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Georgia Natural Wonder #176 - Anneewakee Creek - Douglas County (Part 4)
January 04, 2021 09:41AM

Georgia Natural Wonder #176 - Anneewakee Creek - Douglas County (Part 4)

OK, I was cyber surfing around for a fourth Douglas County Natural Wonder so I could tangent on Douglas County again. And boy did I find one, Anneewakee Creek.

Now it is mostly for the whitewater experience, so let's begin today with the American Whitewater Web Site.

Anneewakee Road to GA Route 166

Difficulty II-III+(IV)
Length 3.7 mi
Avg Gradient 30 fpm
Gage Sweetwater Creek near Austell, Ga
Flow Range 800 – 4000 cfs
Flow Rate as of 59 minutes 1280 cfs Runnable
Reach Info Last Updated November 27, 2014

Nov 28, 2011

Even though this is 9 years ago, I still leave it here as an example to always scout first runs of any creek or river.

There is a lot of wood in the river below PowerSlam. Some of it is passable but some of it is not. Make sure you can see the next safe eddy before you paddle around bends. And when you come to a sharp left turn after Powerslide that requires you to squeeze between a couple of trees to get into the next channel---don't, it gets worse, just start the portage.

Gauge Description Look for Sweetwater Creek to be running 800 cfs and rising or locally heavy rain of at least 1.25 inches. Anneewakee will drop back down to nothing in a matter of hours. The Sweetwater gauge is used to show if Anneewakee has gotten enough rain to check, but Sweetwater holds water for days.

River Description:

The put-in is on Anneewakee Road and there's good parking on the downstream side of the bridge. There is a great but grabby play spot right at the put in. The creek picks up quickly and gets your blood pumping with a few fun class 2's. Then it's flat for a bit... then the horizon line. The first large drop is about 9 feet and reminds me of the Upper Tellico. It's a safe drop if run left of center, look out for the 'Hole of Doom' on the center-right after the main drop. It probably wouldn't kill you but you'd probably swim out. It's easy to miss.

Next is a short class 2-3 section that runs through a power line cut. There are some great waves here! You used to be able to drive (4x4 only!) out the power lines to this spot but thanks to vandals the entrance has been cabled off.

Be VERY careful not to just drop over the next horizon line immediately after the power lines, you could get REALLY hurt. The next drop is about a 12 footer and really kicks. The river left side is an almost certain pin. The water runs down a slide and hits a jagged rock and forms a kind of mini Oceana with a not-so-forgiving 'Thing'.

The left of center line has rocks at the bottom so that's no good. The center line seems the way to go, angling to the right a bit.. Be careful not to get sucked back into the hole at the bottom or you're swimming. The right side could be OK but we didn't run it. The far right side is a plunge into the abyss and we didn't know what was down there so it's still a mystery. The portage is on river right.

After the big drop there is a 1/4 mile of class 3 water with a fun double drop that's a strong III+ at normal levels and turns into solid 4 at high flow. After this, the river takes a sharp turn to the right and slows down for a mile or so. Then it takes a hard turn to the left and cuts through another ridge, the action picks up here again and a few class 2's and 3's appear but nothing like the upper section. A bit of flat water gets you to the take out on Ga 166.

Needs rainfall to run properly.

This is a great run! We were very impressed. The water quality is not great but the rapids are! As of March 2002 there were a few dead falls that needed to be carried over but no 'strainers of doom'.

FYI, Sweetwater reached almost 4 feet that day after rain the night before and Annewakee was at a comfortable level. It could certainly be done higher, but not much lower. Total rainfall for the previous night was about 1.2 inches and it was still raining lightly when we put on at 2pm. It will take you between 1.5 to 2.5 hours to make this run barring any epic adventures.

River Features

Put In Hole
Class: IIIDistance: 0 mi

Put In Surf Spot

This river wide hole makes a great warm-up spot. The river left side is a cool seam. The river right side is a bigger hole/wave with great play, However... it's quite difficult to make a graceful exit from this side.

Class: IIIDistance: 0.75 mi


This is the first big drop on the creek. Pull over on river left bank to scout this one. The drop is safe all the way across however...

There will be an ugly hole awaiting you quickly below the drop if you go off too far to the right. Stick to the left.

Class: II+Distance: 0.9 mi

Power Lines above.

Powerline rapid drops over a series of rock shelves creating fun drops and good surfing waves.

Eddy out at the bottom on the right before the horizon line. You'll want to scout the next drop.

Class: IVDistance: 1 mi


Right off the center seems to be the way to go here.

Those above images look idyllic, lets follow the run.

Too far left is pinning potential. Left of center lands you on a rock shelf.

