Friday, November 14, 2014

#56 The Chattahoochee, Florida's Forgotten River (100 Great Things about Jackson County, Florida)

Chattahoochee River at Neal's Landing Park
The short stretch of the famed Chattahoochee River that borders Jackson County from the Alabama state line down to the Georgia line is #56 on our list of 100 Great Things about Jackson County, Florida.

Please click here to see the entire list as it is unveiled.

Hailed by the poet Sidney Lanier in his "Song of the Chattahoochee" and singer/songwriter Alan Jackson in his smash country hit "Chattahoochee", the Chattahoochee River is a landmark of American history, culture and ecology. It rises from a small spring on Coon Den Ridge near Jack's Knob in the North Georgia mountains and flows to Jackson County where it merges with the Flint River to form Florida's famed Apalachicola.

Chattahooche flows past Parramore Landing Park (lower left)
There are several different theories on the meaning of the river's name, but all agree that it originates from two Creek Indian words. The problem is that there are multiple Creek languages (Muskogean, Hitchiti, Alabama, Yuchi, etc.) and they are not mutually intelligible, even though many of the words sound the same and some even have the same meaning.

U.S. Agent for Indian Affairs Benjamin Hawkins probably got closest to the real meaning when he wrote in the late 1700s that the name was "derived from Chatto, a stone, and Hoche, marked or flowered." The early Creeks called the river "Chatto-Hoche Hatchee" or "River of the Flowered Stone." They likely were referring to a remarkable and colorful bluff on the river near what is now West Point, Georgia that is shown on several early 19th century maps as the "rock" from which the river took its name.

Chattahoochee River arm of Lake Seminole
as seen from Three Rivers State Park
The Jackson County section of the Chattahoochee stretches from the Alabama line, which also forms the northern boundary of the county, to the Jim Woodruff Dam near Sneads. Between these points it covers a total distance of 25.5 miles, but passes innumerable historic and archaeological sites. Included among these are prehistoric and historic American Indian village and mound sites, battlefields, riverboat landings, the ghost townof Old Parramore, Econchattimico's Reserve (19th century Indian reservation) and more. I will many of these individually as part of this list of100 Great Things about Jackson County, Florida.

For now, enjoy a throwback to Alan Jackson's boyhood days on the Chattahoochee: