Of Rome, Georgia
I need a quick thirteen, so I thought 13 Rome, Georgia facts... well, here goes:
- Clocktower Hill - crowned by the 1871 water tower and clock that has become the symbol of our fair city. Some citizens opposed building this water tank for fear the water pressure resulting would knock the bottom out of a teacup. I can see the illuminated tip of the tower out our den window as I type these words.
- Old Shorter Hill - the original site of Shorter College, this hill nestles some of Rome's loviest homes including the original Shorter College president's home. That home and a few metal steps are all that remain of the old school. After Shorter moved across the river in 1911, the beautiful college buildings became home to Rome High School. Soon gables, cupolas, and gingerbread began to disappear, and eventually the muddled old buildings were removed altogether.
- Lumpkin Hill (Oak Hill) - This hill holds Rome's oldest City Cemetery and was the site of the original St. Mary's School. But when Turner-McCall Blvd. was built in the late fifties, major parts of the hill were bulldozed and moved across the river to give the new Holiday Inn (later the Ramada) a base next to the fourlane bridge. What is left of Lumpkin now hosts the Days Inn, Village Theaters, Appleby's and KFC.
- Myrtle Hill - In the 1850's the city fathers claimed this hill hard by the south bank at the confluence of the rivers as a cemetery to replace the Oal Hill cemetery. This beautiful burial ground is crowned by the Confederate Memorial. At its base is Veteran's Plaza which includes the national Tomb of the Known Soldier, the lovely Monument to the Women of the Confederacy, and the Monument to Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest "The Savior of Rome". Myrtle Hill includes row on row of Confederate graves, some stones nearly swallowed by tree trunks, and a few Yankee graves. Ellen Axson Wilson was buried here while her husband was serving as President of the United States. rom this hill the boys and old men of the Confederate home guard tried to pick off Sherman's men as they headquartered in Rome in May of 1864 preparing for the Atlanta Campaign. Through the turn of that century paddlewheel steamships tied up at the base of the hill.
- Mount Aventine - Beyond Myrtle and overlooking the Etowah is Mount Aventine. A Jewish Cemetery crowns this hill with meandering lanes of modest homes.
- Blossom Hill - Once home to peach orchards, Blossum was and is largely an African American neighborhood north of Jackson Hill. It still has large wooded areas and is home to Rome's water treatment plant.
- Jackson Hill - Between Blossum and Lumpkin and overlooking the Oostanaula is Jackson Hill, site of major fortifications (Fort Norton) during the War Between the States. The hill is largely wooded and city-owned. Rome's old waterworks, small Civic Center, Tourist and Convention office and Welcome Center are here. There are plans to eventually restore and preserve the earthworks of Fort Norton. The Noble Lathe, still bearing the scars of Yankee efforts at detroying it, is dispalyed on this hill.
- The Oostanaula - From the roof of our 1870 Victorian house you can peer over the levee and its walking path onto the Oostanaula River very close to the spot where John Ross, famous Cherokee leader operated a ferry. Rival leader, and signer of the notorius Treaty of New Echota, Major Ridge operated a ferry just upstream. The Ridge home, Chieftains, is a museum. The Oostanaula is the combined mountain waters of the Conasauga and the Coosawattee draining the hills of North Central Georgia. The Coosawattee valley is flooded by Carters Lake. James Dickey embellishes that story in Deliverance.
- The Etowah - Starting out crystal clear Appalachian water, the Etowah has its origin in Blue Ridge Hills farther east. It is dammed for flood control near Cartersville into the huge Altoona Lake. It has been cleaned up a lot in recent years: I remember the Etowah as the muddy one. There are many Indian fish wiers still noticeable at low water in this river between Cartersville and Rome.
- The Coosa - The confluence of the Etowah and Oostanaula at the foot of Myrtle Hill forms the Coosa and the raison d'etre of our fair city. Between the rivers lies Broad Street and our downtown. Head of Coosa, as it was called, was home to Cherokee leaders before the land was stolen by the Georgians in collusion with Andy Jackson. The Mississipian mounds that once stood at the confluence mean these river-roads were important before historic times as well. The Coosa flows on into Alabama to eventually join the Tallapoosa at Montgomery to make the Alabama River. The Tombigbee joins and it becomes the Mobile River before it spills into Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Steamships used to carry Northwest Georgia's cotton down this river system to the world.
- Georgia Highlands College - Youngest of our three colleges is this two-year part of the University of Georgia system. It began life as Floyd Junior College. It lost the "junior" many years ago and was renamed Georgia Highlands last year.
- Berry College - Born as a Sunday School on the Thomas Berry plantation, the school for poor mountain boys founded by Martha Berry has grown into a highly-respected coed liberal arts college located on the world's largest, and a very beautiful, college campus.
- Shorter College - founded in 1873 as Cherokee Baptist Female College, Shorter College has become in recent years one of the fine small college musical theater programs anywhere. Best of all, my daughter graduated in musical theater there.
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