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Dixie Dreamin'--the Northwest Georgia Loop


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#1 BabyBoomerBob

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Posted 26 November 2006 - 01:42 PM

Sometimes a man's just gotta get away from everyone. When stress levels get too high, there's nothing like communing with the road all by yourself. That's what I did a few weeks ago as I followed an alternate route of the DHW from Chattanooga to Cassville, GA, via Rome.

Because there has been so much recent rerouting of US 27 in GA, I'm including route instructions. As usual, my pictures are at http://community.web...r/babyboomerbob ,Dixie Highway--NW GA loop.

Starting at the corner of Main St. and Rossville Blvd. in Chattanooga, SE on Rossville Blvd.
N on Madison St. (detour)
E on Main St. (detour)
S on Central Ave. (detour)
SE on Rossville Blvd.
Rossville Blvd becomes US 27 at I-24 interchange

Rossville Boulevard has seen better days. The neighborhood has gone downhill and it's pretty much a strip of pawn shops, dives, porn palaces and the occasional used car lot <BigHearted Smitty's>. The only things of real note are the "Road of Remembrance" columns, memorializing the armies that have used this road on their way to war <Road of Rememberance 01, 02>.

There's nothing but the Georgia welcome sign to indicate when you leave Chattanooga, TN and enter Rossville, GA, and I didn't see it. Stolen, I suspect:( Rossville's not in any better shape, I fear. The local landmark Roy's Grill is out of business and the building is for rent <Roy's Grill>.

At Rossville, US 27 swings off to the left, passing through Chickamauga Gap in Missionary Ridge. A block to the west lies the John Ross House, the home of John Ross, founder of Chattanooga. It's a sad sign of the times that the house is now surrounded by a chain link fence:( <John Ross House, John Ross Plaque>. More information about Ross can be found here. http://roadsidegeorg.../rosshouse.html

As I drove south toward Fort Oglethorpe, I noticed the road was signed as the "Martha Berry Highway". More about her, later.

Fort Oglethorpe, on the north edge of Chickamauga Battlefield was for many years a cavalry post for the US Army. Many of the old baracks and barns are still around and now serve as apartments and stores <Old Fort Oglethorpe Barracks>.

There's a piece of the Old Lafayette Road that's been bisected by the new US 27 bypass. The best instructions I can give here are:

R on Old Lafayette Road
L on last road before dead end
R on US 27
Straight onto Lafayette Road (US 27 goes R onto Battlefield Parkway)
R at next street
L onto Old Lafayette Road
Rejoin Lafayette Road
Rejoin US 27 below Chickamauga Battlefield

At the north dead end there is a column marking the entrance to the old cavalry post <Entrance to Fort Oglethorpe> I took a picture from the southern dead end across the gap on the old road <Break in Old Lafayette Road>.

On to Chickamauga Battlefield Park. I won't go into a detailed history of the battle, I'll just say the Confederates won, then failed to follow up their success in Chattanooga.

Just beyond the entrance is the Visitor's Center which includes the Fuller Gun Museum, a fine collection of period firearms <Chickamauga Park Visitor Center, Rifles in the Fuller Gun Museum>.

My main interest was the monuments that line Lafayette and Battleline Roads. One of my particular favorites is the Georgia Monument with its horse head capital. <Florida Monument, et.al.> I did make one side trip over to Wilder Tower, a monument to US Col. John Wilder's defense against overwhelming Confederate forces <Wilder Tower, Wilder's Defense>. This place is special to me. When I was a kid, I had rheumatic fever and was under physical restrictions for years. The first thing I did when the restrictions were lifted was to go down and climb this tower. The spiral starcase made me a little dizzy, but I felt I was back to being normal again.

There are some quite nice monuments along Wilder road across from the tower, including the riderless horse of the Wisconsin Monument, and the one to the Tennesseeans who fought to defend the Union. Tennessee was very much a split state in loyalty, and East Tennessee almost went the way of West Virginia. Andrew Johnson's sons had drafted articles of secession from Tennessee, but the presence of a substantial Confederate force prevented them from implementing them.

There's a railroad track next to Wilder Road and I crossed it briefly to get a shot of this sign just outside the park< No thanks!>:) As I was taking the picture I heard a distant train whistle which made me think of Hank Williams' lyrics...

I'll never see that gal of mine,
I'm in Georgia doing time.
I heard that looh-wah-hawohnsome whistle blow.

R on Farming Rock Road which becomes Old Lafayette Road though Rock Spring
Return to US 27 southbound
Straight on Main street through Lafayette
Rejoin US 27 (briefly) below Lafayette

I passed through Lafayette (pronounced La FAY ette) without seeing very much:) I'd done a web search before I went and did find mention of a "Cowboy Church", but the link was dead. Oh well:)

R onto Trion Highway below Lafayette
Rejoin US 27 just before Summerville

Trion Highway is a fairly long, fairly recent stretch of bypassed highway. And it's a shame Trion has been bypassed, because tourists are missing a really neat old restaurant. And here's its story.

