7 Best Botanical Gardens in Georgia ***PLUS BONUS RESORT WITH GARDENS!

For anyone that knows me, knows I get thorough enjoyment out of flowers and plants…maybe because I grew up with a horticulturalist as a dad, being a part of the Ornamental Horticulture team in FFA or just because they are so beautiful; either way, I truly enjoy the beauty in it all.  These gardens are some you need to visit when you are in Georgia.

Atlanta Botanical Garden in Atlanta Georgia

Atlanta Botanical Garden is located at 1345 Piedmont Avenue, Atlanta, GA

https://atlantabg.org/

Entry fees range between $20 and $25 per person depending on the day.  You have to reserve an entry time to come into the park (during COVID-19). 

Atlanta Botanical Garden includes 30 acres of outdoor gardens in the middle of Midtown Atlanta.  The Botanical Garden opened their doors in 1976 and has been ever evolving since.  The gardens mission is to develop and maintain plant collections for the purpose of display, education, conservation, research and enjoyment.  

There is something always blooming there, just depends on the season, what you might see.  For example in March, there are daffodils, tulips and orchids all in bloom.  Visit their website before you go to see what’s in bloom and what special events and exhibitions they might have.  As the garden evolves, each experience there will be unique.  There is a fantastic display of Christmas lights there as well.  In addition, Atlanta Botanical Gardens displays the largest collection of Dale Chihuly works in a Botanical Garden.

Please note: Earth Goddess is currently undergoing scheduled maintenance. During this in-depth process undertaken every few years, you’ll see our horticulture team replacing her soil and performing other duties to have her ready, as usual, by mid-April 2021.

You can see the Alice and Wonderland exhibit, some of the Chihulu Displays and the scarecrow exhibit on one of my previous blog posts.  https://sosarah.net/2019/10/21/atlanta-botanical-garden/

Orchid Daze and Spring Blooms!  are featured in one of my recent blog posts. https://sosarah.net/2021/03/22/atlanta-explorations/

Atlanta Botanical Garden in Gainesville Georgia

Atlanta Botanical Garden, Gainesville is located at 1911 Sweetbay Drive, Gainesville, GA

https://atlantabg.org/gainesville-garden/

Entry fee is $10 per person.  You have to reserve an entry time to come into the park (during COVID-19). 

The Gainesville Garden is more than just a garden.  Discover acres of natural woodland beauty on its multitude of maintained trails.  There are over 168 acres at the expansive garden with a Children’s Garden, Stream Garden, Overlook Garden and more.

The Gainesville location, opened in 2015, celebrates years of planning and development of one of North Georgia’s most beautiful landscapes. It is home to the largest conservation nursery in the Southeast.

Gibbs Gardens in Ball Ground Georgia

1987 Gibbs Drive, Ball Ground, GA  

Entry fees range between $10 and $20 per person

Gibbs Gardens was named 2020 “Best American Botanical Gardens”.  Gibbs Gardens is about 220 acres and features over 20 million Daffodils!  The gardens are composed of 16 gardens including 3 feature gardens – Manor House Gardens, Japanese and Waterlily Gardens.  There is so much to see, be sure to wear good walking shoes and plan to spend at least a half a day.  The day I went, it was raining and I was the only person in the garden.  It was a surreal experience as I explored with my umbrella in one hand and my camera in the other. 

Massee Lane Gardens in Ft Valley Georgia

Massee Lane Gardens is located at 100 Massee Lane, Ft.Valley, GA

https://americancamellias.com/massee-lane-gardens

Entry Fee is $5 per person.

Massee Lane Gardens is one of the world’s finest collections of camellias.  It fills a nine-acre area with brick walkways surrounding the camellia trees for easy viewing.  The Abendroth Japanese Garden, the Scheibert Rose Garden, and beautiful plantings of daffodils, daylilies, chrysanthemums, azaleas, flowering trees, annuals and perennials add to the year-round beauty.

Massee Lane Gardens is one of the world’s finest collections of camellias.  It fills a nine-acre area with brick walkways surrounding the camellia trees for easy viewing.  The Abendroth Japanese Garden, the Scheibert Rose Garden, and beautiful plantings of daffodils, daylilies, chrysanthemums, azaleas, flowering trees, annuals and perennials add to the year-round beauty.

UGA State Botanical Garden in Athens Georgia

UGA State Botanical Garden is located at 2450 Milledge Ave, Athens, GA.  

