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First in a series:
Site of Carmel (Taloney) Mission Station
By David R. Altman
Ever wonder about those ‘historical markers’ that we pass along the highway but seldom stop to check out? Well, my wife and I decided we’d find the ones located in Pickens County —and it turned out to be much tougher than we thought! In fact, this week we rode by the first on our list three times before we realized where it was!
Second in the series
Old Federal Road marker on Hwy. 53.
By Dave Altman
This is the second in a series of articles on Georgia Historical Markers in Pickens County.
I should be getting used to this by now; thinking I know exactly where a historical marker is only to pass it several times without knowing it. Most of us have driven by this particular marker many times and not even noticed it was there.
It’s the “Old Federal Road” marker located on Hwy. 53 very close to the Jasper City Limits sign - about three miles north of Tate. Like most markers, the area doesn’t look like much now, fronting a small shopping center housing the Pickens Medical Supply and just north of the Pickens Paws Pet Salon. More importantly, to a tired marker hunter, it’s within walking distance of the Jasper Dairy Queen. But the marker’s 21st century surroundings belie its historical significance.
By David R. Altman
As Pickens County’s 10 historical markers go, this one is the easiest of them all to find. If you are new to the area, it’s that cool stone building sitting at the corner of Main and College Streets, across from the entrance to the Woodbridge Inn.
The Old Pickens County Jail, complete with a gallows (that was never used) has been around since 1906 - although the original building was built on this site about 1855.
The original jail was torn down “by unknown means” just after the Civil War, and the second one took a year to build while some of Pickens County’s first inmates were housed in nearby counties. But, according to an article in the old Piedmont Republican in 1901, the original jail was one of the worst ever.
Two out of the first three sheriffs there died of disease and, according to a grand jury finding “…it is no wonder that its occupants are thoroughly saturated with typhoid malaria, being badly lighted and worse ventilated.”
The newspaper article said, “It is no wonder that its occupants are nearly always sick and that death continually stars them in the face.”
It took 15 years to build the ‘new’ jail (which opened in 1906 and is still standing) and one of the builders later became the head of construction for the Georgia Marble Company in Tate. The old jail was used from 1906 until 1982, housing 13 sheriffs and their families during that time period and, according to waymark.com, “housing more prisoners than the 16-bed cellblock should accommodate.”
That’s a far cry from today, when, at any given time, the current-day Pickens County Jail can house more than 100 prisoners. When the old jail was evacuated in 1982, the Marble Valley Historical Society assumed responsibility for maintaining the old building. It was placed in the National Register of Historic Buildings in 1982.
Sources: lat34north.com, waymarking.com, Georgia Historical Society, pickensgasher iff.com
Want to visit the jail? Contact the Marble Valley Historical Society at 706-253-1141 or www.marblevalley.org
Previous installments of this series are available at
By David Altman,
Progress Books and Writers editor
How many times have you gone across those railroad tracks at the old Tate train station? Too many to count, I bet. Have you ever stopped to look at the marker that sits just off to the right as you look at the depot from the highway?
It’s another of Pickens’ Historical Markers, and it recognizes Georgia Marble, “known the world over for its beauty and enduring qualities.”
Georgia Marble, as most Pickens residents know, has been used in buildings ranging from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. to the New York Stock Exchange. It was also used in the Air and Space Museum in Washington. In fact, more than sixty percent of the monuments in Washington, D.C. contain Georgia marble.
But you don’t have to go to the nation’s capitol to see the beautiful Pickens County marble—as there’s plenty of it right down the road in Atlanta, including the state capitol , Lenox Square Mall and several buildings on the Emory University campus. Or, you can just go out on Main Street and admire the Oglethorpe Monument in Jasper, made from the county’s beautiful marble.
Here’s another interesting fact: Pickens County’s primary vein of marble is 5 to 7 miles long, a half mile wide, and up to 2,000 feet deep.
Monument on Main Street: The Oglethorpe Monument just north of the historic wooden bridge on Main Street in Jasper. It was dedicated in 1930, moved to Jasper in 1999
By David Altman
Did you know that the beautiful Oglethorpe Monument at the top of Main Street is made of Pickens County marble—the same marble used to build the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.? The 38-foot high structure was dedicated in 1930 by Col. Sam Tate of the Georgia Marble Company as a tribute to General James Edward Oglethorpe, founder of Georgia.
What we know about Oglethorpe, who was from Surry, England, was not only that he founded the “colony” of Georgia in 1733 but he also helped ‘recruit’ his fellow countrymen to come and live here. He spent more than 10 years here after founding the colony helping to protect it militarily and also create jobs and further economic development.
The striking monument now stands opposite the old jail, and is about 100 steps from the offices of this newspaper. Newcomers to the area might not know that the monument hasn’t always been on Main Street. From 1930 until 1958, the monument stood at Grassy Knob, about 10 miles east of town on Mount Oglethorpe (which is still the highest point in Pickens County at just over 3,200 feet). Mount Oglethorpe, which is now on private land, was once the Southern end of the Appalachian Trail--when the trail was first established in 1937--although the trail’s Southern Terminus was later moved to Springer Mountain.
The monument was refurbished before the move to downtown and ultimately moved to its current location in 1999.