The Lost City of Etowah, Georgia

I am sure you have heard of the lost city of Atlantis according to Plato, that had disappeared due to some vast cataclysm swallowing the island with water. The city of Pompeii was destroyed by a volcanic eruption. The town of Etowah however fell victim to war. Many Georgians have not heard of Etowah but may have visited the Coopers Furnace Day Use area at the base of Allatoona Dam in Cartersville, Georgia


Etowah is recorded as being founded in 1845, established by Mark Anthony Cooper which started out as the Etowah Manufacturing and Mining Company. Mark Anthony Cooper, was an Elberton businessman who recognized the importance of water  power. Cooper came into business with Moses Stroup and family that built the original furnace. Soon Stroup would build more furnaces eventually selling out to Cooper over a period of time. Cooper was very influential and made improvements to the Etowah River with Stroup and Wiley as business partners.  The company had a blast furnace, foundry, rolling mill, nail factory, a flour mills, 2 saw mills, 2 corn mills and a bank. Not to mentions other shops, warehouses and a hotel. Etowah was about five to six miles away from the W & A Railroad completed October 19th, 1858 with L. Kendric was the contractor for the road and Eugene LeHardy was the chief engineer. Etowah manufactured nails, bolts, hollow ware, railroad iron, pots and pans. The flour mill produced two to three hundred barrels of flour daily. Iron was shipped to England to be converted to steel. Coal was sent from Coopers Coal mines in Dade County for the bloomery furnace. The city of Etowah was growing into an industrial center for Cass County. Image

America’s turning point: Bartow County, Georgia (Stroup Furnace, unidentified houses near Allatoona, Georgia, ruins of Cooper Iron Works, and old Clayton house near Allatoona, Georgia);item=ahc0197v-164 Image Image Defences of the Etawah Bridge.Photographic Views of Sherman’s Campaign,Embracing Scenes of the Occupation of Nashville, the Great Battles around Chattanooga and Lookout Mountain, the Campaign of Atlanta, March to the Sea, and the Great Raid through the Carolinas. From Negatives taken in the field, by Geo. N. Barnard, Official Photographer of the Military Div. of the Miss. 589 Broadway, New York.

Etowah grew to a population of around 2,000 and among this population included slaves. Mark Anthony Cooper employed as much as five or six hundred operators and laborer’s with about one hundred being black. Cooper personally owned 22 slaves and the Etowah Manufacturing and Mining Company owned 11 bondsmen. Cooper sought to hire even more help and he sought to hire more black labor for the the company. Among those listed was Davy Cobb ,who was employed as a puddler,which involved the stirring of molten pig iron. William Kuhn, another slave/bondsman, served as a rolling mill heater, who later went to work at the Naval Iron Works in Columbus, Georgia. One of the managers of the Iron Works was William Austin Leyden, who among other things created a postal lock for Yale, brought the first sewing machine to Atlanta of his own design and became major for the 9th Georgia Battalion Artillery.

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Among the stories about Etowah , were not all success. It was in 1849 that a small pox out break occurred. “Deaths from small pox, none; new cases , 2 and sick 15. All the cases heretofore reported are now recovered or convalescent, except the 15 now reported sick. – The disease is confined to its localities, and its very probable that it can go no further, but will exhaust itself within its present limits. No contagion at or near the Flour Mill or Rolling Mill, or the route to either, except passing the Furnace,”  In 1857, Mark Anthony Coopers home was devastated by fire.  “Major Coopers elegant residence near his iron Works, we are sorry to hear, was destroyed by fire on the 8th inst. Every piece of timber in this unique and tasteful building was native growth of Cass County, so we hear. ” We also need to mention accidents that occurred at the iron works as in 1858, “The moulder, Joseph Costner, was casting a large roll for the Rolling Mill. A large ladle with 5000 Lbs of melted iron, suspended by a Crane, was passing by the bands round to the mould. Before pouring it became top heavy, turned, and was emptied into a puddle of water. This produced an explosion which threw the metal through the roof of the shed, and in every direction, burning five or six, more or less. Only three were seriously burned, to wit: Costner, a white man, Bill, a negro, the founder, and John, a moulder, (a negro) These are doing well and are not dangerous. and the others are at work again. ” Most of which is to be expected in a growing thriving town.