It is free to visit the gardens, but there is a donation box.  

There are trails and nature areas, Children’s Garden, Flower Garden, Heritage Garden, Horticulture Greenhouses, Hummingbird Trail, International Garden, Tropical Conservatory, Herb, and Physic Garden, and Shade and Native Flora Gardens.  There is plenty of variety here to suit everyone’s enjoyment.  

You can see my blog post from my visit there. https://sosarah.net/2020/03/08/a-mini-road-trip-around-north-georgia/

Smith Gilbert Gardens in Kennesaw Georgia

Smith Gilbert Garden is located at 2382 Pine Mountain Road, Kennesaw, GA. 

Admission fees range between $5 and $10. 

Smith-Gilbert Gardens is 16 acres of serene setting with over 3,000 species of plants, several rare in American gardens. United by woodland paths, the Gardens consist of separate groupings with individual elements of fascination.  These include the Bonsai Exhibit, Palladino Camellia Garden, tea house and waterfall area, Rose Garden, and Conifer Display.  There are beautiful sculptures throughout the garden as well.

You can view my recent explorations there. https://sosarah.net/2021/02/16/valentines-weekend-getaway/

Columbus Botanical Garden in Columbus Georgia

Columbus Botanical Garden is located at 3603 Weems Rd, Columbus, GA

Admission to the garden is free, but they suggest a donation of $5. There is a donation box near the farmhouse.

You can come and visit their rose, cottage, herb, vegetable and camellia gardens. In 2020 had the new additions of a perennial wild flower collection, pollinator garden and ginkgo shade garden. Take a stroll along the tree shaded, mile long trail through the mixed hardwood forest. You can see a diverse array of native songbirds along their trails and at their feeding stations.

In March there were a ton of annuals blooming along with azaleas and camellias, some trees, lantana, with roses just starting their new growth awaiting the buds.

BONUS ***Callaway Gardens & Resort in Pine Mountain Georgia

Callaway Gardens has multiple entrances/addresses for entry. Please see their website to find the best address to use for your GPS.

Georgia’s Authentic Outdoor Escape

Also, I’m not counting it as one of my top botanical garden, it is more of a resort, but be sure to check out Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain Georgia as well. There are restaurants, lodging, zip lining, fishing, golf courses, water sports, spa, trails, and gardens all over. They have a butterfly center and birds of prey show. You can rent bikes or bring your own and ride on the bike trails or just walk the pedestrian trails. Be sure to check them out especially in March/April for azalea season and November/December/January for Fantasy in Lights and Christmas market.

It’s Spring Y’all! Get out and explore some of the gardens Georgia has to offer.

XOXO

-S

Atlanta Explorations

We ended a week in Orlando on Friday, drove home, unpacked and packed back up for an overnight in Atlanta. It was another volleyball weekend. After walking over 30 miles in the parks throughout the week, I decided to take it easy on my Saturday explorations.

First I headed to Piedmont Park to watch the sunrise. Not really the best place to watch the sun rise, but my plan was to go to the Atlanta botanical gardens when they opened at 9:00 am.

Piedmont Park and the botanical gardens share a parking lot, so it was perfect for me.

I walked around Piedmont Park and made sure to check out the Midtown Skyline over the lake. There were ducks, geese, and squirrels that came out in droves it seemed. I also caught a heron on the shoreline and then as it flew off.

As it neared 9:00 am I moved from the first level of the parking deck to the fifth…remember the less walking the better for my tired feet. The stairs were definitely not enticing me to use them.

I bought my ticket online, so at 9:00 am I was able to scan my ticket and walk right in. The tulips, daffodils and orchids put on a show for sure. There were some other random bloomers too.

After exploring the Botanical gardens, I went to IKEA for a little shopping and dreaming of tiny house living one day. Then I headed back to the venue to get a few photos of the teams and to watch my hubby’s team bring home the gold again; fifth gold this season!

Remember I said light on the walking…well once all was said and done, I put in over 4 miles. It was at a snails pace because I was snapping photos, so I was fine, but once we got home, I crashed.

Volleyball season will be over in a month, so I am just taking advantage of all our little overnights and opportunities to get out with my camera and wander.

Until my next wanderings, stay healthy and happy.

