If you’re traveling through northern Georgia, and are looking for a quick and interesting pit stop, I suggest checking out the Rock Garden in Calhoun.
Located behind the Seventh Day Adventist Church, this is a free, little attraction. (There is a donation box at the entrance.)
All built by volunteers, the rock garden features both miniature and large scale sculptures of castles, villages, and real locations, such as the Colosseum in Rome and Notre Dame in Paris.
All of these are located on a nice, meandering garden path.
The details on some of the sculptures are stunning. There are clay windows, stained glass windows, and little figurines like dogs, knights, and villagers. The sculptures are made with glass beads, stones and shells, with a concrete base.
It only took us about 15 minutes to see everything, but it was worth the stop to stretch our legs and see something different and beautifully made.
This Labor Day weekend, in honor of it being a long weekend, and it being my birthday weekend, we wanted to do something special. We decided to take a day trip into Georgia, and visit some Civil War sites and museums.
I love Civil War history, and there is no shortage of it in Tennessee and Georgia. When we first moved to Chattanooga, my dad told me about the Great Locomotive Chase. He let me borrow a book about it, “Stealing the General.”
Here is a short history lesson: The Great Locomotive Chase (also known as Andrews’ Raid) happened on April 12, 1862. James Andrews, a civilian and scout for the Union Army, and volunteers from the Union Army stole a train, the General, in Kennesaw, Georgia, (back then known as Big Shanty). The train at the time was stopped to allow passengers to have breakfast at the Lacy Hotel.
The goal was to drive the train to Chattanooga, destroying the Western and Atlantic Railroad track as they went. Railroads were vital in the south and the Civil War. Gaining access to the railroads would cut off supplies to and from southern cities, and badly damage the south’s chances in winning the war.
Confederates gained access to different trains, including the Yonah, and the Texas, and pursued the General. Andrews and the Union soldiers made it as far as Ringgold, Ga., before the locomotive ran out of fuel, and they were captured. Some of the men were able to flee, but eight were hanged.
Our first stop of the day was Kennesaw Georgia, about an hour and a half drive away. We visited the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History, which houses the original engine, the General.
The General was the main draw of the museum, but we also learned a lot about the railroads and how they were used and impacted by the Civil War.
There was a neat section in the museum where you learned about the work in foundries, and what it takes to make a locomotive.
The second Great Locomotive Chase and Civil War related stop of the day was in Tunnel Hill, Ga., where we visited the Tunnel Hill Heritage Center and Museum.
A major part of the Great Locomotive Chase was the chase through the Western and Atlantic Railroad tunnel. The Texas was actually chasing the General backwards!
As part of this tour, we rode on a golf cart the whole length of the tunnel, back and forth. This was really cool. The tunnel is no longer used, but the newer tunnel, built in 1928, is right along side of it. We were lucky enough to see a train come through while we were here.
We also got to see the Clisby Austin house, built in 1848. Austin was the post master in Tunnel Hill, and he also owned general stores. He was married twice — his first wife died — and he had 19 children! Austin was a Union sympathizer, so when the war broke out, he sold the home and left.
General Sherman stayed in the home for a week during the start of the Atlanta Campaign. Later on, after the Battle of Tunnel Hill, the home was turned into a hospital.
One thing that I found interesting in this home was that the stairs were original. You could see the dips in the wood, from all of the people who have walked on it over time. I took the same steps as General Sherman!
I enjoyed the Tunnel Hill Heritage Center and Museum, because it was a bonus to learn about Clisby Austin, and the home.
There were other stops on this day trip, so stay tuned!
Trenton, Georgia is the county seat of Dade County, on the border of Tennessee and Hamilton County. I work in Trenton.
It is a rural county, and the town of Trenton is small, but there are some nice shops and good places to eat. Coupled with a visit to Cloudland Canyon State Park, you can spend about half a day there.
