Tag Archives: Georgia Roadside Attractions

Shields-Ethridge Heritage Farm, Jackson County

This property was originally settled by Joseph Shields and sons James and Patrick in 1802. With two slaves, they cleared and cultivated the land. The farm began producing “upland” cotton in 1810. When Joseph died in 1818, he willed the land to his son, James and by 1860, 20 enslaved people worked the land. James died in 1863 and in 1865 his widow, Charity, signed a contract with three of her former slaves, providing them housing and food in exchange for their work on the farm. When James and Charity’s son, Joseph Robert Shields, returned home from the Civil War in 1866, he built the main house and soon applied the sharecropping system to the entire farm, managing many of his former slaves alongside poor white farmers.

By 1890, the farm had grown to 1000 acres. In 1897, Joseph Robert’s daughter Susan Ella returned to the farm with her husband Ira Washington Eldridge. Joseph Robert Shields died in 1910 and Susan Ella and Ira inherited the house and surrounding property. To hedge his bets against increasingly unstable cotton prices, Ira Eldridge built a self-sustaining sharecropper’s “village” near the main house. In 1914, “Mr. Ira” transformed the main house from its historical Plantation Plain appearance to it present Neoclassical appearance by adding columns and raising the porch. The structures seen today were built between 1900-1930. Most of the sharecropper housing is gone today, but a few scattered examples survive.

Date Plate from Restoration of Main House [1914]

When Ira died in 1945, his son Lanis understood that the farm would soon be changed by mechanization. He diversified and in the early 1950s began breeding cattle and slowly expanding pastureland on his acreage. At his death in 1970, the sharecropper’s village was long abandoned. His widow, Joyce Ethridge, began documenting the history of the farm and in 1994 she and daughters Susan E. Chaisson and Ann E. Lacey gave 150 acres of the farm to the Shields-Etheridge Farm Foundation to preserve the site as an agricultural museum. Joyce’s research also led to the listing of the property on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Shields-Etheridge Heritage Farm is the most intact collection of historic farm structures in their original location in Georgia, and is an amazing place to visit.

Log Cabin
Commissary [1900]
Blacksmith’s Shop & Carpenter’s Shop [1900]
Tractor Barn
Warehouse
Cotton Gin [1910]
Gin Office [1930]
Gin Office Interior
Gristmill
Seed House
Teacher’s House
Well House [Reconstruction]
Water Tower [1913]
Corn Crib
Shields-Ethridge Family Cemetery
Milking Barn
Mule Barn [1913]

Garage
Wheat Barn [1910]
Tenant House

National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --JACKSON COUNTY GA--

William L. Brown Farm Market, Montezuma

This popular farm market was established as a roadside stand by William L. Brown and his wife, Debra, in 1966. The family continues to operate it today and it has earned landmark status with locals and travelers alike. A second market is now open in Columbus. Visit their website to check on what’s available at any given time.

You’ll probably meet Molly when you’re here. She’s very friendly but mostly likes to just hang out and watch the customers.

Known for its peaches (and peach ice cream, and beans), it features a wide variety of seasonal local produce.

I generally only like the heirloom tomatoes my father grows, but these weren’t bad.

I visited recently with my parents and we bought some late Elbertas, and of course we had to have the peach ice cream. It’s homemade and really should not be missed, no matter when you drop by.

 

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Filed under --MACON COUNTY GA--, Montezuma GA

Recycled Sculptures at Sunrise Farm, Warren County

These recycled iron/scrap sculptures represent mythological and real creatures. I’m not sure who the artist is, but it may be farm owner Mark Chalker. You can’t help but notice them as you drive past.

Sea Horse

Sea Turtles

Octopus

Phoenix, or Firebird. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but the Phoenix is mine. (The octopus came in a close second).

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Filed under --WARREN COUNTY GA--

Iron Horse, 1954, Oconee County

Sculptor Abbott Pattison designed the 2-ton, 12-foot Pegasus Without Wings in 1954. The work was first sited at Reed Hall, but was immediately unpopular with students, who attempted to melt it by burning tires beneath it. The protest was so unwieldy that the fire department had to turn their hoses on the estimated 700 students to gain control of the situation. As a result of the controversy, the sculpture was removed, stored for a time in a warehouse, and in 1959 transported by night to a field owned by UGA horticulture professor L. C. Curtis near the Oconee-Greene County line. The “Iron Horse” stands here today, and visiting it has become a rite of passage for many UGA students . I met two, who extolled the benefits of visiting the countryside and their love of the sculpture, while I was photographing.

The sculpture has become perhaps the biggest tourist attraction in Oconee County and curious visitors from all over stop by to pay homage these days. The sculpture can be hard to spot when the surrounding fields are full of corn or sunflowers, but a crude parking lot off the side of Georgia Highway 15 across from a UGA sign identifying the location as the ‘Iron Horse Plant Sciences Farm’ lets you know you’re in the right place. Recently, the fate of the sculpture has become unclear, as the family who owns it wishes to transfer ownership back to the university, while keeping it on the farm. The university doesn’t want ownership unless they can return it to the campus. I think nearly everyone who loves the Iron Horse would agree that it should stay just where it is. Hopefully, they can figure it out.

 

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Filed under --OCONEE COUNTY GA--

Guido Gardens, Metter

Guido Gardens is a place of refuge, just a couple of miles off I-16 in Metter, which has always been free and open to the public 24/7, 365 days a year. Walk around these three acres and you’re guaranteed to find a sense of inner peace, no matter your faith or belief system. It’s a testament to the vision of Michael Guido, who was better known as “The Sower” through his syndicated newspaper column and radio and television broadcasts, Seeds from the Sower. His wife, Audrey, was responsible for the design of the gardens. At a time when televangelists were plagued with scandal, Michael Guido was seen as a stabilizing voice. He never asked for money and actually gave his message to any and all who would hear it. Guido’s Sower Ministries is still going strong.