XOXO

-S

Georgia weekend explorations

You guessed it, another volleyball weekend and my random explorations…

We headed up to Suwanee, Georgia after work on Friday. I had made a dinner reservation for us at our favorite dinner spot there, Trattoria One 41. It is a very nice authentic Italian restaurant. Before dinner is served, they bring out a fresh bread with a tomato and cheese sauce that is delectable. I had the Short Rib Cannelloni and my husband had the lamb chops for dinner.

Short Rib Cannelloni

Both of us were ecstatic with our dinner choices. We were full, but made an attempt at dessert, a mascarpone cheesecake. Our attempt ended with a clean plate as the cheesecake was light, fluffy and delicious! It was a perfect end to a perfect meal.

We stayed in Suwanee because Saturday morning was an early start for volleyball and my husband had to be at the venue at 7:00 a.m. This also meant my explorations started early. I had researched good sunrise locations in Suwanee, but it was very foggy, so instead just went to a closer park to get out and get moving to start my day. I stopped at Sims Lake Park to walk. The park is located at 4600 Suwanee Dam Road. Sims Lake Park is one of Suwanee’s most popular parks; the 62-acre park includes a seven-acre lake and 1.2-mile looping trail.

My daughter goes to school in Dahlonega and our plan was to meet up for lunch, but I wasn’t sure when, so I decided to head closer to Dahlonega and see Amicalola Falls in the fog. Amicalola Falls never disappoints. It is a beautiful set of falls in Dawsonville, Georgia.

It is a magnificent 729-foot waterfall that’s the third-highest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River. There was a slight mist and it was pretty early, so the park was relatively empty compared to how I have seen it in the past. Having the park mostly to yourself is always the greatest experience because you can just bask in the beauty, take all the photos you want, and just listen to the water cascading down.

Top of the falls

While I was hiking here, my daughter let me know lunch would be at noon after she finished a lecture; I headed to another set of falls, Cane Creek Falls. When I arrived, it was marked closed to the public. I did read that when camp is in session, the falls are closed, so camp must have been in session. So I regrouped and found Lake Zwener; it has a trail that runs all around the lake. I hiked there until my daughter let me know she was ready for lunch.

We ate at Shenanigan’s Pub in downtown Dahlonega, then I dropped her back off at her apartment to finish lectures and studying.  I was back on my way.  I had quite a few Historic Rural Churches to explore, but I only made it to a few.  The first one I visited was Rockwell Universalist.

The Rockwell Universalist Church near Winder Georgia is a rural church built in 1881 in simple Greek Revival style. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. It was deemed architecturally significant as a “good example” of its type of post-Civil War rural churches, being a one-room wood frame church with no ornamentation and Greek Revival styling. It was also deemed significant as one of few Universalist churches ever to exist in the Georgia.

Rockwell Universalist Church

My next stop was planned to be Omer Christian Church, but while I was driving there, I came up on Ft Yargo State Park, so I decided to stop.  I felt like I could use a hike at this point as I felt a little stiff and needed to stretch my legs. 

Ft Yargo State Park boasts a 260 acre lake, camping sites, yurts, cottages and over 20 miles of trails. The Fort is a remarkably preserved log blockhouse that was built in 1793.

I hiked for a few miles and then decided it was time to get back on the road…so many things still to see.

I headed to Omer Christian. Omer Christian was organized and constructed in 1883. It was then moved to this location in 1910. It is located on a dead end and it is fenced off with No Trespassing signs. I respected those wishes, took a few photos from outside the fence and headed to the next church, Prospect Methodist.

Omer Christian Church

When I arrived at Prospect Methodist, a church that is still in use, there were people in the parking lot. Prospect Methodist is one of the oldest churches in post-Revolutionary War Georgia and its origins can be traced to the earliest rise of Methodism right after the war. It was organized in 1788. I drove through the parking lot, looked at the grounds and then headed toward Athens. I do my best not to disturb anything when I visit these historic churches, to include attendees. If there is an activity or church in session, I respect that and do not get out or photograph anything.

I arrived in Athens to view some of the Antebellum Trail homes. The Waddel-Brumby House is the Athens Welcome Center. Once I arrived here, it was around 3:00 p.m. I had mapped out quite a few more stops for the day, but I knew it was getting close to the end of the volleyball tournament. I was very tired too, so I decided to head back to the volleyball venue to watch the championship game and to get my husband. His team won 1st place in the Gold Bracket; this was the fourth Gold championship that they have won this year (4 out of 4). We are all extremely proud of the team, coaches and volleyball club for this great accomplishment.

