Saturday, June 15, 2013

Day 2 - Atlanta, GA - Dover, TN

Day 2 - Atlanta, GA - Dover, TN

I got another early start today thinking I would be able to get to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site when it opened. That was not to be. It seems that Atlanta suffers from traffic that is even worse than that in Washington, DC. I didn't think it was possible, but alas, I was wrong. So, after sitting in traffic for about an hour and only moving forward about a half a mile, I got off the highway and decided that I would save this site for another day. I then headed to the Chattahoochie River National Recreation Area which is right in the heart of Atlanta. The Chattahoochie River flows freely and its banks are wild and undeveloped. It is held in place by the Brevard Fault which is the dividing line between the Appalachian and Piedmont regions. The 48-mile stretch of river is carefully managed as a source of drinking water for Atlanta residents, however, this is a constant battle to keep it free from pollutants from agriculture and industry. The 540-mile Chattahoochie River flows southwesterly from the North Georgia mountains to its confluence at Lake Seminole.
The area was beautiful and the trails were well maintained. I am glad that I stopped here.

Then it was off to Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park to learn some more Civil War history. I thought it was quite appropo since it is Flag Day and the Army Birthday!

For 2 pivotal weeks in June and July 1864, Major General William T. Sherman led 100,000 Union troops against General Joseph E. Johnston's 65,000-man Confederate army in a battle for access to Atlanta. Despite greater manpower, Sherman struggled to get through the Confederates' entrenched lines on Kennesaw Mountain. His efforts initially failed, as did a concerted frontal attack. When he achieved some success with a diversionary tactic, he switched to a maneuvering strategy over combat, finally outflanking Johnston's army on July 2, 1864. Two months later, after heavy fighting on a series of fronts, the Union took Atlanta on September 2, 1864.
The drive up to the top of Kennesaw Mountain definitely showed that it was adventageous to hold the mountain as a strategic position. The park was very busy with tourists and a bunch of crazy runners who ran up to the top of the mountain and back (700 ft gain in 1.5 miles) just walking it tuckered me out!

Next stop on the day's agenda was Little River Canyon National Preserve. The Little River flows along the top of Lookout Mountain on a plateau that was formed by an erosion-resistant layer of sandstone. The river plunges down into Weiss Lake with such force that over time it has made one of the longest and deepest canyons in the eastern states.Just looking at the river below and the rapids definitely highlight the power of the river.

Russell Cave National Monument was the next stop of the day. Here, archeologist have uncovered artifacts from prehistoric tribes that inhabited the area more than 9,000 years ago. Russell Cave, a naturally formed shelter served as housing for these people. Artifacts uncovered in the cave fill the displays in the visitors center and include pottery, weapons, tools, and jewelry. One of the neatest weapons is the Atlatl. It is an improvement on the basic spear. The weighted handle was hooked into a socket piece at the base of the spear which added leverage to the throwing arm, thus increasing speed and power of the throw.


My final stop of the day was Stones River National Battlefield. Here a small part of the original battlefield has been preserved. There was a driving tour that was very interesting.

After the Confederate army defeated the Union at Fredericksburg, morale fell throughout the North - and with the approach of the Emancipation Proclamation's effective date of January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln needed a triumph -- fast! He charged General William Rosencrans's army in Tennessee with providing a win that would boost the Unions morale  and turn the war back in their favor.
Rosencrans split his army into 3 branches and marched to find General Braxton Bragg's rebel troops. The attack came on December 31, 1862 and continued for 3 days. Before it ended  23,500 men were dead or wounded, including 1,800 Confederate soldiers who encountered 57 Union cannons on the west bank of the Stones River. General Bragg retreated as the Union marched triumphantly into Murfreesboro.

Well, it was a full day of history and ecology and archeology and I am just tuckered out. My brain is overloaded so I called it a day when I passed the Sunset Motor Inn in Dover, TN.
Tomorrow is another day, but it will be a lot shorter than the past two days. Only 2 stops on the agenda before heading to pick up Marnie R.


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