Tag Archives: dam

Slip Slidin’ Away…

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This past Saturday my wife and I took of just to get away for a while. Things have been hectic and a “get-away” was overdue. We decided to drive up the “alpine” Helen in the north Georgia “mountains”. It’s less than an hour from where we live and my wife loves a particular restaurant there. Personally, I can take it or leave it, but she absolutely loves going there.

The town of Helen has sort of a Danish/German/Bavarian flavor to the heart of the little town. There’s a beer garden surrounded by shops and places that are made to look alpine. But just outside of the town is an old mill that still operates and produces milled flour, grits, etc. It’s a fun place to stop and lots of interesting things are there to photograph.

One of the favorite things of my to shoot there is a dam. The creek that turns the mill stone flows behind the building. It’s a rather lazy creek, but the dam has water flowing over the top of it constantly, and this time I noticed that there are pipes a bit below the water surface on the down-dam side. I thought it was rather pretty to watch the water shooting over the top of the dam and through the pipes, too, so I took today’s picture of it to share with you.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1898, a massive explosion of unknown origin sank the battleship USS Maine in Cuba’s Havana harbor, killing 260 of the fewer than 400 American crew members aboard.

One of the first American battleships, the Maine weighed more than 6,000 tons and was built at a cost of more than $2 million. Ostensibly on a friendly visit, the Maine had been sent to Cuba to protect the interests of Americans there after a rebellion against Spanish rule broke out in Havana in January.

An official U.S. Naval Court of Inquiry ruled in March that the ship was blown up by a mine, without directly placing the blame on Spain. Much of Congress and a majority of the American public expressed little doubt that Spain was responsible and called for a declaration of war.

Subsequent diplomatic failures to resolve the Maine matter, coupled with United States indignation over Spain’s brutal suppression of the Cuban rebellion and continued losses to American investment, led to the outbreak of the Spanish-American War in April 1898.

Within three months, the United States had decisively defeated Spanish forces on land and sea, and in August an armistice halted the fighting. On December 12, 1898, the Treaty of Paris was signed between the United States and Spain, officially ending the Spanish-American War and granting the United States its first overseas empire with the ceding of such former Spanish possessions as Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines.

In 1976, a team of American naval investigators concluded that the Maine explosion was likely caused by a fire that ignited its ammunition stocks, not by a Spanish mine or act of sabotage.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The Sahara Desert at one time was lush grassland and savannah. Overgrazing and/or climate change in 8000 B.C. began to change the area from pastoral land to desert. Now it is the world’s largest hot desert at over 3,630,000 square miles—roughly the size of the United States. Antarctica is considered the largest desert (of any type) in the world.

…Water Logged

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Double click the image to see it in a larger version…

When things are soaked in water, permeated through and through, we say that they’re waterlogged.  I find that to be a very interesting term, especially after seeing this dam last Saturday.

I don’t know as I’d ever really seen a dam made out of logs before.  It certainly makes for a more picturesque dam that one that is made out of concrete, but then, you sure couldn’t build Hoover Dam out of logs!  I know that when I was deep at the base of Hoover Dam on their tour and they told us how much water pressure was pressing on the wall behind us, I was VERY grateful that Hoover Dam was made out of concrete and steel….and a LOT OF IT!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1885, George Smith Patton, one of the great American generals of World War II, was born in San Gabriel, California.

Patton came from a family with a long history of military service. After studying at West Point, he served as a tank officer in World War I, and his experience in that conflict, along with his extensive military study, led him to become an advocate of the crucial importance of the tank in future warfare. After the American entrance into World War II, Patton was placed in command of an important U.S. tank division and played a key role in the Allied invasion of French North Africa in 1942. In 1943, Patton led the U.S. Seventh Army in its assault on Sicily and won fame for out-commanding Montgomery during the so-called Race to Messina.

Although Patton was one of the ablest American commanders in World War II, he was also one of the most controversial. He presented himself as a modern-day cavalryman, designed his own uniform, and was known to make eccentric claims that he was a direct descendant of great military leaders of the past through reincarnation. During the Sicilian campaign, Patton generated considerable controversy when he accused a hospitalized U.S. soldier suffering from battle fatigue of cowardice and then personally struck him across the face. The famously profane general was forced to issue a public apology and was reprimanded by General Dwight Eisenhower.

However, when it was time for the invasion of Western Europe, Eisenhower could find no general as formidable as Patton, and the general was again granted an important military post. In 1944, Patton commanded the U.S. Third Army in the invasion of France, and in December of that year his expertise in military movement and tank warfare helped crush the German counteroffensive in the Ardennes.

During one of his many successful campaigns, General Patton was said to have declared, “Compared to war, all other forms of human endeavor shrink to insignificance.” On December 21, 1945, he died in a hospital in Germany from injuries sustained in an automobile accident near Mannheim.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  People who lost their homes during the Great Depression often lived in what were called “Hoovervilles,” or shanty towns, that were named after President Herbert Hoover. There was also “Hoover Stew” (food dished out in soup kitchens), “Hoover Blankets” (newspapers that served as blankets), “Hoover Hogs” (jack rabbits used as food), and “Hoover Wagons” (broken cars that were pulled by mules).

