Books

The Haunting of Allatoona Pass

While writing Lost Towns of North Georgia and Underwater Ghost Towns of North Georgia, I came across a late 1800 Atlanta newspaper article about sightings of phantom soldiers on trains going through Allatoona Pass. I do not like to include myths and folklore in my books because I need evidence. I figured if the credible Atlanta newspaper could print this story, I could write about in my books. So, here is one of the very few ghost stories in my books:

The Haunting of Allatoona Pass
The night was soaked with an inky darkness just seven years after the Civil War as the steam engine powered through Allatoona Pass on its way north. Just as the engine entered the pass, the W&A Railroad conductor noticed a soldier sitting on the top of the car. He climbed up into the darkness to collect the fare. The conductor walked toward the figure. Steps away, it disappeared. The soldier had melted into the night.

Allatoona Pass 1888

The disconcerted conductor reported to the engineer, “He was dressed in a soldier’s uniform.” Leaving the engine in the fireman’s hands, the W&A engineer investigated. A thick layer of clouds covered the moon; the cool night left a mist in the air. Through the fog, the engineer saw a figure sitting on the top of the third car.

The engineer advanced on top of the train, his attention focused on the man sitting on his train. Sweat trickled down the engineer’s back. He locked eyes with the gray shadow man. As he neared the transparent figure, it faded and then disappeared. The engineer searched the entire train and looked everywhere someone might hide. He climbed back on the top of the train and there the man was, sitting again on top of the train.

This time, the engineer marched in a quick step toward the ghost, but it disappeared again. The engineer walked back to the engine of the speeding train. Before he descended, the engineer glanced over his shoulder to glimpse the soldier back in his place. Cold air caused the engineer to shiver before he returned to relieve his fireman. The conductor kept watch and reported that the mysterious figure remained on the train for a few more miles, and then he was gone.

Perhaps the specter was reenacting this scene on the southbound train about to go through Allatoona Pass. Ghost stories are just symptoms of what lies beneath the surface, what came before and what refuses to leave.

Allatoona Pass has a reputation. It’s haunted. The unnatural cut into the mountain was the pass for nineteenth-century trains. The untracked bed follows along a sinking shore that secrets the drowned town of Allatoona. Phantom seekers claim to hear the ghost train and see specter soldiers on board. Walking through the pass today, you often hear the ghostly sounds of the trains on the repositioned tracks and wonder if they might be from another time or a current train in the distance.

Allatoona images

The pass and the lost town of Allatoona have every reason to be haunted. The Battle of Allatoona Pass—a forgotten battle won by fake news and in defense of some bread—destroyed the trackside town. This pointless battle made a few heroes but ruined a town that was later drowned and lost forever. Residual energy disturbs the pass and the shores of Lake Allatoona, but the scariest story began and ended on October 5, 1864.

Read more about the Battle of Allatoona Pass in my books:

Lost Towns of North Georgia
Lost Towns of North Georgia
Cover Underwater Ghost Towns of North Georgia
Underwater Ghost Towns of North Georgia

Sample Chapter of “Lost Mill Towns of North Georgia”

Sample Chapter of “Lost Mill Towns of North Georgia”

I hear them. And I want you to hear them too. We ignore them or just half listen to their stories. We drive by their homes in the mill villages before decay has hidden its history. If you stop long enough, you might notice them. Repurpose or decay hides the mill village towns of North Georgia.

Driving along and you might see a lonely stack or two, and down the road
you look into the past. You might see a neat row of similar yet dissimilar
homes still teeming with life next to a long-abandoned textile mill. A heavy pall surrounds the mill towns of North Georgia because the southern textile mill is dead.

The textile mill era, with accompanying mill villages, is over. What
started in the late nineteenth century slowly dissipated after World War II, ending before the twenty-first century. The communities built around the company have disappeared. No longer does the local manufacturer supply and maintain low-rent housing, medical facilities, sporting events and a company store. For a time, paternalism made sense, but the world changed.
The southern “Daddy” had to let the children go.

Chapter 1 tells the story of the textile mill era in North Georgia. This
summary is the big picture, the puzzle all put together. The other chapters
are the puzzle pieces. This is a micro-focus on each county with mill villages.

The mill towns included in this book had to meet specific criteria. It would have been impossible to include every mill in North Georgia in this book. The focus is the mills with accompanying towns. In most cases, the town and the mill are one entity. Some mill villages remain silent because the records could not be found.

Fulton and Greene Counties were originally included here but were
removed for space reasons and because they were different that the mills in
the true North Georgia area. I placed some of these chapters on my website,
along with interactive maps of the mill locations.

The South came to the Industrial Revolution party a little late, but North
Georgia mills worked hard and contributed to industrial growth. When it
was quitting time, and the silent whistle blew, the worker went home to start something new. Instead of allowing the mills to melt into the ground and disappear, some are creating new spaces from the rusty past and fading paint of old mill buildings.

The past is calling out to us. The mill workers want to tell their stories.
They have so much to say. They can teach us about perseverance and
struggle. We learn that management lost that fatherly feeling to stretch and wring out their laborers until they cried out. Can you hear them?

I can hear them. Listen. They punctuate their southern accents with
mispronunciations and colloquialisms. What some would call uneducated,
I call North Georgia culture—I respect that. Hear the stories of hardship.
The North Georgia farmers and sharecroppers went to the mills for a steady
paycheck. They were weary of the hardscrabble farm living.

Listen to the children speaking in the images of a social photographer.
Early photographs gave voice to the little ones working in the dangerous
mills—sad stories of children working as young as eight to add pennies to
the family till.

Cheer for the local teams of the Southern Textile League, supported by
most of the mills in North Georgia. A baseball game on a Saturday afternoon
generated community and good will. All the single ladies dressed in their
best, with their eyes on the prize of a textile ballplayer.

Notice the sounds of silence. The clackety-clack stops as the mill shuts down in the midst of union strikes. At some mills, you will hear gunshots in the uprising of 1934. You hear a governor’s command call out the National Guard to quiet the uprising. They go unheard and back to work. They lost, but paternalism crumbles nonetheless, and the community of the mill villages fades away.

As the world changed in the 1960s, so did the textile industry. The shaky
world of mill paternalism fell apart, and mill owners dumped the villages
as world economies shifted. Textiles could be made cheaper somewhere
else. The door slammed on the southern cotton industries, and the industry
outsourced their legacy to other countries.

My purpose is simple. I want to tell the story of this unique period in
the voices of the people who lived and worked in the textile mills of North
Georgia. The backstory is important, but the microphone is open to hear the
mill people themselves.

Please connect with me:

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Lost Towns of North Georgia

Lost towns cover


When the bustle of a city slows, towns dissolve into abandoned buildings or return to woods and crumble into the North Georgia clay. The remains of many towns dot the landscape—pockets of life that were lost to fire or drowned by the water of civic works projects. In 1832, Auraria was one site of the original American gold rush. Cassville was a booming educational and cultural epicenter until 1864. Allatoona found its identity as a railroad town. Author and professor Lisa M. Russell unearths the forgotten towns of North Georgia.Order your copy now on Amazon.com

The stories of Lost Mill Villages in North Georgia were too big for one book. I deleted several chapters. If you are interested in Georgia stories, I will send them to you. Sign up below: