The Mighty Etowah

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I did something today that I have been wanting to do for a long time: canoe the Etowah River. I was hoping to make it all the way from Cartersville to Rome, but we didn’t get started early enough and so we only made it to Neel’s Landing, where the Etowah meets 411. But it was a highly enjoyable experience, and it provides a completely different perspective on the local topography, one that would have been familiar to Native Americans (or to Reinhardt’s co-founder John Sharp, who attempted to establish a ferry service between Canton and Rome). 

This is the dam that creates Lake Allatoona in Cartersville, and which would nowadays impede a direct fluvial service from Canton to Rome. The dam was built in 1950 by the Army Corps of Engineers. I took this photo four years ago. It served as our starting point. 

These pilings carried the Western and Atlantic railway over the Etowah. A student of mine claimed that the bridge itself was destroyed seven times during the Civil War, as it changed hands. The W&A now runs slightly to the west, on the other side of GA-41 (the bridge in the background). 

This dam, designated the Thompson Weinman dam, was a surprise for us as there were no signs warning about it on the river. Fortunately we realized what the sound was in time, and found the portage. 

The Etowah Indian Mounds from the river, which is how Mississippians would have arrived at the site.

Other things to see on the Etowah include turtles (my companion counted 291 of them), blue herons, plenty of swallow mud nests underneath bridges, fish, lush vegetation, Indian fishing weirs (made of rocks, and somewhat tricky to navigate), and lots of luxurious riverfront property with signs sternly warning you against trespassing. It would be nice to develop more of it for public use. 

Producing far more power than Allatoona Dam is Plant Bowen, allegedly the second-largest coal fired electrical generating plant in the western hemisphere. The river provides an interesting view of it. 

It was nice to see a rainbow on our drive home!

This route, by the way, has been signified as the Etowah River Water Trail, and the organizers have posted helpful mile and half-mile marker signs along the way. We started at 46 and ended at 23. 

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