Tag Archives: North Georgia Roadside Attractions

Recycled Sculptures at Sunrise Farm, Warren County

These recycled iron/scrap sculptures represent mythological and real creatures. I’m not sure who the artist is, but it may be farm owner Mark Chalker. You can’t help but notice them as you drive past.

Sea Horse

Sea Turtles


Phoenix, or Firebird. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but the Phoenix is mine. (The octopus came in a close second).

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Filed under --WARREN COUNTY GA--

Iron Horse, 1954, Oconee County

Sculptor Abbott Pattison designed the 2-ton, 12-foot Pegasus Without Wings in 1954. The work was first sited at Reed Hall, but was immediately unpopular with students, who attempted to melt it by burning tires beneath it. The protest was so unwieldy that the fire department had to turn their hoses on the estimated 700 students to gain control of the situation. As a result of the controversy, the sculpture was removed, stored for a time in a warehouse, and in 1959 transported by night to a field owned by UGA horticulture professor L. C. Curtis near the Oconee-Greene County line. The “Iron Horse” stands here today, and visiting it has become a rite of passage for many UGA students . I met two, who extolled the benefits of visiting the countryside and their love of the sculpture, while I was photographing.

The sculpture has become perhaps the biggest tourist attraction in Oconee County and curious visitors from all over stop by to pay homage these days. The sculpture can be hard to spot when the surrounding fields are full of corn or sunflowers, but a crude parking lot off the side of Georgia Highway 15 across from a UGA sign identifying the location as the ‘Iron Horse Plant Sciences Farm’ lets you know you’re in the right place. Recently, the fate of the sculpture has become unclear, as the family who owns it wishes to transfer ownership back to the university, while keeping it on the farm. The university doesn’t want ownership unless they can return it to the campus. I think nearly everyone who loves the Iron Horse would agree that it should stay just where it is. Hopefully, they can figure it out.


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Georgia Guidestones, 1980, Elbert County

Known as the Georgia Guidestones and standing nearly 20 feet high, the six granite slabs situated beside a field nine miles north of Elberton have become a curious tourist attraction since their erection in 1980. Because of the anonymous origin and patronage of the guidestones, controversy has always surrounded them.  In their April 2009 issue, Wired dubbed them the “American Stonehenge” and published a great essay on their history and the ensuing conspiracy theories. They noted that they may be the most enigmatic monument in America…inscribed with directions for rebuilding civilization after the apocalypse.

Four slabs radiate from a central slab with a capstone atop the array which, when viewed from above give the appearance of a star. Ten guidelines are inscribed on the guidestones in eight modern languages (English, Spanish, Swahili, Hindi, Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese, Russian) with a shorter message inscribed on top in four ancient languages (Babylonian Cuneiform, Classic Greek, Sanskrit, Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs) . The ten guidelines, translated, are: 1) Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.
2) Guide reproduction wisely-improving diversity and fitness. 3) Unite humanity with a living new language. 4) Rule passion-faith-tradition-and all things with tempered reason. 5) Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts. 6) Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court. 7) Avoid petty laws and useless officials. 8) Balance personal rights with social duties. 9) Prize truth-beauty-love-seeking harmony with the infinite. 10) Be not a cancer on the earth- Leave room for nature- Leave room for nature.

An explanatory tablet, a few feet away from the Guidestones, notes the date of dedication (22 March 1980), identifies the languages used and the astronomical coordinates of the site, and reads: Let these be guidestones to an Age of Reason.


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Filed under --ELBERT COUNTY GA--

Poole’s Bar-B-Q & Pig Hill of Fame, East Ellijay


A favorite with tourists and locals alike, Poole’s Bar-B-Q has become a world-famous attraction in the mountain town of East Ellijay. Oscar and Edna Poole opened the restaurant in 1989. It started in a roadside shack but now occupies this building, known as the “Taj-Ma-Hog”.


Pig cut-outs, arranged in the shape of a pig, adorn the hill behind the restaurant known as the “Pig Hill of Fame”.


Pig-related names abound.


The Pig Hill of Fame started with just 300 cut-outs but now features over 3000.


Poole’s Bar-B-Q probably doesn’t need to advertise, but these crazy cars do a good job.


The pig kitsch is a lot of fun. Like the old saying of eating everything but the squeal, Poole’s uses decorative pigs in every possible way.


One of my favorite things, though, was Porky, a child’s ride of the kind you’d find outside dime stores a couple of generations ago.


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Filed under --GILMER COUNTY GA--, East Ellijay GA

Jesus Saves Sign, Cherry Log


I’m not sure how long this monumental sign has been located at Cherry Log Baptist Church but it’s been a landmark on US Highway 76 for many years.

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Filed under --GILMER COUNTY GA--, Cherry Log GA

Giant Rocking Chair, Hall County


Located at the corner of Lula Road and Persimmon Tree Road just north of Lula, this oversized rocking chair is well-known landmark to travelers in the area. Dwight Oliver built it around 2006 for children visiting his Goldbrook Pumpkin Farm, but it has since become a permanent fixture. Stop by and take a picture when you’re in the area.


