Sunday, May 12, 2013

Sweetwater Creek State Park

I couldn't believe how incredibly close Sweetwater Creek State Park is to Atlanta! And that it's a State Park that offers so much. 

Really...this Park is less than half an hour from Downtown Atlanta (we got there in like 20 minutes), not very far pass Six Flags on I-20 West. It has a LEEDs Certified Visitor Center—certified at the Platinum Level, I might add, making it one of the "greenest" buildings in the country. It has picnic areas, fishing—with a bait shop, boating, paddle boats, canoes, a playground, and so much more.

Sweetwater Creek State Park
Sweetwater Creek State Park
The reason we went earlier today was for the hiking on the miles and miles of trails and to see the ruins of the New Manchester Manufacturing Company, a textile mill that met its demise during the American Civil War. The Mill ruins are located, of course, on the water and one of the trails runs along Sweetwater Creek to the Mill.

Sweetwater Creek State Park
Sweetwater Creek State Park
The Mill originally opened as Sweetwater Factory in 1849 (construction began in 1846), later that year renamed the Sweetwater Manufacturing Company. Later, through a series of events that included a renaming of the local post office to the New Manchester Post Office and the selling of the property to the New Manchester Manufacturing Company, the Mill derived its final name.

Sweetwater Creek State Park
Sweetwater Creek State Park
At five stories tall, the water wheel provided enough energy to power all the equipment in the Mill. That's 1840s technology folks...tell me of a building that does that today!

Sweetwater Creek State Park
Sweetwater Creek State Park
With the onset of the American Civil War in 1861, the Confederate government contracted with the Mill to provide cloth for the Confederate Army. Sherman, knowing how important the Mill was, had it burned when he came through Atlanta and he relocated the towns population—mostly women and children at the time given that most of the men were off fighting the War.

Sweetwater Creek State Park
Sweetwater Creek State Park
The museum is fascinating in its compactness, yet being filled with so much information, its range of artifact, the breadth of its stories, its use of multimedia, and it's housed in the Visitor Center which also has classrooms, a gift shop, and a snacks—we had ice cream before we started our miles and miles of hiking...a very good idea, I thought.

Sweetwater Creek State Park
Sweetwater Creek State Park
Sweetwater Creek it self is a beautiful one. And we got to enjoy quite a bit of it on the "Red" Trail. There are other trails (we took the Blue Trail back to the parking area), each with its own sights, length, and range of difficulty. 

I was told that the Red Trail is the most popular, mostly attributed to the ease of its terrain and that it's the quickest trail to the Mill ruins.

Sweetwater Creek State Park
Sweetwater Creek State Park
Like many other Parks and river walks I've explored, the paths are a combination of trails, bridges, steps, and boulders. There are also a lot of tree roots and slippery rocks...be sure to wear sensible shoes and definitely wear sunscreen. The trails are mostly shaded, but...you know the sunscreen drill.

Sweetwater Creek State Park
Sweetwater Creek State Park
Rapids are always great to see—and hear! And the Creek is so winding that we had a new view every few feet—linear and vertically...lots of fun to explore—and ponder the area's past.

Sweetwater Creek State Park
Sweetwater Creek State Park
There are a number of curiosities as well. Nature—or possibly man-made—we noticed quite a few tree formations, bends, growths, hollowness, and other bizarre features that set our minds to racing wondering what could have caused 'that'?!

Sweetwater Creek State Park
Sweetwater Creek State Park
And especially if you're there close to sunrise or sunset, look up...there are some gorgeous colors and shadows throughout the forests. 

There's so much more to learn here—and I recommend spending the day here. There's a lot to see and learn in the Museum—a lot of which will enhance your experience outside, but you'll of course want to make ample time to explore outside.