Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Strolling along Lake Acworth

In my last post I was recollecting walking on the Allatoona Pass Trail, which runs along Lake Allatoona, on Thursday 7 November.  The following day, Friday November 8, 2013, was another bright and sunny day.  This time we went even closer to home.  We drove 8 miles or 12 kilometers to Acworth, Georgia - it only took 15 minutes.  There is a lake there and a small trail running along part of the lake.

Until the early 1830s Acworth was a hamlet in the Cherokee Indian Nation.  It became a town after the Indian were expelled.  It was a railroad stop and was named Acworth after the home town, in New Hampshire, of a Western and Atlantic Railroad engineer and was incorporated as a town in 1860.  During the Civil War the town was captured by the Union forces and burnt down by General W. T. Sherman's army.  When Lake Allatoona was formed, the Acworth citizens were afraid that their town would become a swamp. They petitioned the Government for a second dam.  This dam was built resulting in Lake Acworth.  Lake Acworth is not a part of Lake Allatoona but empties into it.  At Lake Acworth there is a beach, a community beach house for up to 100 people, a gazebo, a fishing dock and boat ramps, picnic table, playground for children and a bathhouse, dedicated in 1953 and listed in the National Register of Historic Places.  You can see the brick bathhouse behind the red tree in my picture below.  It was sunny that day but not warm enough for swimming in the lake and, in any case, the beach closes on Labor Day.  (Click on collage twice to enlarge.)

Acworth also has a historic downtown with old advertisement murals and antique shops. I took the pictures below when we went to eat in a pub in downtown Acworth last March.

We started walking along the lake with me, of course, stopping often to take photos.  I looked back and saw my husband taking his binoculars out and looking in a direction close to me.  What did he observed in his binoculars?  I looked but could see nothing.

 Maybe he was just admiring the lake - it was lovely in the sun and so peaceful.

There was a boat dock close by.  I walked on it to take more pictures of the lake.  Not all the trees had changed color yet, another couple of weeks were needed.

I slowly walked to the end of the boat dock - gingerly in case some wood was rotten - I was not ready to get wet!  But then, I saw what my husband was watching ... it had been hidden by the tall weeds.

I used my Lumix camera which has a long telephoto lens while trying not to scare the bird off.  It was a heron, but I am not sure of what species.

I could not get any closer or I would have fallen into the lake for sure.  We observed the bird for a while then we saw a bridge on the side and decided to walk to it.

The trail went along the lake and up a little hill with a picnic table placed at the top.  It would be nice to have a picnic there - so scenic and peaceful.  Through the trees I could see ducks.

Crossing the bridge on our way back I spied a turtle sunning on a log.

We had seen more wildlife than when we went to Lake Allatoona: a heron, wood ducks, a turtle and as shown below another duck was coming our way, a Mallard.  It was going to join the other two ducks in the little cove on the other side of the bridge.

We left promising to return more often.  This very pretty lake is so close to home and now that we are retired we can go there during the week when there are few visitors.  We drove off.  My husband said "Stop - look!"  After braking I looked ...

There were three does munching on grass.  One of them had seen the car and was watching us anxiously.  We did not move then I slowly turned down the window to take better pictures with the Lumix that I always keep in my purse.  The does went on eating for a while then looked at us and suddenly took off.

We were pleased to have seen these does - but no turkey!  I guess they hide when it gets close to Thanksgiving ... I did find a painting showing a flock of turkeys as you can see below.

 Autumn Landscape with a Flock of Turkeys, by Jean-Francois Millet, French 1814-1875

But I'll end up with this vintage postcard, circa 1911, to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving with all the trimmings.

And for my blogging friends who do not eat meat ... here is another vintage postcard with hearty Thanksgiving greetings.


Note:  Blogger Break - post pre-programmed.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Hiking on historic Allatoona Pass Trail

Going on trips is very nice but it delays my writing posts and visiting my friends' blogs, so I am behind again on both counts.  We returned to New York City last week, and I'll write about it in the future, but now I am going back to the first week of November when we hiked around Lake Allatoona.  My last post covered our visit to the lake on Wednesday, November 6.  The following day, on Thursday, we drove about 13 miles (20 km) from our house to the Allatoona Pass Civil War Battlefield Interpretation Trail.  We had never been there before - it was a nice sunny day and a good one for walking.  We drove along the old fortification below the former railroad bed and arrived at the trail-head.

Allatoona Pass (also called "Deep Cut") is located on the western shores of Lake Allatoona.  A bloody Civil War battle took place there, in October 1864, after the fall of Atlanta.  The Confederate Army had retreated from Atlanta and planned to attack the Federal garrison of 976 troops defending the railroad cut at Allatoona.  At sunrise on October 5th, 1864, after an all night march, Major General Samuel G. French's Confederate division of 3,276 men attacked this federal garrison in an attempt to sever the Union supply lines by taking control of the rail line.  But French did not know that a few hours earlier a Federal force of 2,025 men under the command of Major General John M. Corse had arrived on a train from Rome, Georgia, as reinforcement for the Union troops there.

After an intense attack of several hours the Union troops held the pass and the Confederate forces withdrew as they were also running out of ammunition.  The Battle of Allatoona Pass had been a vicious and bloody one.  The casualty rate had been high with 1,603 men from the two sides killed or injured - the Confederate suffered 27% casualties and the Union 35% for a combined percentage of casualties equaled only by the Battle of Gettysburg.  Brigadier General French later said, about this almost forgotten battle, that it had been "a needless effusion of blood." As a result it would take almost three weeks to bury the dead from both sides.