But our weekend wasn’t over yet, we planned on heading to Evans, Georgia to celebrate a few family members’ birthdays. It was a nice time to see the family and be able to celebrate with them. Late Sunday afternoon, we headed back home.

On to the next weekend and more explorations.

XOXO

-S

Valentine’s weekend getaway

Our Valentine’s Day weekend started out like all other volleyball weekends. After I dropped my hubby off at the venue, I headed out to explore. The weather called for rain up until 2 pm, but it was just a drizzle. I donned my rain coat and set out to see Smith Gilbert Garden in Kennesaw. Because of the rain, I left my camera in the truck and just used my phone. There were Camellias, Daffodils, Snowdrops, Darwin Barberries, Black Hellebores, and Algerian Irises blooming. According to their website, there is something that is in bloom all year round at the Garden. There are statues and art pieces throughout. I can only imagine what it looks like in spring and summer; I will definitely have to go back in the other seasons. I also bird watched for a while and observed some cute little chipmunks. The rain didn’t last very long, so it was quite enjoyable to get outside and check this garden out.

I returned to the venue to watch the rest of the tournament. The team brought home the Gold again. Three out of three gold tournament winners this year so far.

We booked a King City View Room with balcony at the iconic Hyatt Regency, Atlanta for 2 nights. I honestly was too impressed…I have other favorite spots in downtown Atlanta but they were booked up for Valentines weekend by the time I made reservations. It was nice, but for the price we paid, I would expect a lot more amenities and perks than what we received. The view from the balcony was a so-so view of downtown. I was expecting a more awe inspired view.

On Sunday, February 14th, I booked a Modern Southern Food and History Tour around Inman Park. I booked the tour through Viator using Food Tours Atlanta. We come to Atlanta quite a bit, so I wanted to see if a tour might open our eyes to a new cuisine right under our noses.

We met our tour guide Michael at One Eared Stag. Michael brought our first tasting with him from Revolution Doughnuts; it was called the Crunchy Mister, a savory ham with béchamel donut. Next up for the food was chicken wings with three sauces, spicy boiled peanuts and a cocktail at The Albert in the Park. Right around the corner we stopped at Beetle Cat Seafood for a valentines donut (this was my favorite of the day). Last, we headed down the belt line to Krog Street Market for the last three tastings. We had paani poori & pakoras from Jai Ho Indian. To close up the tastings was a cheddar apple turnover from Little Tart Bake Shop. This was a close second place for me of all the tastings. All the while, Michael was touring us, he was telling about the historic homes and places of Inman Park. We also got some history of some of the belt line while headed to Krog Street Market. The photos are in no specific order, but all are from the tour.

I also learned that there is a festival in Inman Park every April that started in the seventies. It is the largest neighborhood festival in Atlanta. I think we will have to check it out!

For dinner, I made reservations at Thrive in downtown. We have eaten here before and really enjoyed it, so we decided to check out some different dishes.

It felt as though, we ate and drank all day, but honestly, that is one of the things we enjoy most about traveling. After dinner, we headed back to the hotel for an early relaxing evening.

My husband had been contemplating trading in his truck for a more fuel efficient vehicle. Earlier in the week he finally found a car he wanted to purchase in South Carolina. When we woke up, we grabbed breakfast and headed to Greer, SC. A few hours at the dealership and then we found a quaint little place for lunch called The Bleu Porch. Then we were back on the road headed home. It was a stormy day, so no pit stops besides Dunkin and to pick up some take out for dinner!

Always something exciting to live for!

XOXO

-S

Massee Lane Gardens

If you’re ever near Ft Valley Georgia, in February especially, you can not miss the Camellias in bloom at Massee Lane Gardens! I visited there today and there were so many varieties. It was nice to get outside for a while too.

One of my favorite spots there is the Japanese Garden.


The main reason for a February trip is its the season in which most camellias bloom and put on a beautiful show for our senses.


If you’re in middle Georgia, it is a must visit.

XOXO

-S

Bartow County Explorations

Another volleyball Saturday in the books. This weekend, hubby was coaching in Marietta, so I headed to White GA to explore Old Car City and Big Door Vineyards. Then I explored some more of Bartow County and a few of its Historic Rural Churches (St James A.M.E. & Brandon’s Chapel).

My first stop was Old Car City, as it closes at 4 pm and only had a little over an hour to explore. Since I had been before, I was saved from hearing the spiel and just let to roam as much as I could in my limited time there. This day, a lot of the cars were barely peeking out from under all the pine straw that had fallen from the many pines in the yard. There were also some downed trees on some of the cars, that were not there on previous trips. I only had time to visit the “front” section of the yard, but really love wandering through looking at the rust and twisted metal, imagining myself sitting in the driver seat, behind those steering wheels that still remain. I made sure to get a few of my favorite shots that seem to be some of the most photographed at Old Car City and left just as they were closing.

Next I headed to Big Door Vineyards. When I arrived, it was very busy. Live music had just ended at 4pm, so I think that was what had the crowd out. I made sure to wear my mask, grabbed a glass of wine and went and sat by the pond to enjoy the quiet and beauty outside while I sipped my glass of wine. It was a little to peopley for me, so I didn’t stick around, but long enough to sip my one glass and then I headed to my next stop.

Now it was time to find the Historic Rural Churches of Georgia that were in the area I was in. The first one up was St James A.M.E. It was boarded up, but in decent condition. It was near some older homes, but didn’t seem to be completely forgotten.

According to HRCGA.org, “The nondescript little church you see above in no way reflects the historical significance of it. The church was originally organized as Cassville Presbyterian in either 1833 or 1844, the records are not clear on which date is the proper one. We also know that the the Presbyterians dissolved in 1872 and the church was “given to the black families living in Cassville”, thus the AME church was organized at that time.

According to a the Cassville Historical Society “It was on November 5, 1864 when the city of Cassville was destroyed by fire at the hands of the Fifth Ohio Regiment of the Federal Army under the command of Colonel Heath and Major Thomas. They said they had orders from Sherman “that not a house be left within the limits of the incorporation, except the churches.” The town had been in the hands of Yankee forces since May 25th, when General Johnston had retreated without a fight, and left the city to the mercy of the Union Army. Sherman’s forces had marched on in pursuit and, as General Sherman gave no order to burn the town at that time, many people believe that possible he never did, but the burning of the town was the work of Yankee stragglers who had some sort of grievance against the people of Cassville”.

The history further states that “The three churches which still are on the same grounds and three residences were the only structures left standing by Sherman’s Army. The home of Dr. Weston Hardy served as a hospital and was not burned for that reason. The Mercer home also, was spared because of sickness. Tradition has it, the home of Mr. A. C. Day was saved when the captain saw a certain Masonic emblem as it dropped from a bible while the family brought out their furniture. These three homes and the Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches were unharmed”. Cassville never fully recovered from the war time damage and the business center of Bartow County moved to Cartersville. 

The old church has been heavily modified over time so it is difficult to recognize what may be original to the old structure and what has been modified. However, the historical aspect of St. James is significant in that we know it is one of only a hand full of structures to survive the 1864 destruction. After the war, the African Americans in the Cassville area were told they were emancipated but it took years to realize what that actually meant. They were given freedom but little else. Our research indicates a pattern of confusion in the south after the war for both races. The blacks embraced the white man’s religion because that was what they had been exposed to, but they learned to embrace it in their own way within their newly emerging and very strong culture. AME stands for African Methodist Episcopal and is the oldest independent Protestant denomination founded by black people in the world. It was founded by the Rt. Rev. Richard Allen and Absalom Jones in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1816 from several black Methodist congregations in the mid-Atlantic area that wanted independence from white Methodists.

After the war, southern African Americans began to form their own congregations, often assisted by whites. Thus churches like St. James AME came into being in 1872. Even though the original church had been Presbyterian, St. James would likely have been formed by congregants who had been raised in the Methodist church of their masters. This was a very difficult time for both races and they found spiritual comfort in these old churches, but they found it in very different ways. We salute the Historical Preservation efforts of the citizens of Bartow County. Hopefully, a way can be found to save historical sanctuaries like this that tell us who we are and how we got here.”

As I was leaving St James A.M.E., I noticed a historic site, that I stopped to check out. It was the National Historic Site of the Atlanta Campaign Cassville. According to the marker, On May 49, 1864, Johnston entrenched on the ridge east of this marker. Planned to give battle but Sherman threatened his flank and his corps. Commanders objected to the position. He therefore withdrew to Allatoona Pass rather than attack this strong position Sherman moved past it toward New Hope Church.

Lastly I headed to Brandon’s Chapel. Brandon’s Chapel was a surprise as it is still “in service”. Due to COVID, they are not currently holding services, but they do have an active congregation and staff.