Uh oh!

Right of center puts you into the meat. Far right is a possibility.

Woah Nelly!

The bulk of the water pours over here and plunges into the abyss... I'd like to see it at lower water before running it.

Paddle hard after the drop or the base of the falls will pull you in. After the big drop you still have some manuevering to do. Portage is on river right.

Abandon ship!

Now this is how you are suppose to do PowerSLAM.

Just be aware of trees across the creek, could be fatal getting pinned under those.

Jun 11, 2011

I'm a native that grew up swimming and floating on Dog river, Annewakee Creek, Sweetwater Creek. I'm from Winston near the power lines that cross I-20 west of Post Road exit. There's a tunnel under I-20 and the power lines to allow a small but crystal clean creek to cross. A smaller creek that started from a spring behind the house I grew up in joined the tunnel creek. Together they go south east toward the backside of the Clinton estate where they turn into a large, natural, shallow swamp like wetland. Clinton Nature Preserve (GNW #174)

Then the waters drain from the wetland and soon drain into dog river. Before there was a Douglas county Water AUTHORITY....every creek in the county was accessible. The large, older, reservoir called Bear creek was open to the public to fish. Hard to get to, but held the biggest bluegill and shellcracker I've caught. It was loaded in big bass too, but it was big enough to require a boat to reach them. The concrete spillway on the dam end was loaded in big bluegill. There was a 2 story pump house on the dam that some would jump off of. Nobody ever died. That spillway flows into Annewakee creek which crosses 166 then drains into the hooch.

Our History: The Green Rice Mill on Anneewakee Creek

The area at that time was a wilderness with few folks in the area. It was a full thirty years before Douglas County would exist and at that time the city of Douglasville wasn't even a thought. Anneewakee Creek rises to the south of Douglasville and runs southeastward to join the Chattahoochee River at a point a little downstream and opposite the site of the old town of Campbellton.

Old town Campbellton.

The name is from the Cherokee language -- possibly from a Cherokee family name. Some researchers think members of this family might have lived along the creek. However, I need to point out Anneewakee Creek actually flows through land that was part of the Creek Nation…not the Cherokee. A Cherokee name in Creek Country is not so strange because around 1815 Cherokees were under the impression they would be able to settle on Creek lands as far south as today's Heard County. In fact, there was a section of land designated as no-man's land that ran from the river up to and across the ridge where Broad Street is in downtown Douglasville where both tribes hunted. It makes sense there would be some overlapping and mixture. The boundaries kept changing as white settlers began moving in and began their plans to seize Native American lands no matter which tribe claimed the lands.

In 1821, both tribes agreed to yet another boundary line that began at Buzzard's Roost Island on the Chattahoochee River where Douglas and Cobb Counties meet and ran westward to the Coosa River in Alabama.

The line passed far above the head of Anneewakee Creek.

Did not see any Buzzards.

When looking to early industry in Douglas County you have to zero in on the area along Anneewakee Creek. By the 1830s two important mills were situated on the creek and shared a property line. The Alston Arnold Mill millstone was encased in the cement in front of the Irish Bred Pub & Restaurant in downtown Douglasville. At least is was in the early 1970s or much earlier during the 1940s or even back to the 1920s.It was a millstone long associated with harvest and hospitality. This particular millstone has quite a history and according to a past county historian it symbolizes the gratitude of a people for their time of great need. The stone is actually from the Arnold Mill that was located along the banks of Anneewakee Creek.

Arnold Mill was built by pioneer Alston Arnold after he came to Georgia via South Carolina in the 1830s. He situated the mill at the mouth of Anneewakee Creek, and it later provided to be a most advantageous spot for him and for the people of Douglas County. The mill was quite an enterprise for its day. Local historians advise the mill was three stories high and also had the capability of sawing wood as well. A small community even sprang up around the water-powered business. During the 1880s a terrible drought lasting six months hit north Georgia including Douglas County. Many of the mills could no longer grind grain and corn because the water powering the millstones had dried up. However, due to its position at the mouth of the creek Arnold Mill was able to put precious corn meal into the hands of hungry settlers...

Today I want to turn the spotlight on the mills originally belonging to William Ely Green who came to Georgia via his home state of New Jersey in 1831. Green brought along his wife, Mary Stiles Green, and their children. His first stop was the area of Georgia where Morgan, Oconee, and Walton Counties converge. Some southern leaders, in an attempt to duplicate the prosperity of cotton mills in New England, built textile factories in the South. Many of the earliest factories were in Morgan and Wilkes County. The idea faltered a little, but due to an economic depression in 1837 alternative sources of revenue for southern businessmen was needed, and the mills began to prosper."