In 1859, a new building was mentioned in Etowah was a chapel, with a school room below and divine room above. This was located near the residence of Mr. Cooper and Mr. A. Hicks. It was commented that the town was not only using the products of nature but improving intellectual and moral attributes. The homes in the area were neat in appearance along the steep hillsides. It is mentioned in 1859, that the number living here was around one thousand souls. Currently there are about three hundred employed at the iron Works. The Blast Furnace is run day and night not to mention the Rolling Mill and Merchant mills runs six days a week day and night. This facility started with 1,500 acres growing to 12,000 acres with an annual product of twelve to fifteen tons of iron per day. The cost of this immense operation began to become difficult for Cooper who sought a loan from the State of Georgia for a fourth a million dollars. When the State denied his request possibly due to being misrepresented by the Know Nothing Party, Cooper proposed to sell the property in 1861. It was in February that Cooper presented the Etowah Iron Works as being a suitable foundry for the Confederacy. The iron works had already manufactured a cannon fired at the opening of Tunnel Hill and other commemorative events including the opening of the railroad to the town of Etowah. Cooper also designed a pistol using the high quality iron and offered it to Samuel Colt and arranged to purchase $75,000 to prepare making arms for the Confederacy.


It was also noted that Cooper flew the first disunion flag which was hoisted atop what he called Mount Anthony (Pine Mountain) which could be seen from the bridge and many directions.  As we can see from the map and the bridge view above from Barnard, there was a ford designed to protect the Etowah Bridge and the Iron Works. The Confederate unit guarding the ford would be FAYS COMPANY, 17th BATTALION STATE GUARDS-ETOWAH ARTILLERY. In 1863,  General Gustavus Smith was chosen president of the Etowah iron Works.Some of Hoods corps was stationed on the South Side of the river. It was in May 22nd, 1864 General Wheeler reports of the burning of the Etowah Iron Works and the town of Cartersville. The DAILY CONSTITUTIONALIST [AUGUSTA, GA], May 27, 1864, p. 1, c. 1 Etowah Iron Works.—A dispatch was received in this city yesterday says the Savannah Republican of the 25th, stating that the Yankees had made a complete destruction of these works which were situated a few miles above Cartersville. Most of the valuable machinery had been removed to a place of safety. Where the equipment was moved is not known. From July 12  to November 10, 1864, the 6th Independent Battery, Wisconsin Light Artillery was stationed here.

No diaries exist to explain the damage here. but some of the remnants are seen.



etowah bridge



Relics are found along the river.


“Civil War Relic Found in the Etowah Cartersville News, 1923 A very interesting relic of the Civil War is on display in the show window of R.W. Landers & Sons Furniture Store. It is an old muzzle loading rifle which was fished from the bottom of the Etowah River just below the covered bridge one mile south of Cartersville on Dixie Highway . The find was made by Mr. Duncan who had a fish basket in the river at this place. The rifle is in a fair state of preservation considering the fact that it has been underwater something like fifty-five to sixty years. The stock is made of Walnut. The wood has hardened until it is almost petrified. The trigger, trigger guard, hammer and other irons are still on the rifle, which of course considerably rusted. The hammer can still be worked. The holders for the ramrod are still plainly visible but the ramrod itself is gone. There is no doubt the rifle is a relic of Civil War days. This bridge was guarded for a considerable length of time by both Federals and Confederates toward the closing of the Civil War. The rifle may have been thrown into the river by one of the guards. It may have been thrown there by a retreating soldier when Johnson was falling back toward Atlanta. It may have been found by the side of a fallen soldier and thrown in the river by a comrade. The main portion of Sherman’s army forded the Etowah near Cooper’s Iron Works. Mr. R.W. Landers will take pleasure in showing the rifle to anyone interested. Was flipping through a 2005 issue of Georgia Backroads and spotted this picture of the town of Etowah taken in the 1940’s. Picture was courtesy of the Bartow History Center. It says this is the remnants of Coopers Iron Mill. I’m stunned. I thought all that was left was just small pieces of ruins…..these are ruins, but huge ruins.”…3709489.111440.379322112081890&type=1&theater Bartow Ancestors

That was a brief description of Etowah. Articles in 1869 report the United States Government in 1869 claimed the Iron Works. With the building of Allatoona dam potions of the  city are flooded located to the East of the Dam not to mention a cemetery. The records for which are not available to me but I will share when I find more details.  Etowah’s story may not be a dramatic as Atlantis or Pompeii but still an interesting mystery noetheless.

