The sunshine was out – the first time in over a week. We had to get outside and do something. We headed down I-75 just about an hour south of Atlanta and did three distinctly different activities.
Built in 1847, by John Fitz Jarrell, this plantation survived Sherman’s March to the Sea. As time went on and the family grew, more buildings were added, such as the 1895 House for son, Dick Jarrell and the sawmill in the early 1900’s.
At the visitor center, a 15-minute film describes the history of the plantation. Interestingly enough, one of the descendants continued farming on the land until the 1960’s. Fortunately, the family donated most of the buildings in 1974 to the state of Georgia to show others what plantation life was like.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t the Tara or Seven Oaks type of house. Rather, the original 1847 House was just a one story house for the Jarrell’s and their seven children. The boys slept in the loft upstairs, while the girls had a room and the parents had a room. Later, the porch on the back of the house was enclosed making two rooms and a “honeymoon room” a room for travelers was added by enclosing part of the front porch.
My husband enjoyed that everything, especially the location of each of the buildings, was original. This was unlike Oconaluftee Mountain Farm Museum at the Cherokee, NC entrance of the Smokey Mountain National Park, where the buildings had been moved their from elsewhere in the area. Here, we could see how the house was built on the highest part of the property in order to get the best breeze.
The walk around the buildings is only 1/2 mile, but full of interesting history. Visitors can learn how sugar cane syrup was made first in large kettles and then later by the steam powered machinery. Each building is well marked about it’s purpose. For example, the smokehouse here didn’t have any smoke. It was just a place to salt and hang the meat. Additionally, guests can see the covered well, the three-seater privy, the farm equipment, the evaporation house and many more buildings.
For more information and hours of operation, see the website at http://gastateparks.org/JarrellPlantation.
The tiny, unincorporated town of Juliette is where most of the 1991 movie, “Fried Green Tomatoes” was filmed. We ate ate the Whistle Stop Cafe and I was amazed that the inside looked just like the movie as well.
Our food was delicious – an appetizer of fried green tomatoes, BBQ pork with creamed corn and a baked sweet potato, brisket with fried okra and brunswick stew – an real fried cornbread. The waitress mentioned that we should go around the back to see the BBQ pit and make sure to drive a mile down the road to see the church and cemetery that were also used in the movie.
Across the street were quaint shops with antiques, books, food and clothes. The owner of one establishment explained that Juliette had been deserted by the 1980’s. Although once a mill town, people left when it closed in 1957. The last hold out was the owner of the gas station/general store located where the Whitle Stop Cafe is now. When the film crews came to shoot the movie, they spent almost one million dollars getting rid of all the kudzu that covered most of the buildings.
Now the town is back in full swing with tourism as its major economy. She told us that January is the slowest month and that usually the wait to eat at the Whistle Stop Cafe is 3-4 hours. Thankfully for us, we got there around 11:30 and got seated. To learn more about Juliette, visit the website at www.juliettega.com
High Falls State Park:
Lastly, we drove up towards Jackson, Georgia to High Falls State Park. There are many trails, but we took the 1.5 mile loop trail by the falls on the Towaliga River.
I loved that the falls can be seen at the beginning of the trail so if you get tired, you can turn back. The park ranger warned us that it’s easy to get off the trail. Fortunately, the trail was well marked by red arrows and flags on trees. At one point, we made a wrong turn and stopped seeing the markers. We were able to turn back and retrace our steps.
In addition to hiking – there are 4.5 miles of trails – the park offers a playground, picnic tables and camping. Yurts are also available to rent. For more information, see the website at http://gastateparks.org/HighFalls.
Fortunately the park is located less than 2 miles from I-75 and we were able to zip back home. All in all, the trip was six hours.