2019 SPOOM Convention

Milling Around Old Cherokee Georgia

TOUR ONE: Carpet Capital of the World – Beginnings to Present

Hamilton House Museum, Dalton, GA

Built in 1840, the Hamilton House is the oldest brick home in Dalton and predates the city. The Whitfield-Murray Historical Society purchased the house in 1997 and placed it on the National Register of Historic Places. WMHS converted the house into a museum containing displays related to the textile industry, famous Daltonians, and much more!

Of interest, adjacent is the Crown Cotton Mill Complex.

Crown is listed on SPOOM’s Georgia Mill List. It was a steam-powered 1884 cotton mill and village listed as a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, it is a fine example of adaptive use, historic preservation with apartments, shops, restaurants, Crown Garden’s and Archive, and trails.

For lunch, we will stop at a local restaurant – on own, order from menu

Shaw Industries, Dalton, GA

Plentiful water, cotton and local entrepreneurs innovated hand sewn bed spreads that inspired bath rugs, then carpet and ultimately today’s global flooring industry.  Tour a Shaw Industries museum of textiles and the machinery from the early years as your guide shares stories of this remarkable transformation that is the backbone of the local economy.

TOUR TWO: Old Cherokee Nation

New Echota Historic Site, Calhoun, GA

New Echota is one of the most significant Cherokee Indian sites in the nation and was where the tragic “Trail of Tears” officially began. In 1825, the Cherokee national legislature established a capital called New Echota at the headwaters of the Oostanaula River. During its short history, New Echota was the site of the first Indian language newspaper office, a court case which carried to the U.S. Supreme Court, one of the earliest experiments in national self-government by an Indian tribe, the signing of a treaty which relinquished Cherokee claims to lands east of the Mississippi River, and the assembly of Indians for removal west on the infamous Trail of Tears.

For lunch, we will stop at a local restaurant – on own, order from menu

Chieftains Museum & Major Ridge Home, Rome, GA

Chieftains Museum/Major Ridge Home is a National Historic Landmark and one of only a few private entities to be certified by the National Park Service as a site on the Trail of Tears. Major Ridge, whose old home Chieftains now occupies, was one of the signers of the Treaty of New Echota, which resulted in the forced relocation of the Cherokee people.

Lee and Gordon’s Grist Mills, Chickamauga, GA

The present mill was built in 1867 by James Lee, a partner in the Civil Wartime mill which burned after the war. The mill was operated by different owners until 1967. In 1993, Mr. Frank Pierce bought the mill, restored the mill, the turbine and rebuilt the dam. Today it is owned by the City of Chickamauga and serves as an event venue. Operational.

Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park, Fort Oglethorpe, GA

In 1890 the United States Congress authorized Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, the first such park in the country. It was dedicated in 1895 and has since served as a model for most national military and historical parks. Today the park encompasses more than 9,000 acres of battlefields, monuments, and forests, and urban landscapes.

Historians Jim Ogden, Chickamauga Battlefield and Chattanooga Military Park, and John Culpepper, Chairman of the Georgia Civil War Commission, will be our guides.

Yarborough Grist Mill, Fairmount, GA

Karen Llop and her late husband, Michael, lovingly restored the site that includes a Victorian home. The mill, located on Pine Log Creek, was built in 1849. The mill’s equipment was removed to decorate Quinn’s Restaurant in Atlanta. The restaurant and equipment burned around 1985. Today, the site is a lovely wedding venue. Not operable.

Lunch will be served in the Yarborough Mill.

Dew’s Pond Grist Mill, Calhoun, GA

This rock mill was built in 1937 at the site where grist mills had existed as far back as Cherokee days. It is located on Salacoa Creek at Big Spring, a famous spring in the Cash Community that flourished until 1950. The Dew family still owns the mill. Because of the SPOOM Convention, a Friends of Dew’s Pond Mill has formed. The mill does not operate but the turbine, made in Rome, and some of the equipment survive. Historian Jim Lay, president of the Gordon County Historical Society, will be our guide. Not operable.

Dennis Grist Mill, Chatsworth, GA

This wooden mill was built on Rock Creek ca. 1869 by Dennis Johnson, the mill owner and postmaster. In the mid-1940’s the Hix family bought the property and installed a home-built turbine to run a DC generator for lighting the mill. Family women hand-tufted bedspreads to earn money to buy the property. Inside today, is a table for stamping spreads on a table with legs made from mill equipment. Rick and Angie Hix own the mill today. They live there and have two rental cabins at the site. Original equipment is not operable.

Lindale Old Brick Grist Mill, Lindale, GA

Picturesque brick mill in good condition but not operable, no equipment. Built on Silver Creek prior to the Civil War. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Owned by Lindale First Baptist Church. Presently, there is a fund drive for restoration. Our guide will be Tim Reynolds, of Restoration Lindale.

Old Mill at Berry College, Rome, GA

The wooden overshot waterwheel, considered one of the largest in the world at 42 feet in diameter, was constructed by student workers. For many years, the mill was operated by Mr. Green Berry Goodson, a white-bearded miller who ground Berry-grown corn into meal and grits.  Water is piped directly from Berry’s reservoir lake to the wheel. Once primed, the force of gravity is strong enough to push the water up the stone column, and over the wheel, causing it to turn.  Operable. Our guides will be the miller, Bruce Nicholson and folks from Southeastern Mills.

Lunch will be in the Berry College dining hall

Oak Hill & Martha Berry Museum, Rome, GA

The Oak Hill home, built in the 1880s is the Greek Revival mansion of Martha Berry, founder of Berry College. Oak Hill was the childhood home of Martha Berry, and later became her adult residence, altered to her personal taste. Oak Hill was gifted by Martha Berry to the schools and remains intact as she left it in the 1930s.


Chief Vann House Historic Site, Chatsworth, GA

Chief Vann’s historic plantation house, and grounds, serve as a physical connection to present day visitors of the early nineteenth century Cherokee cultural assimilation efforts planned to counter Georgia’s early expansion which ultimately led to the Cherokee Trail of Tears.  Chief Vann owned two grist mills on Mill Creek. 

There were 8 Cherokee mills in Old Cherokee Georgia.

Red Clay State Historic Park, Red Clay, TN

When the State of Georgia expelled the Cherokee Government from New Echota, Red Clay Council Grounds served as the seat of the Cherokee Government from 1832 to the forced removal. Here you will see the main bearing and a millstone fragment from the Brainerd Mission Mill built in 1820.

McCoy’s, a Cherokee mill, was located nearby on Mill Creek.

Prater’s Grist Mill Historic Site, Dalton, GA – Host Site

Built in 1855, the gristmill site is a trailhead for the Cohutta-Chattahoochee Scenic Byway. Prater’s Mill is also one of the stops of the Blue and Gray Trail featuring Civil War heritage in northwest Georgia. The site was a camp for 600 Union soldiers in February 1864, and 2,500 Confederates in April 1864. Prater’s Mill is located on Georgia Hwy. 2, which closely follows the original route of the 1805 Federal Road. The Federal Road is also a part of the Cherokee Trail of Tears route in Georgia. Ancestral families who lived at Prater’s Mill have ties to the European, Native American and African American cultures.

Munson Mill and Meadows Mill operable. One of three turbines operable. The Davis turbine (not operable) was made by Davis Foundry in Rome. Site is owned by Whitfield County. Hosts will be volunteers of the Prater’s Mill Foundation, operators of the site.

Lunch will be served on-site at Prater’s Mill.

Afternoon Educational Sessions