Friday, February 18, 2022

2020-10-18: Westbound Roadtrip Through North Carolina and Tennessee

Westbound and down, eighteen wheels are rollin'.... OK, so there aren't 18-wheels. But our time in North Carolina has come to an end and I gotta week to start the next project in Guy, Texas. TIME FOR ANOTHER ROAD TRIP! Time for geocaching, sightseeing, and exploring more backroads and byways between here and there.

Today we drove all the way over to Chattanooga, Tennessee. We discovered an old mill, a waterfall, a giant Harley-Davidson, a copper mine, and a historic cemetery. So climb into the GeoJeep and let me show you...

Not to take up too much time starting out, I quickly drive up to I-40 and head westbound. The first few hours were nonstop all the way to Cherokee, NC and our first geocache (GCGYMA).

For 50 years, nearby farmers brought their corn and wheat to Mingus Mill, built in 1886. The miller usually charged a toll of one-eighth of the grain the customer brought for milling. The gristmill's stone was turned by a water-powered, cast-iron turbine. From water pressure built up in the penstock at the flume's end, the turbine generated 11 horsepower, enough to run all the mill's machinery. On the second floor, the smut machine blew wheat grain free of debris, while the bolting chest separated ground wheat into grades by sifting it through fine to coarse bolts of cloth.

Mingus was the largest gristmill in the Smokies. Its 200-foot-long wooden flume brings water to the mill's turbine. As early as the 1820's, more progressive millers began using turbines to power their mills rather than waterwheels. The Mingus family sold the mill to the National Park Service in the 1930's.

Continuing the scenic drive west on US-74, we headed for Juney Whank Falls and our next geocache (GCMBAZ). This puzzle cache requires gathering information along the 4.4 mile Deep Creek - Indian Creek loop trail. However once we arrived at the trailhead we weren't up for a long hike. So we just took the short hike to the first of several waterfalls for some photos.

Here's one of those reasons why I like driving the backroads and byways through rural towns and communities across this great country. Passing by Cherokee County Cycles, I spotted this HUGE Harley-Davidson custom motorcycle along with a couple of other cool vehicles in the parking lot. I just had to pull in and get a few pics!

Crossing over into Tennessee, we check out the Great Copper Basin Earthcache (GCNP87) and a new caching county of Polk County. In 1843, a prospector, hoping to find gold south of the Coker Creek mine fields, instead located one of America's richest copper reserves. Over the next century, American and foreign companies chartered more than a dozen copper mines in the Ducktown Basin. The last mines closed in 1987. Many of the buildings still remain today.

We ended our day in Chattanooga at the National Cemetery for two virtual geocaches (GC5148, GC4E66). On Dec. 25, 1863, Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas, “The Rock of Chickamauga," issued General Orders No. 296 creating a national cemetery in commemoration of the Battles of Chattanooga, Nov. 23-27, 1863. Gen. Thomas selected the cemetery site during the assault of his troops that carried Missionary Ridge and brought the campaign to an end. The site Thomas selected was approximately 75 acres of a round hill rising with a uniform slope to a height of 100 feet; it faced Missionary Ridge on one side and Lookout Mountain on the other. Gen. Grant established his headquarters on the summit of the hill during the early phase of the four-day battle for Lookout Mountain.

By 1870, more than 12,800 interments were complete: 8,685 known and 4,189 unknown. The dead included men who fell at the battles of Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain. There were also a number of reinterments from the surrounding area, including Athens, Charleston and locations along the line of Gen. Sherman’s march to Atlanta. A large number of men—1,798 remains—who died at the Battle of Chickamauga were relegated to unknowns during the reinterment process. In addition to Civil War veterans, there are 78 German prisoners of war buried here.

The Andrews Raiders Monument, erected by the state of Ohio in 1890, is among the most unique memorials in the cemetery. The granite base and die is topped with a bronze replica of “The General,” the Civil War-era wood-burning locomotive famous for its great chase of 1862.

Today, the Chattanooga National Cemetery encompasses just over 120 acres and nearly 60,000 permanent residents.

After 300 miles of driving, it was time to call it a night. Tomorrow is another day with new adventures and things to see. I hope you have enjoyed today's journey and will return for many more...