William Green and his family were welcomed to Georgia by a relative….Ephraim Stiles Hopping….Mary Stiles Green's cousin. Hopping had been living in Georgia since 1825 when after graduating from Princeton he headed south to accept a teaching job at the University of Georgia. Then he decided he would build a mill. The 1840 census shows William Ely Green living in Morgan County, and by 1846 Hopping's High Shoals Factory was in full operation and remained so for years, however, at some point Green and Hopping parted ways. Perhaps they had a disagreement, perhaps they had an amicable parting, or perhaps Green wanted to stake a claim of his own where new unclaimed lands awaited near Campbellton, Georgia following the Indian Removal.

North High Shoals GNW #80

At any rate Green did purchase a strip of land along Anneewakee Creek that Fannie Mae Davis describes as "laying off Anneewakee Road." It was there William Ely Green began a couple of mills – one for making cotton cloth and thread and a second mill for creating rope. My research indicates the rope mill was the only one at the time in north Georgia. Both mills were fully operational by 1840, but the process could not have been easy. The area at that time was a wilderness with few folks in the area. It was a full thirty years before Douglas County would exist and at that time the city of Douglasville wasn't even a thought. The area where our old courthouse stands today was merely an intersection of Indian trails close to an old skint chestnut tree.

Site of Green Mill.

Green had to physically clear the land with no modern equipment other than an ax. Once trees were cleared those same trunks had to be fashioned to use for building structures. It was back breaking and time consuming work. There were no corner groceries, so the family had to set to planting crops immediately to sustain them. Fannie Mae Davis' information regarding Mr. Green and his mill explains census records for 1850 and into the Civil War years clearly shows both mills employed men and women on an equal basis. For the most part women didn't work outside the home during antebellum years, but a few women were forced to out of need. Mrs. Davis names one such woman – a 65-year old widow named Mary Frails. She worked in the mill alongside two of her daughters.

Greens Mill millstone along banks of Anneewakee Creek.

Besides providing jobs for those in need Mr. Green's mills also provided an important market closer to the folks who were raising cotton along the Chattahoochee River and on the Chapel Hill plantations. Green then shipped his finished products out to various towns that existed near and far. He used ox drawn wagons as his method of transport. Davis states, "A round trip to Atlanta took the wagons four days….a trip to Villa Rica would take two days." One of Green's first team drivers was Wylie Preston Tackett. He began driving a wagon for the mills in 1848 when he was only ten years old! Driving the wagons was lonely and dangerous work. The roads weren't roads that we know today. They might have followed some of the same routes but they were more or less Indian trails that were barely wide enough for wagons let alone people. Wild animals such as wolves and mountain lions were prevalent.

Some of the towns could be a little scary, too. In 1848, Villa Rica was a rough and rowdy gold mining town. Tackett held the job driving the wagons until he was 23. At that point he volunteered to serve in the Confederate army. The area surrounding Green's mills became a little community since he and the neighboring mill Alston Arnold owned provided housing for many of the workers. A thriving community store was set up to help those who lived in the community. Arnold's property adjoined Green's tract of land making the area along the banks of Anneewakee Creek.

In fact, the area was populated to the point that Campbell County leaders placed a district courthouse in the area. The district courthouse was basically a rough log cabin and when it was not in use for government purposes it served as a school as well as a religious meeting house. I know that seems strange today with the constant cry for the separation of church and state, but this was a frontier of sorts. Necessity was more important than matters involving how a government building was being used. Since public education didn't exist at the time the school would have been a private concern and folks could make a choice regarding sending their children. There was also a post office. The Anneewakee Factory Post Office was a log structure on Green's property. Fannie Mae Davis states the building stood until well into the 20th Century.

Courthouse at time of merging with Fulton.

Of course, the mill provided Green and his growing family with a nice living. It is reported he had one of the first fancy buggies in the area. His transport wagons were known to carry cotton cloth and rope out to customers, but would return with such things as a fancy cook stove for his wife's kitchen and a piano for his daughters to play from such places as Charleston. The Green mills survived the Civil War even though Union soldiers were aware they existed. Perhaps Green's Yankee heritage helped him keep his property intact.

Can't find images of Mill, but nearby Campbellton Ferry has images.

Even so, the Civil War impacted William Ely Green and his family. His son Henry Martyn Green was killed in action at the Battle of Fort Stevens near Silver Spring, Maryland. Green's first-born, Robert Edgar Green also served in the Confederate Army. He came home from the war and attended medical school while overseeing some of the operations at the mill, but he soon tired of it. Mill work wasn't for him. Dr. Green departed for Gainesville where he would end up making his home. He actually began the city's first street car line and served as Gainesville's mayor in 1879.

