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Georgia Natural Wonder #180 - Poole's Mill Covered Bridge and Falls - Forsyth County (Part 3)
February 16, 2021 07:35AM

Georgia Natural Wonder #180 - Poole's Mill Covered Bridge and Falls - Forsyth County (Part 3)

Alright, I was perusing Historic sites in Forsyth County, and I came across Poole's Mill Covered Bridge. I was just going to add this in the history tangent for the County until I saw the images of the Swimming Hole and Sliding Rocks. This is precisely why I created this Forum, to explore local watering holes, places to explore or hang out on Sunday afternoon. redpantsdawg tells us he proposed to his wife at Poole's Mill. So I present Poole's Mill Park as Georgia Natural Wonder #180, with a third tangent on Forsyth County so we can list the historical sites and notable people. My God, we haven't even mentioned Junior Samples yet.

Poole's Mill Covered Bridge

Directions: Northwest of Cumming off State Route 369 on Poole's Mill Rd.

GPS: 34°17′27″N 84°14′33″W Cumming - Ball Ground

Poole's Mill Bridge is a historic wooden covered bridge crossing over Settendown Creek (tributary of the Etowah River) in Forsyth County, Georgia, United States, built in 1901. It is 96 feet long.

The stream was named after Setten Down, a Cherokee chieftain. Variant names are "Settendown Creek", "Sitting Down Creek", "Sittingdon Creek", and "Sittingdown Creek"

Circa 1820, Cherokee Chief George Welch constructed a gristmill, a sawmill, and a simple open bridge at the site. A Cherokee trading path ran about a mile north of Pooles Mill. In 1804, under terms laid out in the Treaty of Tellico, this path became the federal highway that connected Savannah to Nashville. By the time Cherokee Chief George Welch established the first mill on the site in 1820, traffic was steadily increasing on the road. Welch continued to run and maintain the mills and bridge until the Cherokee removal in 1838. Welch sided with the Cherokees, advocating removal in 1835, rather than fight the settlers who had already stolen the Cherokees’ land. He left Georgia soon after signing the supplement to the Treaty of New Echota on March 1, 1836. According to the Historical Society of Forsyth County, the federal government reimbursed Welch $719.50 for the gristmill.

The land that held the bridge and mills was won in the land lottery by John Maynard of Jackson County, Georgia, who sold the land to Jacob Scudder. Jacob Scudder was an entrepreneur with a number of businesses in a town known as Scudders near the intersection of Matt Highway and Old Federal Road north of Pooles Mill. Today little remains of the small town of Hightower that once existed there, but it was Scudder who took over Chief Welch’s mill and began to operate it. Scudder, a white man who married Welch’s sister-in-law, purchased the land from the man who won it during the Sixth Georgia Land Lottery. Scudder added a sawmill to the existing gristmill. Shortly before he died in 1870, Scudder transferred the title to his sons, who sold it to Dr. D. L. Pool.

Scudder and Family in front of Hightower Inn.

The original bridge that stood at the site was washed away in a flood in 1899. It was decided that a new bridge using the Lattice truss bridge style would be built on the site. The county contracted a millwright to build a new bridge. The design called for wooden pegs to be driven into holes bored into wooden beams to hold the design together. The beams were cut on site at the saw mill, but the holes were bored in the wrong positions. He left before the bridge was done. At this point the construction was taken over by Bud Gentry, who oversaw the re-drilling of the holes. He is generally credited with building the bridge. The mis-drilled holes can still be seen in the bridge's beams.

A cotton gin was added at the site in 1920, but cotton was largely abandoned by local farmers when the poultry farming was introduced. By the time the mill ceased operation in 1947, electricity had replaced water as the power source of choice, and chickens had replaced grain and cotton. The mill was burned by vandals in 1959. Since the main road, the Old Federal Highway, was north of the mill, Pooles Mill Bridge began as a simple wooden structure over Settindown Creek. It is not known why Poole is spelled with an e at the end.The mill was left in disuse by 1947 and was burned by vandals in 1959.

Local News Column

When one associates history with Forsyth County, that individual usually thinks of Poole's Mill Bridge, the only structure in the county currently included on the National Register of Historic Places.

