Thousands of years ago, American Indians called the area home, leaving behind evidence of their occupation as did pioneering farmers and plantation owners. A paddling event on the Etowah River hosted by the Coosa River Basin Initiative set for Saturday, Oct. 16, plans to take participants on a journey through time with a fundraiser.
Featuring the historic Valley View farms, Paddling Through History will tour the grounds of this antebellum home before setting out on the water to explore ancient fish weirs ending at Euharlee Road.
"That section of river is really a fascinating section of river because you've got Valley View and farther down stream you have other antebellum plantations, some of which no longer exist because they were burned down or fell into disrepair, but all along that stretch of river is where there were several large farms and plantation homes prior to the Civil War. Then you have the fish weirs, which of course date back thousands of years, and then you have Plant Bowen, which is kind of modern day scenery along the river, so it's kind of a nice journey through time just in that six miles of river so it should be a lot of fun," said Joe Cook, Riverkeeper and CRBI executive director.
Beginning and ending at the Sproull family homestead constructed in the late 1840s, Valley View will serve as the site for the CRBI's final paddle in Bartow County and their second to last group paddle of the year.
"I think it will be a great event. It benefits the Coosa River Basin Initiative and I think we should do anything we can to promote our waterways because they go all the way back to the time the Indians were here and used the waterways for their transportation," said Genie Certain, Etowah Valley Historical Society member and previous home tour guide. "The Sproull family built that home and it fortunately survived the Civil War and it's in beautiful shape. And the Norton family ... and their descendants that own it now are very generous with letting people come and see it."
Certain led tours earlier this year at Valley View during public viewings held in June. One of Certain's favorite features, the detached kitchen and smokehouse, has just opened to public tours. Leading homes tours throughout Bartow County, Certain feels the experience is something to be treasured.
"I think it just helps us appreciate history and how very difficult it was to live in those times without running water or electricity or things that we take for granted today. I just think it's important to study history and preserve it for generations to come," Certain said.
The paddle will take place after a 1:30 p.m. tour of the Valley View home to which guests will return for a catered dinner, beverages, a raffle for a new kayak and auction items. Tickets are available by donation with a suggestion giving of $75 per person or $130 per couple. Only 75 tickets will be sold and deadline for reservation is Monday. Tickets can be purchased at www.coosa.org. Tickets include all of the fore mentioned as well as kayak or canoe rental and a year's membership to CRBI.
Proceeds go toward the completion of the Etowah Blue Trail, a system of water trails traveling the length of the Etowah River from Dawsonville to Rome. The project includes promoting use of the river through group paddles and other events as well as improving access to the river. Sites are currently being sought out in Bartow County for public/private agreements to build boat launches for public use. CRBI recently helped clean up one location near the intersection of Highway 411 and Macedonia Road. Another site in Euharlee will serve as the end point for the Paddling Through History event.
"We'll be finishing the trip at Euharlee Road, which is one of the locations that we have kind of targeted," Cook said. "That's a place that the city of Euharlee is looking at to try to develop into a boat launch and public access point into the river."
Funds will be matched up to $10,000 by a challenge grant by the Lyndhurst Foundation in Chattanooga, Tenn., to create an interactive website for the blue trail. For more information, visit www.coosa.org or call 706-232-2724.