  that worked to weed out Union sympathizers, but who also earned the dislike of local families by demanding what was left of their food supplies.



After Chumbler abandoned the Confederate soldier he captured, the man was soon picked up by McCollum, who made him detail everything he knew about Chumbler. McCollum and his Scouts set out to capture Chumbler. They crossed paths with him along the road leading out of Lost Town and began pursuing him. When Chumbler was finally overtaken, they hanged him for his support of the Union cause. The incident took place along Stamp Creek Road on the south side of Pine Log Mountain.  

Mining

On the west side of Pine Log Mountain were two mining towns that are now ghost towns: Sugar Hill and Aubrey. This map shows Sugar Hill in the center, the “County Home” or Poor House above White on what is now Route 411, Upper Aubrey Lake bottom left, is where the mining town of Aubrey used to be. Note several of the iron furnace sites along Stamp Creek.


The Cartersville Fault runs between the main part of Pine Log Mountain and Little Pine Log Mountain, where the fusing of two ancient continents pushed up many minerals, especially iron and manganese.


Aubrey Cut.


Upper Aubrey Lake now where Aubrey Cut was.

During the Civil War, the Etowah Iron Works was burned and Pine Log Mountain’s iron industry temporarily came to a halt. But by the 1870s, mining was going full tilt again, especially with the almost free labor provided by the convict lease system. Mining continued on the mountain through World War II, during which time manganese, an important mineral for defense purposes, was extensively mined. In the early twentieth century, geologist Samuel W. McCallie photographed the mines for his books on the iron and manganese deposits of Georgia. This McCallie photo of the Kinsey Cut at Sugar Hill illustrates the enormous scale of the mines.


Kinsey Cut at Sugar Hill.

One of the largest mines was the Pauper Farm Mine, named for the nearby Bartow County Poor House. The Bartow County Pauper Farm or Poor House was to the west of the Sugar Hill mines, near what was then the Tennessee Road and is now Route 411. It is now the site of the Hickory Log Vocational School, next to the Toyo Tire Factory between Rydal and White.


Excuse to slip in the Toyo Tire Gals.

You can still see the rock walls of the mine behind the factory. A cemetery for the Poor House is overgrown in the woods behind the Hickory Log School and the Toyo plant.


Pauper Farm Mine

Pauper Farm, also known as the Poor House, housed the county’s destitute from 1866-1930. Men, women and children, both black and white, were housed in the complex. The elderly, orphans, and people with physical and mental disabilities were among those placed in the Poor House. Able-bodied inmates worked in the fields.



The Railroads and Sugar Hill

The Iron Belt Railroad was a single gauge railroad built in the 1880s to connect Sugar Hill and the other Pine Log Mountain mines with the Western and Atlantic Railroad, and later with the Louisville and Nashville Railroad.


Sugar Hill Mine.

Railroads and mining were inextricably linked in the Pine Log Mountain area from before the Civil War, as the railroads were needed to carry the iron and manganese to industrial centers across the country. The Western and Atlantic Railroad reached Bartow (then Cass) County in 1843, the Iron Belt Railroad in the 1880s, and the Louisville and Nashville Railroad reached Pine Log Mountain in 1906.


Sugar Hill Mine rails.

Mules were used for hauling loads of iron off of the mountain, going back to the pre-Civil War iron furnaces of Stroup, Lewis and Cooper.


In this photo of the Iron Belt Railroad, the mules are pulling the rail cars.

Pine Log Mountain

Pine Log Mountain is located in the U.S state of Georgia with a summit elevation of 2,338 feet. The peak is three miles west of the town of Waleska separated only by the gated community of Lake Arrowhead.



The summit falls within Cherokee County, although the majority of the mountain range trails into Bartow County including other peaks of Bear Mountain, Hanging Mountain, and Little Pine Log Mountain. Pine Log and these other summits within its range are the last mountains over 2,000 feet in the Appalachians of north Georgia. The Appalachian range does not rise above 2,000 feet again until many miles further southwest in the Talladega National Forest in Alabama.

Recreation and Uses

The majority of the Pine Log Mountain range falls within a wildlife management area, although the peak is excluded slightly to the east. The actual summit houses a radio tower. The land is owned by a paper company who leases the property to the state for proper management. This allows for a wide range of multi-use; mountain biking, birding, fishing, hiking and hunting are some of the popular activities enjoyed in the area.


View from summit.

There are also several hiking trails on surrounding peaks that offer views of the Pine Log Ridge. It is also believed that Pine Log may have been mined for iron as was Red Top Mountain State Park to the south.

Significance

Pine Log lies within the exurban reaches of Atlanta's metropolitan area. The sprawling urban landscape of the city makes this wilderness a refuge for wildlife. Currently, its conservation is significant as a state-managed habitat roughly at 14,054 acres.



Although the peak is just outside protected boundaries, it is the second-highest point in metro Atlanta, behind adjacent Bear Mountain. The county seat of Bartow, Cartersville, claims Vineyard and Pine mountains, which are protected and offer views of Pine Log to the north. The Etowah River flows through these peaks and upstream forms Lake Allatoona.

All Trails

Pine Log Mountain is a 5.8 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Rydal, Georgia that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail.



This trail is not a trail. If you try to follow the red line you will find yourself on a wilderness hike. There is no trail for most of this hike. There is a creek bed for part of it. You had better bring a compass, lots of water, and be in great shape. There is, however, a beautiful waterfall as part of the river to the southwest of the trail. We found it by mistake as we strayed from the red line, and it's really hard to get to.but what a great serendipity.

The Chronology of Pine Log Mountain

The famous White Cliffs of Pine Log Mountain, visible from the west valley, have been an iconic sight for different groups of inhabitants over the centuries.


Man O Man this needs the TRD treatment. I will have to visit this place one day for a proper 100 images of cliffs.

Some Reinhardt students created an exhibit that captures the story of the inhabitants from 1830 through 1940. They start with the Cherokee who lived near the mountain and their Removal on the Trail of Tears in 1838. They chronicle the events on and around the mountain from the early white settlers through the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the Great Depression.



While Pine Log Mountain is now almost subsumed by metro Atlanta, for most of its history it was the home of hardscrabble farmers, miners, and moonshiners. It was the home of what used to be called the “mountaineer” a term that used to mean not mountain climber, but mountain dweller. What is now Reinhardt University was founded in 1883 to educate the “mountain children” of North Georgia, and Reinhardt’s history is intertwined with the saga of its nearby mountain.


1885 administrative building.


Modern day Campus.

The Reinhardt students hiked a number of sites on and around Pine Log Mountain, looking at everything from mines to caves to ruins to cemeteries to fire towers. We explored several creeks that flow off of the mountain, including Pine Log Creek and Stamp Creek. The water is impossibly clear. ​


Stamp Creek.

We visited Lake Arrowhead, a man-made lake in the mountain’s east valley. Underneath this lake are the ruins of Lost Town, a Cherokee village and later an Appalachian settler community.



Guided by a Native American petroglyph expert, we set out to find the cave that one of our forgotten women writers had discovered. It had originally been filled with Native American artifacts dating back over a thousand years. Most of us went into the cave. We did not find any artifacts, but it was a memorable experience.​


Beasley Gap Early 1900s. This early 20th-century photograph shows a family traveling by wagon through
Beasley Gap, on the north side of Pine Log Mountain in north Georgia.

In the early 1900s, Reinhardt College held an annual Pine Log Mountain Day, during which all of the students and faculty climbed the mountain, camped at the White Cliffs, and even held religious services there.



In an essay called “The Camping Trip” in The Reinhardt Mountaineer, the college’s first literary magazine, one student described a battalion of male Reinhardt College students (they were called cadets in the early days of Reinhardt) spending a weekend camping on top of Pine Long Mountain:


The male students were still wearing their cadet uniforms in this 1909 photo taken during a camping trip on the mountain. They would walk up the mountain to go see the White Cliffs, the Indian mill, and the flagpole.

They would take pictures up there as they picnicked, staying up on the mountain until 6 o’clock and then begin heading home. Many of the students would reportedly come home fatigued following their adventure.


A group of both male and female students from Reinhardt spent Spring Day on top of Pine Log Mountain in 1914. They are pictured here on the White Cliffs at the top of the mountain.

An article in The Reinhardt Hiltonian describes such a hike:

“We explored the cliffs (finding no cliff-dwellers), visited the old Indian mill, and took pictures. Gee, it was beautiful up there – so calm, peaceful, and far removed from Waleska’s excitement and din – no rattling milk trucks and no jangling street cars!” The article went on to say that “we have no casualty list and few tragedies” but that “some few Reinhardt beauties seem to have been ruined externally and eternally by the sun; a number are sore and have trouble walking.”



Newspaper articles in The Cherokee Advance, the North Georgia Tribune and the Bartow Herald from the late 1800s and early 1900s describe church services on the summit of Pine Log Mountain, as well as Reinhardt students and faculty holding church services there.