The bridge, however, was secondary in historical significance to the mill nearby, for the mill was the center of agrarian activity. Known by three names Welch's Mill, Scudder's Mill, and Poole's Mill—the mill operated for over a century on the banks of picturesque Settendown Creek in northwest Forsyth County.

The mill for which the site is named was constructed circa 1820 with slave labor by Cherokee Chief George Welch. Forest Wade in Cry of the Eagle declared the dimensions of Welch's structure to be 45 feet high, 40 feet wide, and 60 feet long. The use of pulleys in its operation enabled the overshot water wheel to power both a grist mill and a sash-type sawmill.

Mill Site today.

Chief Welch might have continued to run the mill for years had not the lottery system in 1832 and the Cherokee Removal in 1838 limited his time as a miller. At the time he was dispossessed, the U.S. Government appraised his entire holdings at $12,500.00 with the mill valued at $719.50.

When the lands of the Cherokee nation were awarded to white settlers in the Gold Lottery of 1832, Land Lot 436 in the Third District, First Section of Forsyth County - the lot on which Welch's Mill stood - was drawn by John Maynard of Jackson County. Then in 1833, Jacob Scudder, a brother-in-law of Chief Welch, purchased the property from Maynard for $250.00.

George Welch (born ca. 1798, died in 1849) married Margaret Ann Jones in 1819. Records of historian Don Shadburn suggest that Margaret Ann Jones was the younger sister of Jacob Scudder's wife, Diana Jones Scudder.

Scudder owned and operated the mill, then known as Scudder's Mill, from 1833 until 1868, when he conveyed the title to his grandsons. Scudder passed away two years later - in 1870. A short distance from the site, Scudder and his wife, Diana were buried off the Old Federal Road in Diana's Chapel Cemetery, which is now on the land known as the "Blueberry Farm."

Scudder Grave.

Following Scudder's death in 1870, the mill was purchased by Dr. M.L. Pool (b. 1825, d. 1895), the son of Major Benjamin and Matilda Pool and husband of Lucy Caroline Mangum Pool. Hence the area came to be known as Poole's Mill, and this designation remains to the present. The addition of a cotton gin to the milling operations in 1920 was popular with Forsyth County farmers. But shortly thereafter King Cotton suffered plummeting prices and farmers turned to the chicken industry for their livelihoods. The structure was finally abandoned in 1947 and burned by vandals in 1959. Foundation stones are all that remain today - a testimony to a way of life in a bygone era.

Fortunately the covered bridge on the same land lot (436) did not experience the same fate as the mill. However, the erection of the bridge, as related by Dr. Pool's great- grandson, Vell Pool Fowler, illustrates a shaky beginning to what has proven to be an enduring structure. A flash flood in 1899 washed away the simple wooden bridge, which had probably been constructed under a county contract, and, according to court minutes, a millwright named John Wofford received the county contract to build another. Heart poplar was sawed at the mill and Wofford set about boring holes for the wooden pegs. Discovering that he had miscalculated and that the pegs and holes did not match up, Wofford took the easy way out: He purchased a gallon of corn whiskey and departed the county. Bridge-building was then placed in the hands of a more responsible person, for Bud Gentry received the assignment for the completion of the span. And finish the job he did - by boring a new set of holes - in 1901.

The bridge was constructed by Town Lattice design, so called for Ithiel Town, who patented the plan in 1820. Planks pegged together at a 45 degree angle are fastened at intersections. Approximately 5000 holes and 1680 wooden pegs are required for each hundred feet of a bridge of this type.

Poole's Mill Bridge went through a second period of uncertainty in the 1980's when it collapsed into Settendown Creek. Responding to public outcry, the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners came to the rescue by placing the beloved structure on supports until it could be rebuilt. A support pier was built in the middle of the creek. During this revitalization private citizens also donated land in the area to allow the creation of Poole's Mill Park.

Recently, through the efforts and concern of County Commissioners and the Parks and Recreation Department, the scenic area containing the bridge and shoals has been converted from private ownership to county-owned Poole's Mill Bridge Park. Dedicated April 3, 1997, the park offers county residents the opportunity to picnic, hike, and reminisce. Once a bustling section, Poole's Mill is now a tranquil setting for reflecting on "The good old days."

