Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 33
The view onto Lake Chatuge can now be realized by car as well
as by foot.
Used to be, you had to "earn" your way to the
top of Bell Mountain, Georgia, braving a rutted road to witness a breezy, 360-degree view
of Lake Chatuge and the surrounding mountains of Towns County.
Down below, boaters on Lake Chatuge
can easily determine the V-shaped summit of
blasted-out Bell. Just look for the mountain
with the crack at the top.
In 2015, Towns County acquired 18 acres
atop the mountain as part of the late Hal Herrin estate. The new Bell Mountain County
Park and Historical Site was dedicated on Oct.
12, 2016. And, ever since, it's been all the rage
on Facebook feeds for folks sharing sunset
summit scenes, capturing what newspaper
editor J.A. Gant of Athens, Georgia, described
in 1883 as "the grandest view in America."
The new Hal Herrin Overlook features
115 steps and a couple of decks, giving an eagle's-eye view of the sprawling Lake Chatuge,
built during World War II for the Tennessee
By car, you still have to be brave to get
here: It's a straight-up shot from U.S. 76.
And, on several stretches, the paved lane is
virtually a one-car width. You can stop at a
large parking lot and follow the 300-footlong footpath to the summit. Or be braver
still and follow the steep grade of that freshly-paved footpath to an even higher parking lot, despite passing a red-and-white sign,
warning, "Vehicles that travel beyond this
point on Footpath AT YOUR OWN RISK."
The rocks capping Bell Mountain are
white. And they are spray-painted, by tradition. Curiously, too, county leaders are allowing visitors to keep on painting those rocks as
part of what a brochure calls the mountain's
"colorful history." But a posted sign gives another warning: "DO NOT PAINT Platforms,
Steps, Fence or Asphalt. Destroying this Public Property which is under surveillance is
subject to Criminal Prosecution."
The 3,424-foot Bell Mountain is a popular
site to spot eagles. It is also a prime launching
pad for para-gliders to easily float on wind
currents while overlooking Lake Chatuge.
From the Hiawassee Town Square, follow
U.S. 76 east for 1.3 miles. Turn left onto Shake
Rag Road and go 1.5 miles to Bell Mountain
Road. Turn right and follow one mile on the narrow road to the summit. townscountyga.org
"Winchester was . . . home
to country-music legend
Patsy Cline. But you won't
see a statue of her anywhere
around town, no matter
how hard you look. As one
angry fan wrote to the editor of the Winchester Evening
Star: "I've visited cities which
pay greater tribute to early
American gangsters and outlaws than Winchester does
to Patsy Cline.'"
-Joan Vannorsdall, from
the September/October 1992
piece, "Patsy in Appleland:
Why Won't Winchester, Va.
Honor its Heart-Song Star?"
September/October 2017 33