William Ely Green eventually sold his business to his son-in-law, Major Zechariah A. Rice. Major Rice served in Cobb's Legion during the early days of the Civil War, and during the last months of the war he was an officer with the Fulton County Home Guard. Fannie Mae Davis quotes the deed of sale as, "Deed book U, page 504, for 870 acres of land lots 100, 101, 102, 103, 112, 113, 1st District, 5th Section, Douglas County – Factory House and all machinery appertaining to it."

There is a bridge there now. Check out below YouTube.

Major Rice and his wife Louise lived on the property, but he maintained his interests in Atlanta as well. Rice was actually returning to a "home place" of sorts. You see, Rice's mother was a member of the Bomar family and his grandfather….Armistead or A.R. Bomar built the Sprayberry-Henley home. Wylie Preston Tackett returned from the war as a captain and became Rice's foreman. Fannie Mae Davis states Tackett, "operated the factory and rope business almost single-handedly." He and his family….wife Melissa J. Underwood Tackett and his daughter Ella Virginia (1870-1956) lived in the area.

Tackett was also a Mason. He died in 1907 and is buried at New Hope Baptist in the Chapel Hill area.

While the business did continue after the Civil War it never operated at the same level as it did before the war. William Ely Green died on April 14, 1867 and is buried in Atlanta's historic Oakland Cemetery in Block 95, Lot 1.

Geltner Nature Preserve on Anneewakee

One of Douglas County’s hidden gems is the Geltner Nature Preserve and Bird Sanctuary. The Geltner Nature Preserve consists of 186 acres of pristine wilderness that fronts a portion of Anneewakee Road between Chapel Hill Road and Highway 92. Its rolling hills, expansive forest of mature hardwoods, and it’s numerous waterways and wetlands provide an ideal sanctuary for deer, beavers, and a wide variety of birds.

Anneewakee Creek and Crooked Creek run through the property forming Lake Monroe. Beavers have created another lake by building an enormous dam that spans over 200 feet and is more than 50 years old.

The beaver lake provides an undisturbed sanctuary for ducks, geese, blue heron and other wildlife.

The gently rolling hills are covered with mature hardwoods, wetlands, and creeks.

If you drive down Anneewakee Road, you will notice the Monroe lake dam on the North side of the road.

You’ve probably never seen this view of the dam (taken from the property on the west side of the dam).

A brief history of the property

The Geltner property was originally part of a 404 acre parcel that was purchased by Jan Scarbrough in 1945 from a sawmill operator who was harvesting the land for its timber. Jan renamed the lake from Lake Turnipseed to Lake Monroe in honor of his mother. The land had not been developed and had no amenities except for two old farm houses. Around 1947 the Rural Electric Administration brought electricity to the area, and in 1948, Jan sold half interest of the property to his sister Geraldine to fund renovation of one of the farm houses. After Jan and his brothers renovated the farm house, Jan and his extended family, including his mother, brothers (and their families) and sister Geraldine, moved to the property from Buckhead.

Over the next 35 years, the property was used by various family members as their primary residence and at times as a weekend retreat. In 1962 Jan made the property his permanent home and lived there until he died in 1980. In 1960 Jan and Geraldine divided the property up between them. Geraldine loved the rural setting and hoped to make it her permanent home, but when she married Mr. Dan Geltner, she moved to Pittsburgh, PA. Geraldine returned regularly and dreamed of moving back permanently and building a cottage on a point that juts into the lake, opposite the Lake Monroe dam.

Geraldine never realized her dream, but because she wanted to make sure the land remained in its natural state, she did the next best thing. . . In 1997 Mrs. Geltner donated the land to the Atlanta Audubon Society, who in accordance with Mrs Geltner’s wishes, worked with the Chattowah Open Land Trust to place a perpetual conservation easement on the land that prohibits the development of the land and ensures that it will remain a nature habitat for Douglas County wildlife.

The Geltner Nature Preserve and Bird Sanctuary remains undisturbed in its pristine condition to this day. The Atlanta Audubon Society has recently begun evaluating the most appropriate way to open the property up to the public. Programs under consideration include hosted nature walks that may occur as early as this Fall.

Anneewakee Treatment Center

The Anneewakee Treatment Center was a Douglasville based adolescent treatment center. Louis J. Poetter founded non-profit Anneewakee Inc. more than 58 years ago as a long-term, wilderness-based therapy center for teen-agers with psychological problems. Hundreds of people have undergone treatment at the Douglas County, Rockmart and Carrabelle, Fla., campuses.

Every single building, every single part of Anneewakee was built by the children who lived there and the staff who worked by their sides. It is pretty impressive actually.

Located on the north side of Little Bear Creek, in the foreground is a water fountain while a small tree rests on the cook shed of the Wacinda camp site that was part of the Anneewakee Treatment Center.

Up until 2001 the average stay for a person in the facility could range from ages 5 to adulthood (age 21), giving the center roughly 16 years of a youths life. The locked unit is composed of four separate units. Each unit grants certainly privileges and demands more participation with on site therapists. Each patient moved from locked unit to a campsite. Each camp is categorized by age and sex. Itanka being the teen boys camp.Kinunka being the young girls camp. Tawanka being teen girls camp. Abidiban being older boys camp.

Opening in 1962, the center was a wilderness treatment center for troubled boys. Anneewakee expanded from the single Douglasville, Georgia, center to include a boys campus near Carrabelle, Florida and a girls campus near Rockmart, Georgia. The north campus in Rockmart, Georgia is no longer a girl's campus but a shared campus. One unit which is a locked unit consists of two separate programs aimed at youths with sexual trauma and youths that have committed sexual acts deemed inappropriate in other programs and homes. The second is an extreme bootcamp / outdoors group in which are placed youths who are on the cusp of becoming adult criminals having committed adult crimes. This is a program that seeks to give the youth one last chance to comply with societal norms while receiving treatment.

Scandals emerged in the 1980s with decades long history of forced child labor, sexual abuse, physical abuse and deprivation of education. In a suit, five male former patients alleged they were sexually abused by Anneewakee founder Louis J. Poetter and James C. Womack, former co-director of therapeutic services. After a major lawsuit by 110 former "patients" for $432M in 1990, represented by attorneys B. Randall Blackwood and Patricia Edelkind. There was physical and sexual abuse, exploitation of child labor, and deprivation of education from its inception in the early 1960s through to the mid 1980s.Survivors of this center today range from people who say it saved their lives, to people who refer to it as the Chernobyl of treatment centers. The actual settlement provided at least $34 million to the 110 plaintiffs.

Bell Tower and Lawrenceville grave of Poetter.

In 2015, one of the former patients at the facility wrote a book about his time there. It is the only book written by a former patient. It was Anneewakee: One Boy's Journey, by Steve Salem Evans. Anneewakee was acquired and is now operated as Inner Harbour Ltd or DBA Inner Harbour for Children & Families. After the scandals, the court awarded the management of the organization to Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) out of Nashville, Tennessee. A medical model was instituted where care is supervised by medical doctors/psychiatrists.

Douglas County (Part 4)

Wow, we uncovered a lot here for a full blown separate Georgia Natural Wonder. That gives us one more post to finish our tangent of Douglas County.

Cities (Continued)

Now our first city today is mostly in Carroll County but I am not sure when we will make it there, so we feature the tangent here.

Villa Rica (part)

Villa Rica (Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese translation: Rich Village) is a city in Carroll and Douglas counties in the U.S. state of Georgia.

Located only an hour from downtown Atlanta, a decision to develop housing on a large tract of land led to a major population boom at the turn of the 21st century: the population was 4,134 at the 2000 census; it had grown by 238%, to 13,956, at the 2010 census; and is estimated at 16,058 in 2019, nearly quadrupling its population in just 19 years.


The location which was to become Villa Rica was originally settled in 1826 along what is now Dallas Highway. This land was ceded by the Creek people in 1825 with the second Treaty of Indian Springs signed by Chief William McIntosh. In 1826, farmers and gold miners arrived in the area from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware to what was then known as "Hixtown" (named after a local tavern operator, incorporated in 1830). One mile south was Chevestown, owned by Allison Cheeves. Hixtown and Cheevestown moved to Villa Rica's present location in 1882 when the railroad was built. Many of the original structures were physically moved to the new site (now known as the North Villa Rica Commercial Historic District) by rolling them on logs pulled by horses.

Still standing, Wicks Tavern was built in 1830 and was major competition for Hix Tavern.

The city was incorporated as Villa Rica in 1881. The name Villa Rica is derived from the Spanish for "rich village", and the city's name change was done to help promote the gold that had been found in the area.