All of my favorite places to eat are all located on the square on Main Street. Corner Coffee has good soups and sandwiches. I ate there this past weekend and I got the grilled cheese sandwich with loaded potato soup. Lalitos is a Mexican restaurant. My favorite meal there is the #15 dinner plate: one chicken tamale, one beef taco and rice. Their chips and salsa are amazing! Thatchers is a BBQ restaurant. Their pulled pork sandwiches are awesome!
The historical courthouse is in the middle of the square. It is empty right now, but it is a pretty building and makes for some nice pictures.
On the other side of the square is a small park with a gazebo. A few times Derek and I have grabbed a meal to go and then have eaten it in the park.
If you like history, you can check out the American Legion’s War Memorial Museum, which is a great collection from local veterans. There are some really interesting items in the collection, including an original Revolutionary War drum, and bullets found at the various Civil War sites. The museum is open Tuesday through Friday, and by appointment.
Cloudland Canyon is just a few miles south of Trenton. One of the trail heads for Sittons Gulch is actually in a residential neighborhood of Trenton. If hiking isn’t your thing, you can just enjoy the view at the overlook, and check out the visitor’s center. There are a few different hiking trails to choose from, ranging from an easy 1 mile, to strenuous. I have written about Cloudland Canyon multiple times. Here is the most recent article.
There are also some antique shops scattered around the town, if that’s your type of thing. If you’re heading back home to the Chattanooga area, take Highway 11 north and stop at the Wildwood Depo, a great little antique shop with a unique collection of items.
Yesterday we hiked Sitton’s Gulch Trail. This is the second hike that we have done that is a part of Cloudland Canyon State Park.
There are two options for hiking Sitton’s Gulch, because it is a there-and-back type trail. You can start the hike on either end, depending on how far you want to extend the hike.
If you start at the West Rim parking lot, you have to take part of the Waterfalls Trail down into the canyon to meet up with Sitton’s Gulch. If you go this way, the full trail is 6 miles long, three miles each way. When you’re coming back up, the stairs could be a strenuous ending.
The other end of the trail is located in Trenton, Georgia, in a residential neighborhood. We decided to start from this end of the trail. This way, we stopped our hike where Sitton’s Gulch meets the Waterfalls Trail, and did not have to go up or down any stairs. We have already been on the Waterfalls Trail, so we did not miss anything new. Doing the hike in this direction made it just over 4 miles.
Even though we shortened the hike, this is the longest hike Derek and I have ever done.
The trail is fairly easy, in that the path is mostly free from rocky and tree roots. However, there was a gradual incline the entire way, which was tiring at times.
The trail follows Daniel Creek, which was running fully after a few days of rain. There are many spots where the water flows down and over rocks, creating small waterfalls and rapids. There are many paths that split from the main trail to get a closer look at the creek.
The largest waterfalls are toward the end of the trail (or the beginning, depending on which way you go.)
One waterfall located high up even creates a small water crossing, depending on the amount of water flow.
We packed a lunch and enjoyed the view from the largest falls at the end, before turning back.
Cloudland Canyon has easily become my favorite place for hikes!
This year has been filled with ups and downs, with the bigger share being downs.
One good thing has happened to close out this year, and that is that I have a new job. Actually, it’s not new at all, and that’s what is good about it.
I was hired as the news editor for the Dade County Sentinel, a weekly paper based in Trenton, Ga. My first job while living here was as the editor of the Trenton Daily News, a start-up paper, also located in Trenton.
Unfortunately, that job only lasted four months, as the publication had to shut down. I reported just long enough in the community to get to know everyone, and learn the ins and outs. Now I am back, and it feels good.
I actually was offered this exact same job back in March, but I turned the offer down to work in the marketing industry.
One big lesson I learned this year was that writing is what I do best, and I needed to get back into the journalism field as quickly as possible.
I was able to get started right away, and did not require any type of training period. It will feel good to see my first set of articles published in the paper, after a nine month hiatus.
In some of my past journalism jobs, I’ve been known to do it all, sometimes doing the job of two to three people. At this job, all I have to focus on is writing, which is a nice, and slower change of pace. My job is to fill up pages 1 and 2, or the front page and the article jumps. The Dade County Sentinel has a great partnership with the community. We have lots of local columnists, and people from different organizations who submit articles in each week, which helps fill up the rest of the paper.
