One of our favorite ways to learn about history is through experiential experiences. And thankfully Georgia is full of historic ruins for us explore and observe. Every year we find more ruins to explore, and some are in the most unlikely of places, like in the middle of a busy city. Here are the top 10 ruins you need to visit in Georgia. Many of these ruins are mills that Sherman burned during his march through Georgia. These ruins are a fun, unique way to teach children about the history of Georgia, the Civil War, and life during the 1800 - early 1900's. We have visited all but 3 of these ruin sites (but the other 2 are on our list to visit soon).
Many of these sites are also located in State and National Park properties and you know I am a huge supported or our parks systems! Don't forget that April 16 through 24 is National Park Week! Many of the National Parks will have events going on like tours, etc. Check each parks website for more information!
- Sweetwater Creek State Park - Take a short hike down to the river to see the ruins of the New Manchester Manufacturing Company. These ruins might look familiar and that is because as several movies have filmed here, like the Hunger Games. This 5 story textile mill which produced cotton yarns and cloth. It employed 60-70 people supported a town of 200 people. But on July 9, 1864 the factory buildings and the company store were burned to the ground by Union soldiers. The ruins are fenced in to preserve their history. During your visit be sure to ask about a Ranger led tour of the ruins.
- Old Mill Park - Nestled in downtown Roswell you will find Old Mill Park which boasts several ruins. This is one of our favorite places to explore and splash around in the Summer. On the Old Mill Park side of the river which is the area closest to the parking area (owned by the city of Roswell) you can explore the 30-foot dam and millrace that was constructed on Vickery Creek in the mid-to-late 1830s to supply power for the mills. You can also check out the 1853 Machine Shop which is the only extant building left of the original 1839 Roswell Manufacturing Company. If you cross over the pedestrian bride to the other side of the river you will be on Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area property (NPS Property). Here you can find the ruins of Allenbrook, an antebellum home constructed between 1845-1857. And Laurel/Ivy Mill. This woolen mill was burned by federal troops in 1864, during the Atlanta Campaign. Women operatives of the mill were sent north after Roswell’s capture so that their skills would not benefit the Confederacy. The mill stood from about 1855 until 1864 and then was rebuilt by Barrington King and his son, James Roswell Kin. You can view a map of historical areas in Roswell here.
- Sope Creek Park - This is another Chattahoochee River National Recreation area (NPS Property). The Marietta Paper Mill is an amazing site to explore. They are tucked into a high-end neighborhood just outside Atlanta. There are over 3 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails to explore. The multi-story ruins were destroyed by Union troops during the Civil War. Make sure you walk across to the other side of the river too to view a few more ruins.
- Fort Mountain State Park - It's no secret we love exploring state parks and the ruins are definitely one perk. This is the second state park on the list that features some unique ruins. The mysterious ancient rock wall stands at the highest point of the mountain. The 855-foot-long wall is thought to have been built by early Indians as fortification against more hostile Indians or for ancient ceremonies. It is definitely worth the hike.
- Cumberland Island NPS - Revolutionary War Hero General Nathanael Greene purchased land on Cumberland Island in 1783. Following his death, his widow Catherine Greene, constructed a four-story tabby home that she named Dungeness. Thomas Carnegie and his wife Lucy began building another Dungeness on the original foundation in 1884. The Carnegie's Dungeness burned in 1959 and today only the ruins remain on the site.
- High Falls State Park - Visitors can hike along the river’s edge and through hilly forest to the remains of a hydroelectric power plant foundation. In the early 1800s, this area was a prosperous industrial town with several stores, a grist mill, cotton gin, blacksmith shop, shoe factory and hotel. High Falls fell from prosperity in the 1880s when a major railroad bypassed it.
- Lullwater Park - Lullwater Park offers multiple scenic walking and running trail loops nestled within Emory University’s North Decatur campus near Atlanta. The Lullwater Trail passes the Lullwater House mansion, skirts Candler Lake and crosses a span bridge to explore a mill beside a tumbling spillway waterfall. The 1920's two-story powerhouse tower is constructed in a octagonal shape. It now stands open to the sky above, ivy climbing skyward across its stone walls.
- Arabia Mountain NPS - Not only can you find ruins at this fabulous National Park Site you can also explore the exceptional ecological wonders. As you explore the large granite outcrop be on the lookout for the evidence of quarrying activities. You will find industrial debris left on the mountain and abandoned structures once used by workers for storage, offices and shelter. The ruins of quarry buildings are found interspersed throughout the park and metal spikes that were used to split the granite are still embedded in the rock.
- Rope Mill Park - Located just North of downtown Woodstock is a park with hiking trails, bike trails and historic ruins. For the best view of the ruins cross over the bridge, and take the unpaved hiking trail to the right. On the banks of the Little River are the remains of a grist mill from the late 1840s. In the 1870s it it evolved into a cotton and wool yarn mill. Eventually the mill produced cotton rope that was used for well rope and plow lines. The mill was constructed out of wood orginally and replaced by brick in 1903. In 1949 it closed in anticipation of the construction of the Allatoona Dam.
- Ivy Creek Greenway - We stumbled upon this place by accident, well not really by accident we were on the hunt for a geocache that is in the area of the Woodward Mill ruins. You can reach these ruins by taking the Ivy Creek Greenway. There are multiple access points, we generally start at the Gwinnett Environment Heritage Center. I haven't found a lot of information on these ruins but it is a great and totally worth mentioning. The kids love taking a dip in the ater here. There are some nice water cascades and an old rusted water mill, which is all that remains of the Woodward Mill.