Pine Log Mountain hosted Easter services with more than a hundred people in attendance. Reinhardt students sometimes camped on the mountain and held services. In an essay called “The Camping Trip” in The Reinhardt Mountaineer, the college’s first literary magazine, one student described a Sunday morning when students were camping at the summit, on the White Cliffs, noting that “services were held at a large grove near the camp.”

CCC

There was a Civilian Conservation Corps Camp at the foot of Pine Log Mountain in Beasley Gap. The camp, in operation from 1938 to 1942, was alternately called Camp Rieley and Camp Robert Fechner. It housed 193 men who built the fire tower and roads on Pine Log Mountain and neighboring areas.


The red medallion on the map marks the location of the camp. Red lines indicate roads built by the camp (some by the Cartersville CCC camp) and numbered circles indicate projects such as bridges and culverts. The black triangle in the center is the fire tower they built at the summit of Pine Log Mountain.


Camp Rieley Ruins

Foundations from camp buildings are still visible in the woods off of Greeley Road and Route 140 in this 2006 photograph. Many of the buildings used in CCC camps were portable military-style buildings, but the stone foundations still remain. The CCC camp included barracks for 193 men, as well as buildings for dining, recreation, and training. The men in CCC camps took vocational classes like woodworking as well as academic classes for those who lacked literacy skills.



Charles “Dub” Shackelford is pictured standing in front of the CCC barracks at Camp Rieley. The men of Camp Rieley, pictured here, ranged in age from 15 to 27 and came primarily from rural areas where farms had been devastated by drought and boll weevils. Dub, like most of the men at the Pine Log camp, was originally from South Georgia. From 1935 to 1939, the men in CCC company 93 had been stationed at the Lakeland CCC Camp in Lanier County. For men who were accustomed to Lakeland’s cypress swamp and alligators, North Georgia’s Pine Log Mountain must have been a shock.CCC workers were paid $30 a month and required to send $25 of it home to their families.

Bear Mountain

Bear Mountain is a mountain located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, southwest of Waleska, Georgia. Situated between the northwest and west-central part of Cherokee County, Georgia, it is the highest point in the county at 2,307 feet. It is also the highest point in the extended metro Atlanta area, which lies to the south and southeast, while Lake Arrowhead lies to the east-southeast at the foot of the mountain. Just to the west runs the Bartow/Cherokee county line.


Bear Mountain from Lake Arrowhead.

For media in Atlanta, there are two broadcast stations on the mountain. The TV tower is that of 1000-kilowatt WPXA-TV 31, also the site of its former analog TV transmission. Its city of license is Rome, Georgia, two counties to the west, but it is considered part of the Atlanta media market for purposes of must-carry regulations. Because it is so far out of town, and in a different direction for most people, reception of the station is often difficult, especially due to the digital TV format mandated by the FCC. The only other major TV station in northwest Georgia is WNGH-TV 33, located much further north.



For FM broadcasting, W213BV on 90.5 (W214AS on 90.7) was a 10-watt broadcast translator for Calvary Chapel of Twin Falls, one of hundreds relaying KAWZ, in this case licensed to serve Waleska. The tower was also the first site for WCHK-FM 105.5, originally a simulcast of WCHK AM 1290, both licensed to serve Canton, Georgia (the Cherokee county seat). That station changed frequency to 105.7, and after having another tower along Interstate 575, is now WBZY to the southeast on Sweat Mountain. However, the table of allotments still lists Bear Mountain for the station's reservation.

Neel Lake and Bear Mountain Trail

Neel Lake and Bear Mountain Trail is a 10.7 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Rydal, Georgia that features a great forest setting and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and mountain biking and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail.


Cliffs of Bear Mountain.

From the reviews, Bear Mountain is a long hike in full hunting camo and boots. I saw no wildlife and very little signs, which surprises me a lot. The trail was easy to see. no bushwhacking whatsoever. Other than being steep for 3/4 of a mile, it was beautiful out there. This is my favorite "go to" hike when I need a big mountain fix, but not have to drive to N GA. There are a lot of downed trees - so some detouring will be required. Nice far-off views of Atlanta from the top. Remember this is a WMA, so there will be hunters around - wear bright colors!


Buckhead and Atlanta.

It was closed June 2020, after mile 2. Warned of dangerous pesticides applied on the trail. Another hiker said he was sure the pesticide notices were for the adjoining crop fields, not for the trail. Very isolated mountain with a trail that is not marked so make sure you have a GPS. I went a couple miles off course on the count of the trail being untraveled unlike other hikes. Pack plenty of water and I wouldn’t advise anyone going during hunting season.

Hanging Mountain

Now I could not find anything on this mountain.



