Sam Burnham, Curator
Friday was a bit of a travel day. An appearance on GPB Radio and then a ride back home followed by a trip to Carroll County that afternoon meant eight counties in a day. That's not a big deal in our interstate age. I-75 goes through 19 counties from here to the Florida Line. So eight counties in a day...no big deal. But it wasn't always that way.
When I left the GPB studio I decided to follow up on a tip about a priceless piece of Georgia history. What is possibly one of the best-kept secrets in all of Georgian preservation, there is a covered bridge (ca. 1872 to replace the ca. 1840's bridge destroyed during the Civil War) that is still in everyday use! It's not some long ago detoured relic you can walk across. If you meet the seven foot clearance requirements you can drive across!
I had to take the farthest left of the four turn lanes off the 285 exit so I'd be in place to make the left hand turn onto Spring Rd, right next to the Lexus dealership. Then I wound through shopping malls, Indian restaurants, and subdivisions filled with stately homes. Until I found myself in a tree-filled hollow and a real covered bridge that carried me across a rain-swollen Nickajack Creek.
All this in Smyrna. In the shadow of the proverbial Ring of Fire - Interstate 285.
The very next day, I'm in Carroll County listening to my mother-in-law telling stories about visiting her great-grandparents in the Smyrna of that day. Her family took dirt roads to a little cracker cabin where her great-grandmother awoke early to prepare streak-o-lean biscuits for the sharecroppers who hit the fields early, trying to pay the rent. That's a long way from Indian restaurants and Lexus dealers.
The next segment off the big road was to get off the interstate and follow the old road - Old 41 - from Wild Man's up to the new ball fields in Emerson. The speed limit is lower but so is the traffic and the scenery is exponentially better.
Between the two locations I encountered the trauma of crossing the interstate not once, but twice, on the left side of the road. This isn't due to a construction detour or an accident, this is Georgia DOT's answer for long turn lane waits for left-hand exits. Just crisscross the traffic on overpasses. Dear Lord, just get me to the two lane.
Old 41, as the name suggests, is old. It is largely residential, homes and small businesses, schools and churches, trees and shrubs. In some places the road spreads into turn lanes, even four lanes in a few places but the highlight this time was Acworth.
This wasn't my first time in Acworth, not by a mile. But this time was intentional. Although not a full fledged stop with details on stores and restaurants, I did want to get some photos and enjoy the architecture. Acworth is a lovely town. The downtown area is tastefully preserved and vibrant. This is not the woeful southern small town that is in disrepair and vacated. There are businesses - shops, restaurants and such - lining both sides of the road. Like so many similar towns, the railroad tracks cut right through the middle of town so you have to check both sides of the tracks to see it all. There are plenty of well-kept homes just behind the rows of businesses. A new apartment complex has broken ground just east of downtown promises to stick with the prevailing architecture and fit in rather than stick out.
Seeing Acworth yourself requires a short drive off Exits 277 or 278 and just following signs for a mile or less.
Or just take the Road Less Traveled...in this case Old 41 and see what else you can find on your own.
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire