Two courthouses in Watkinsville served as the government center of Clarke County. The first was built in 1806 and the second in 1849. When Oconee County was created in 1875, a new courthouse was built; it was replaced by the present structure in 1939, a project of the WPA.
Tag Archives: The Great Depression in North Georgia
Built in the Georgian Revival style popular with public schoolhouses in the 1930s, the Hartwell Elementary School, as it’s now known, is still in use. It originally served grades 1-11. Atlanta architects Sidney S. Daniell and Russell Lee Beutell were responsible for the design. A WPA gymnasium (not pictured) was constructed in 1939.
National Register of Historic Places
Entrance to Earth Lodge
Archaeologists have determined that human habitation at this Mississippian site, formerly known as the Ocmulgee Old Fields and now the Ocmulgee National Monument, dates back at least 17,000 years.
Interior of Earth Lodge, with Eagle Platform
The Earth Lodge was uncovered by Dr. A. R. Kelley in 1934. It was reconstructed between 1933 and 1938. It served as a Mississippian Council House. The original clay floor, with the raised eagle platform, was exposed by employees of the Civil Works Administration and Work Projects Administration under the direction of James A. Ford. The Mississippians had burned the lodge, perhaps as an act of ritual cleansing or something entirely different. The charred remains of the construction, dated to 1015 AD, were arrayed in a spoke pattern and protected the original floor. The roof was not originally covered with sod, but it has been employed today to preserved the site.
Rear View of Earth Lodge
One should keep in mind that during the Mississippian Period, these mounds were not covered in grass but rather in the natural clay of the landscape.
Great Temple Mound
This is Early Mississippian flat-topped temple mound, 300 feet wide by 270 feet long by 40 feet high, is one of several in widely scattered locations across Georgia. It dates to circa 900-1100 AD. It was the principal religious structure at the Ocmulgee site till at least 1200 AD. A lesser mound (not pictured) stands adjacent to this one.
Excavations on this site uncovered parallel rows of charred corn cobs dating to circa 900AD-1200AD, indicating an early agricultural use. At some point, the field was transformed into a mound. The mound is 90 feet wide by 160 feet long by 6 feet high.
These trenches can be found in several locations around Ocmulgee National Monument. These, near the Cornfield Mound, are 18 feet wide by 7 feet deep. It is unclear as to whether they were defensive in nature or if they were borrow pits for the mounds.
Ocmulgee National Monument Visitors Center
Constructed between 1938-1951, the Streamline Moderne visitors center is a landmark in its own right. It houses a wonderful collection of artifacts collected on the site.
Through the acquisition of private lands beginning in 1938, Cloudland Canyon State Park was established in 1939, with much of the initial work being done by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) as part of FDR’s New Deal. Until this time, the only access to most of Dade County was through Alabama or Tennessee so the State of Georgia and the CCC built Georgia Highway 136 to connect the park and the county seat of Trenton to U. S. 41 and the rest of the state.
The park is located on the Cumberland Plateau atop Lookout Mountain, where Daniel Creek and Bear Creek converge to form Sitton Gulch Creek. The site was historically known as Sitton Gulch. Characterized by a dramatic gorge cut by Sitton Gulch Creek, Cloudland Canyon is over a thousand feet in overall depth, with elevations ranging from 800 to 1980 feet.
One of the most-visited state parks in Georgia, Cloudland Canyon offers something for everyone. Primitive campers, as well as “glampers” utilizing one of the well-appointed yurts or cottages, can spend days hiking the canyon, accessing waterfalls, caves and other amazing features. I highly recommend adding this to your Georgia “bucket list” if you’ve never visited. Even if you’re not an “experienced” hiker, the the Overlook Trail adjacent to the main parking lot is relatively easy. The views at the main overlook (above and below) are well worth the effort.
Summer is a great time to see native plants, such as the Golden St. Johns Wort (Hypericum frondosum) seen below. This species seems to grow right out of the rocks in places.
Overlook #2 is a short hike from the interpretive center and affords wonderful views of Bear Creek Gorge. It’s usually quite shaded and a bit difficult to photograph.
From the Overlook Trail, follow signs to the Waterfalls Trail. A quick descent and strenuous steps characterize this hike, which I didn’t complete due to time constraints.
Even if you can’t make it all the way to the falls, enjoy the geologic formations, including this well-known rock overhang.
Wild Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens) is somewhat common on this section of the trail.