The Chieftains Trail was designated by the 1988 Georgia General Assembly a state historic trail for the purpose of preservation, promotion and commemoration of Northwest Georgia's Native American heritage. The Chieftains Trail guides travelers to nine public sites representative of the Indian cultures which once thrived here in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. These sites showcase the Moundbuilders, Cherokee Indians and Creek< Indian cultures. Four cities, Dalton, Ellijay, Marietta and Rome are designated Gateway Cities where travelers are welcomed from the north, east, south and west respectively.
Weinman Mineral Museum, Cartersville. Great mineral treasures were locked into the land beneath the mountains which became home to many Native Americans who used these gifts from nature in their everyday lives, as well as in ceremonial observances. The Museum is a showplace of these ancient treasures and is the only museum in the southeast dedicated solely to rocks, minerals and fossils. The museum houses a collection of Indian artifacts from the Archaic Period that were found locally.
Tate House, Tate, a historic bed and breakfast listed in the National Register as the "Pink Palace". Constructed of Etowah Pink Marble in 1927 by Col. Sam Tate, the 17,000 square foot house stands near Long Swamp Creek, the site of a prominent Cherokee Village. The foundation stones of the Old Harnage Tavern, a Cherokee-owned establishment, remain on the property.
The John Ross House, Rossville, is a memorial to John Ross, greatest of the chiefs of the Cherokee Nation. The house was built in 1797 by John McDonald, maternal grandfather of John Ross. It is a two-story log house, with plank flooring and rock chimneys, assembled with wooden pegs. It was built beside the fresh waters of Poplar Springs on the old Indian trading path to Augusta.
New Echota Historic Site, Calhoun. The Cherokee national legislature established New Echota as its capital in 1825. This government seat became headquarters for the independent Indian Nation which once covered northern Georgia, and parts of four southeastern states. Visitors can tour the museum, the reconstructed Supreme Courthouse, the print shop in which the Cherokee Phoenix newspaper was printed, Vann's Tavern and the original home of missionary Samuel Austin Worcester. Nominal fee.
The Chieftains Museum tells the story of Major Ridge, the prominent Cherokee leader who struggled to adapt to the white man's culture while retaining his Indian heritage. The Museum, a national landmark, is located on the banks of the Oostanaula River, where Ridge and his family were ferryboat masters, store operators, and slave owning planters. A gracious 19th century, white clapboard plantation house, the Museum contains exhibits describing Ridge's life and the history of Rome and Northwest Georgia. Small admission fee.
McIntosh Reserve, Carrollton, Creek Chief William McIntosh was the son of a full blooded Creek mother and a Scottish father. Raised as an Indian rather than a white, McIntosh ultimately became a chief aligned with the lower Creek faction and operated a backwoods plantation, tavern and ferry on the Chattahoochee River. Today visitors can camp, hike and picnic on the site of McIntosh's plantation home. 35 miles southwest of Atlanta.
Chief Vann House Historic Site, Chatsworth. Known as the "Showplace of the Cherokee Nation," the two-story mansion was built by Chief James Vann in 1804 and features a cantilevered stairway and many fine antiques. Vann contributed to the education of the leaders of the Cherokee Nation by inviting Morovian missionaries to teach his people and he supported Christianity as a means of progress for the Cherokee. Nominal admission.
Etowah Indian Mounds State Historic Site, Cartersville, the most intact Mississippian Cultural Site in the east. The Etowah Indian Mounds were the ceremonial center of a town that was home to several thousand Native American Indians more than 400 years ago. The flat topped earthen knolls, the largest standing 63 feet high and covering three acres, served as platforms and temples for the "Priest-Chief" and as burial sites for Indian nobility. An audio-visual show and museum interpret many of the artifacts found in excavations at this state historic site. Nominal admission.
Fort Mountain State Park, Chatsworth, derives its name from an ancient rock wall measuring 855 feet in length that stands on the highest point of the mountain. The ancient wall is thought ot have been built by Indians as a ceremonial center over a thousand years ago. Located in the Chattahoochee National Forest close to the Cohutta Wilderness area, the park offers picnicking, camping, cottages, swimming, hiking, and splendid views of the mountains for visitors traveling the Chieftains Trail.