Liz and I decided we would spend memorial day hiking a trail for fun and exercise. Rather than our typical jaunt up to the north Georgia mountains, we decided to try a smaller but beautiful trail only a few miles away in Roswell, GA. This was a fitting hike for Memorial Day as the trail and Vickery (Big) Creek are home to a spillway dam that was a valuable asset to the South during the Civil War, having powered the mill wheel that was built downstream at the now abandoned mill ruins.These mills were leading manufacturers of materials used for the Confederacy.
The warm day provided an easy but delightful scenic hike. We stepped back in time as we gazed at some of the preserved ruins of the historic mills, buildings and of course the awesome spillway damn with its 75 foot waterfall . I was pleased I had brought my camera. This is such a photographer’s delight that professional photographers must obtain a permit before taking photos.
A covered bridge provided a beautiful walk across the creek and easy access to the trails on the other side. We made our way to both sides of the damn where there was an abundance of spots all along the bank for sunning, wading or just relaxing to the sound of the fast flowing water. On the far side of damn, we were still able to climb down a relatively steep bank to reach the creek below. The other side offered a viewing platform for those who might not want to climb steep banks. The day was warm and sunny attracting many who where enjoying the cool waters all along the creek but especially at the foot of the damn where the cool mist filled the air.
Now a commercial center, Roswell Mill is the 1882 incarnation of a cotton mill in downtown Roswell, Georgia and serves as the parking area for Old Mill Park. The original Roswell Mill (1839) was located near the entrance to the covered bridge. The machine shop and blacksmith shop were nearby to power the mill using an “endless belt” system for power transmission from a nearby millpond on Vickery (Big) Creek, a tributary of the Chattahoochee River. Nearby housing, known as the Bricks, provided shelter for workers.
In 1853 a larger dam was constructed upstream, along with a new machine shop. Because the river valley was deeper, the machine shop took on a vertical orientation. When General William Tecumseh Sherman took the town during the Atlanta Campaign he ordered the workers removed to Marietta, Georgia, where they were removed to the Louisville Women’s Prison, then under the command of Mary Edwards Walker. Walker turned the workers loose in Indiana and Ohio, once she felt they did not pose a threat to the United States. Some eventually returned to the Roswell area.
In 1882 the current mill (now the commercial center known as Roswell Mill) was built and eventually expanded. The endless belt system of power generation was replaced at the turn of the century and the mill, bought by Southern Mills (now Tencate) in 1947 continued in use until 1975.
GPS Coordinates: 34.007758, -84.351185
Obtain a hiking trail map of the Vickery Creek hiking trails from the National Park Service.