Archives of Dade County

Archives of Dade County
From the editors of
Roadside Georgia
Established in 1837. Named for Major Francis Langhorne Dade, Infantry, who was killed with 109 men in an ambush known as the "Dade Massacre", by Seminole Indian chiefs Micanope and Jumper, December 28, 1835.

If the "State of Dade" suffers an identity crisis, it is understandable. Georgia did not have a road connecting it to this county in the extreme northwest corner of the state until 1939, when the state purchased Cloudland Canyon. Until that time the only access to Dade was from Tennessee or Alabama.

The area today known as Dade County was home to Woodlands period American Indians who built a wall on Pigeon Mountain similar in many ways to the wall built at Fort Mountain. Wauhatchie, who fought with Andy Jackson during the Creek War (1813-1814), was the leader of the Cherokee in this area. He considered himself a friend of the future president. In 1818 he permitted Andrew Ellicott access to his tribal land to determine the northern boundary of Georgia, although it is unlikely that he knew what Ellicott was doing. Twenty years later Wauhatchee and his people would be forced to leave their "Enchanted Land" by his "friend," Andrew Jackson, confined in prison, then sent west on the Trail of Tears. Wauhatchee longed for his ancestrial home and became one of the few Cherokee Indians to return to Georgia and purchase the land he once owned from the settler who won it in the sixth Georgia Land Lottery

For years after its creation in 1837 the sparsely populated county had virtually no development. The county seat, Salem, changed its name to Trenton on December 22, 1841. Before the Civil War a significant mining operation in the county and its neighbors produced coke and coal for the foundries of Rome and Etowah. Among the earliest members of this mining community that developed was John B. Gordon who would later recruit men from the area to serve under him in the Civil War.

Dade County, 1945
County Road 130 near Rising Fawn (Bridge in photo crosses Gulf Creek)
Dade alone amongst the northern tier of counties supported the secession effort in the late 1850's. The term "State of Dade" refers to an incident where a local politician threatened to secede from Georgia if the state did not secede from the Union.

During the war General George Thomas, under the command of William Rosecrans, moved over 40,000 men through the area, building a road to transport war material across the mountainous terrain. Rosecrans briefly stayed in Trenton while advancing from Stevenson, Alabama to the Gordon Mansion. Thomas emerged from Stevens Gap into McLemore's Cove and marched on to Chickamauga. One native of Rising Fawn remembers his grandfather talking about the Union soldiers lighting so many campfires that the valley looked like daylight even at night. During the battle of Chattanooga a number of minor skirmishes were fought in the county.

By the end of the war mining operations had come to a halt because William Tecumseh Sherman had destroyed the factories further south that used the output for manufacturing during the Atlanta Campaign. By the 1880's mining again resumed, aided by prison labor supplied by the state. The remote county was an excellent place to dispose of the unwanted refuse of society. Coal production would peak at some 700 tons per day until the big seams ran out in 1920. Operations on smaller seams would continue until 1947.

Although largely unaffected by the boom/bust cycles that ripped the state from 1865 to 1940, Dade was "rediscovered" by Georgia in 1939 when the land that became Cloudland Canyon State Park was purchased. In 1945 the county passed a resolution officially joining the Union more than 80 years after the end of the Civil War.

On November 24, 2001 a tornado struck in extreme southern Dade County tearing up infrastructure for one and a half miles. According to local officials, 7 or 8 buildings were damaged or destroyed in the tornado's path near State Road 157

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