Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Confederate legacy

This is the ruin of a 19th century iron smelter found near Stamp Creek in the Etowah river valley in north Georgia. It is in a protected forest, wildlife management area. We anticipated a 3 mile hike round trip, but when arriving at the parking area found the gate open, so we just drove to within 200 feet of the furnace.

This furnace is one of more than a dozen iron smelters that operated in this area in the mid 19th century to provide iron for the Confederacy. The ruins of six of the furnaces still exist, and two more ruins are submerged deep below the surface of Lake Allatoona.

Some of these furnaces were destroyed by Sherman during the Civil War. A few resumed operation after the war, but all were shut down by 1880.

We tried to visit another of the six remaining furnace sites, and were looking forward to another hike, it being described as - "This is a remote area, so it would be a good idea to let someone know where you are going, especially if you go alone." The drive toward the site provided breathtaking views of the mountains, and lots of virgin timber, BUT upon arriving at the designated coordinates, we discovered not a remote area, but the construction site of the new Veteran's Administration Georgia National Cemetery. Yes, almost 800 acres being stripped of trees. All that could be seen was red Georgia clay and giant earthmoving machines. It was sad to see the land being abused, and thinking of all the animals being displaced that used to call it home - deer, bear, turkeys, etc.

I realize cemeteries are a part of our culture, but just think, when all the baby boomers are dead and buried, will the US just be one big cemetery? Anyway, I am hoping that they will preserve the historic furnace on the site and incorporate it into the landscape of the cemetery, I believe it would be an appropriate addition to the plan.


jellyhead said...

Yes, hopefully they won't knock down the old furnace in the name of 'progress'.

Thanks for another informative and interesting post!

Motherkitty said...

You should write your congressmen and the VA. It would be a shame to tear it down.

Thanks for the beautiful photo and the historical information. Love it.

Abandoned in Pasadena said...

It always breaks my heart to see forests destroyed and bulldozers destroying the land...in the name of progress.

I am seriously considering being cremated so that I don't take up any unnessesary land space...because I too have wondered if our country is going to end up a giant cemetary.

Just let me blow away in the wind after I'm gone.

I had never heard of these furnaces and I plan to visit them...maybe this summer before something happends to them.

You always post such informative articles and I always look forward to reading them.

Finn said...

This is another beautifully written thought provoking piece Susan. And so sad that our state governments and also our federal govt. keeps making these decisions. Makes you wonder if anyone in a position of authority actually came out and saw what was to be altered and destroyed? I think it would be wonderful if the smelter could be part of the cemetary.

Seeing Anew said...

I enjoyed your photo of the iron furnace. It reminds me of hikes along the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania, where these old furnaces are prevalent. I wonder what years these kinds of furnaces were in operation.

susan said...

If the government had taken the land for their purposes using 'imminent domain,' that would be a different story altogether, but according to the website - "The property on which the future cemetery rests was donated by Scott Hudgens, the late Atlanta World War II veteran, land developer and philanthropist." So we are back to the question of - folks can do what they want to with their land...

Thanks all for your comments.

doubleknot said...

Thanks for the interesting post. I too often wonder where everyone is going to be buried. I am going to be cremated and scattered at sea. My Mom fought it for a while but she is considering it also now. It is only a small thing I can do to keep more land being developed.
The picture of the furnace is great.