Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Stewart County, Georgia (2)

Wow!  A second county in the project already?  I'm so impressed with how quickly I can do this! ... don't get used to it.

Here is how this project of mine goes.  Each and every week (give or take), using a random number generator I pick one county from the United States and give a little bit of information on that county.  I am going with five general pieces of information - historical, cultural, news, natural, political, etc. - to share about the county I choose.  Ideally, I'll stick it out until every single county in the United States is completed.

Two counties in two weeks.  Let's find out more!

The second selection in the county project is...

Stewart County, Georgia

Founded:  December 23, 1830
Population:  6,058
Total Area:  459 sq. miles
County Seat:  Lumpkin

Senators:  Saxby Chambliss (R), Johnny Isakson (R)
Representative:  Sanford Bishop (D)

(1) The area of Stewart County had been inhabited by Native Americans for thousands of years prior to European settlers arriving.  People of the Mississippian culture built a complex series of mounds at a settlement on the Chattahoochee River River just south of Omaha, GA between the years 1100 - 1350 CE.    The Roots Landing archaeological site features a series of eight major earthwork mounds, with the largest having a height of 25 feet and a summit measuring 145 x 125 feet.

Conflicts with settlers over the years eventually culminated with the Indian Removal of the communities, with the federal government forcing most Creek people west of the Mississippi river to Oklahoma.

(2) Providence Canyon State Park in the western part of the county is 1003 acres of protected state land.  Known of Georgia's "little Grand Canyon", it is considered to be one of the seven natural wonders of Georgia.  While there are a number of large gullies, the largest of them at 150 feet deep is not actually a natural feature, caused by over erosion due to poor farming practices in the 19th century.  The park has 2 picnic shelters, 6 backpacking sites, a group shelter, and 2 pioneer campsites.

(3) The county seat of Stewart County is the city of Lumpkin.  At just over 1,300 population, Lumpkin is the historic home of Cherokee, Choctaw, and Creek Native American People.  The town grew as a commercial center served by stagecoach, trading and supporting extensive cotton plantations in the area.

The main restaurant in town is the 4-way BBQ, where "Their Butts Smell Good!"

(4) Stewart County is home to an artisan rum producing company known as Richland Rum.

Award Winning RICHLAND RUM is meticulously handcrafted in the USA with pure sugarcane –including homegrown cane from the proprietor’s Estate ‘Vennebroeck’ in Richland, Georgia  - and natural water from the Georgia Aquifer, as the only ingredients.  Sourcing and processing of premium sugar cane syrup, slow fermentation, copper pot distilling in single day batches, aging in virgin American oak barrels and ultimately bottling are all handled in house. RICHAND RUM is all natural, authentic, not blended, does not contain preservatives, taste enhancers, color agents or additives of any kind. 
Richland Rum has only two ingredients: pure sugar cane syrup and natural water. The syrup is made from sugar cane grown at the proprietor’s Estate – Vennebroeck – near Richland, Georgia, USA, augmented by pure syrup sourced locally and from Louisiana and Florida. Richland Rum is an all-natural product that does not contain any preservatives, coloring, artificial flavoring or additives of any kind.

(5) Historic Westville, GA is a living history museum village with over 30 authentically restored and furnished antebellum buildings.  There are 82 acres of land featuring fields, buildings, and the village.  It is meant to preserve, demonstrate, and interpret the way of life in what was considered the "West" of Georgia in the pre-1860's.  Buildings include a court house, church, school, stores, craft shops, residences, and cotton plantation buildings, and the village is considered (and claims to be) the 3rd oldest living history museum in the United States.

Before we go, Stewart County has 64%-36% registered voters going Democratic voters over Republican voters.  The county went for Barack Obama over both Romney and McCain.  We should be cautious before we make any sweeping generalizations about the south.

Thank you for visiting Stewart County!  See you soon.

Check out my twitter and facebook pages for the project as well.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Jackson County, Oklahoma (1)

Ladies and gentlemen, county number #1!  The order of the counties is completely random, and so if you are from here, congratulations!  You are oh so very, very lucky to be the first to be viewed by my hordes of fans.

