Pine Log Mountain, straddling Bartow and Cherokee Counties in north Georgia, is the southernmost mountain in the Appalachian chain.
In this exhibit, we interpret the history of Pine Log Mountain through the works of three forgotten women writers: Corra Mae Harris, Rosa Pendleton Chiles, and Frances Elizabeth Adair.
All three women lived in the area, had ties to Reinhardt, and wrote about the mountain and surrounding communities. Additionally, we use primary source materials to illustrate the lives of other forgotten people who lived and worked around the mountain, including slaves, miners, convict laborers, moonshiners, and Civilian Conservation Corps workers.
Beasley Gap Early 1900s. This early 20th-century photograph shows a family traveling by wagon through
Beasley Gap, on the north side of Pine Log Mountain in north Georgia.
Image Courtesy Georgia Archives
The Geology of Pine Log Mountain
This 1950 topo map of the Pine Log Mountain area illustrates how Pine Log is actually a long ridge and bowl encompassing not one but four mountains: Pine Log Mountain, Bear Mountain, Hanging Mountain, and Little Pine Log Mountain.
The mountain and its valleys fill the roughly nine-mile by nine-mile space inside of Georgia Route 140 to the north, U.S. Route 20 to the South, U.S. Route 411 to the west, and Georgia Route 108 to the east.
Centered between the small cities of Cartersville and Canton, the mountain is still largely undeveloped, except for Lake Arrowhead, a lake and residential community, which now fills the valley labeled “Lost Town Creek” on this map. The town of Waleska and Reinhardt University are on the right-hand edge of the map. The dotted line through the middle illustrates how the mountain is half in Bartow County and half in Cherokee County.
Because the mountain was created, like the rest of the Appalachian Mountains, by the fusion of two continents millennia ago, the mountain is rich in exposed minerals and displays different geological formations on its east and west sides. The east side of the mountain is rocky and was the site of small-scale Appalachian farming, while the west and south sides of the mountain are rich in iron and manganese and have been mined extensively. The valley to the west, though, is a flat and fertile plain more conducive to larger plantations and, prior to the Civil War, slavery.
The Chronology of Pine Log Mountain
The famous White Cliffs of Pine Log Mountain, visible from the west valley, have been an iconic sight for different groups of inhabitants over the centuries.
This exhibit captures the story of the inhabitants from 1830 through 1940. We start with the Cherokee who lived near the mountain and their Removal on the Trail of Tears in 1838. We chronicle the events on and around the mountain from the early white settlers through the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the Great Depression.
While Pine Log Mountain is now almost subsumed by metro Atlanta, for most of its history it was the home of hardscrabble farmers, miners, and moonshiners. It was the home of what used to be called the “mountaineer” – a term that used to mean not mountain climber, but mountain dweller.
What is now Reinhardt University was founded in 1883 to educate the “mountain children” of North Georgia, and Reinhardt’s history is intertwined with the saga of its nearby mountain.
In this exhibit, we interpret the history of Pine Log Mountain through the works of three forgotten women writers: Corra Mae Harris, Rosa Pendleton Chiles, and Frances Elizabeth Adair. All three women lived in the area, had ties to Reinhardt, and wrote about the mountain and surrounding communities. Additionally, we use primary source materials to illustrate the lives of other forgotten people who lived and worked around the mountain, including slaves, miners, convict laborers, moonshiners, and Civilian Conservation Corps workers.
Often when thinking of a person living in Appalachia, unflattering caricatures and "hillbilly" stereotypical images arise. Indeed, Harris, Chiles, and Adair all engaged in these kinds of stereotypes to some degree. Stereotypical Appalachians are depicted to be unclean, uneducated, and uncivil white folk that live off the land.
However, Appalachian Americans are descended from many different cultures and backgrounds. Many residents were descended from Scots-Irish, British, German, French, and Dutch settlers to the Southern colonies. In the Pine Log area, Cherokee (Native American) bloodlines persisted even after members of the Cherokee tribe were removed on the Trail of Tears in the 1830s, and African Americans, brought to the colonies as slaves, also played a major role in the history of the mountain. This exhibit reveals the diversity of Appalachian identities and experiences.
Dr. Donna Coffey-Little
Professor of English
7300 Reinhardt Parkway
Waleska, GA 30183
Our museum exhibit at Reinhardt University will not be open until after the COVID crisis is over, probably in the Fall of 2020.