According to HRCGA.org, “Thomas W. Brandon is the founder of the church in Bartow County known as Brandon’s Chapel. Mr. Brandon grew up in Gwinnett county but he was born in Virginia, a very typical migration pattern of early Georgia settlers that populated Georgia from Virginia, North and South Carolina. Thomas and Louisa Green were married in 1830 and moved into the county in 1835, and began their life on a plantation he acquired on the Etowah River in the wilderness that was then Bartow county. He became one of the leading farmers in the Euharlee-Stilesboro area. Thomas and Louisa had seven children, four girls and three boys. All three sons served in the Civil War. They survived the war but not without a lot of trauma. All three boys were captured but ultimately made their way home. Thomas died in 1874 and Louisa in 1883. Both are buried in the family cemetery near the old home place now on land now owned by Georgia Power’s Plant Bowen.

Thomas joined the Methodist Church at the age of 17 and later started a Sunday School on his property that was the beginning of Brandon Chapel. Built of hewn logs, with a large fireplace at one end, it was used as the first school house in the county as well as the church. The old United Methodist churches were called societies, and this new church was named ‘Brandon’s Society’ in honor of its founder. Later a new frame church was built on the west side of the present railroad, nearer the town of Stilesboro. Mr. Brandon was instrumental in the building of this church, and it was known as Brandon’s Chapel. The church was destroyed by a cyclone in 1898. The present building was completed in 1899 in Stilesboro and in the course of years has had a large membership.

Brandon’s Chapel was a Methodist church for 161 years but in 1997, it became a Baptist church. The church has recently undergone some restoration work.”

On the way back to the volleyball venue, I had a dinner/out fit malfunction and stopped at Target to buy a clean shirt. The joys of eating while in the car, but will always lead to a story to tell. The sunset was fabulous, but I could only get a good view when I was driving and therefore all I could do was bask in the beauty and you will just have to trust me to say it was FABULOUS!

I arrived back at the venue and watched a few of our teams. One of our teams won the Tournament. Good day for exploring and the teams as well! Bringing home GOLD to the club is always a good thing.

On to the next explorations…

XOXO

-S

East Palisades Trail

Saturday started like most Saturdays during volleyball season…except, with COVID-19, there are multiple volleyball waves. Normally we are up and at em early, but my hubby’s team was in the afternoon wave. We headed out about lunch time. I dropped off my hubby at the venue and headed to my hiking spot for the day.

I have visited East Palisades in Sandy Springs before but as I drove in, it looked different. The road leading in was one lane and I knew I was at a different place than the last trip here. I parked and got out to check out the trail map, to see where my Waze had brought me. I arrived and parked at EP 19 of the East Palisade Trail. When I looked at the map, I was a little overwhelmed as I’m very directionally challenged. The map does not show distances between EPs, so I snapped a photo of the map and off I went, hoping for the best. My goal was to make it to EP 26 to see the bamboo forest. My last trip to East Palisades, I never made it to the Bamboo Forest, so today it was a must visit.

I ran into quite a few people on the trail and a lot of pups too. It was about 40 degrees, but after about half a mile I was warmed up, gloves and jacket off and I pressed on. At each EP, there is a trail map, which is helpful and made the hike less daunting trying to make it to EP 26 (the farthest point). Some of the trail is right along the Chattahoochee River and others you’re just along little trickling streams.

The trail has quite a few muddy spots, so be prepared with your footwear. One the way to and from the bamboo forest, I passed EP 16 where there was some sort of remains of a building.

Lookout

There was also a lookout where you could see the river from above and even some skyscrapers in Atlanta.

By the time I made it to EP 26, my Apple Watch said I had hiked 2.72 miles. I was so glad to have made it! The bamboo forest was beautiful and it was right along the river.

Bamboo Forest

I was concerned, as usual, and overthinking…so I didn’t spend too much time there, as I wanted to make sure I had plenty of daylight to make it back to the car without a hitch. On the way back, I found a different way and it was a little shorter than the path I took there. My total for the day was 4.7 miles so my return trip was only 2 miles.

I felt accomplished and was glad to have made it all the way today! Another Saturday exploration in the books!

Until the next one…keep staying safe, exploring where you can and loving life no matter what.

XOXO

-S

Historic Rural Churches of Sumter County, Georgia

There are four historic, rural churches in Sumter County, Georgia according to www.hrcga.org website.