My two co-workers are nice and welcoming. They have both lived in this community for a long time, so they have given me lots of article ideas, which is helpful.
I am allowed to work from home on Wednesdays. The paper comes out on Wednesdays, and there are no meetings ever scheduled on that day, so it’s a slow day. I am thankful for the opportunity to work from home because it saves me gas money, but honestly I am happy for the opportunity to go into work the other four days of the week!
I am looking forward to the upcoming weeks, months, and hopefully years as news editor of the Dade County Sentinel!
After we finished blueberry picking in LaFayette, we were kind of hungry, and a drink was due. Derek Googled coffee shops in the area. He asked me if we had been to either Ringgold or Chickamauga before, and which town would I rather go to. I said no to both, and to pick whichever.
And so we ended up in Ringgold for a couple of hours. The town surprised us in a good way. We will more than likely go back there again.
We had a light lunch at Caffeine Addicts. I did not take any photos here, oops! I always get a chai wherever I go, since I do not like coffee. Usually chai doesn’t change too much from place to place, however, Caffeine Addicts featured toffee nut flavored syrup, a flavor I had not seen before. My go-to is usually hazelnut syrup. It was so good! I would definitely come back just to have that syrup.
Also, the people who worked there were wearing masks, and every other table was closed off. We were there before noon, so we pretty much had the place to ourselves.
We headed a few doors down to the cutest store front, A Fern and a Feather General Store. Derek bought moonshine jelly and muscadine cider (non alcoholic) and I bought a spoon holder for my tea that says “Today’s good mood brought to you by tea.”
If you’ve been reading for a while now, you probably know I love Civil War history. The Great Locomotive Chase ended in Ringgold. A group of Union men, led by civilian James A. Andrews, stole a train with the intention of running it to Chattanooga, damaging the railroad tracks in the process. The locomotive ran out of fuel in Ringgold, and the men fled on foot. Many of them were later put on trial and were executed.
We checked out the Ringgold Depot, which was closed at the time. We waited for a few minutes to see if a train would come through, but no luck. We drove about a half mile down the tracks until we came to the General monument. The General is the name of the locomotive that the men stole. I’m glad I texted my dad that we were there, and he gave us directions to the monument!
We will definitely come to Ringgold again, because someday I hope to do an entire Great Locomotive Chase day trip, stopping at each of the railroad stations and towns along the way.
Our last two stops in Ringgold were two antique shops that were next to each other. The one was called Cotton Gin Antiques, named for the business that was established by the Callaway brothers in 1929. The outside of it was so cool looking! It is a treasure trove for people who like to hunt for old items.
Ringgold Feed and Seed Antiques was next door. We were on the hunt for a basket to put on our table by the front door; a place to put our masks and hand sanitizer. We found one that looks great with our overall house decor. By the way, while we were there, that was when the train chose to come through! Oh well.
Ringgold is a nice little town, and there was plenty more that we did not check out during our time there. Because it’s only a half hour away, I am sure we will come back sometime for a half-day getaway.
My first job while living in Chattanooga was working for a start-up newspaper in Dade County, Georgia, which is just over the Tennessee/Georgia state line. One day this past winter, while searching for article ideas, I found Lookout Lavender Farm. While the farm is not in operation during the winter, it would make a great story come summer time. Well, the paper has since shut down, so no article could materialize, but that didn’t mean that Derek and I couldn’t check it out for ourselves!
Lookout Lavender Farm is located on Lookout Mountain in Rising Fawn, Georgia. Every year the farm opens up for a short two-week lavender season. People are invited to pick bundles of lavender, but if you don’t want to pick, then you can just come up to enjoy the fields.
It cost $10 to get in, $5 a person, and a u-pick bundle is $7. They were also selling their own line of lavender products. We bought lip balm.
It was a lovely morning, and the lavender fields smelled amazing! We spent some time picking our bundle, and then we just enjoyed walking through the lavender. We made sure to get a lot of photos! The fields are the perfect place for portrait photography.