Nora Mills, Helen, GA

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Double click the image for a large size look at the picture…

Near the small town of Helen in the northern Georgia mountains is Nora Mill & Granary.  The mill itself is a four-story building built in 1876 complete with 1,500 pound French Burr Mill Stones and a 100 ft. wooden raceway that feeds water to a water turbine. The mill was constructed in 1876 by John Martin after he came to Georgia in search of gold.  In 1902 Dr. Lamartine G. Hardman, governor of Georgia from 1927 -1931, bought the mill and named it “Nora Mill” in memory of his sister Nora. Nora Mill remained in the Hardman Family until 1998, when it, along with 300 surrounding acres, was purchased by a group of investors.

After a succession of millers throughout the years, in the early 1980s, Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Ron Fain worked with the Hardman family and leased Nora Mill for he and his parents to bring back to life and operate.  Ron worked with his parents until their passing, and then brought his youngest daughter Joann under his wing to learn the art of milling and work the business with him.

​Ron and Joann together developed and brought to market a number of corn & grain recipes that are famous to Nora Mill. Recipes such as “Georgia Ice Cream”, “Dixie Ice Cream”, “Pioneer’s Porridge”, and the like. They expanded the product offerings and opened the gift shop next door to the mill and named it “Nora Mill Next Door”. Joann and Ron worked shoulder to shoulder until his passing in June of 2001.

Nora Mill is now in the third and fourth generation of the Fain family.  Joann Fain Tarpley, with husband Rich, continues to manage and operate Nora Mill Granary. The fourth generation of the same family can be seen at Nora Mill Granary as the children of Joann and Rich are actively working with them at the mill.

There have been many changes over the years, but the main idea is still the same, to grind fresh grains with no additives or preservatives with old-fashioned quality. Nora Mill has recently gone through a major refurbishing. The dam, raceway, and penstock have been rebuilt.  A new porch & deck overlooks gigantic rainbow trout swimming in the beautiful Chattahoochee River.

I took this photo on Saturday of the wooden dam that was built to power the mill.  I’ll include other pictures that help you see the way the dam is constructed later!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1865, Henry Wirz, a Swiss immigrant commanding the notorious Andersonville prison in Georgia, was hanged for the murder of Civil War soldiers incarcerated there.

Wirz was born in Switzerland in 1823 and moved to the United States in 1849. He lived in the South, primarily in Louisiana, and became a physician. When the Civil War broke out, he joined the Fourth Louisiana Battalion. After the First Battle of Bull Run, Virginia, in July 1861, Wirz guarded prisoners in Richmond, Virginia, and was noticed by Inspector General John Winder. Winder had Wirz transferred to his department, and Wirz spent the rest of the conflict working with prisoners of war. He commanded a prison in Tuscaloosa, Alabama; escorted prisoners around the Confederacy; handled exchanges with the Union; and was wounded in a stagecoach accident.  In early 1864, he was assigned the responsibility for Andersonville prison, known as Camp Sumter.

While both sides incarcerated prisoners under horrible conditions, Andersonville deserves special mention for the inhumane treatment of inmates. A stockade held thousands of men on a barren, polluted patch of ground. Barracks were planned but never built; the men slept in makeshift housing, called “shebangs,” constructed from scrap wood and blankets that offered little protection from the elements. A small stream flowed through the compound and provided water for the Union soldiers, but this became a cesspool of disease and human waste. Erosion caused by the prisoners turned the stream into a huge swamp. The prison was designed to hold 10,000 men but the Confederates had packed it with more than 31,000 inmates by August 1864.

Wirz oversaw an operation in which thousands of inmates died. Partly a victim of circumstance, he was given few resources with which to work, and the Union ceased prisoner exchanges in 1864. As the Confederacy began to dissolve, food and medicine for prisoners were difficult to obtain. When word about Andersonville leaked out, Northerners were horrified. Poet Walt Whitman saw some of the camp survivors and wrote, “There are deeds, crimes that may be forgiven, but this is not among them.”

Wirz was charged with conspiracy to injure the health and lives of Union soldiers and murder. His trial began in August 1865, and ran two months. Over 160 witnesses were called to testify. Though Wirz did demonstrate indifference towards Andersonville’s prisoners, he was, in part, a scapegoat and some evidence against him was fabricated entirely. He was found guilty and sentenced to die on November 10 in Washington, D.C. On the scaffold, Wirz reportedly said to the officer in charge, “I know what orders are, Major. I am being hanged for obeying them.” The 41-year-old Wirz was one of the few people convicted and executed for crimes committed during the Civil War.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: A popular procedure in ancient Rome was scar removal, particularly scars on the back which were marks of shame because they suggested a man had turned his back in battle—or worse, he had been whipped like a slave. Foreigners would also have plastic surgery to fit better into Roman society.