“I wonder where that road goes?”
Some insatiable curiosity has always compelled me to take the path less traveled, searching for little known landmarks, attractions, or beautiful vistas that I am certain lie along its route. I simply cannot resist the allure of the unknown. So when I returned from my westbound trek on the Silver Comet Trail the other day and learned that the ruins of an old mill could be seen on the eastern portion of the trail, I knew I could not leave Smyrna, Georgia without investigating further.
The following day I walked east on the Silver Comet, looking for the side path I had been told would lead to the ruins. Perhaps a third of a mile from the Concord Road access I came upon an unmarked narrow asphalt path that descended steeply, snaking through the forest in a series of loop-de-loops that must have been mapped out by a drunken surveyor. At the bottom of the hill the old mill leaned precariously toward Nickajack creek despite steel I-beams bracing what remained of its two-foot thick brick walls.
When Concord Woolen Mills opened in 1847 it was one of the first industrial employers in the county. During the Civil War the mill made Confederate uniforms until it was burned by Sherman’s troops on July 4, 1864. After the war the mill was rebuilt and prospered until 1889, when fire again destroyed most of the facility. Although it was rebuilt a second time, the mill’s heyday had passed; by 1916 it had ceased operation and was abandoned.
Over time, the site began to revert to its natural state. The roof caved in and walls crumbled, allowing the overarching forest canopy to gain a foothold. Trees now soar from what was the interior of the mill and muscular vines wrap tentacles around the remaining walls, disintegrating the mill brick by brick.
From inside the ruins I spied a sandy walking path along the banks of the creek, running parallel with the Silver Comet Trail above. “I wonder where that goes?” I thought. Figuring that I could hook back up with the Silver Comet somewhere further down the path, I followed Nickajack Creek for a couple of miles, stopping at various points to watch its waters roil over littered boulders as the setting sun painted the forest canopy in rich hues of gold and green. An elevated boardwalk crossed over fragile wetlands on the final portion of the trail, before leading up a hill and emerging in Heritage Park.
Back on the Silver Comet Trail, I dodged high-speed bikers, joggers, and scores of walkers. Yet just a short distance away, the virtually deserted trails of Heritage Park had provided a brief escape into a world of peace and intense beauty that renewed my mind and spirit. The path less traveled has never let me down.
16 thoughts on “Concord Woolen Mill in Atlanta’s Heritage Park Oozes History”
These are great photographs. There is a new website about the historic district, the woolen mills, and the covered bridge at http://concordcoveredbridge.org.
Hi Philip: Thanks so much for sharing the Concord Covered Bridge website. Very interesting!
Cool thanks Philip for the new web site.
This was a super great write up not long ago I was taking ‘the path less traveled & came upon this structure , that I did not know was there. Thought it may be “Ruff’s Mill”
Now I know it’s not, (Not much info is right).
It looked just like in your picture ‘with a few more years vegetation growth’ I also noticed the spray paint & wondered how the vandals got up that high to deface the ruins, It ill’s me. It would cost $$$$ to fix this imo.
I love this County’s history & Americas as well.
the nickajack woolen mill has been vandalized (spray paint). i work for cobb county and am looking for a way to clean the rock surface without destroying or further deteriorating it. if any one has a helpful suggestion please leave a reply. also, as somewhat of a history buff, does any one know if there are any photographs of the mill when it was still in operation ? surely some body took a picture of the place by 1916, maybe to show where they worked or something.
How horrible Frank! I hope the county can find a way to remove the paint.
Frank, did you ever come across any old photos of the woolen mill before the early 1900s? I found a sketch and put it on the website at http://concordcoveredbridge.org
Bikes ate not allowed on the trail fyi. But it is only two miles and makes for a great short hike!
It is a terrific hike Colin – I did it and loved it!
Nice write up! I’d only like to clarify that the construction of the Woolen Mill is entirely creek stones and mud mortar, not bricks.
Thanks for that info, Andrew. There is surprisingly little information available about the old mill.
Thanks that was a excellent article!
I agree!! Another great write up and I really like the photos. Really does make you want to be riding a bike and taking a nice stroll down the path to be one with nature 🙂
Thanks for stopping by again. Next time I go through Atlanta I plan to bring my bike and travel further to the west – perhaps not all the way to the Alabama border, though!
Another beautiful piece, Barbara. Makes me long for a place like that to walk or ride my bike. So nice of you to share your travels with those of us (me) who spend too much time indoors and on the computer.