Old Villa Rica (Hixtown)

Shortly after the arrival of the wagons in 1826, gold was discovered there. 1826 was also the year that Carroll County was created and named for Charles Carroll of Carrollton, Maryland, because he was the last living signer of the Declaration of Independence. Although it did not develop into the large gold rush that would strike Georgia a few years later, there was a small gold rush in Villa Rica in the late 1820s. When the Georgia Gold Rush took hold in 1829, most of the Villa Rica miners moved northeast to the Dahlonega area. Villa Rica was established in 1830. Nevertheless, some mining continued in the area, with several hundred men employed in nearby mines. In 1832, Hixtown had over 2,000 residents (60% of the county's population). Gold lots were $500 per acre compared to $2 per acre for land elsewhere in the county. There were at least 19 active gold mines. By 1860, the gold supplies in the area had been largely exhausted.

Early Villa Rica had a Wild West atmosphere complete with Indians, horse thieves, and vigilante justice. The area was originally part of the Creek Nation, but the Indians were driven out of their lands after the Treaty of Washington in 1826 and by 1827, there were no more Creek in Georgia. Most moved west into Alabama, but there, too, they faced the avarice of white settlers, who sparked a brief war in 1836 that ended with the forcible removal of all of the Creek from Alabama to Oklahoma as well.

Los Cowboys restaurant.

The local horse thieves were known as the Pony Club, and the vigilantes were the Slicks. At first, the Slicks would just hold Pony Club members caught stealing horses until a jury trial could be held. But Pony Club members usually had no trouble finding witnesses to prove their innocence, so the Slicks eventually started holding their own trials and the guilty were whipped. Things came to a head during the election of 1832 when large numbers of Pony Club members and Slicks got into a brawl. The Slicks won the fight, and the Pony Club demanded a grand jury try the Slicks on charges of assault and battery with intent to kill. However, the jury ended up commending the Slicks and thanking them for their work.

New Villa Rica

Handbill originally distributed to announce a land sale in Villa Rica, Georgia, c. 1882.

With the arrival of the new railroad line, Hixtown and Cheevestown combined to become the new city of Villa Rica. The first train rolled through town in June 1882. A round-trip ticket from the Union Passenger Depot in Atlanta was only $1.00.

This young community experienced two disastrous fires almost immediately. The first fire occurred in the business section on Montgomery Street in 1890. An entire block of stores composed entirely of wooden buildings was destroyed.

Fire truck from first two fires.

The second fire occurred the night of July 27, 1908. The fire was bolstered by heating oil and chemicals from the drug store in which it started. Because of the strength of the fire, much of the focus was on saving the stock of the affected stores. In all, one-quarter of Villa Rica's business district was destroyed in three hours.

In 1957 an explosion caused by a gas leak destroyed four buildings and killed 12 people.

The Bankhead Highway was surveyed and eventually passed through Villa Rica in 1917. Named for Democratic U.S. Senator (from 1907 until his death in 1920) John Hollis Bankhead, it was the second transcontinental highway in the United States and the first all-weather one.

In the 1930s it was rerouted through town, taking down the Velvin Hotel and extending Montgomery Street westward. It was a main east–west route through the area until Interstate 20 opened in December 1977.

On May 14, 1961, Freedom Riders passed through Villa Rica.

Historic sites

Wicks Tavern (c. 1830) is the oldest commercial structure in Carroll County. The tavern was built in Hixtown by New York immigrant John B. Wick. Wick's Tavern was a local gathering place for gold miners working area mines in the early 19th century. The building is a classic example of the "Dutch"-style timber framing method. When the Georgia Pacific Railway passed through town in 1882 and the homes and businesses were moved, the tavern was considered too large to be moved. It was later turned into a home. In 1998, the "Friends of Wick's Tavern" raised the funds necessary to rescue this historic building from being demolished and finally helped it make the journey to downtown Villa Rica. Wicks Tavern now serves as a living history museum and the home of Forrest Escort SCV and the Friends of Wicks Tavern.

The Stockmar Gold Mine (19th–20th centuries) is presently being preserved as a city park and gold museum currently under the name Pine Mountain Gold Museum at Stockmar Park. As a division of Villa Rica Parks and Recreation, the museum was opened in 2008 and serves as a historical landmark for the city.

Fullerville (1916-1956) is a small community northwest of Villa Rica which had several textile mills (notably hosiery). Fullerville was granted a charter in 1916 but returned it to the state in 1956, allowing the city to be annexed into Villa Rica. The area retains its early 20th-century character.

Its most notable feature is the Fullerville Jail which dates to 1828 on county property records.

Mt. Prospect Baptist Church was officially formed in July 1887. The first church building was erected in 1888–1890 on Beecher Hill (now Wilson Street) and was dedicated on the second Sunday in May 1892. This was the building in which Thomas A. Dorsey learned about music.

The second church building, built in 1928, was the first black-owned church building in Carroll County. This building was destroyed by fire in February 1945. A new church building was immediately commissioned and completed in five months. In 2005, work began on a larger sanctuary next to the existing one, and the congregation moved into the new church March 11, 2007.