The Park

This trail meanders down a ridge to Pooles Mill Covered Bridge and explores Settindown Creek, the river the bridge spans. The cascading falls after the bridge on the left are a great place to enjoy the river.

A one-of-kind passive park, Poole's Mill is 10 acres of property that showcases a unique covered bridge. The Bridge, built in 1901, spans the shoals of Settendown Creek. After periods of disrepair, the structure was converted from private ownership and dedicated as a county park in 1997. The park, on the National Historic Registry, offers residents the opportunity to picnic, walk and reminisce about the history of a bygone era.

Bridge Description: This bridge was built in 1901 by Bud Gentry. It is 94.6 feet long by 14.5 feet wide. It's truss is town lattice. It runs over Settendown Creek. There are lots of fun park amenities here.

The site of the bridge dates back to the 1820's. The original construction of this bridge began with a contractor who drilled all the holes in the lattice members in the wrong place. After fitting up the pieces he realized they were in the wrong place and abandoned the project. Work was finished by Bud Gentry but required drilling new holes in the old members.

You can still see the misplaced holes today. Even the treads of the bridge are members that could not be used because of the misplaced holes. Treads with holes side-by-side were to have been used in the chords, while those with diagonally offset holes would have been lattice members.

Though this bridge is quite sound structurally. With the addition of a new pier in the middle, new weatherboarding, and a new wood shingle roof, this bridge looks as good as new.

The pier in the middle of the creek was built during the 1998 rehab to take the sag out of the bridge and provide support. First a cofferdam was built and water was pumped out to give a dry work area. Then the bridge was jacked up in the middle lifting its end off of the abutment. Over a few days the bridge deformed under its own weight and settled back onto the abutment. Incremental jacking continued until the bridge was reasonably straight. Though it never was made totally straight (you can see the sag a little in the picture at right) the weatherboarding was cut straight along the bottom to hide the sag. For the sake of authenticity the pier was given a smooth concrete finish rather than trying to make it look like part of the original bridge by finishing it with rock facing.

There is a small waterfall on Settingdown Creek just downstream from Pooles Mill Road.The walk to the falls from the grounds of Poole's Mill Park is just a few dozen feet. The falls is located at a bend in the creek immediately downstream from the historic covered bridge.

Trip Advisor and Yelp Reviews

This park is a great place to come on a sunny day to hang out and relax! There are different parts of the water where you can slide down the rocks. I recommend bringing a sturdy tube. The sliding part is more for the kids anyway! The parking lot is located right next to the road and there are a lot of spots. If you are looking for all the water fun, take the pathway all the way back. Once you get to the covered bridge, you are almost there. I also recommend that you wear Chacos or some kind of water shoe. You are not going to want to be in that water bare foot. This is also a great place to bring a picnic lunch and relax. There are spots next to the water that you can set up chairs or lay out towels and eat. There are also plenty of trees, so you could hang up an Enu hammock if you like! If you are tired of the water, they have walking paths and playgrounds to enjoy too! This is definitely a cool park to hang out at!

Great spot to spend the day with kids sliding down rocks and small rapids, or just chilling in the still waters at the top.

Tubes and boogie boards work great for sliding down the rocks. Bring some camping chairs to sit at the bottom of the falls. Rocks are slick! Wear water shoes and step carefully. There's a pavilion by the playground and several picnic tables along the creek with charcoal grills. Lots of hand-sized bream in the creek so bring a pole.

What a lovely little park tucked away in the western corner of Forsyth County. This park was built around an area that was once a mill. There is a covered bridge. There are rocks for kids to slid around on and a rope swing for the braver folks to swing into the water. It was a small playground with slides and swings. A large picnic shelter has bathrooms. This is a great, shady park for little kids to play and splash in the stream. Enjoyed walking across bridge and reading history related to Cherokee Indian Removal Act. The park could use some beautification improvements but nice hidden gem.

I had heard of this place all my life but had never been. Didn’t know was so close to where we live. Great place for picnic or to just play in the water. Most of the picnic tables are shaded and if your lucky you might snag a table by the river. The falls are flat and you can walk out in the water. There is a covered bridge, one of the 12 in Georgia. It is dog friendly. Great place to spend the day.

