Monday, November 26, 2012

Hiking in Sope Creek National Park, and more...


Last Tuesday, November 21st, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, was sunny and warm - in the low 70s (21 C) so we decided to go out in the woods to see if we could still find some good autumn  colors, and we did - in Sope Creek National Park.

Several times along the years I had driven over a narrow bridge in East Marietta, Georgia and always wished to explore the creek I had seen below.  I had found out that this stream is called Sope Creek and is part of the Cochran Shoals unit of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area.  In 2009 we had hiked along Island Ford which is also in this Recreation Area and I had written a post about it, click here to read it.  The National Park Service maintains some good hiking trails in Sope Creek Park so we decided to wander on them that Tuesday.

We started walking on a large trail which lead us down a slope

and then to a pond.  A previous owner,  John Sibley, had purchased 1,300 acres of land in this area in the 1930s and so the pond is called Sibley Pond.  There is a trail around the pond and a large dock, for fishing I presume.  (Click on any picture or collage to enlarge.)

We sat on the deck for a while and then went back up the trail to do more exploring.  I heard a sound behind me and before I could look back a bicycle had passed by me quickly - the large trails are used as mountain biking trails.

So we decided to walk along a small trail in the woods where biking is prohibited.


This little trail took us up and down.  I was happy to have brought my walking cane along as there were many large rocks.  Before long we could see the ruins of a building among the trees.  There were down a sharp hill and I had to balance myself against the trunk of a tree to take the photos below.


When we entered the park we read the two plaques shown below.  These ruins are what remain of the large Paper Mill  - that was 300 feet long and included several rooms, an office and store room. 

I read that during the Civil War, on July 8, 1864, a detachment of Federal troops crossed Soap Creek, further down the bridge, after firing their rifles.  (Vintage photo courtesy Heritage Sandy Springs Museum.)



Now we could hear the soft sound of rushing water and soon we arrived at the river.  Looking up the river I could see the little bridge where I had crossed Sope Creek several times.


There used to be a covered bridge across the creek, but it was burnt down by arson in the 1960s - such a terrible shame as it must have been a lovely sight over the water.  (vintage photos of the bridge below, owners unknown.)

It would be easy to cross the river by hopping or jumping on the large boulders in the creek, but we decided to just sit and feel the ambiance.

I could see an old stone wall starting at the bridge and going to another sets of ruins.

I took some close-ups with my little Panasonic Lumix camera to get a better look at the ruins down the river.

 I understand that there were several buildings in the area: a paper mill, a twine mill and a flour mill. It was strange in a way to be sitting on a flat rock above the shallow Sope Creek, surrounded by heavily wooded slopes with yellow, rust, red and green leafed trees then watching the traffic crossing the little bridge.  

 
 The sun was shining through the multicolored leaves and producing delicate colored reflections in the water.


Walking away from the stream was not easy as there were huge roots and rocks on the banks.


The trail going back was heavily wooded but not so steep.

As we came to a fork in the trail we checked the direction plaque, but we still took the smaller trail, the less traveled one...

As we walked up the trail we passed by many large fallen trees.  It certainly would be a bit alarming to be walking here when there is a violent storm, or a tornado.

As we arrived back in the parking lot I noticed two plaques, one giving information on the Chattahoochee River and the other on Sope Creek (click on photos to read.)  The sign on Sope Creek said "...Sope Creek, named for an aged Cherokee Indian who refused to leave with the forced migration of 1838 and was allowed to live out his life here."  That certainly sounded nice, but was it true?  I would have to check this out...

Now comes the part listed as "and more" in my title above ... for the rest of the story which I researched.  To start with, the Park Service plaque is wrong - I was skeptic as to the benevolence of the Georgian settlers in 1838.  John Sibley's property was developed in the 1970s - an elementary school called "Sope Creek Elementary School" was built and many houses were also built within "Sibley Forest."  In 2009 the students of Sope Elementary thought that, for their upcoming International Festival in January 2010 it would be great if they could have a Cherokee Indian come and talk about old Sope (as mentioned in the Park Service plaque.)  They contacted a Georgian historian, Jeff Bishop, who is the president of the Trail of Tears Association, Georgia Chapter.  Jeff researched this Old Sope, whose name had been "Soap" from the Cherokee "Oh Lah" and confirmed that there had been such a man, but he had been forced to go on the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma with his family.  Please read Jeff's report here: "Chief Soap": Fact vs. Fiction."

But what makes this story so interesting is that the descendants of Old Soap found out about the legend surrounding their ancestor and the school request.  They traveled to Georgia that January 2010 to talk about their family and Cherokee customs.  They started with a Cherokee prayer and then spent some time with the students.  (Photos courtesy Sope Creek Elementary School.)

Charlie Soap (center top picture) came with his son and grandson.  Charlie was married at the time to Wilma Pearl Mankiller Soap, who had been the first female Chief of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma.  She passed away in April 2010.   When I looked at Charlie Soap, I found that he had a strange resemblance to my husband Jim (of course it would be easier to see if he shaved his beard!)  There is a legend in Jim's family that way back there had been American Indian blood.... I tried to find a picture of Jim which might look a bit like Charlie Soap but could not decide on which one to use - so I used them all.  Charlie Soap is on the center left wearing a black leather jacket.  By the way my husband's tee shirt in the top right picture shows the circle which is the seal of the Eastern Band of Cherokee. So this is the rest of the story.


