Etowah Hills of Iron, Artifact Identification Day Saturday
by Marie Nesmith
Mar 13, 2012 | 1903 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
At last year’s Artifact Identification Day, Doug Gardner of Euharlee watches archaeologist Lloyd Schroder examine pottery and some stone tools he found in the area of Euharlee Creek.
SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News, File
At last year’s Artifact Identification Day, Doug Gardner of Euharlee watches archaeologist Lloyd Schroder examine pottery and some stone tools he found in the area of Euharlee Creek. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News, File
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Even though its villages have long since been disbanded, the town of Etowah and the Etowah Indian Mounds will take center stage Saturday at Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites' Cartersville venues.

From 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Red Top Mountain State Park -- 50 Lodge Road, S.E. -- will host the Hills of Iron, which will highlight the area's once-heralded iron industry. Guy Parmenter, a board member of the Etowah Valley Historical Society, will kick off the event with a presentation beside the former town of Etowah's main surviving structure, now known as Cooper's Furnace, at the day use area that shares its name.

"I'll probably be describing the operations of the old Cooper's Furnace down there below the dam where we'll be -- how it operated, what it might have looked like at the time," Parmenter said. "I'll be talking some about Moses Stroup and Jacob Stroup and also Mark Cooper and the town of Etowah. ... We [will] try to answer all the questions about the iron industry here in Bartow County. Probably I would say the most interesting thing [about our iron history] is that there was an iron industry here in Bartow County prior to the Civil War. Of course there was mining after the Civil War but not to the same capacity where we had the iron furnaces and so forth going. They tried to get them up and running after the war and it really didn't work well.

"[It also is interesting] how iron industry evolved in the South, especially ended up like in Birmingham and through central and north Alabama and how basically the people that were here, they created the iron industry here and moved on into Alabama and created that industry. The Stroup legacy of Jacob and especially Moses Stroup was really probably credited for creating the Alabama iron industry. I guess it's kind of neat to track that evolution of iron mining and the iron processes here in the South. At one time, it was all here before the war and [now] it's gone."

The schedule for Hills of Iron will include:

* 10 a.m. -- Patrons will meet at Cooper's Furnace at the Cooper's Furnace Day Use Area on River Road. The town of Etowah and the iron furnace will be discussed.

* Noon to 1:30 p.m. -- Participants will travel by wagon to view and walk into an 1800s open pit iron mine at the state park. Tours depart from the Iron Hill parking lot at noon, 12:30 and 1 p.m.

* 2 p.m. -- Red Top's Mini Cooper iron furnace will be in operation.

* 2 to 6 p.m. -- The blacksmith shop and the Vaughan log cabin will be open to the public.

The last program of the day will be an iron pour starting at 6 p.m. After firing up Maryanne, Red Top's 8-foot-tall cupola furnace, iron pieces will be melted to form designs created by the public. Beginning at 2 p.m., participants will be able to purchase scratch block molds for $7 each.

"One of the things we're doing this time is we're [offering] a wagon tour of the Iron Hill iron mine that's on-site at Red Top," said Steve Hadley, Resource Manager II for Georgia State Parks & Historic Site. "So there's two actual open mines there at Red Top and we'll go look at one of them. That way you can kind of see how they were dug by hand and how important and significant the iron industry was to this area. The town of Etowah is basically where Allatoona Dam is. The dam's spot was picked for the same [reason] the town of Etowah used to be there because ... there was enough drop and enough flow in the river that they were able to power industry with water power.

"So now the modern version of that is the Allatoona Dam. So now because of the same drop it just dams up more, produces electric power. The town of Etowah had a gristmill, saw mill. Mark Anthony Cooper, he pretty much got the town of Etowah going."

For more information, call 770-975-0055 or visit www.gastateparks.org. To attend the free event, individuals will need to have an annual pass or purchase a $5 daily ParkPass.

At the Etowah Indian Mounds State Historic Site, Artifact Identification Day will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to bring artifacts for a professional archaeologist to date and identify. Admission will be $5 for adults, $4.50 for senior adults and $3.50 for youth.

"A lot of people find things and they just don't know what they are or they get handed [items] down to them from grandparents and uncles and other people, stuff that's been found on family farms or property," Hadley said. "People don't know what they have so they just come to Artifact ID Day and see what they've got.

"[In the past] they've found arrowheads, different kinds of blades as far as stone tools, some pottery pieces and a lot of things like that. It gets a good turnout. Sometimes they'll be a waiting line of 20 to 30 minutes -- people standing in line waiting to get their turn with the archaeologist."

While attending the event, patrons are invited to tour the 54-acre venue where several thousand American Indians lived from A.D. 1000 to A.D. 1550. Regarded as the most intact Mississippian Culture site in the Southeast, the Etowah Indian Mounds -- 813 Indian Mounds Road, S.W. -- features six earthen mounds, a village area, a plaza, borrow pits and defensive ditch. Along with examining artifacts in the museum, other notable features at the site include a replica of a wattle-and-daub house and a 9-foot-by-7-foot diorama that was designed to show what the site could have looked like in A.D. 1300.

For more information about the Etowah Indian Mounds, which is open Wednesday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., call 770-387-3747.