There is a river and there is a rock slide. You can hop from rock to rock and in safe parts, swim! The is a rope swing over the river. The water is usually warm and it has a great park and picnic section for parties.

I hopped on rocks and swung in the water. Off in the woods I climbed up a hill and it has a perfect view of the river and the nature. It was awesome.

All Trails

Poole's Mill Covered Bridge is a 0.3 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Cumming, Georgia that features a river and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for walking, nature trips, and bird watching and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

This short walk is through Pools Mill Park and to the covered bridge. Do not go beyond the bridge as you will enter into private property that is adjacent to the park. Do not cross into the private property.

American Whitewater Settingdown Creek

Settingdown Creek has all of its rapids in the first half mile below the covered bridge. The rapids consist of slides, ledges, and vertical slots. Most of the run is relatively straightforward but some boats have pinned in the narrow slots. Below the last rapid the river widens and deadfalls become common. Some local boaters carry back to the put in instead of paddling to the take out.

Setting Down Creek is a nice little run, It is pretty close to me so I like to paddle it frequently. I found that it runs the day after it rains. The day it rains it is not generally high, so wait a day before paddling it. Here is an overview of the river run.

Put-In - Under the covered bridge (You can not drive to the covered bridge. You have to park in the parking lot and walk to the bridge)

Take-Out - The take out is on highway 369, but I have never gone down that far. It is like 2 miles of flatwater paddling so I just take out after the last rapid and walk about a half mile up along the creek to the put-in. There is a narrow and steep path that is hard to carry your boat on if you use a big creek boat. Also the path is in people's backyard's, But I haven't had any problems with that so far.

1. Entrance Slide - About 100 feet below the covered bridge there is a 50 foot long rock slide that you generally want to run the left side.

2. The river splits and I have not run the left side but it looks like a nice rock slide, I run the right side, which is also a rock slide, the best way to go down it is right though the tongue in the center of the river but there is a strainer right below that so watch out.

3. Next is a slot where the whole river condenses into about an 8-foot wide shoot that hits a pillow rock (not undercut). Just go through straight and you should be fine.

4. Double Drop - This is the biggest rapid of the river. There is a riverwide ledge and you can boof the left side or you could go down a narrow slot on the right. In the right side there is a 5-foot drop where the water hits a rock. Then right after that there is another drop about 5 feet or so, the water is moving at a high velocity so it really isn't a drop.

5. The next and about last big rapid is a steep rock slide about 10 feet or so down at about a 75-degree angle below the horizon. Normally you just run near the center watch out for the strainer.

**There is a little side surfing hole right before the last small rapid. It is a little shallow but it is fun to ride.**

6. There are a couple smaller rapids, then the river flattens out and it is time to take out. The path back to the put in is on the river-right-side and is very steep and narrow. It also is in private property (peoples backyards).

Entrance Slide Class: IIIDistance: 0.01 mile.

Entrance Slide

About 100 feet below the covered bridge there is a 50 foot long rock slide that you generally want to run the left side. But you could boof the ledges in the middle of the water is high enough.

Head Banger (AKA Straight Shot) Class: II+Distance: 0.02 mile
Waterfall / Large Drop

No Image

Next is a slot where the whole river condenses into about an 8-foot wide shoot that hits a pillow rock (not undercut). Just go through straight and you should be fine. In lower water levels you want to start on the left side of the river and ride the tongue down. When the water is high it just pushes you on through.

Minton's Folly (AKA Double Drop) Class: III+Distance: 0.1 mi
Waterfall / Large Drop

Minton's Folly (AKA Double Drop)

This is the biggest rapid of the river, there is a river wide ledge and you can boof the left side or you could go down a narrow slot on the right. In the right side there is a 5-foot drop where the water hits a rock. Then right after that there is another drop about 5 feet or so. Basically just paddle and don't flip over.(At extremely high flows it may need to be portaged on the Left. it makes a huge hole halfway through.)

Sticky Slide Class: IIIDistance: 0.2 mi
Waterfall / Large Drop

No Image

This is the last big rapid, it is a steep rock slide about 10 feet or so down at about a 75-degree angle below the horizon. Normally you just run near the center watch out for the strainer. Don't run the left side, I ran it once and I got stuck in the hole for about 2 minutes it is really sticky.

