The roughly 200-year-old cabin, possibly a stagecoach stop and almost certainly of Cherokee construction, was found “hiding” beneath the clapboard skin of the old, abandoned, tumbledown Green Hotel only a couple of years ago. After an intense burst of attention, news coverage and amazement, plus whatever funds a very small community and the Cave Spring Historical Society could raise to grab possession (via a mortgage), do some preliminary research and historical evaluation it has since ... well, just sort of sat there decaying and waiting for a miracle.
Frankly, the trust focusing a spotlight on it is not a rescue, at least in terms of assuring dollars and big-bucks foundations and benefactors rushing to save it. There are threatened sites on past such annual lists that didn’t make it.
The Trust certainly has the resources to help focus attention on the plight of any selected site, but it’s sort of like Paul Revere galloping around the state to warn that forces on the wrong side of history are coming. It then becomes up to the Minutemen to take up arms and man the barricades.
IT’S INTERESTING, considering that this is a very, very big state that has a ton of points of historical interest, that 3 of the 10 sites selected are in Floyd and Bartow counties. There is no doubt but that the Cave Spring cabin, along with the Stilesboro Academy building, eight miles southwest of Cartersville that goes back to the 1850s and was originally a community-built schoolhouse from a time before public education, belong on the list.
The third site needs no introduction to local readers, being the so-called Dobbins Mine being heavily pushed by the Rollins interests as a good reason not to run the U.S. 411 Connector — for which Floyd Countians have now been waiting more than 30 years — through their 1,800 acres near I-75, now used as a cattle ranch/vacation retreat.
Huh? Why is that on the list?
This is not meant to further disparage the actual historical value of the site, which this newspaper has already done as it is akin to 100 years from now “saving” a mountain decapitated to get at the coal beneath as valuable to show future generations how man can despoil the land and then not repair it.
It is meant to wonder why, given that the Trust’s list is designed to call attention to neglected sites at high risk, that an effort already akin to having the herald angels sounding trumpets needs to be handed a comparative kazoo as an additional noisemaker.
MOST OF the other places on the list really, really need outside attention/aid — although one similarly wonders about inclusion of the Candler Park Golf Course and Sweet Auburn Commercial District in Atlanta, where the existence of deep-pocketed rescuers of all things good, and even sometimes bad, is well documented.
The president/CEO of the nonprofit Trust, Mark C. McDonald, got it right when saying of the Cave Spring cabin: “Lots of history and a poor economy make preservation difficult in some small Georgia towns.”
Similarly Ann Mascia, of The Stilesboro Improvement Club that looks after the academy and notes it needs $42,000 for roof repairs alone, is on target in valuing the Trust’s attention because the site is “imperiled because we’re a tiny little ladies’ club, and we can’t raise enough money to take care of it.”
But the gashes in the ground largely overgrown with brush known as the Dobbins Mine from which manganese was extracted … along with dozens of other such mining operations in Bartow and Floyd counties? It’s already been trumpeted to Dahlonega levels (gold mining) of notoriety and hardly needs the help. If all the money spent by the Rollins interests to stop the connector to the interstate still has not managed to do so, it sure isn’t because nobody’s been told about the supposed “history” of the place … or the supposed cougars and bald eagles calling it home.
FRANKLY, in actual comparative historical value the Cave Spring cabin may well beat anything on the new Trust list other than Sweet Auburn, hard to beat as it was the birthplace of the civil-rights movement. Additionally, Cave Spring should be much encouraged by the Trust’s interest in the cabin as similar attention has helped that community before. In 2011, the Trust put Cave Spring’s E.S. Brown/Fairview Colored School on its top 10 list and much positive progress has been made there since. The school was then probably in even worse shape than the log cabin.
Preservation of the cabin with its massive hand-hewn square logs is perhaps the most important thing that should be on Cave Spring’s agenda. It is a small city with a small downtown with a big number of empty storefronts that, with good reason, seeks to promote itself as a tourist destination because it a) has that scenic spring and creek, b) an incredible number of really, really old buildings and c) looks like it is stuck in the 1950s or earlier. However, it always has lacked a “drawing card” able to reliably pull visitors miles off the “beaten path” for something special. It has U.S. 411, too, but also absolutely not as a four-lane access.
A Cherokee Nation log cabin/stagecoach stop, on the actual site it was first built (the state has another in New Echota park but it was moved there from its original place), would likely be such a draw assuming scientists cannot prove that the fabled spring is the really, truly Fountain of Youth.
THE CABIN after all the original outburst of attention has languished, needs tender, loving care — and major money infusions. The value of the Trust listing is in giving it new attention and causing those with an avowed interest in preserving history — such as the Rollins family, come to think of it — coming to the rescue.
The larger threat to historical preservation does not come from the routing of highways but rather, as in the case of the cabin and Stilesboro Academy, being so far from the flow of traffic as to be allowed to die from neglect.