Trion has always been a cotton mill town. Now, back in 1912, a man named Benjamin Riegel bought the mill, reorganizing it and making it very successful. Back then, it bore his name, the Riegel Mills. He decided to try his hand at something new, and became a dairy farmer with a prize herd. He needed a place to sell his products and also a place to entertain business guests of the mills. The result was the Riegeldale Tavern, a very European looking brick structure that became known for miles around. I can even remember my grandmother telling me about the Riegeldale Tavern and how big a deal it was to go down there and eat. Since she never learned how to drive, I assume she and her friends took the train.

Now my grandmother has been gone these 40 years, so I kinda figured the tavern was no longer there. But then I saw a sign reading "Tavern Restaurant" and pulled in. And there it was. I'll let my pictures do my talking here:) <Riegeldale Tavern 01-03> I went in to have lunch and had a good talk with the hostess, Carolyn Skipper, who was gracious to answer my questions and give me a history of the restaurant. Unfortunately, the tavern has no web page to link to, and Googling resulted in very little information:( But I'll vouch for the food. Nothing fancy. No dove under glass. Just good, basic, wholesome American food. The roast beef was melt in your mouth tender.

One thing bothered me though. It was noon on saturday and there was only one other party in the place:( Hopefully, they're getting enough business from nearby Summerville to keep going. I'd hate to see it go under:(

I went on into Trion and took some pictures of an old railroad bridge and a road bridge that leads into the mills, now named the Mount Vernon Mills.
And then I heard that train whistle again...

At Summerville, I finally caught up with that train:) It turns out, I was on the road the same day the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum was having their annual tour train to Summerville. I just missed seeing the steam locomotive # 610 turn around in the roundhouse, but I got to see it taking on water. No big tank with a spout you jerk down with a rope. This one justs uses a fire hose to hook up with a hydrant:)<Summerville Railroad Station. Locomotive 610, Taking on Water>.

They were having their "Railroad Days" festival and the local park <Dick Dowdy Park> was host to all sorts of stuff. Barbeque, bluegrass music, stuff for sale, the traditional sort of things:) I wandered around a while, taking pictures <Summerville street flag, Chatooga County Courthouse> before moving on.

L on old Summerville Road through Armuchee
Return to southbound US 27
L on old Summerville Rd.
R on McGrady Rd.
Straight across US 27 onto old Summerville Rd.
Rejoin southbound US 27

From Summerville, US 27 heads east, crossing the ridges of Chattahoochie Ntl. Forest. My next stop was at Berry College, just north of Rome. At 28,000 acres, it ranks as one of the largest campuses in the world. Martha Berry created it as a school for poor, rural students, much like Berea College in Kentucky. A more detailed history can be found here: p://www.berry.edu/oakhill/history.asp I wandered around the campus, taking pictures of the old Gothic buildings. Nice! <Berry College 01-03>

Through Rome:

Straight at bypass, merge with Shorter(?) Ave.
L on E. Third Street. (Delorme isn't too clear about this)
NE on Broad Street
R on Calhoun Rd.
E on Kingston Ave.
Merge with MLK Blvd. Eastbound on GA 293

I had a pesky problem in Rome. My camera battery went dead:(

That's bad:(

But I had a spare.

That's good:)

But it was in a shrinkwrap package that would require a thermonuclear device to open.

That's bad:(

But with a lot of luck I was finally able to get it open.

That's good:)

But it was the wrong size battery.

That's bad:( Very bad:(

I did manage to get a picture of the Floyd County Courthouse before things blooied. Rome bears a return visit. it has lots of neat architecture and a railroad bridge over the Etowah River that appears to be going through refitting as a pedestrian bridge.

The route isn't clear through Kingston, GA. Here's the way I chose.

R onto Old Rome Rd.
L onto Reynolds Bridge Rd.
R onto Main St.
L onto Church St.
R onto GA 293

I finally bought some new AA batteries and got my camera going again, then headed for Kingston. It's a very sleepy little town with some interesting history. Kingston benefitted greatly from the decision of the good people of Cassville not to have the railroad run through their town. The tracks were diverted to the west and a small yard was established in Kingston. During the Great Locomotove Chase, had the General not been hung up so long at the Kingston yard, the Union raiders might have escaped capture.

Kingston was also the site of the first Decoration Day ceremony. The graves of both the Union and Confederate dead were decorated in 1865. This tradition was to spread nationwide to become Decoration Day, and then later, Memorial Day <The Home of Memorial Day>. Other Kingston History can be found at http://roadsidegeorg...y/kingston.html

Beyond Kingston, I was faced with a quandry. There are two routes that lead to the DHW, both of them having things that commend them. GA 293 goes a bit further south, plugging into DHW below Cassville. but Fire Tower Road connects in the middle of Cassville and it was the route I chose. I figure it's even odds that I was right:) Once I reached Cassville, I drove down to Cartersville and got a room at the Barstow Motel. It was what I would expect for $30 a night:) It was adequate, once I got the manager to run off the boys who were shooting off firecrackers at 10 PM:) Next morning I headed home via Route 411.

But that's another story:)

#2 DennyG

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Posted 30 November 2006 - 08:55 PM

Good coverage. I hope Wilder Tower is still open for climbing because I'd like to take a look.

#3 Keep the Show on the Road!

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Posted 25 February 2007 - 04:35 PM

I enjoyed your great description of this section of the Dixie! I also enjoyed your photos. You are a keen observer and obviously relish real road travel where the fun is in the travel, not just the destination!

Let痴 Keep the Show on the Road!




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