Filed under --HALL COUNTY GA--

Popcorn Overlook, Rabun County


Located 15 miles west of Clayton on US Highway 76, Popcorn Overlook presents a great opportunity to stop and take in the scenery of Northeast Georgia. It’s one of the most beautiful spots in the mountains and on a clear day, you can see many peaks in nearby North Carolina. Recently, the movie Lawless did some location shooting here, and there’s a scene in the movie featuring Shia Lebouf that uses this as a backdrop.

An interpretive sign placed by the U.S. Forest Services notes: The forests you see beyond this roadside area are a miracle of regrowth. Much of this land was cut over during the logging boom that began in these mountains during the 1880s and continued through the 1920s. Beginning gradually and swelling to meet a growing national demand for wood, large scale logging operations caused extensive damage and forever changed the character of the southern Appalachians.

Early mountaineers, accustomed to a hard life and little cash, willingly sold timber, land and mineral rights for small sums. Huge yellow poplars, white and red oaks and black cherry were sold for 40 to 75 cents a tree.

Whole mountainsides were cut over and burned, hillsides eroded. Streams that dried to trickles in the fall became raging rivers each spring. Most of this exploitation was financed from outside the region. This destruction generated widespread interest in saving and protecting the mountains.

The Weeks Act became law in 1911, and the first land approved for purchase was a tract of 31,000 acres from the Gennett Land and Lumber Company of Atlanta. By 1930, thousands of acres of mountain land had been acquired to protect watershed areas and provide a timber reserve. The Forest Service had begun its long-term and ongoing effort to provide environmental protection and economic stabilization for the Southern Appalachians. Several large tracts acquired from lumber companies were “virgin” forest, remote and inaccessible therefore uncut. However, most lands were cut over or culled, and the best trees removed.


Filed under --RABUN COUNTY GA--

Wrightsboro Restoration, 1976, McDuffie County

Wrightsboro Restoration Quaker Cabin Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2016

In 1976, the Bicentennial Project of the Wrighstboro Foundation and the Kiokee Rifle Club reconstructed a circa 1840 cabin from its original location in Dearing (above) and stabilized the 1918 Hawes General Store original to the location (below). The structures are located across Wrightsboro Road from the Wrightsboro Methodist Church and if you plan on visiting, park across the road at the church. It’s an interesting look back into an important period in Georgia’s early development. The cabin isn’t included in the district, but the store is.

Wrightsboro Restoration General Store Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2016

Wrightsboro Historic District, National Register of Historic Places


Filed under --McDUFFIE COUNTY GA--, Wrightsboro GA

Old Clinton Bar-B-Q, 1958, Clinton

Old Clinton BarBQ Restaurant Clinton Gray GA Jones County Landmark Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2015

For generations, Old Clinton Bar-B-Q has been among Georgia’s best-known roadfood shrines. As soon as you walk through the sawdust under the low-hanging porch into the unassuming interior, itself a nod to a simpler time, you’ll feel very welcome. Though terms like “best” and “world-famous” can be found on nearly every barbeque joint’s shingle, you’ll find few locals who would dispute this claim. Features in Southern Living, USA Today, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Washington Post have cemented its fame to non-locals. Clinton native John T. Edge, the leading food writer of the South, describes the barbeque in his book Southern Belly: “Sweet, smoky meat hacked to shreds, perfumed with a sauce tasting of vinegar and pepper, maybe a hint of tomato; Brunswick stew, thick with chicken, fresh pork, and corn; milky coleslaw, rich with mayonnaise. To this day, I don’t think I’ve tasted a meal that satisfied me so.”

Old Clinton BarBQ Restaurant Gray GA Old Clinton Community Jones County Neon Sign Pig Best in Georgia Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2015

Roy and Mittie “Lady” Coulter opened the restaurant in 1958 after the four-laning of US Highway 129 forced them to close their general store, across the highway on Greene Settlement Road. When Roy passed away suddenly in the restaurant’s kitchen in 1962, Lady took over the operations and remained chief cook until her death in 1996. The Coulter’s son Wayne is the proprietor today and he’s changed very little about the place. He did make one welcome change about twenty years ago, though: My mother never air-conditioned the place…and we had a big pit inside the restaurant where the smoke would sweep across the room. We’d have to open all the windows to air it out. We put in a wall that covered the pit in the ‘90s, got a new smoker, and finally cooled the place down a little bit.

If you’re using GPS, use this address: 4214 Gray Highway, Gray, Georgia 31032. You probably won’t need it, though. Once you see the little white pig and the wrap-around Coca-Cola signage, you’ll know you’ve arrived. There’s a new location on Highway 441 in Milledgeville, as well.

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Filed under --JONES COUNTY GA--, Clinton GA

John’s Cross Factory, Yatesville

Johns Cross Factory Free Wooden Crosses Christianity Witness Yatesville GA Upson County Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2014

In front of this converted old store are white wooden crosses, left outside and given freely to those who want to display them as symbols of their faith.

Johns Cross Factory Free Wooden Crosses Old Store Yatesville GA Upson County Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2014

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Filed under --UPSON COUNTY GA--, Yatesville GA