According to local legend, Hanging Mountain, part of the Pine Log Mountain ridge near Sugar Hill, was named for the hanging of inmates that took place there. Also, local legend states that the convicts were forced to climb Hanging Mountain’s sheer cliffs as a punishment. However, these legends cannot be verified.


Pine Log WMA.

Little Pine Log Mountain

We don't find anything on Little Pine Log Mountain.



Lot of photos Pine Log WMA though.



Pine Log Creek Walking Trail

The Pine Log Creek Trail winds through a beautifully rugged, rolling forest on a double loop, trailing through a forest of shady pine and deciduous trees north of Lake Allatoona. The hike’s highlight is undoubtedly the remote, water-filled pond on Pine Log Creek’s eastern loop, where crystal-clear, chilly water fills the remains of a historic rock quarry framed in giant, jagged rock outcrops. The quarry’s geology is stunning: the exposed rock is layered and dramatically folded, in symmetry with the rippling waters of the quarry pond. Fish bask in rays of sunshine in the quarry’s shallows, and tall grasses line its shores. It’s a picturesque retreat and the perfect place for a mid-hike picnic.



Pine Log Creek is steeped in history, the former location of a Cherokee town that spanned one mile along the creek’s level, fertile banks.



The village’s history spanned centuries: Spanish explorer De Soto visited the village in 1570, Chief Yellow Bird signed the Treaty of Hopewell here in 1785. Centuries later, many important Cherokee chieftains, including Ridge, Vann, and Hicks, were born in the thriving village.



More recently, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camped nearby and created the rock quarry on the trail’s eastern arc.



The Pine Log Creek Trail departs the trailhead parking area off GA 140 north of Cartersville, trailing into a young forest of pine and deciduous trees. The hike reaches the wide, pebbled, meandering banks of Pine Log Creek at .2 miles, crossing the creek on a V-shaped bridge hewn from a large log.



The creek is scenic and shaded; watch for small fish swimming in its flow, and crayfish scurrying on creek’s rocky bed.



After crossing the bridge, the forest becomes more predominantly coniferous, and the fresh scent of pine fills the air as the pine needle-covered forest floor crunches underfoot. The hike crosses a small wooden bridge at .4 miles just before reaching the beginning of the trail’s western loop. The hike turns right, following the west loop eastbound and rising through a forest littered with large, angular boulders.



The trail rolls elevation, descending to the banks of Pine Log Creek at .85 mile. The creek flows broadly through a meander, carving deep into its steep-sided, rocky banks. (Hiking with your favorite four-legged canine trail buddy? Several deep sections of the creek offer a great mid-hike swim for dogs before reaching the quarry pond.)



Arcing northbound, the Pine Log Creek Trail crosses another small wooden bridge and passes a broad-trunked, old growth tulip tree just before reaching the spur trail to the trail’s eastern loop at 1.2 miles.



The hike turns right, crossing a wooden bridge over a stream and trekking the spur trail to Pine Log Creek Trail’s eastern loop. The hike veers right at the next intersection, following the East Loop in a counterclockwise direction. The trail climbs a knob, catching through-the-trees views of the surrounding rolling peaks in a forest of young pine and dense fern. The trail carves through a sharp switchback, passing a moss-covered pile of tumbled quarry boulders at 1.9 miles before reaching the spur trail to the CCC quarry pond at 2 miles.The hike hangs a right on the CCC quarry spur trail, reaching the small quarry pond.



Angular rocks rise from the shore, dramatically framing the still water of the quarry.



The spur trail arcs around the pond, visiting the folded, ribbonlike rock formations on the opposite shore.



Backtracking from the quarry pond, the hike turns right on the trail’s eastern loop, climbing a ridge before completing the east loop at 2.68 miles. The hike hangs a right, hiking westbound on the spur trail toward the western loop and hanging a right on the west loop.



Ready for a workout? The final stretch of the Pine Log Creek Trail is moderately challenging, ascending over 300 feet of elevation over the next half mile. The trail crosses a wood bridge at 2.85 miles, continuously climbing northwest. The hike arcs westbound at 3.15 miles, the forest becoming increasingly rockier as it approaches the summit. Dense, vibrant green moss carpets the sunlight-dappled forest floor.



The trail peaks at 3.35 miles before beginning a descent. The trail meanders through switchbacks as it descends, catching between-the-trees views of the densely forested nearby ridges. The hike reaches a wooden bench at 3.6 miles, scoring rolling mountain views through a partial clearing.



The trail continues its descent, winding through switchbacks before completing the western loop at 3.9 miles. The hike veers right, following the Pine Log Creek Trail to the parking area, crossing the v-shaped bridge over Pine Log Creek and completing the hike at 4.4 miles.

Convict Miners at Sugar Hill

The Sugar Hill iron and manganese mines on the west side of Pine Log Mountain used the infamous convict labor system from 1876 until 1909, when the convict leasing system was outlawed in Georgia.



Instead of being placed in prisons, inmates in the Georgia penal system in the period after the Civil War were leased out to private individuals or businesses to do hard labor. Both white and black convicts were part of this system, but there was a greatly disproportionate number of black convicts (about 90%).



Sugar Hill convict named George Bankston was sentenced to work 10 years on Sugar Hill for “highway  robbery.”  A guard named Pearson told investigators that Bankston had said that he did not “propose to do a lick of work at Sugar Hill.” Bankston died after receiving more than 135 whippings by the warden named A. J. Tomlinson one month after he arrived, on April 2, 1900.



Bob Kent, a young white convict was run over and killed at the Sugar Hill convict camp Saturday afternoon. Kent was a water carrier and when he was crossing the railroad track, carrying two buckets of water, a stiff wind was blowing the smoke of the engine into his face and he did not see how far the approaching engine and cars were from him, and the engineer could not see him. Both legs were cut off and he died soon afterwards. Kent was sent up from Macon and the story of his life is best told in the following from the Macon correspondent of the Atlanta Constitution:

Macon, Ga., April 21. – Information was received in Macon this morning that Bob Kent, a well known young white man of this city, was killed last evening at Rogers in Bartow county, Ga. He was run over by a locomotive and both legs cut off and he was otherwise uninjured. The particulars of the affair are not known here. In January of last year he was sent from Bibb county to the penitentiary under a sentence of two years for burglary. He had served about fifteen months of his time. It is not known whether he was killed at a convict camp or otherwise. This afternoon the body of Kent arrived on the Southern train from Atlanta and was met at the depot by relatives and acquaintances and carried directly from the depot to Riverside cemetery, where it was interred. Rev. S. L. Morris of Tattnall Square Presbyterian church officiated.



Kent was well connected in Macon, but for years he had led a disreputable life, costing his father money and trouble. His escapades were numerous and black. Once, soon after the commission of a crime, he was sent to the lunatic asylum at Milledgeville, but he ran away and induced a girl employee at the asylum to come off with him. They went to various points and finally landed in Macon. He was not returned to the asylum, as the authorities did not consider him at all crazy. He was sent to the county chain gang several times under sentences from the recorder’s court. At the time he was sentenced to the penitentiary there was hanging over him a recorder’s fine of $50 or four months in the chain gang for city violations. An effort was made to send him to the asylum a second time as all means of escaping punishment for one of his misdeeds, but the jury refused to declare him a fit subject for the lunatic asylum.


This Spivak photo from 1932 also illustrates convict laborers in Georgia. Convicts were first leased in Georgia in May 1868 by Thomas Rugar  to William A Fort.  Coal and iron mines, railroad camps, brickyards, sawmills, and turpentine camps used convicts for labor. Convicts who had committed felonies and misdemeanors would be sent to the camps; young boys would work beside grown men. Camps also existed for female prisoners elsewhere in Georgia, although not at Sugar Hill near Pine Log Mountain.

The Georgia camps were harsh; prisoners were beaten, whipped, and shot. Sugar Hill, which held both black and white prisoners, was the site of multiple convict deaths and charges of brutality.



A 1908 article in The Atlanta Constitution reported that Thomas Hutcheson, who oversaw assigning convicts to the labor camps, had stopped leasing convicts to The Georgia Iron and Coal Company at Sugar Hill "on hearing reports of cruelty" there. 



By the 1880s, many Georgians opposed the idea of the convict lease system, and the Sugar Hill mine became infamous as the source of some of the worst examples of cruelty. Opponents created political pamphlets that explained the evils of the convict lease system, especially in Georgia.  Pamphlets like this one led to the end of the lease system in 1909.  General William Tatum Wofford of Bartow County was a vocal opponent of the convict lease system and made impassioned speeches against it in the Georgia Legislature. He is buried in Cassville Cemetery.

Old Car City USA

Old Car City USA is the world's largest old car junkyard! 34 acres with more than 4,000 old cars (1972 and older). 6.5 miles of trails on 34 acres. Cars date back as far back as the 1920s. Packards, Edels, Fords, Chevrolets to name a few! Admission is $15, $25 with camera. Children under 6 are free.



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Our GNW Gals are photo shooting in Old Car City.





Edited 20 time(s). Last edit at 10/15/2020 11:39PM by Top Row Dawg.
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Georgia Natural Wonder #160 - Pine Log Mountain WMA

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