Take Out Distance: 2.3 mi
Take Out

No Image

This rapid does not have a description.

TRD Addendum

I went to Poole's Mill yesterday and got these pictures. This is truly worth a separate Natural Wonder designation. Quite a little park.

I will be back when it gets warmer. There is a class three rapid on far left bank.

Goes for 20 yards.

Gnarly root islands.

Clover, the three legged wonder Dog.

Looked for Mill could not find anything. Did get a bigger picture of Mill sign so we can read it.

Look how this Panoramic image came out!

Lot of fence keeping you off private property but a great addition to our Natural Wonder Forum. Now we turn to Part 3 of our exploration of Forsyth County Georgia. Here we list all the historic sites.

Historical Sites Forsyth County

1 Cumming Bandstand

Junction of Main and Dahlonega Sts.
34°12′25″N 84°08′22″W Cumming

2 Cumming Cemetery

Bordered by State Routes 9 and 20 and Resthaven Dr.
34°12′18″N 84°08′16″W Cumming

3 Cumming Public School-Cumming High School

101 School St.
34°12′29″N 84°08′13″W Cumming

4 Fowler Family Farm

3813 Atlanta Highway
34°09′18″N 84°12′36″W Cumming

In popular culture

American Reunion was partially filmed in Cumming at Mary Alice Park.

The beach at the lake looks similar to a Lake Michigan setting, which is the state in which the film is set. The production company paid $23,000 to have full access to the property for a week.

The movie scenes included about 100 extras.

Notable people

Former mayor H. Ford Gravitt and the city council pictured at the Independence Day parade in 2002.

Zac Brown, lead singer of the Grammy Award-winning Zac Brown Band, was born in Cumming.

Col. William Cumming, distinguished officer in the War of 1812 The town of Cumming (incorporated 1834) is named in his honor.

Skyler Day, actress born in Cumming.

Luke Appling, Hall of Fame Major League Baseball player.

Born in North Carolina, he spent most of his life in Georgia, attending Fulton High School in Atlanta. Appling first generated headlines not as a shortstop but as a halfback for Oglethorpe University. The Oglethorpe Petrels no longer have a football team, but in 1929, they had a great fullback combo with Appling and Lyman Fox. The Petrels took on much larger universities in football and baseball and came away victorious more often than not. As a matter of fact, Oglethorpe is the only team in Georgia to beat Georgia, other than Tech. Now I see why they beat our Catfish Smith Bulldogs at Sanford Field in 1929. This was the year we debuted Sanford Stadium with a 15 - 0 win over visiting Yale.

Addendum thanks to information uncovered by FigDawg. Running back Cy Bell was the one who really led the Stormy Petrels to stunning success. The Petrels defeated Georgia Tech before a sold out Grant Field and beat the University of Georgia, inside old Sanford Field. On Sept. 25, 1926, Oglethorpe and Georgia Tech were scoreless at Grant Field when Mr. Bell ran 42 yards for the go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter. It remains the Yellow Jackets’ last loss to an in-state team other than Georgia. On Sept. 28, 1929, the Petrels played Georgia at the old Sanford Field in the Bulldogs’ final game at the facility. The score was tied 7-7 late into the fourth quarter when Mr. Bell scampered 64 yards for the game-winning touchdown in a 13-7 victory. It remains the Bulldogs’ last loss to an in-state team other than Georgia Tech.

Bells of Oglethorpe today.

Bell later coached youth football in Gainesville. Gainesville High still gives out the Cy Bell Award to the best running back.

Appling at Oglethorpe in Baseball

The magical 1930 season on the baseball diamond now named for Coach Anderson inside Hermance Stadium saw the Stormy Petrels compile a 15-0 record that included seven wins over major college teams. They survived two nail biters against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, winning game one 5-4 and game two 5-3, before demolishing Tech on their home field in the series finale, 14-3. At 6-0 on the season and with their confidence buoyed, Oglethorpe then traveled to Athens and swept the Georgia Bulldogs in consecutive games, 7-0 and 10-3. In the season series finale against the Mercer Bears, Oglethorpe cemented the title by trouncing Mercer 12-4 on an afternoon where Appling bid farewell to his collegiate career by smashing an incredible three home runs.

