I have enjoyed walking Rome's wonderful Riverwalk since before it had that name. Back in1991 as I walked the paved walking trail that traces the old River Road along the Oostanaula from downtown Rome to Riverside, something I had not noticed before caught my eye. There, embedded in the sandy silt and brambles between the walkway and the river were some large engraved building stones. They were hidden in vegetation near the new landing created for the Roman Holiday pontoon boat at Ridge Ferry Park. I crawled all around them trying to figure out what the inscriptions were as I dodged the stinging nettle plants that surrounded them.
The first stone was a large keystone engraved "No.2" over "AIN" and a second stone had "CITY" carved on one surface. I could see no engravings on the other stones. They had to have come from some important building. Maybe I could find a picture in Battey's history, or the Illustarted History of Rome, or the Roger Aycock book.
I couldn't wait to get home to check. I was surprised to find a picture of the stones quickly, right there in an engraving pictured on a postcard Dr. C.J. Wyatt had loaned me for publication in the Northwest Georgia Genealogical & Historical Quarterly. It was tiny but readable on the front of the handsome "new" City Hall building on Fourth Avenue between Broad Street and the river: "No.2 Mountain City." It was also visible on page 51 of the illustrated history. It turns out the Mountain City volunteer fire company was headquartered in City Hall. The older Rainbow fire company (No. 1) had its HQ farther up Broad Street.
These clippings are from the June 23, 1991, Rome News-Tribune.
Later, while I was editor of the Northwest Georgia Historical and Genealogical Society Quarterly, I wrote about the find and published some pictures in that publication.
I continued to check on the stones regularly as we walked the trail. One day, a dozen years later or more, I noticed sone brightly colored tags attached to them. Soon another article appeared in the Rome News of the stones "discovery". I suppose Jim had retired by that time and folks had forgotten about the stones again. This time around the stones were actually extracted from the silt by the city workers. I called the city and found that they had been transferred for safe keeping to the city public works facility on North Avenue near the present Animal Control center. I drove over to the lot to see them. Plans had begun for a tribute monument to Rome firefighters and this would be a natural exhibit to include there.
Now, after three decades, it looks like the stones will finally be displayed as part of that new fire fighters memorial being built behind the city auditorium. I think that is wonderful. Here's the most recent story and pictures from the Rome News:
And just for the record, I didn't really think the stones floated to Ridge Ferry Park. Everyone knows: that's upstream!
Update: The stones were erected yesterday! Yay!