The Story of Lost Mountain

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When most people think of Lost Mountain they think of thee Old Lost Mountain store at Hwy 176 and Dallas Highway. When I worked for the power company in this area I would pass this way daily. The old store became a bank. Now a shopping center and McDonald’s are there. Atop Lost Mountain itself there is a radio/cell tower and I went up one time to service some equipment with friends. I remember the mountain was misty and wet. I was not aware of the possibility of snakes. Lost Mountain had a post office and a few residents. It was a site where both Union and Confederate were positioned. Lost mountain received it name from the Cherokee Indians as shared in the story from Walter McElreath below.

The Legend of Lost Mountain by Walter McElreath

Long years ago before the pioneers axe had felled the native forests which clothed the hills of North Georgia and his industry had substituted the homely plants of agriculture for the wild and profuse flora of Nature; when the Cherokee rose clambered over honeysuckle, and the humming bird, “like the flitting fragment of rainbow,’ darted from flower to flower, sipping sweets from every blossom; when that queen of prima donna, the southern mocking-bird, led the orchestra of the tree-tops in matin and vesper; then through that paradise, for truly it was one, the quiet peacefulness of which had never been broken, save by the band of DeSoto on its weird, romantic and melancholy search for gold, a simple and peaceful people wandered, their hearts charmed into harmony with the poetry of the world around them, listening to the voice of the Great Spirit in the sound of the breeze whispering among the pine, or in the roar of the Etowah and the Amicolola. awed by the Tallulah, the terrible; inspired by Toccoa, the beautiful; cheered by Euharlee, the rippling water, they were a people without the arts of civilization, yet, not savage. No belt adorned with bloody scalps was worn by the Cherokee brave; seldom was the war shout heard in the land, and never, except when the Creeks invaded their hunting grounds. The tomahawk, with them was the only weapon of the chase, and an implement in their rude manufacture. Mining the “yellow earth” at Dahlonega, raising their little crops of maize on the banks of the Sweetwater, playing national games of ball at Coosawattee, and dancing on the green at Buffalo Fish, they were children forest; rude indeed, but taught by the nature of their environment, they displayed many of the traits of civilized men.

Near where the Nickajack mingles in its waters with the Chattahoochee, lived the chief from whom the stream takes its name. Around him his tribe lived in loyal obedience to his rule. At his wigwam a stranger from the settlement of Kennesaw, from Frogtown and from amongst the Cohutta, was welcome. Many young braves made pilgrimage to his wigwam to listen to his legendary lore, and to enjoy his hospitality; for was he not the father of Oolalee, the fairest maiden of the nation? Where was the young brave in all the land, who was not inspired to a display of unusual prowess in the games when she looked on? Beads and armlets, moccasins made of fawn skin and ornamented with garnets and shells, were presents from many suitors. Upon all except one, old Nickajack poured the benediction of his good will. This was Sawnee, the son of a chief who lived towards the north. A way back in the misty days of tradition, his ancestor had wrought some injury upon the ancestors of Nickajack, and he could not bear now to think that Oolalee should be borne away to the hated tribe. But the maiden cared nothing for the favorites of her father. The comings of Sawnee, as he passed through her father’s tribe, on his trips to the Spanish trading posts of the South, were the measures of her existence. And when the time of his expected coming drew near, every night trysting place, awaiting him; and when he returned he always brought many gifts to Oolalee.

According to Indian Custom, Oolalee’s father had betrothed her to a young chief of his own tribe, and in October the wedding was to be celebrated according to tribal custom. At last the day before Chicokee was to receive his bride had drawn to a close. For days past Oolalee had expected Sawnee and every night had seen her at the trysting place. Tonight she went out from the wigwam, and as old Nickajack saw her wander down the stream, his heard drew sad (for the red man has a heart,) in thinking that she was soon to go away; for tradition says that she was the idol of the old chiefs heart. When his pipe he lay down to dream of the time when he went to the land of the “Blue Mountains” for her mother. And Oolalee, well, when morning came, she was nowhere to be found. The braves and the squaws of the tribe had gathered to witness the nuptials and share the feast and the games. Now they shared the search for the bride. Trace was found, and Oolalee and Sawnee (for he had come) were followed on by the old beaver dam, and on by the rock mound. And up to the mountain which rises to the northwest. Here by the little spring which bubbles up near its summit, an armlet was found, which had been a gift to Oolalee from her father. Beyond, no trace could be seen, and sadly they wandered back.