Appling and third baseman Amos Martin celebrating yet another Stormy Petrel victory.

Appling was signed by the minor league Atlanta Crackers in 1930 and almost immediately began attracting major-league interest. In 104 games, Appling hit .326 with 19 doubles, 17 triples and 5 home runs. He was a good hitter in his first year, but committed 42 errors in 104 games. He was called "Kid Boots" for a while there. At 23 years old, Appling was pretty much ready for the majors and represented a big financial windfall for the Atlanta team. The Chicago White Sox paid in excess of $20,000 for Appling and even threw in a guarantee that the team would return Appling to Atlanta if he didn’t pan out in the majors.

Atlanta Cracker Rookie Card to Hall of Fame.

His best season was 1936, when he batted .388, the first AL batting title won by a shortstop. It was the highest batting average recorded by a shortstop in the 20th century.

He was an annual Spring Training coach with the Atlanta Braves for 14 years and was also serving as a minor league coach during the season.

Of course, no story about Luke Appling is complete without mentioning his Old-Timer’s Game heroics in 1982. Appling, a spry 75 years old at the time, took Warren Spahn deep at Washington’s RFK Stadium.

Appling lived in Cumming, Suffering from an abdominal aortic aneurysm. He died during emergency surgery in 1991.

"Old Aches and Pains" was interred in Sawnee View Memorial Gardens, Mausoleum Chapel West in Cumming, Georgia.

Geoff Duncan, businessman and Lieutenant Governor of Georgia since 2019.

Yellow Jacket, no wonder Donald Trump chewed his ass..

Kelli Giddish, actress born in Cumming.

Detective Amanda Rollins in the NBC crime-drama television series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

Ethan Hankins, Cleveland Indians baseball player.

Vandy commit, lost in Cleveland Indians Minor League instead.

Billy Magnussen, Tony Award nominated actor.

Rapunzel's Prince in Rob Marshall's 2014 film Into the Woods. Also played Kato Kaelin on the first season of American Crime Story, about the O. J. Simpson murder case.

Gene Ray, creator of Time Cube.

Ron Reis, former World Championship Wrestling wrestler also known as The Yeti, lives in Cumming.

Junior Samples, comedian on the TV show Hee Haw.

Oh Man, I loved Junior Samples as a kid.

One of the most unlikely TV stars in history, Alvin Samples, Jr., was a carpenter by vocation and avid fisherman and teller of tall tales by avocation. A recording of Junior's tall tales, originally made for a radio program, was heard by Chet Atkins, who, in turn, introduced him to country music comedian Archie Campbell. The album the two men made, "Bull Session at Bull's Gap" on RCA, was a direct stepping stone to both men's being signed to the "Hee Haw" television show, where they remained regulars for years. A mammoth bear of a man, whose weight came close to 400 pounds, Samples was still a regular on the program when he died of a heart attack at age 57.

Him, Jonathan Winters, Jackie Gleason, three of my favorite large guys. They were much sharper so the only real similarity is largeness.

The phone number for Junior Samples' used car sales skit on Hee Haw was "BR-549" and he held up a crude white sign at the end of the skit with the number painted on it, which later in real life became the name of a country music group. In the first few series of Hee Haw, Junior had a full set of teeth. According to Roy Clark, Junior returned to the set after one of the regular production hiatuses with his upper front four teeth missing. Clark asked Junior what had happened, and Junior replied that he had gone to the dentist and had them all pulled because somebody told him a comedian was funnier if he had teeth missing.

Glenn Sutko, former catcher for the Cincinnati Reds.

He played for the Cincinnati Reds. His major league career lasted only eleven games spread throughout the 1990 and 1991 seasons. But he was in the Arena so he makes this notable people of Forsyth County.

Roger L. Worsley, college administrator, formerly resided in Cumming.

No images of Worsley, but here is Southern Arkansas University Tech.

OK so that finishes Forsyth County for now. In keeping with the Poole's Mill theme, today's GNW Gals are playing Pool.

Edited 23 time(s). Last edit at 03/11/2021 03:31AM by Top Row Dawg.

Georgia Natural Wonder #180 - Poole's Mill Covered Bridge and Falls - Forsyth County (Part 3)

Top Row Dawg282February 16, 2021 07:35AM

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