39 comments:

val's alentejo blogspot.com said...

Wow Vagabonde.
this is an amazing story. So very interesting.
I start at the end. Your husband sure does look like the family. Some reasearch might be in order!
The sope vally looks beautiful.. I wouldnt like to walk it alone.
The photo of the confederates crossing the river tells us so much.
I really enjoyed reading this post
thank you for sharing this ..
val

Margaret said...

I loved that you stepped out of your car and took this hike. Wonderful detective you are, too. (The real story stands in stark contrast to the feel-good myth of kindly “Old Chief Soap.”) ... I'm not surprised!

And yes, I can see the resemblance of your husband and Charlie Soap! Nicely done.

DJan said...

Not only a fascinating story, but so well documented and photographed, VB! I enjoyed it, along with all the pictures, and the final collage of Jim and his relatives, who knows how distant or close? I loved it. Sending you hugs and blessings as I prepare for a long journey tomorrow, going home...

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

Your pictures and story are so interesting and lovely. It looks like there is less than 7 degrees of separation between your husband and Charlie Soap. There is quite a resemblance between them.

Kay said...

Your photos are just so magnificent. Since I can't be there, I'm glad to be able to see it with your camera.

Retired English Teacher said...

This post was absolutely fascinating. I think you outdid yourself on this one. While the photography is just spectacular, I was even more struck by how beautifully you described the scenes you had photographed. Then, to cap it all off, you added the great human interest story at the end to enhance the history lesson you gave us. Your husband does look like he could be related to the Soap family. Thanks for sharing this.

bayou said...

I truly enjoyed all of this nice stroll through the woods and admire that you try to find out behind the scenes. Could just imagine myself riding along these trails (why would you walk when you have a horse ;-)?)
Your husband has this very look in his eyes, I find! And I love the picture on the right in the green shirt where he seems to look out of the window. What a smart husband you have!

The Broad said...

Your photographs look so 'Thanksgiving'! They are wonderful and bring back so many memories of where I grew up in northwestern Connecticut. Across the street in the woods were even the remains of a factory -- that made piano tops of all things!

What an interesting history of Charlie Soap. And good for you trying to sort out the fact from the fiction -- well done!

Thérèse said...

Fascinant!
Comme toutes ces images se croisent, s'entrecroisent, racontent le passé, le présent. Emouvant le témoignage des descendants de Old Soap.
Quel bel automne dans votre région.

Dee said...

Dear Vagabonde, this was a wholly satisfying experience--reading about the park, the paper mill, Mr. Soap/Sope, and your husband's possible connection to him. That's intriguing, isn't it?

With your ability to research, perhaps you've find if there is indeed a connection between your husband and Mr. Charlie Soap whose facial structure does, indeed, look like your husband's. I do so hope you find out something and that when you do you'll post and let us know. Peace.

Sylvia K said...

Thanks for visiting/commenting on my blog. I left a comment here a bit earlier, but for some reason it disappeared! Love your blog and the interesting history and fantastic captures you've posted! Look forward to visiting again! Hope you have a great week!!

Sylvia

Down by the sea said...

What a beautiful place to walk especially at this time of year. The resemblance to Jim is amazing! How wonderful that the Sope family could come and share the stories of their ancesters and customs with the children.
Sarah x

Jeanne said...

Loved all of your photos and this looks as if it was a lovely walk. Glad that you decided not to hop across those rocks. Around my cabin is a similar area, and last weekend, I decided to hop across the rocks and I ended up falling in the creek... getting my camera wet. Almost gave me nervous breakdown, but the camera was fine. This does look like a lovely area, and your husband does seem to look alot like Charlie Soap. Great post!

rhymeswithplague said...

Having lived in East Cobb from 1975 until 1999, I knew from the moment I read the words "a narrow bridge in East Marietta" that you just had to be referring to the one on Paper Mill Road with a 90-degree turn at the end, up the hill and on toward Johnson Ferry. And every last one of your photographs is spectacular! Well done....

chlost said...

Such good pictures of your husband. And he does look similar. We have a similar story in our family, but I have never researched it. I don't even know where to start. Such a beautiful trail.

WildBill said...

Very interesting! The creek in its present state looks much better than when it was used for mills, nevertheless, the history is quite interesting.

I, too, have a rich native american ancestry, both Abenaki and Cherokee, and I have a strong resemblance to my forebearers excepting the blue eyes.

I really enjoyed this. Thank you.

Pat said...

What an adventure. It all looks so still and lovely but how alarming bikes cn be when they creep up on you. I was alarmed when I read this:
'It would be easy to cross the river by hopping or jumping on the large boulders in the creek, but we decided to just sit and feel the ambiance.'
Thank goodness you didn't try that. I have come a cropper by doing the same in younger days. Those rocks can be lethally slippy.
From start to finish a most interesting post.

David said...

Vagabonde, You sure do go all out with your blogs. Great pictures, both of the natural wonders and interesting man made structures... Nice history lesson too! I also love debunking legends and falsehoods, although most of them lately have been politically related. Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

OldLady Of The Hills said...

The resemblance is Amazing!!! What a fabulous story and the pictures of that place are just FANTASTIC! Such a beautiful peaceful looking place! You and Jim are very brave to take such a walk in a rather isolated area...! BRAVO to both of you! As always, you discover the most interesting places to go and see AND to research and share! Thank You, my dear!

Jeanie said...

What a wonderful time to take such a hike. The colors are beautiful and it all seems so fascinating. I love how you discover new things everywhere you go. The photos are amazing -- those rocks and water are really quite something. And very nice photos of your husband. I love the one where he sits on the riverbank. Lovely.

Mary said...

Such a great post with so much history. The Autumn woods are always a favorite and you caught some beautiful scenery. How sad the covered bridge was destroyed - we love them and always scout them out when back in New England where of course they have many still standing.

Nice shots of your handsome hubby - and I do love beards although my guy has never had one!! Of course he doesn't even have much hair nowadays!!!!!

Off to England for Christmas - hope it dries up there or we'll be needing a rowboat to get about!

Happy day dear friend.
Mary

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

A really interesting post with lots of information. I felt like I had taken the walk with you, such beautiful photos. Thanks. Keep well Diane

claude said...

Coucou !
C'est une belle invitation à une belle balade dans un park qui semble très beau. J'ai fait l'effort de tout lire en anglais. C'est très interessant tout ce que tu racontes et je trouve qu'effectivement Jim ressemble un peu à Charlie Soap.
J'ai regardé aussi ton post sur le chrysanthèmes. De bien jolies photos. J'aime particulière celles des fleurs de cotons. J'en avais achetés pour faire un bouquet et avec le temps, le coton est devenu tout sale, je l'ai ai jetées et je ne pense jamais à en racheter.
Bises

Richard Moisan said...

Merveilleuses photos d'automne, tellement différentes des miennes de la Côte d'Azur, avec palmiers et pins...

Scriptor Senex said...

That was a great day out you have just taken me on. It is dismal and windy here today so a trip with you has really blown the cobwebs away.
A shame about the bridge - I love those covered wooden bridges - we don't have anything like them here in the UK.
There is is a good likeness isn't there - the same shape of face, brows, nose... You wouldn't really want Jim to shave his beard would you? It reminded me that my 24 year old son has never seen me without a beard!

Barb said...

Maybe Charlie Soap is your husband's long-lost brother (or cousin). Another blog friend just posted about this area, so I recognized some of the landscape. Your photos do justice to a beautiful natural area.

Pondside said...

It would be very interesting to find out if your husband was, in fact, related!
I've had a very nice time getting caught up on your blog posts!

Perpetua said...

Thank you for taking us with you on your walk trough such glorious scenery, Vagabonde. I love your wonderful photos of the trees and creek.

Like others I agree that there is a marked resemblance and would be interested in any family history findings.

Vicki Lane said...

Such an intriguing 'rest of the story'! (And how handsome your husband is!)

Arti said...

You're certainly one thorough researcher and critic. What an interesting find... I can see the resemblance. Maybe this is only the beginning of a long and deeper search into your husband's genealogy and family history. As for the scenic park, all the photos are gorgeous. What colours. Well, we're covered with white these couple of days... -13C today can you believe it.

EG CameraGirl said...

The area is so beautiful! Great for hiking and photography and rich with history too. I wonder if your husband really is related to the Soaps! I Love the possibility. :)

Friko said...

This must have been a wonderful ramble on a gorgeous day. It is always so much more interesting to find out something about the area one travels about in and your story of the Cherokee is lovely, pity it is not true.

The resemblance between your husband and Charles Soap is very marked. Perhaps you have a reason to delve further?

Friko said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ginnie said...

Wowser. Another post about a place so close to where I used to live but about which I never heard! I love that you are finding every nook and cranny where you live, Vagabonde, kinda like Astrid and I are doing here in the Netherlands.

And I really love seeing all those photos of Jim!

Jenny Woolf said...

I love ruins of old industrial buildings. And I adore the feeling of walking through Autumn woods. That creek is charming, too. Thanks for a nice post.

Sciarada said...

Ciao Vagabonde,I am very glad to meet you and see your blog, live your walk well stuck with historical information is very pleasant and interesting!
Thank you for your kind visit and wish you a smiling day!

Abe Lincoln said...

It must take a while to find all of this information? I enjoyed this post because it reminds me of my Native American Heritage on my mother's side. On the other side is my Lincoln genealogy. Enjoyed the photos too.

Noted you mentioned Panasonic Lumix camera. I use Canon cameras but did have and often used my Panasonic Lumix camera. The sensor went bad in it and then I discovered it is too costly to replace so I am looking forward to the day when I can afford to get one of the new Lumix point and shoot similar to what I had that went bad.

joared said...

Interesting story! I expect there have been many stories associated with our Native American Indians that need facts clarified and/or corrected as you've described here.

Pierre BOYER said...

A great walk....
Best regards from Paris,

Pierre