Hightower Trail Dedication Today

(July 1997)

By Chris Moser

From 1997 DeKalb County (Georgia) Annual Report


A new historical landmark is to be unveiled today as Dunwoody commemorates a little known but vital chapter in DeKalb County history.

In a ceremony at 4 p.m. in front of All Saints Catholic Church on Mount Vernon Road, the Dunwoody Preservation Trust will dedicate a bronze-and-stone monument to the Hightower Trail.

At press time, the Chief of the Lower Muscogee Creek tribe, Marian McCormick of Whigham, Ga., was tentatively scheduled to participate in Native American dress. Dr. Paul Hudson, history lecturer at Oglethorpe University, will speak. Preservation Trust president Lynn Byrd will be Master of Ceremonies. Looking on will be Jim G. Perkins, the amateur historian whose understanding of the trail's significance and determination to tell the world about it brought about today's event.

"The Hightower Trail is historically important for three reasons," explains Perkins in the well-stocked library of his Dunwoody home.

"First, it became the original boundary between DeKalb and Gwinnett counties, and it remains the boundary southeast of Buford Highway to this day. Secondly, it's been the boundary between the sixth and 18th land districts since [purported representatives of] the Creeks ceded this territory in the Treaty of 1821. Thirdly, for a short time it was the boundary between the {settlers} and the Creek nation."

The Hightower Trail was one of three major footpaths, used by Native Americans in what is now DeKalb County. The other two are the Peachtree Ridge trail running all along the present Peachtree Road, and the trail from Stone Mountain westward through present-day Decatur and Atlanta. The Hightower Trail is part of a route that went from the Augusta area westward, passing north of Stone Mountain, crossing the Chattahoochee River at a shallow ford west of where Roswell Road is now, and leading to the north Georgia mountains and points beyond. It was a key trade-and-travel path for the Creek and Cherokee nations, whose territories were divided by the Chattahoochee. The trail isn't named after any tall tower [although some believe it was named for a trading post owned by a family named Hightower]. It's simply an anglicized corruption of the trail's name "i-ta-wa."

"No one knows how many hundreds of years the trail served as an 'interstate highway' for the Creeks and Cherokees," Perkins says.

"After the Creeks ceded the area in the Treaty of 1821, settlers found some of the terrain on this footpath too rough for wagon travel, so they didn't convert it into a permanent road. Much of it gradually faded away or was erased by development over the years."

Hightower Trail Chapter of the DAR in Canton GA

The trail in context to today's traffic -- here
Click on the map below for the trail in the Dunwoody area.

Click here to see Map alone 
Does not show well on 
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The Hightower Trail passed through the Dunwoody area from Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, on the east to the Chattahoochee River on the northwest. It was a major pre-historic trail from the vicinity of Augusta, Georgia, to the mountains of northwest Georgia and points beyond. It crossed the river at the “shallow ford” a short distance west of the Roswell Road bridge, where people easily could walk across unless the river was in the midst of a flood. No one knows how many hundreds (or perhaps thousands) of years this path served as a major highway for the Native Americans. For more of this story, click on: http://www.thecrier.net/articles/2006/02/07/columnists/past_tense/pasttense.txt

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