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?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Fall color at Lake Allatoona

This has been a colorful week, or should I say, full of colors - fall colors that is.  I was going to look at my pictures of New Orleans for a post but, I did not.  Leaves on our trees started to change into their fall colors from light yellow to dark red and the colors entered our rooms.  We have so many trees around the house, some very close, that when the sun is shining through them it bathes the rooms in golden tones.  I started to take photos through our windows.  (Click on collages twice to enlarge.)

My cat Mitsuko also likes to look out of the window - but I think she is looking at squirrels.  I took my camera and went outside to catch the colors in nearby trees.

While I was taking these pictures a little bird was serenading me - very lustily.  I finally found out where he was perching and took its photo, too - but I don't know what type of bird he is.

Actually I started catching colors with my camera on Tuesday evening, November 5th.  This was the day we were supposed to vote.  So my husband and I went to our voting precinct - it was closed.  We were surprised but it is a church and they were having a musical meeting.  We drove around to see where we could vote.  Finally someone at the Marietta high school told us we were not eligible because we did not live within the "city limits" of any of the towns close to us - Marietta, Kennesaw and Acworth, GA, and these were municipal elections.  We live about 6 miles from each town but not inside any of them.  As we were driving back home we saw a beautiful sunset - something we cannot watch from home because of all our trees.  We stopped and I took several pictures.  The pictures are not very good but it is not the camera (the Lumix,) it is me - I focused the camera on the leaves of the trees, but the colors in the sky were splendid.

Atlanta is about 30 miles (48 km) southeast from our house, but if we drive in a northwestern direction we are close to a huge lake called Lake Allatoona.  On Wednesday afternoon we drove to a park within this lake that is located on a peninsula.  This 1,776-acre park is called Red Top Mountain and is about 8 miles (12 km) away from home.  We were hoping to see more fall colors.  There are more than 15 miles of trails through this park.  We hiked on Sweet Gum Nature Trail for a while.

We left the trail and came back.  I was pleased to sit on a bench to rest.  We then checked the maps to see where we would drive next.

The name of the park comes from the red color of the ground in Georgia, composed or red clay - Red Top Mountain. The soil gets this rich red color because of its high iron-ore content.  You can see the red clay on the banks of the photo on top of this post - I did not touch the color or Photoshop it.  In Georgia with so many pines, or even magnolia trees, there is this riot of colors in the fall - all the shades from the changing leaves, the red clay and the evergreen trees.

When I stopped to take more pictures a little bird was watching me.  He was so cute!  Do you know what type of bird he was?

We then drove down toward the lake.  There was hardly any people around since it was mid-week in November.  It was a warm day for November - about 71 F (21.5 C.)

We decided to go up a hill to have a panoramic view of part of the lake.  There was a cemented area with an historical marker.  This small area is on the hill on the left of the dam overlook in the picture below (the photo of the dam at the bottom of collage, under the postcard) at about 9 o'clock.  All the area around our home is rich in history and Civil War battles.  Last year at this time I wrote a post about Fall in Kennesaw National Battlefield Park which is about 4 miles down our road.  Click here to read it.

Lake Allatoona is a man-made lake.  In 1950 the US Army Corps of Engineers developed the Allatoona dam for flood control, hydroelectric power generation, fish and wildlife management, recreation and water supply.  They started blocking the Etowah River in 1949.  The lake is 11 miles long, is about 145 feet deep (44.19 meter) at its deepest point and has 270 miles of shoreline (454.5 km.)  When it is full the lake spans more than 12,000 acres (or approx 48.5 square km.)  There are 14 day-use parks, 8 marinas, 15 public boat ramps, 688 campsites, 435 picnic sites, restaurants, hiking trails, fishing, hunting, etc., for the yearly 7 million visitors.  But there were few visitors that day.  Below is a vintage postcard called Allatoona Lake as the Government calls it (but it is known as Lake Allatoona around here) and a Corps of Engineers' photo of the dam.

I walked to the side where stood another historical marker called "Etowah and the War" with the Etowah River in the background.

The view from the top of this hill was lovely from anywhere one looked.  I could see the whole dam structure, the power house (which produces more than 150,000 MWH at peak times) and the churning waters of the Etowah River coming out of the dam; I could also glimpse at the beautiful valley further away.

We drove closer to the shores of the lake, to a boat ramp.  There was a lonely fisherman on his boat.  We watched him for a while.  I hope he caught some fish - the species known to be in the lake are: bass (largemouth, hybrid, stripped spotted and white,) carp, crappie, bream (bluegill, redbreast and red ear sunfish,) gar and catfish.  You could see the red banks of the lake as the water level is down several feet.  A power boat went by - the only boat we saw that day.  It was getting late but the sun was setting on the other side of the hill.

We drove back toward the bridge.  We stopped for a few pictures then drove home.

We visit Lake Allatoona seldom, which is a shame since it is close to our house - many people drive hours to reach it.  So we decided to visit it again this week.  On Thursday, Nov. 7th we went back and hiked Lake Allatoona Pass, and on Friday Nov. 8th we visited Lake Acworth which is an outflow of Lake Allatoona and is even closer to our home - these outings will be in upcoming posts.  I'll end this post with Georgia O'Keeffe's painting of radiant autumn leaves.

Autumn Leaves painted by Georgia O'Keeffe, American- 1897-1986

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