To follow along on our travels and keep up with my latest blogs, you may do so here of course. But also by using you favorite of these social media platforms: FacebookMeWeGabRedditParlorTwitterRVillageGETTR and Instagram. These all link directly to my profile. Again, please feel free to comment and / or share.

Saturday, February 12, 2022

2020-09-20: Walking Around the Historical Augusta, Georgia and Finding a Few Geocaches

On this second day of our roadtrip, we started out in Augusta, Georgia. We've passed through this city many times but never really taken the time to explore it. So this morning before we continued the rest of our drive up to the RV park in North Carolina, we spent some time checking out the historical riverfront area of Augusta. So let's take a walk through this historic community.

Founded in 1736 on the western bank of the Savannah River, Augusta, Georgia became the second town of the 13th British colony. General James Edward Oglethorpe, the colony’s founder, ordered the settlement and chose its location at the head of navigation of the Savannah River below the shoals created by the fall line. Oglethorpe’s vision was to establish an interior trading post for purchasing furs and other commodities from Native Americans to compete with New Savannah Town, a small outpost on the South Carolina side of the river.

Augusta thrived as a trading post from the beginning, with several of the South Carolina traders moving their base of operations to the new settlement. By 1739 a fort was completed, and the official surveyor of the colony, Noble Jones, laid out the town. Its colonial plan was similar, but not as elaborate as the one used in Savannah. Augusta’s plan focused on one large square or plaza and was four streets deep and three streets wide. Fort Augusta was adjacent to the 40 town lots on the west side near the river. Augusta named two of its original streets for Georgia’s colonial governors: Reynolds Street for John Reynolds, and Ellis Street for Henry Ellis. These streets are still prominent features of the Downtown Augusta, Broad Street, and Pinched Gut Historic Districts.

As traders populated the town, they brought their wives and began to have children. The desire for a more civilized atmosphere dictated the need for a church. As a British colony, Georgia petitioned the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel for a minister after constructing a church building in 1749. The first minister, the Reverend Jonathan Copp, arrived in 1751 and began conducting services according to the rites of the Church of England. After Georgia’s division into parishes in 1756, the Augusta District fell into St. Paul’s Parish, and the Augusta church became known as St. Paul’s Church (GC7B87M).

The brick pavers above layout the site of the first church in Augusta in 1749. The first church was destroyed during the French and Indian War (1754-1763). When rebuilt, the church became part of Fort Cornwallis until its destruction in 1781, in the Second Siege of Augusta, during the Revolutionary War. The Trustees of the Academy of Richmond rebuilt the third church on this property in 1789. This church was where the First Presbyterian Church was founded in 1804. Later, the congregation would build a new church on Telfair Street and move in, in 1812. The Episcopalian congregation would regain ownership in 1818. Robert Lund designed a new church which was completed and consecrated in 1821. The congregation grew and built a church school in 1843, with an orphanage added in the 1850's. During the Civil War, the property served as a hospital for the Confederacy.

The Great Augusta Fire of 1916 burned the fourth church, along with over 30 blocks of downtown Augusta and Olde Town. Fortunately, they were able to save some of the church furniture. Services continued to be held under a tent and at the courthouse until a new home could be built. The fifth church is the one we see here today. The exterior was designed to resemble church number four, Federal Style. The interior was redesigned in the Georgian style. The baptismal font is from the first church and many items rescued from the fire, from the fourth church, are still in use here today.

According to the Find-A-Grave website, there are 166 burials scattered about on the St Paul's Church graveyard (GC1PA14) dating back to 1754. The cemetery is still used today though not as often as I'm sure even a small burial plot is prime real estate and very expensive.

After the Revolution Augusta became the temporary capital of the new state of Georgia between 1786 and 1795, and many of the leaders of the government moved to the town. One of the most notable was George Walton, a Signer of the Declaration of Independence, who built his home, Meadow Garden, on what was then the outskirts of town. The other of Georgia's Declaration of Independence signers, Colonel William Few Jr, was buried at the St Paul's Cemetery in 1828.