In after years the story says that old Nickajack used to sit by the door of his wigwam, and, looking away to the northwest would murmur, in his native tongue that syllable “Lost!” His tribesmen, hearing his constant murmur of “Lost,” “Lost,” when he looked toward the mountain, called it “Lost Mountain.” The deer no longer lead their fawns to drink from pellucid streams uncontaminated by the filth of gullied hillsides; the shout of huntsman no longer echoes in the “forest primeval” is gone; the Sweetwater glides through the farms of the white man; the mocking bird sings upon the bough of the apple tree, and the humming bird dips his beak into the petals of the lily. No Oolalee listens to the rippling Nickajack, or any brave listens to Toccoa and Tallulah, for the red man is gone from his fatherland. Comfortable farm cottages dot the country round, and in October broad acres of snowy clothe the fields.

Many have been the times when youth and maiden have wandered to the little spring where the last trace of Oolalee was found, and there plighted their troth. Armies have encamped there, and lonely pickets on the mountain side have looked away to the Allatoona Heights, to the north, and thought of her whom they left behind in Tennessee or Kentucky. But think ye that any who have not plighted troth or dreamed over again the dream of first love, have ever had a purer love than was in the heart of Oolalee? Or have any whoever gazed upon it, had a tender sorrow than Nickajack? Not all the flowers of affection blow in the conservatories of the cultured and the rich but many a flower of tender and true love ” had blushed unseen” in the solitude of the forest.

         I have heard the story told a different way with different characters from a Marietta paper. It seems the Chiefs name was Salagoa and the young princess was little Willeo. The young brave was from the Creek tribe and Sawnee was not mentioned. Willeo fled with the young Creek brave. The young Creek was captured and promptly dispatched. Salagoa himself gave chase after Little Willeo and the other tribesmen pursued. After the long chase was over both the Chief Salagoa and Willeo were found dead under an oak tree, From that point on Lost Mountain was known because the two died on the mountain. Another website in North Fulton claims that Willeo was a chief. George White  documents the Willeo creek in 1849 as Wylleo. Nickajack had creeks and a mountain in Cobb County named for him. Kennesaw Mountain was named for an Indian chief that was shot by a white hunter. Sawnee is also a mountain in Forsyth county and the name of several business.

   Suffice it to say that as legends are passed from generation to generation the get lost in translation and lost mountain.

Marietta Journal

For four years the track of a huge snake has been seen around the house of Mr. Porter Griggs at Lost Mountain. One day last week his snakeship boldly attacked the fowls in the yard. Mr. Griggs shot him with his gun, his daughter at him with a pistol, and Mrs. Griggs pitchforked him to the ground. The snake fought bravely, and yielded only when the combined force arrayed against him, overpowered and slaughtered him. He was a rattlesnake measured four foot in length, had eleven rattles, teeth 1 inch long and his head 3 inches across the eyes. He is done eating chickens. In three years, in 100 yards of his house Mr. Griggs has killed 17 moccasins, 1 horned snake, 1 rattlesnake and 1 unknown species. He thinks he got them killed out.

As I said above, I have been up on the mountain and it is very rocky. A great place for snakes but fortunately I stuck to the paved road leading to the radio tower. My hats off to Mr. Griggs.

1. Sunny South, Mar. 12, 1892 — page 11


Salagoa located near Calhoun in Gordon County

3. Excerpts from: Statistics of the State of Georgia
Published by George White in 1849.

4. Myths and Legends of the Cherokee by By James Mooney From Nineteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology 1897-98, Part I. [1900]

5. The Dublin Post, October 6, 1880 Page 2


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