In the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in Northwest Georgia lays a mountain range known as the Allatoona Mountains. The Allatoona mountain range holds a part of a beautiful manmade lake known as Allatoona Lake. On the shores of this lake is an area known as Old Allatoona. The original town is now completely submerged except for the two remaining 19th century homes. One of them is an Antebellum Plantation home known as the Clayton Mooney house and the other a beautiful Victorian Mansion now known as Lake Allatoona Inn. The Victorian mansion was originally built in another style in the 1850's. It belonged to Thomas C. Moore who was the postmaster of the town. He ran the post office and a grist mill on the property that consisted of about 40 acres. He died in 1890 and the property was sold.
In 1893 the house was partially rebuilt as a Victorian by J.C. Armstrong. The mansion was constructed with twin wrap-around verandas which were graced by rhythmical fretwork (gingerbread) brackets and balustrades. The inside of the mansion boasted 11 fireplaces, 6 bedrooms and 3 floors. The property also had a large barn and rolling pastures as well as the store and smaller home. Mr. Armstrong was an architect, builder and a savvy businessman. He used some of the parts from the original home to build a small house still on the property today. Along with the building of the mansion Mr. Armstrong also built a General Store for his son. The store was called Armstrong General Store and has been restored to be used as a reception or event venue today. We call it Plantation Hall.
The Smith’s, Dave and Lynn, purchased the property in 2006. Their vision was to use the house as a B&B. Modifications began and in the Spring of 2007 the Inn opened. Lynn had always owned horses so the Smith's brought the farm back too. Land was cleared, fences put back up, and a barn and covered arena were built. Shortly thereafter guests and locals inquired about weddings and the Smith’s found themselves in the wedding business. Who knows where this Inn will be led next. But the Inn would have no story if there was not a story to be told of the area. So here is how it really all began.
The history of the land begins it's story with the local early civilizations. The area where the town of Allatoona stood was rich with Native American peoples. The ancient Etowah Indians built their mounds 7 miles away on the banks of the Etowah River between 1000 and 1500 AD. Several thousand inhabitants graced that sacred area. You can visit those mounds today. The Creek Indians lived here during the 1700’s. Sometime around 1755 the Cherokee Indians pushed them out and they went south. Settlers continued to flow to the area and even more so when gold was found in the area in 1828. They were of European descent mostly Irish and Scottish. They lived alongside the Indians.
The Cherokee Indians called this area the “Enchanted Lands”. The Cherokee’s took on the ways of the Europeans and even practiced their religions. Unfortunately the Cherokee’s did not last once gold was discovered. Allatoona too evolved as a gold town at this time. It had its own gold mines and slaves to work them. It was at this point that the US shamefully decided that the Indians had to move. Between 1831 and 1838 the New Echota Treaty was signed without the permission of Mr. Ross, the head of the Cherokee nation. It was blessed by the states and the federal government. In the winter of 1838 the Cherokee Indians were rounded up and taken to Cleveland Tennessee to begin their march. This march later became known as the “Trail of Tears”. One thousand miles they marched in the cold to Oklahoma with barely any clothing and no food. Men. women, children,and the elderly walked together until they fell. The trail started with approximately 14000 Cherokees and ended with less than 10,000. The forced migration of these great peoples opened up 25 million acres in Georgia for the Americans.
Meantime the town of Allatoona grew. It boasted 150 inhabitants. It had two churches , 3 grist mills, a daily postal service, a school, and a gold mine. It also was the home of several plantations. The Mooney-Clayton house next dorr had many slaves and 1700 acres. The railroad made it’s entry in 1842. The Western and Atlantic Railroad wanted to extend its tracks North through the Allatoona Mountains. They decided to put a Pass directly in front of the little town near the Alabama/Tennessee wagon train road. The Pass was started in 1842 but after digging less than 60 feet they hit solid rock. Slaves were brought in to complete the work which included blasting of the rock. By the time they were finished in 1845 the Pass was 180 ft deep and 350 feet long. Track was laid and the first train rolled by in 1845. Sherman visited Allatooona around this time and stayed at the Clayton Mooney house long before the war.
The Civil War started the next turn of events. On April 12th, 1862, the Great Locomotive Chase flew by the town as the Rebels chased it North toward Tennessee. Some of the Union hijackers were later hung as traitors before the war ended. Interestingly the ones not hung were given medals of Honor after the war ended. The Confederate train involved was called the “General” and it can be seen in the Southern Train Museum in Kennesaw Georgia today.
On the morning of October 5th, 1864, the Battle of Allatoona Pass occurred. Confederate Major General Samual G. French's division of 3,276 men attacked the federal garrison at Allatoona with orders to fill up the railroad cut and disrupt the flow of supplies to William T. Sherman's army south of Atlanta, then march northward to the Etowah River and burn the railroad bridge there. French was opposed at Allatoona by a Federal force of 2,025 men under the command of Major General John M. Corse. Corse occupied a heavily fortified position, anchored by two large earth forts, the Star Fort on the west and eastern redoubt east of the cut. Many of the Federal troops, including the entire 7th Illinois Regiment, were armed with Henry repeating rifles, which probably gave them equal, if not superior firepower. By noon, most of the federal troops had been driven back into their main or Star Fort, and its capture seemed eminent. Then French received a false report from his cavalry that a large federal force was coming up the railroad from the south. Fearing his division would be cut off from the main Confederate army, French withdrew, leaving Allatoona in Federal Hands. The Federals lost 706 men and the Confederates 897, in what was one of the most bloody and stubbornly contested battles of the entire war.
Today the mountain cut of Allatoona Pass still exists. It is now a lakefront state park as the train tracks were removed when the lake was built. With the removal of the track, the pass became a beautiful walking, swimming, and running trail. The old railroad bed became a lake levy. There are memorials and explanative signs for the battle in the park. It is thought to be one of the 10 most haunted places in Georgia. One of the most notorious ghosts is the railroad train car ghost who rode the train for years after the Civil War. The train ghost was witnessed by many and often written about in local newspapers including the Atlanta journal in the early 1900's.
The lake besides being recreational is also a reservoir for water for the surrounding area. The lake spreads over parts of 4 counties. It has 9 marinas and is graced by Red Top Mountain State Park. It is a very popular recreational lake today.
Lake Allatoona Inn continues to make it’s own history as it goes through time. So welcome you all, Rebels and Yankees alike, to Lake Allatoona Inn in historical Old Allatoona Georgia