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Old News Stories
Search for Relics of Ancient Race, 1923

From The Atlanta Constitution
Sept. 16, 1923



Archeologists Interest in Fort Peak

"For many years there has been a legend in the Southern Appalachians that this country was inhabited by a pre-Indian race which had attained a high order of civilization and then suddenly disappeared from the face of the earth. The Cherokee Indians told the first white settlers that there had been a strange white, race here before them and that it had left enduring monuments behind it."

This is the introduction of a feature story, of interest to southerners, published recently in The New York Times. At present an expedition of exploration is being fitted out in Chattanooga to unearth as much as possible of relics and remains of this reported unknown race.

"Recent discoveries in the region of Fort Mountain have renewed interest in the beliefs of the red man," the story continues. "A Chattanoogan standing on the point of Lookout Mountain, with a good field glass, on a clear day, by turning his glass to the east and a little south, will observe the mountain coming up and ending in n point like Lookout, except that this Georgia peak ends more abruptly. Its west, north and east sides are immense cliffs, without a break in them, and from 100 to 200 feet high, inaccessible to anything except an eagle or an airplane. The only access to the point is from the south.

Hard To Climb.

"This mountain is known in its vicinity as Fort Mountain. Old men living in sight of it, some of them who have lived all their lives at and around the base, have kept carefully away from its top. In fact, only two men are known ever to have gone to the summit. They are Judge J. T. Bates, of Spring Place, Ga. and T. G. Jordan, of Cleveland, Tenn., the latter an amateur archaeologist, in search of data regarding facts back of the Cherokee legend. On the top they found a remarkable stone wall.

"Fort Mountain is almost above the timberline," Mr. Jordan said. "The trees growing over its top are low and stunted and show extreme age. The flora is just like that of Canada. You can find no familiar briars, weeds or vines, nothing but beautiful fine grass, that covers the mountain summit like a well kept lawn. The top of the mountain point is as level as a house floor, with not a break or a rough spot on it.

"From where this mountain becomes inaccessible on the east to where it is inaccessible on the west, a stone wall has been built to enclose what I should guess to be about 100 acres. From the quantity of stone I should judge the wall to have been about three feet thick and four feet high.

It faces south and runs in a semi-circle.

Entrance To Enclosure.

"Some distance west of the center of the wall there is an entrance to the enclosure, a gate one might say, with stone posts. The wall is built of large, rough stone, showing conclusively that it was constructed by human hands. It is mostly fallen now, probably from some earthquake. It was built, as I have already explained, of large rough stone, just as they were picked up on the top of the mountain, and is what would be called Cyclopean in structure, made without cement. When I last saw it some portions were still standing and owing to the absence of the weeds and vines, it was as easily traced as if it went down the middle of Market street in Chattanooga.

"The wall is not built, like a stone fence, in a straight line, but with angles to command every approach of the wall, and there is not a civil engineer in this country who could improve on its construction as a fortress defense.

"I measured the longest portion of this wall. Not with its windings, but as a straight line, over the ground which it protects, and it was 1700 feet long. At one place in the wall and near the west brow of the mountain, was a passageway about four feet wide, but there were three small towers on each side of this opening just about large enough for one man to stand inside and have room to fight with battle ax and sword.

"A short distance from where this opening in the wall occurs, and almost on the west brow of the mountain, is a good-sized spring walled up with nicely cut stone. The stream from the spring goes down the west side of the mountain, making a thousand cascades and waterfalls. A few years ago I spent the night at the home of an old man who lives at the foot of this mountain. The water from the mountain spring run through his yard. During the evening he showed me a small bottle filled with gold nuggets, which he said he had picked up in this stream and along its banks. He told me that one could not pick up a shovelful of soil along the stream that did not have fine particles of gold in it. I have never heard of any other person prospecting along this stream

Who Built Wall?

"Who built this stone wall? DeSoto did not. He passed down the Conesauga river in sight of this mountain, but he had no occasion to build such a fort. He had no trouble or fighting with the Cherokees, or any Indians, until in his travels he reached what is now Alabama. Cherokee Indians told the first white settlers who came to this section of the country that they did not know who built the fort. They said it was there when they came to this country. But who did build this fort? When was it built? And why?

"A few years ago there was a great deal of excitement about finding a silver mine at Fort Mountain and the country near by was thoroughly explored by prospectors. One party of these hunters found near the base of the mountain a tunnel, walled up and arched with a cut stone. This tunnel was followed for several hundred feet under the mountain, until the explorers came to a point where the arch had fallen in and the passage was so obstructed that they could go no further.

"Who built this tunnel and why will no doubt remain a mystery. I have often wondered why some archeologists did not investigate this tunnel, go as far as possible, remove the obstruction of the fallen arch, and follow it to where it ends. One thing is certain it was not built except for a very great and very important reason.

"An expedition of exploration is even now being fitted out in Chattanooga to unearth as much as possible of these remains of an unknown race."

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