Villa Rica First Presbyterian Church

The First Presbyterian Church of Villa Rica was organized as Villa Rica Presbyterian Church in 1855. A white frame building was constructed on Candler Street in 1885 for worship. The building was moved to its current location in 1930 onto property donated by the family of Mr. W. B. Candler who had served as Clerk of Session from 1888 to 1921. The structure was bricked and a basement was added for Sunday School rooms. The mahogany pews, pulpit, and the stained glass windows were purchased from Old Wesley Memorial Church in Atlanta when it was torn down. The windows were made from a color formula that has been lost over time, making them irreplaceable antiques. The Candler home, situated behind the church building, served the church in many capacities before it was torn down in 1998 and replaced with a new fellowship building.

First United Methodist Church of Villa Rica

First United Methodist Church of Villa Rica: Although historical documentation is sketchy, it is believed that the Methodist Church built their first building, a log cabin, in 1830, making them the first church in the city. Around 1845, a wooden church building was built. When Hixtown moved and Villa Rica was created, the church elected to build a new white frame church. It was constructed in 1886 on the current church site. The old church was abandoned in 1890. The construction on the current church began in 1905 and was first used in July 1906.

National Register of Historic Places

The Dorough's Round Barn in Hickory Level. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. This barn is in danger of fall in.

Located about 3 miles southwest of Villa Rica on Hickory Level Road, the farm consists of a 19th-century farmhouse, several other outbuildings, and the famous round barn. Built in 1917, the Round Barn is quite significant architecturally due to its circular shape. When constructed, this would have been considered a progressive agricultural building technique.

The barn was designed by Floyd Lovell. It had two levels, the upper one smaller than the lower. At the time the barn was added, it was still generally structurally intact. The upper level is now completely gone, and the lower level is falling apart as well. The barn is privately owned, and it is unknown whether there are any plans to restore it.

A photo of the nationally registered historic round barn in Villa Rica, showing its state of disrepair.

The North Villa Rica Commercial Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places on December 31, 2002. This district includes several blocks of buildings, some dating back to 1875, which were built in the early commercial style. The area houses the City of Villa Rica Police Department along with several antique stores, restaurants, and other commercial businesses. The boundary is basically North Avenue, East Gordon Street, West Church Street, and the Southern Railroad line.

North Villa Rica Commercial Historic District had several Mills.

There is a Mill Amphitheater in Villa Rica.

The Williams Family Farm was added to the National Register of Historic Places on March 25, 2005. The farm-house, built in 1892, is in excellent condition and sits in front of a Civilian Conservation Corps camp established in 1937 to help struggling farmers with their cotton fields. There are several outbuildings and an historic landscape. This farm is also known as the Williams-Mitchell Farm.

Located on the original Bankhead Highway, also known as the Villa Rica-Carrollton Road (1917 route) the Williams Family farm is southwest of Villa Rica, Georgia. The farmhouse was built in 1891 and the farm remained in business in the Great Depression. In the 1930s, Felix Williams with the assistance of the Carroll County Commissioner went to Washington, DC to lobby for a CCC camp on the farm. Their efforts were award a camp on 18 August1935. A portion of the farm was leased to the CCC. In 1936 the CCC built a road from the Carrollton-Villa Rica Road to the CCC Camp. Construction began in 1937 and completed by that fall. In addition to pay the CCC was supplied milk and dairy products from the camp. Camp Lacretia camp number 3437 and classified as a SCS-4 (soil conservation). Camp Lacretia was named after the wife of the commander at Fort McPherson in Atlanta. Division B, CCC Headquarters was at Fort McPherson. In addition to soil conservation the enrollees at Camp Lacretia built furniture which was used in other CCC camps including FDR State Park in Pine Mountain, Georgia.

Entire CCC roster of Camp Lacretia.

The camp relocated to Macon in late 1940 or early 1941 removing all the buildings. The stone foundations and some of the camp features remain.

Foundation ruins of the recreation hall 2007. The furniture they made.

The Pine Mountain Gold Museum at Stockmar Park was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2008. The 1826 gold rush of the city, called "Georgia's Forgotten Gold Rush", was at Stockmar Park, and a museum was built to tell the story.

The remains of some original buildings and equipment are on site, along with a stamp mill, grist mill, panning area, and live farm animal exhibit.

The South Commercial Historic District is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, but the completed nomination form is currently held up because of the controversy over the Old Library/Old Clinic for the past several years. The building is one of the most significant in West Georgia and a keystone of the proposed historic district.

