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Posted: Tuesday, February 21st 2006 at 12:13pm

Following The Old Federal Road To Chattanooga

By Gordon Sawyer
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Gordon Sawyer
There's a doozy of a debate going on right now about the possibility of a new East-to-West highway going through Hall County ... from Augusta to Chattanooga. I'll dodge that discussion right now, but it caused a person to ask me if there wasn't a route back in the 1800's from Augusta to Chattanooga, and where was it located.

The answer is YES, there was a route from Augusta to Chattanooga, and it was in place as early as 1805, but it passed through Hall County near Flowery Branch, not the northern end of Hall County or in White County where a new highway is proposed. There was an Indian trail from Augusta to Flowery Branch called the Middle Cherokee Path. Almost all of this trail passed through land belonging to the State of Georgia, and it met other trails about a mile north of Flowery Branch where the old Atlanta highway veers away from the railroad. Close by one could find the historic Young's Tavern. West from this point (actually west from the location of the present day Hall-Jackson County line) the land belonged to the Cherokee Indian Nation and the trail from Flowery Branch to present day Chattanooga was called the Middle Cherokee Trading Path. In 1805 the Cherokee and the United States government signed a treaty that allowed pioneers to travel that trail. From that point on it was called the Cherokee Federal Road, or just the Federal Road, and it meandered through the mountains to reach Rossville, now a suburb of Chattanoga. Some Hall County roads are still marked "Federal Road", but much of that path in Hall County now lies under Lake Lanier.

A lot of today's highways follow old Indian trails, but I don't think any new highway going to Chattanooga through the mountains will follow the old Federal Road. This is

Gordon Sawyer from a window on historic Green Street.
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