No, those are NOT crickets you are hearing.  Round 1, ahead!

This entry is the first of the counties to be covered.  The randomly selected county is...

Jackson County, Oklahoma

Founded:  1907
Population:  26,446
Total Area:  804 sq. miles
County Seat:  Altus

Senators:  Tom Coburn (R), James Inhofe (R)
Representative:  Frank Lucas (R)

Oklahoma's 3rd Congressional District

(1) The current county seat of Jackson County, OK is the city of Altus.  The town was founded in 1886 as a settlement on the bitter creek of about 50 people, serving as a trading post on the Great Western Trail.  The population of the county consistently grew, even growing during the Great Depression due to an irrigation project and the nearby air force base.  Eventually, the railroads made this town an important stop, further increasing it's population to a peak of just over 23,000 in the 1970's.  Should you choose to visit Altus, there are some highlights including the Plaza Theater.

Come in the beginning of October for the great Cotton-Pickin Chili Cookoff!

(2) Just four miles east of the city of Altus is the Altus Air Force Base.  The base is host to the 97th Air Mobility Wing, whose mission is to provide formal and advanced training for the C-17 Globemaster and the KC-135 Stratotanker.  The base supports about 2,000 permanent military personnel along with another 3,000 who live off base, while the base supports about 2,500 jobs from the surrounding communities.

The base was also home to the 577th Strategic Missile Squadron during the cold war with the Soviet Union.  With a mission of nuclear deterrence, the squadron consisted of 12 missile silos holding SM-65F intercontinental ballistic missiles.  During the Cuban Missile Crisis, all silos were placed on the highest level of alert.  The squadron was inactivated in March of 1965 as part of a phaseout, eventually demilitarized and sold to private ownership.

Finally, the air force base was frequently a stop for the space shuttle as it was ferried across the country.  Lucky them!

(3)  At the eastern edge of the county, at the base of the Navajo Mountains, lies the ghost town of Navajoe, OK.  The town was built to take advantage of the Great Western Cattle trail and developed a Baptist church, a post office, general store, and over 200 families settled there.  The town deteriorated when the railroads bypassed the town as they pushed west, and a majority of families and their businesses moved to the surrounding railroad towns and junctions.

The only functional part of the ghost town that remains is the Navajoe Cemetery, a picturesque, well kept cemetery at the base of the Navajo Mountains.

(4)  Jackson County is home to Western Oklahoma State College, formerly known as Altus Junior college.  The college offers programs for associates degrees in 24 different subjects from the arts, sciences, and applied sciences to just over 1,500 undergraduate students.

The school has also built an extremely successful baseball program in recent years, noted in its success for recruiting Latino players from northeastern cities like New York and Philadelphia, as well as recruiting players from Latin American countries.  In 2011, the school's baseball team won the junior college Division II national championship.

(5)  The old Fullerton Dam rests on the Turkey Creek, running right by the small town of Duke, OK.  A farmer built the damn on the creek in the 1890's to irrigate his crops, making him the first European settler to build a damn in Western Oklahoma.  As the region was so dry, it relied on irrigation to support its agriculture, making Fullerton Dam an important innovation in the region.  Unfortunately, the dam began to fail in 1905 and eventually broke in 1919 during a regional flood.  Nearly 100 years after the flood, the ruins of the dam remain in the same condition and can still be visited as a National Historic Place (view it on google maps at 34°37'27.0"N 99°29'27.0"W).

Chili cook off?  Space shuttle visits?  Historic ghost towns and championship baseball team?  This sounds like my kind of place!

One last fun fact.  While Democrats outnumber Republicans in the county as registered voters 51% to 38%, the county voted for both Mitt Romney and John McCain both times 75% - 25%.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and get ready for the next county visit.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Grand Opening!

Good evening America!  This blog is a "little" project I've started to keep myself busy with some of my free time.  Some might even call it a hobby.  I am interested in what America has to offer in every corner, whether it is it's history, local flavor, famous people, or even politics or interesting tidbits of information.  I'm interested in looking at the United States through the lens of it's counties, one at a time.

So stick around as I get up to pace, and we'll kick it off with the first county tomorrow!