1. id=X6FkhZO0RY0C&pg=PA309&dq=etowah,+georgia+cooper&hl=en&sa=X&ei=QttTUreIHYT-9QTC-IG4CQ&ved=0CGAQ6AEwBw#v=onepage&q=etowah%2C%20georgia%20cooper&f=false , Georgia: A Guide to Its Towns and Countryside By Georgia Writers’ Project Page 309.

2. Federal Union-Extra, Dec. 3, 1847 — page 1

3. Federal Union, Nov. 2, 1858 — page 2

4. GAZETTEER OF GEORGIA; – the Digital Library of Georgia by A SHERWOOD – ?Cited by 20 – ?Related articles edition of the Gazetteer is demanded. … hope that the enumeration of 1860 would be out in time … produce of the Empire State of the South, and all the.Sherwood, Adiel, 1791-1879. A gazetteer of Georgia; containing a particular description of the state; its resources, counties, towns, villages, and whatever is usual in statistical works / by Adiel Sherwood. 4th ed., rev. and cor. Macon, Ga. : S. Boykin; Atlanta, J. Richards, 1860. 209 p. (fold. map.) ; 19 cm.

5 . On the Threshold of Freedom: Masters and Slaves in Civil War Georgia By Clarence L. Mohr,+georgia+cooper&hl=en&sa=X&ei=QttTUreIHYT-9QTC-IG4CQ&ved=0CDsQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=etowah%2C%20georgia%20cooper&f=false

6.  Atlanta Daily Intelligencer, Jan. 13, 1858 — page 2

7.  Federal Union, Mar. 17, 1857 — page 3

8. Atlanta Daily Intelligencer, Jan. 13, 1858 — page 2

9. Atlanta Weekly Intelligencer, Apr. 14, 1859 — page 1

10. Southern Recorder, Jan. 15, 1861 — page 2

11. Southern Watchman, Feb. 20, 1861 — page 2

12. Southern Confederacy, May 21, 1863 — page 2

13. Bio iof Mark Anthony Cooper and the D-Guard knife

14. The Ghost Town of Etowah by Francis Adair 1930

15. Old bank building of the Cooper Iron Works. Destroyed by William T. Sherman in 1864

16. Weird Georgia: Your Travel Guide to Georgia’s Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets By Jim Miles Page 244


9 thoughts on “The Lost City of Etowah, Georgia

  1. I am writing a book about the CW long arms, and I am uch interested in the sketch of the foundry and the Etowa village. Where could I find a high resolution of this sketch? Thanks in davance for your reply.

    • There are pictures of the Rolling Mill Etc but no sketch. The original paintings are in the Etowah Valley Historical Society. You may want to check with them to reference pictures. Most descriptions I found was from early newspapers.

  2. Jacob Stroup is my 4 times great grandfather. Moses stroup was his son. They built the ironworks and furnaces and latter sold them to Mark Cooper. Cooper later expanded the ironworks and started the town of Etowah. Jacob Stroup is buried near by in Goodson Cemetery. It is located off of Hwy 20 on Widerness Camp Rd.

    • Moses Stroup went on to Alabama, where he built other iron furnaces. Most notably at Tannehill State Park, now known as the birthplace of Birmingham, Alabama’s iron and steel industry.

  3. Thank you for sharing. Moses had a furnace in Habersham County before Bartow Cass County. Daniel Strouo was a gunsmith as well.

    • Moses did not build the iron works in Habersham County. His father Jacob Stroup did. Jacob later sold that location and moved to the Stamp Creek area of Cass County, witch was later renamed Bartow County. Jacob’s iron furnaces in Bartow are now under Lake Allatoona, but remains of others are still in the area.

  4. Do you have any information about the burning of the town and the possible removal of workers and their families by the Union Army in 1864? Someone posted an oral history that states that they were sent to Indiana, as the army moved through. There is a list of people employed by EM & M,, who were considered to be political prisoners, and sent “north of the Ohio River”, but no mention of their families. An informative article, thank you.

    • I have notes about how equipment was moved. No information about political prisoners however. We know about the Roswell and Manchester Mills Women but I assume many fled the area as Sherman approached.

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