Battle of Allatoona Pass by Thure de Thulstrup, Swedish born American, 1848-1930
At the time there was no lake. Lake Allatoona was to fill this valley in late 1940s. In the 1860s Allatoona was a small village with just a few houses, a railroad depot and crossroads. The Western and Atlantic Railroad had a pass cut through the Allatoona Mountains in the 1840s. Solid rock was hit after 60 ft of dirt was cleared. Slaves brought in from east Georgia completed the 180 foot deep pass. Before the battle all the trees had been removed to provide fields of fire. Below is a photo taken in 1864 and a drawing from 1888, after the tracks had been widened in 1886 to the new standard for Pullman cars.
In 1928 the railroad was relocated a few hundred feet west of the pass and the battlefield was developed. The Allatoona Pass is now a beautiful walking trail where the tracks used to run. It is a moderate hike of about 3 miles round-trip.
There are many interpretive markers giving detailed information about the history of the area and the fierce battle fought there in 1864. Not much has changed and it is said that few Civil War battlefields have remained as untouched as the Allatoona Pass Battlefield - it is not a well known place (I had not heard of it and have been living here for decades) and in a remote area - even with our GPS we got lost twice before finding the trail. The Clayton/Mooney house shown in the top 1864 photo above is still there. Before the battle it was used as headquarters then after the battle it became a hospital to treat some of the 1,600 casualties. There are bullet holes in the gables. Below is a picture I took of this ancient house.
I understand that little has changed since the time of the battle. There are preserved earthen forts and extensive undisturbed trenches and outworks. We started our hike by first going down to a Memorial Field with monuments to both the Confederate and Union soldiers who fought there (no Georgia plaque though as there were no troops from Georgia in the battle.) Please click on collage twice to enlarge and to read the plaques.
We walked toward the mountain cut and stopped to read another marker.
As we proceeded down the trail we started to see the two massive rocks on each side of the path. But first we turned right onto an ancient trail which was part of the old "Tennessee Road" or "Sandtown Road." It had been an Indian trail, then a dirt road for wagons going toward Alabama or Tennessee. The wheels of the wagons made deep grooves which are still visible. It was a lovely trail.
After a while we returned to the main dirt road, where the railroad tracks used to be. There was no one walking but us. It was sunny but the trail ahead was in the shade.
We stopped to read more interpretive markers.
It was a bit dark entering the gorge and it seemed to me much colder than at the beginning of the trail. Both my husband and I felt the chill in the air and buttoned our jackets. I don't think I'd like to hike there alone in the evening ... too much violent history and dark shadows. I placed a picture showing my husband to give some perspective for the size of the steep walls of the man-made "deep cut."
My husband had walked ahead while I was taking pictures of the rocky walls and I hurried up the trail to join him as it was sunnier ahead - and warmer. The ground was covered with dead leaves and I did not make a sound walking.
I found him in front of a marker. It was the grave of the "Unknown Hero." It seems that the grave used to be across the railroad tracks and protected by a wrought iron fence. But when the tracks were reworked the body was exhumed and reburied in this lonely spot of the trail. I hope the Unknown Hero did not mind the move. Click on collage to read the marker.
We kept walking on the trail which was running along side of Lake Allatoona. It was mid-week in November so there were no other visitors on the trail or on the lake.
There were some old steps, covered with moss, going down to the lake. We sat on the bottom step for some time, admiring the scenic view.
As I had read that the trail eventually dead ends, we climbed back the steps to the trail and walked back. On the opposite side of the lake I saw a small cove at the bottom of a little hill. The reflections in the water were so soft, just like a watercolor palette. I stopped for a while and took pictures. My husband went ahead. Further on I stopped again at the grave of the soldier, took a photo, then met my husband at the entrance of the gorge.
There is a little road at the trail-head where the antebellum house is located. A few steps away is a Bed and Breakfast - the "Lake Allatoona Inn" which was built in 1893 as a Victorian mansion for a family who had been living there for decades before the Civil War. Then we drove home.
I finished this post yesterday evening but wished to read it one more time this morning before publishing it. I did ask my husband how he had enjoyed the hike and he said "it felt a bit eerie walking there when I was alone .... like something was not right." I had felt the same way so I looked on the Web to find out if others had had the same feelings. There were many references to the site being haunted for years. Here is a site mentioning one of the sightings, click here to read it. Another site said "I firmly believe Allatoona Pass Battlefield to be one of the most haunted Civil War sites of North Georgia ... it was a short but extremely violent battle ... evidence suggests that at least the majority of the dead were buried in or very near the battlefield, many in mass graves ..." It is one of the favorite places for groups researching paranormal activities. Reports of gunshots, voices, ghost trains, temperature drops of about 10 degrees in the old train bed, gunpowder smells have been reported.
Then I read several reports of people seeing a "light" at the base of the grave of the Unknown Soldier. I am skeptical but I still took a second look at my pictures. I went back to check my last picture of the grave which I had not published ... and I saw something bizarre I had not noticed before. I showed it to my husband, and we could not figure out what it is. So I am showing it below. The picture on the left is the first photo I took of the grave and on the right the second one I took when I was alone.
I did not touch the second picture in any way. This is the whole original picture below. There is a white something behind the base of the marker.
I am going to crop it now to enlarge it.
There is no body of water behind the grave. It is on a flat area with a ditch behind it, with no rocks just trees. What is the little white light? I thought it must be something on the lens. So I checked the next photo, taken 8 seconds later. There is not white on the bottom left of that picture, so it is not a smudge on my lens.
Do you see what I see under the grave marker? I am going to make a circle around it.
Here is the picture below again. I don't know what this white fog-like thing is. There is part of a tree behind the pole of the marker. If it were a shadow it should be dark and not light, no? plus the marker is in the shade so how could it reflect light behind it? I just don't understand it. There were no rocks there, just a hill behind the marker with all the trees. There must be some technical explanation - can someone explain it to me?