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Arthur Woody
About North Georgia

Born: Suches, Georgia, April 1, 1884
Died: Suches, Georgia, June 10, 1946.

In 1895 the last deer in North Georgia was killed, ironically, by Arthur Woody's father in Fannin County. At the time of his birth, much of the Georgia mountains were barren, stripped by lumber companies that found it cheaper to leave the land they stripped than to replant trees.

The Forest Reserve Act of 1891 set aside land mostly in the West, for conservation. In 1911 the Weeks Act did the same thing for the Southeast
Woody grew up a farmer's son in Union County. Early in his life he joined a Forest Service crew as an axe-man, and in 1915 became a guard in the Service. By this time he was advocating that the federal government increase its purchases of land in the North Georgia mountains. In 1918 the federal government combined these holdings as the Cherokee National Forest, part of which extended into North Georgia. A short time later additional land the government purchased was consolidated with portions of the Cherokee into the Georgia National Forest(later renamed the Chattahoochee National Forest) and Arthur Woody and Roscoe Nicholson became its first Forest Rangers.

Known as "Ranger" or "Kingfish", Woody's exploits are legendary. He would make false bear tracks to catch poachers. When outlaws tried to hide in his forest Woody would track them and bring them in. And he had to use his head to get past the typical bureaucratic snafus that Washington would put in his way.

One frequently told story about the ranger is his method to get a road built from Suches to Wolfpen Gap. Washington said they only had money to improve existing roads, not to build new ones. Woody and some friends cut a path through the forest from the gap to Suches and called it a road. Then "Kingfish" got Washington to begin making improvements on the path until a paved, graded road was built.

Arthur Woody was a man who did not let his country flavor get in his way. His disdain for his uniform was well known. He often left his shirt open and the top of his trousers unbuttoned(he used suspenders to hold them up). "Ranger" frequently went barefoot. He left North Georgia College after 3 days. However, his vision helped create today's North Georgia mountains. He proposed managing the resources to everyone's benefit. He successfully urged(some would say coerced) the federal government to make significant additional purchases of land in North Georgia. In the midst of the depression the CCC(Civilian Conservation Corps) began to greatly improve the area around Suches thanks to the ranger, and he was responsible for the original proposal for a Visitor's Center at Brasstown Bald.

In 1936, the Georgia National forest was reorganized into two districts, the Tallulah District managed by "Nick" Nicholson and the Blue Ridge District manage by Arthur Woody. It was renamed to the Chattahoochee National Forest and Wally Prater supervised the rangers from an office in Gainesville.

Outdoorsmen in Georgia are well familiar with Arthur Woody. He began stocking the creeks of the Chattahoochee National Forest with fish, introducing non-native species such as speckled trout that are favored by fishermen. In 1927 he started restocking deer in the North Georgia mountains with his own money. Purchasing deer from a passing show and rounding up more in the mountains of western North Carolina Woody's neighbors were amazed when they soon saw large bucks leaping over fences again. Woody suffered a serious depression in 1941 when the state of Georgia re-opened hunting season on the deer he had restocked, many of which he still called by name. He died in 1946, according to some never having fully recovered. Locals who knew him and his fondness for these animals say with a chuckle and a sideways shake of the head, "Mr. Woody was kinda funny 'bout them deer."

Sosebee Cove was a favorite stopping point for Arthur Woody on the road he built, now designated Georgia State Highway 180.


Suches, Georgia





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