Friendship Baptist

Friendship Baptist, built in 1857 and located in northwestern Sumter County, is the oldest standing church in the county. There is also a schoolhouse on the property.

St Marks Lutheran

There are very few Lutheran churches in rural Georgia. St Marks Lutheran originated in the 1860s by German immigrants who moved here from South Carolina. The church was built in 1870 in the community of Botsford, located about five miles west of Plains. Since then, there has been a private restoration and the church has been moved and restored in 2010 by Ernie Culpepper.

New Lebanon Baptist

It is considered almost gone but not forgotten. It is is sad disrepair and looters have made it worse off than it would have been had it just been impacted by the elements. There is not much history known on this church. It was thought to be an African American church. The only elements that even tell that it was a church was the cross that is still standing on the steeple and a small sign that was still laying on the floor that read “Read Bible Daily”. Other than that there are obscenities all over the decaying walls.

Plains First Baptist Church

Now this church is a stunner! Just an absolute beauty; the stained glass is phenomenal! This church did not begin where it is or as its current name. Lebanon Baptist church originated in 1848. This was the third building that was built for the church and it was finished in 1906. In 1909 the name was changed to Plains First Baptist Church to reflect the church’s final resting place.

Plains, Georgia

While you are near downtown Plains (a few blocks away from the First Baptist Church), you need to take a short visit. There are some antique shops, a cafe and Bobby Salter’s Plain Peanuts and General Store that you can get the best peanut ice cream. If you haven’t had the ice cream, it is a must try (as long as you don’t have any allergies to nuts).

The downtown is very quaint and has some murals you can visit. There is also Jimmy Carter’s Presidential Campaign Headquarters Building, the train depot, butterfly garden and Billy Carter’s Service Station. There are other historical points around the area such as the boyhood home of President Carter, The schoolhouse, and others throughout the local area of Plains.

Take advantage of every moment to get out there and find what makes you happy. I love wandering with my camera, find what makes you happy.

If you want to see some other Historic Rural Churches that I have visited please visit https://sosarah.net/2020/10/27/travelers-rest-methodist-phillippi-primitive-baptist/ and https://sosarah.net/2020/10/23/youngs-chapel-methodist-church/

To more exploring

XOXO

-S

Traveler’s Rest Methodist & Phillippi Primitive Baptist

Historic Rural Churches of Georgia

The Historic Rural Churches of Georgia are located all around the state; I laid out the entire state of Georgia (on a map) as far as where and how many churches are located in each county.  It made it much easier for me to see what was nearby and what I could group into short road trips, as I am not familiar with where all the counties are located.  I needed the visual assistance.  Then I routed out 3 road trips; one was short and I planned on doing it on a weeknight after dinner.  I spoke to a friend of mine and she decided she wanted to go with me on these trips too.

Twin Churches Road

We left right before 5:15 pm from Perry.  We first drove to Montezuma (Macon County) to see Traveler’s Rest Methodist.  Traveler’s Rest Methodist and Traveler’s Rest Baptist are both located on Twin Churches Road.  They were often referred to as twin churches.  The Baptist Church though has been updated by its membership to a magnificent new building.  They might have once been twin churches, but now they are very different and could no way be mistaken for twins.  These churches are located right in a large working cemetery.

Traveler’s Rest Methodist

Traveler’s Rest Methodist was in quite disarray.  The brush and trees have grown up all around the church and the back of the church has also caved in.  The walls are marked with graffiti. Also one of the towers on the front right of the church has fallen down.  There is a path that leads down the right side of the church all the way down to a few different graveyard areas.  From what I have read, there was a “white” and “black” graveyard located there, but I couldn’t tell enough by what was written on the gravestones to know what was where.  There were quite a few that were hidden way back in the brush, so I can only assume that there were even more that I couldn’t see at all.


Traveler’s Rest Methodist originated sometime around 1835.  The town of Traveler’s Rest became well known in the 1830s and 40s as a haven for those travelling from Macon to Albany and then down on to the Gulf travelling down near the Flint and Chattahoochee Rivers.  The members of the church included the planters from many miles away.  There was talks of Travelers Rest being on the railway, but in 1951, a rail stop was built in Oglethorpe instead.  This led to many leaving Traveler’s Rest and the town dwindling away.  There are many parts of the history of the Methodist Church’s history that cannot be found. Historic Rural Churches of Georgia lists this church as Almost Gone but not Forgotten.  You can read more of its history at their website.