The town continued to grow in size and population governed by a group of Trustees of the Academy of Richmond County. In 1791 they added Telfair Street, named for Georgia Governor Edward Telfair. Telfair Street today is another major artery through the Augusta Downtown and Pinched Gut Historic Districts. President George Washington’s visit in 1791 was a highlight of this period. Legend has it that Augustans planted the large ginkgo tree in his honor at the proposed site of the Richmond County Courthouse, constructed in 1801 and now known as the Old Government House. The Trustees of the Academy built a new school building in 1802, the old Academy of Richmond County.

As Georgia expanded westward and the states of Alabama and Mississippi attracted many of its prosperous planters, Augusta’s economy began to stagnate. The Charleston and Hamburg Railroad in South Carolina reached a point directly across the Savannah River from the heart of downtown Augusta in 1832. In 1833 the Georgia Railroad, chartered in Athens, Georgia, began building westward from Augusta toward a yet unnamed settlement that would eventually become Atlanta.

The railroad did not ensure Augusta’s future, as the tug on Americans to move westward grew ever stronger, but other factors had a positive impact on the city. Spurred by the invention in 1793 of the cotton gin, local farmers grew upland cotton in the surrounding countryside making Augusta the center of a large inland cotton market.

Augusta served as a major center of the Confederacy, providing cotton goods, shoes, guns, munitions, food, and many other commodities. In addition, the city was a religious center of the South hosting meetings for the formation of both the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America at St. Paul’s Church, and the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States at First Presbyterian Church. The meeting took place there at the invitation of its pastor, Reverend Joseph Ruggles Wilson, who lived with his family in the parsonage, the Woodrow Wilson Boyhood Home.

Next door to the future President’s home was the parsonage of First Christian Church, home of future U.S. Supreme Court Justice Joseph R. Lamar. Wilson and Lamar, both sons of prominent Augusta pastors, were best friends as children.

Following the Civil War, Augusta’s economy struggled but rebounded with the enlargement and expansion of the Augusta Canal in 1875. Several large new cotton mills were built along its banks. As the old city continued to expand, most religious denominations realized the need to establish a second congregation in the western end of the city, and often a third or fourth in the suburban areas. With the expansion of the Augusta Canal, the city was once again a thriving center of a cotton economy. Cotton warehouses lined Reynolds Street between St. Paul’s Church on the east and 9th Street on the west.

Augusta's Imperial Theatre began in 1917 as a vaudeville showcase named The Wells Theatre. On Sunday, October 6, 1918, over 3,000 cases of Spanish Flu were reported. With the death of 52 servicemen from nearby Fort Gordon, the city announced the closure of all public venues, including the theatre. The quarantine began October 7, and during this time Jake Wells encountered great financial difficulties. He sold The Wells to Lynch Enterprises. On November 27, 1918, shortly after the sell, the quarantine is lifted and the theatre opened two weeks later. The Wells Theatre's was soon changed to The Imperial Theatre. Throughout the early 1900's the theatre continued to provide the city of Augusta and the surrounding area with great entertainment. In 1929, as vaudevillian acts decreased in popularity and motion pictures enjoyed meteoric success, Miller decided to renovate the Imperial into a full-time movie house in the popular art deco style. Decades later due to the decline of the downtown area, the Imperial continued as a film theatre until it closed in 1981. In 1985 it was recognized for its architectural significance and reopened as a performing arts venue with the help of local performing arts groups like the Augusta Ballet and the Augusta Players.

Saw this sign on another business in the historic district. I'm don't think there is a long history to research here, but I liked the appropriate name for the bar and thought I'd share it with you.

In 2005, a statue was dedicated in the historic district and James Brown Plaza in honor of the "Godfather of Soul" (GC11BDX). Born in South Carolina in 1933, the family moved to Augusta when he was five years old. He began singing in talent shows as a young child, first appearing at Augusta's Lenox Theater in 1944. As a singer, songwriter, musician and one-of-a-kind performer, James Brown has thrilled millions around the world with his hit recordings and electrifying performances. 

While there is much more that can be said of Augusta's history and many more places to see, we still have a long drive ahead of us to the RV park in North Carolina. So let us get back on the road for now. Until the next time...