Take an hour and walk through the pines and flower beds. Listen to the calming sounds of waterfalls, which seem to be around ever corner.

One of the great features of the gardens is the Chapel in the Gardens, a modern prayer chapel built in 1984 in memory of Evelyn Stillwell. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale came to Metter to assist with the dedication.

As the guest registry in the chapel indicates, people come from all over the country and even the world to this special place of refuge.

The Carpenter’s Shop and the Empty Tomb (not pictured) are representations of important places in Jesus’ life.

A museum is also located on the grounds.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under --CANDLER COUNTY GA--, Metter GA

Georgia Guidestones, 1980, Elbert County

Known as the Georgia Guidestones and standing nearly 20 feet high, the six granite slabs situated beside a field nine miles north of Elberton have become a curious tourist attraction since their erection in 1980. Because of the anonymous origin and patronage of the guidestones, controversy has always surrounded them.  In their April 2009 issue, Wired dubbed them the “American Stonehenge” and published a great essay on their history and the ensuing conspiracy theories. They noted that they may be the most enigmatic monument in America…inscribed with directions for rebuilding civilization after the apocalypse.

Four slabs radiate from a central slab with a capstone atop the array which, when viewed from above give the appearance of a star. Ten guidelines are inscribed on the guidestones in eight modern languages (English, Spanish, Swahili, Hindi, Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese, Russian) with a shorter message inscribed on top in four ancient languages (Babylonian Cuneiform, Classic Greek, Sanskrit, Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs) . The ten guidelines, translated, are: 1) Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.
2) Guide reproduction wisely-improving diversity and fitness. 3) Unite humanity with a living new language. 4) Rule passion-faith-tradition-and all things with tempered reason. 5) Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts. 6) Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court. 7) Avoid petty laws and useless officials. 8) Balance personal rights with social duties. 9) Prize truth-beauty-love-seeking harmony with the infinite. 10) Be not a cancer on the earth- Leave room for nature- Leave room for nature.

An explanatory tablet, a few feet away from the Guidestones, notes the date of dedication (22 March 1980), identifies the languages used and the astronomical coordinates of the site, and reads: Let these be guidestones to an Age of Reason.

 

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Filed under --ELBERT COUNTY GA--

Poole’s Bar-B-Q & Pig Hill of Fame, East Ellijay

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A favorite with tourists and locals alike, Poole’s Bar-B-Q has become a world-famous attraction in the mountain town of East Ellijay. Oscar and Edna Poole opened the restaurant in 1989. It started in a roadside shack but now occupies this building, known as the “Taj-Ma-Hog”.

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Pig cut-outs, arranged in the shape of a pig, adorn the hill behind the restaurant known as the “Pig Hill of Fame”.

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Pig-related names abound.

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The Pig Hill of Fame started with just 300 cut-outs but now features over 3000.

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Poole’s Bar-B-Q probably doesn’t need to advertise, but these crazy cars do a good job.

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The pig kitsch is a lot of fun. Like the old saying of eating everything but the squeal, Poole’s uses decorative pigs in every possible way.

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One of my favorite things, though, was Porky, a child’s ride of the kind you’d find outside dime stores a couple of generations ago.

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Filed under --GILMER COUNTY GA--, East Ellijay GA

Jesus Saves Sign, Cherry Log

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I’m not sure how long this monumental sign has been located at Cherry Log Baptist Church but it’s been a landmark on US Highway 76 for many years.

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Filed under --GILMER COUNTY GA--, Cherry Log GA

Giant Rocking Chair, Hall County

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Located at the corner of Lula Road and Persimmon Tree Road just north of Lula, this oversized rocking chair is well-known landmark to travelers in the area. Dwight Oliver built it around 2006 for children visiting his Goldbrook Pumpkin Farm, but it has since become a permanent fixture. Stop by and take a picture when you’re in the area.

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Filed under --HALL COUNTY GA--

Popcorn Overlook, Rabun County

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Located 15 miles west of Clayton on US Highway 76, Popcorn Overlook presents a great opportunity to stop and take in the scenery of Northeast Georgia. It’s one of the most beautiful spots in the mountains and on a clear day, you can see many peaks in nearby North Carolina. Recently, the movie Lawless did some location shooting here, and there’s a scene in the movie featuring Shia Lebouf that uses this as a backdrop.

An interpretive sign placed by the U.S. Forest Services notes: The forests you see beyond this roadside area are a miracle of regrowth. Much of this land was cut over during the logging boom that began in these mountains during the 1880s and continued through the 1920s. Beginning gradually and swelling to meet a growing national demand for wood, large scale logging operations caused extensive damage and forever changed the character of the southern Appalachians.

Early mountaineers, accustomed to a hard life and little cash, willingly sold timber, land and mineral rights for small sums. Huge yellow poplars, white and red oaks and black cherry were sold for 40 to 75 cents a tree.

Whole mountainsides were cut over and burned, hillsides eroded. Streams that dried to trickles in the fall became raging rivers each spring. Most of this exploitation was financed from outside the region. This destruction generated widespread interest in saving and protecting the mountains.

The Weeks Act became law in 1911, and the first land approved for purchase was a tract of 31,000 acres from the Gennett Land and Lumber Company of Atlanta. By 1930, thousands of acres of mountain land had been acquired to protect watershed areas and provide a timber reserve. The Forest Service had begun its long-term and ongoing effort to provide environmental protection and economic stabilization for the Southern Appalachians. Several large tracts acquired from lumber companies were “virgin” forest, remote and inaccessible therefore uncut. However, most lands were cut over or culled, and the best trees removed.

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Filed under --RABUN COUNTY GA--