Phillippi Primitive Baptist Church

Next stop was on to Schley County to see Phillippi Primitive Baptist Church. This church is located about a half mile down a dirt road.  It has a cemetery that has a chain link fence around it as well.  Phillippi Primitive Baptist also originated in 1835, but it is in much better condition that Traveler’s Rest Methodist.  This church is also listed as Almost Gone but not Forgotten; however it has much more life left in it when compared to the one at  Traveler’s Rest.


Phillippi Primitive Baptist Church’s history is preserved in old church minutes that still exist.  According to its history, it was once the largest church in the Upatoi Association with 125 members and 5 ordained elders.  The last service was held in November of 1978.  Phillippi Baptist surprisingly is in good shape to have been abandoned for over 40 years.

We arrived to Phillipi just as the sun was going down, so had to do some magic with the cameras to get a few photos, but a tripod and long exposures helped to record this historical relic of times past.

If you didn’t see my post from Young’s Chapel Methodist, check it out here!

I have two more day road trips planned for the next two groups of churches. Hopefully will be able to get on the road soon!

Until the next explorations, make sure to see the ordinary as the extraordinary! See the beauty right in front of you!

XOXO

-S

Young’s Chapel Methodist Church

On the hunt for all the Historic Rural Churches of Georgia

A while back, a friend and fellow camera club member mentioned that she was photographing historic rural churches of Georgia.  This got me on the hunt to find some too.  With COVID-19, we are still social distancing, so I have been doing a lot of exploring close to home in Georgia this year.  I thought searching for all the historic rural churches would be right up my alley.

There is a great website that lists the rural churches around Georgia www.hrcga.org.  First, I set out to find something that was relatively close to home.  I wanted to be able to make a few hour trip one day after work.

Young’s Chapel Methodist

The first church I set out to see was Young’s Chapel Methodist. It is located in Ben Hill County just outside of Rebecca, Georgia. The drive from Perry to the church was a peaceful drive and there were beautiful barns and historic homes all along the way, not to mention fields of Georgia snow (i.e. Cotton). You do have to drive on a dirt road for about 1.3 miles off the paved road.

Dirt Road that the church is located on

I wasn’t sure where the church was situated and where the sun would be at sunset, but my goal was to make it in time to see the sunset. The church sits with the back to the west, so the sun set right behind it over the vast expanse of fields.

Young’s Chapel Methodist was built around 1875, renovated in 1971 and then closed its door in 1974. The members of the congregation had dwindled down to 8 people by then. The shift in industry led people out of the area, and there just wasn’t enough people in the community to warrant the church to stay operational.

Natural Disaster hits


There was a group of locals that had a plan to restore the church, but in 2017, a tornado hit the church and damaged the back wall. Once the tornado hit, all hope was lost on the restoration project. The damage the church sustained was too much to repair. Luckily, a local had removed the pews out of the church sometime before the tornado to ensure they would not be damaged by vandals.


When I read the story about this church, I knew that this church might not be there when I got there, but I was hoping I would see some of it. I was not sure if any of the structure was standing.  There is no telling how much longer anyone will be able to bask in the beauty of this rural historic church.

Young’s Chapel Methodist Cemetery

Young’s Chapel Methodist had its doors opened for almost 100 years, so just imagine the stories of revivals, baptisms, prayers and worship that took place there. A cemetery is located behind the church in which some of the Young family was laid to rest.

There is a piano inside, that was the most beautiful piano I’ve ever saw.  Most people would like to see a shiny grand piano, but I on the other hand like to see things that were used for many years. I love to imagine all the memories made here.

This church, sadly, could collapse at any time. I am so glad, I got to see it and photograph it. I hope that these photographs will be enjoyed as much as I enjoyed taking them. The sun setting behind the church over the cotton fields was just stunning.

Take advantage of the time we have

I have learned throughout the years to take advantage of seeing everything when you get the opportunity because you never know when could be the last time you can visit. People ruin these beautiful places, natural disasters take place, and other events happen that take away the privilege to get to see them.

Leave no trace

When you visit these historic rural churches leave no trace. Take out what you take in and most importantly be respectful of the church and the people who have memories there.

Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total; of all those acts will be written the history of this generation

Robert Kennedy

Check out the smallest church in America from our Coastal Georgia Road trip!

On to the next church.


XOXO


-S