To follow along on our travels and keep up with my latest blogs, you may do so here of course. But also by using you favorite of these social media platforms: FacebookMeWeGabRedditParlorTwitterRVillageGETTR and Instagram. These all link directly to my profile. Again, please feel free to comment and / or share.

Saturday, February 5, 2022

2020-09-19: Geocaching Roadtrip Through Georgia Finding Abandoned Buildings, Old School, and Santa Claus

Hello Everyone. Well we had a 4-day weekend off from work so I decided a spontaneous quick trip down to Florida and back would be good to fill the time. We packed a weekend bag and left the Lake Norman RV Resort in North Carolina on Thursday morning, arriving at a hotel on Daytona Beach. Friday was spent visiting family. Todays' blog is about our Saturday drive north through Georgia, sightseeing and geocaching along the way. So climb onboard the GeoJeep once again and let us see what we can find...

Driving north on I-95 and arriving in Brunswick, Georgia, I exit onto US-25 / US-341 to take the backroads and byways so that we can enjoy the ride more than the Interstates. It didn't take very long to find a treasure and reaffirm the reason we prefer the backroads of rural America. Passing through the small community of Gardi, Georgia, I spotted this old red brick building and just had to turn around for a closer look.

The Gardi area was being settled by the Street Family during the colonial days of Georgia. Around 1900 and as the community was growing, this brick building was constructed by the Odom Family and first used as a post office and general store. The Fore Family purchased the building around 1940 and turned it into an apiaries, selling their "Fancy Honey" to the community. The family still owns the property but has since expanded and moved their business to Darien, Georgia. The abandoned building is a reminder of Gardi's historic past.

Since I was already here, I checked the geocaching app and lo and behold there's a geocache placed here too (GC377Y1). Also on the corner is a Geodetic Survey Bench Mark which was placed way back in 1917.

Moving along up the highway at the snails pace of 55 MPH, on a 4-lane highway, with nothing but trees all around on both sides, makes me miss Texas. This same stretch of highway would easily be 70-75 MPH in the Lone Star State!

Turning north on US-1, I arrive into my first needed geocaching county. We stopped in a small town called Santa Claus, Georgia, yes there really is a town called Santa Claus, to find a quick geocache for Toombs County.

Next up over in Treutlen County, we get to our next geocache at the Old Soperton School (GC5DVA8). I spent about an hour or so researching this old schoolhouse. However I couldn't find any history on it. Maybe one of you readers can share some insight to this place.

We also stopped by a cemetery about 8 miles north of Soperton for another geocache (GC49JYF). The small well kept Ricks Family Cemetery has 72 interments according to the FindAGrave website. Daniel Ricks (1795-1878) settled in this area and opened the Blackville Mill. His son, 28 year old John Ricks, was the first to be buried in this cemetery in 1859.

Moving along into Johnson County, I stopped for a quick roadside guardrail geocache (GC2ADG3) just outside the town of Wrightsville.

A few miles north of there in Washington County, I arrived at my next geocache (GC5QVK3) with a sad story of forgotten history. According to the CO of the now archived geocache: "My dad bought this land in 1959. He passed away in 1996. My sister and I now each own part of this land. When my dad acquired the property there were remnants of markers or head stones made from coarse materials, probably a concrete-like material. A previous owner had removed the markers from the small graveyard. He plowed and planted over the area. No one knew the actual location of the graves. The story has been passed down that it was a small area of graves .No bones or materials have ever been found. As the older generation has passed on, the younger people here do not know that this ever existed. While there is no way to ever know more about this, we can still remember them." Only thing there now is this cross next to a pine tree.

Still in Washington County just a mile or two away, was this really creative geocache container (GC5QN7X) at the corner near the entrance of the owners ranch.

Further north just past the town of Gibson, We stopped for one more quick roadside guardrail geocache for Glascock County (GC3DA5F).

Now it's early evening and time for us to grab some dinner and find a hotel. We made it about halfway back to the RV Park in NC. See you back tomorrow to finish the roadtrip.

To follow along on our travels and keep up with my latest blogs, you may do so here of course. But also by using you favorite of these social media platforms: FacebookMeWeGabRedditParlorTwitterRVillageGETTR and Instagram. These all link directly to my profile. Again, please feel free to comment and / or share.