Old Villa Rica Library 1951-2007

The city and the Downtown Development Authority desired to tear down the oldest International design Old Clinic. Built as the Berry-Powell-Berry Clinic, the doctors chose cutting-edge architecture to showcase their practice as cutting edge. Built in 1951, the building later served as the Old Library and then again as a clinic. After several years of efforts to save the structure, the city tore it down in December 2007.

Mourning the loss of history in Villa Rica.

Previously insisting for years on the need for parking, immediately after demolition the site was made into a parking lot for local businesses. The city also allowed Tanner Medical Center to demolish the old hospital (1955) which was built with the same architecture and used by the same collation of doctors.

Historical markers

Villa Rica currently has three historical markers. The first one was erected in 1994 marking the birthplace of Thomas A. Dorsey, the father of gospel songs. Dorsey learned about music as a child at Mt. Prospect Baptist Church.

After leaving Villa Rica, Dorsey became a famous blues musician known as Georgia Tom. After the death of his first wife and son, he returned to religious music, but the influence of the blues resulted in the creation of a new style of music which was eventually referred to as gospel.

This newer marker is at the Mill Amphitheater.

The second historical marker was erected in 2003 with information about the grove, the ancestral home of the Tyson family.

Having moved here in 1853, the Tyson's are among the oldest families in Villa Rica.

The third historical marker was erected in 2007 on the 50th anniversary of the Villa Rica Explosion. The explosion was caused by a gas leak in Berry's Pharmacy which completely destroyed that building and three neighboring buildings. Twelve people died and twenty others were injured. In terms of injury and loss of life, the explosion remains the most catastrophic event in Carroll County history.

Berry's Pharmacy with historical marker out front.

The Growth Boom

Over most of its 180-year history, Villa Rica was a small rural railroad and factory town with a fairly stable population of around 4,000 people. This is in spite of the fact that it is located only an hour from downtown Atlanta. However, throughout the 1990s, a 2,000-acre tract of land surrounding a 210-acre lake known as both Val-Da-Mar Lake and Stockmar Lake got a lot of interest from developers. One group proposed the creation of a Gone with the Wind theme park, while others considered more standard ideas such as building homes and businesses.

What finally occurred was the creation of a subdivision named Mirror Lake which supplied the oft-named lake with a third name.

At the time the subdivision was proposed, Villa Rica had approximately 1,500 homes. The Mirror Lake subdivision added over 2,000 homes in its original proposal.

Subsequent changes and additions have increased that number so that there will be almost 3,000 residences by the time the project is fully completed.

Unincorporated communities



Bill Arp

A post office called Bill Arp was established in 1885, and remained in operation until 1907. The community has the name of humorist Bill Arp.

Home of postmaster of Bill Arp, and the Bill Arp courthouse.

Now we know Charles Henry Smith better by his pen name of Bill Arp. In the late nineteenth century Bill Arp's weekly column in the Atlanta Constitution, syndicated to hundreds of newspapers, made him the South's most popular writer. Others surpassed him in literary quality, but in numbers of regular readers, no one exceeded Bill Arp.

He had a national reputation as a homespun humorist during his lifetime, with a focus on humor and rural life. At least four communities are named for him .....

Arp, (Banks County), Georgia
Bill Arp, Georgia
Arp, Texas
Arp, Tennessee

Bill Arp School, then and now.

He was born in Lawrenceville. He lived at Oak Hill, the later residence of Martha Berry in Rome. GNW #54 His grave is in Cartersville. GNW #158. We spent a long time on Bill Arp with our Cartersville Post.

Chapel Hill

A post office called Chapel Hill was established in 1872, and remained in operation until 1903. The community's name most likely is a transfer from Chapel Hill, North Carolina.


Fouts Mill

Barn in Fouts Mill Georgia.



Not much on the Internet about these towns of Douglas County.

White City


Winston was named after "Uncle Jackie" Winn, a pioneer citizen. The Georgia General Assembly incorporated Winston as a town in 1906. The town's municipal charter was repealed in 1995.

Woah, that was a lot. I guess I truly needed a fourth Natural Wonder to squeeze in some more Douglas County. I still left a little to discuss on notable people and I see we overlooked a little on our first Natural Wonder of Douglas County so we revisit more than just the State Park next week on the main whitewater destination of Douglas County.

Today's Natural Wonder Gals came by accidental Google search. Anneewakee becomes Wake Board Gals.

Edited 18 time(s). Last edit at 02/01/2021 09:10AM by Top Row Dawg.

Georgia Natural Wonder #176 - Anneewakee Creek - Douglas County (Part 4)

Top Row Dawg262January 04, 2021 09:41AM

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