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Soque River Basin Stone Architecture Survey . . . list of project sites

Soque River Basin Stone Architecture Survey . . . list of project sites


The following is a list of ancient stone ruins in the Soque River Basin, which was prepared by archaeologist Cyrus Thomas of the Smithsonian Institute in 1891.  Of these,  only the massive turtle effigy and the Alec Mountain stone circle were ever visited again by professional archaeologists.   In 1939,  Robert Wauchope measured the fieldstone turtle and in 1956,  Phillip E. White of Harvard University dug some test pits within the Alec Mountain Stone Circle.   We will begin work as soon as the leaves fall . . . which should be in mid-November 2018.

  • Massive fieldstone effigy of a turtle on the Tallulah River (now on an island in Lake Burton)
  • Hundreds of stone cairns, walls and possible building ruins in and around Batesville.
  • Mound on farm of Patton Jarrett on south bank of Chattooga River, one fourth of a mile above Toccoa Creek.
  • Stone mounds on the headwaters of the Soquee River.
  • Mounds on west bank of Chattooga River, about 2 miles above Toccoa Creek.
  • Stone structure, horseshoe shape, 2 to 4 feet high, at Soquee post office.
  • Circular earthwork about 30 feet in diameter, just east of last.
  • Several stone cairns along the road, just south of Soquee post-office.
  • Stone cairns on Tray Mountain.
  • Stone cairns at Unicoi Gap, north of Helen
  • Stone circle formerly on the hill above Glade Creek, on the road from Clarkesville to Tallulah Falls, 5 miles from Clarkesville.
  • Stone cairns on a ridge between Rabun and Habersham Counties, 2 miles west of Tallulah Falls.
  • Stone cairns on Soapstone Mountain, 5 miles southeast of Ayersville.
  • Large mound on east side of Soque River, 1 mile above Deep Creek.
  • Stone walls nearly obliterated, on the east bank of Soquee River, about 4 miles above Clarkesville.
  • Stone cairns on north side of Toccoa Creek, 4 miles above its month.
  • Mound on the east bank of Soquee River, one-half mile above Clarkesville on the Wilson farm.
  • Stone cairns on the Ryan farm, 1 mile northeast of Clarkesville.
  • Stone cairns on the road, 1 mile north of Soque post-office.
  • Stone cairns on the west bank of Soquee River, 2 miles below Clarkesville.
  • Stone circle 100 feet in diameter, with walls originally 4 feet high, on Alec Mountain, 7 miles northwest of Clarkesville.
  • Stone mound near the bank of Tugaloo River just below the mouth of Toccoa Creek.
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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history. Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.



    Quite a list, Richard, and I look forward to helping out. Meanwhile, looking up the location of the Patton Jarrett farm, this fantastic, old reference came up:,+toccoa+ga&source=bl&ots=uuw4pK78Ar&sig=4Jc6C–scfoqh1RCuTA7FuAf98w&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiijt-n9I3eAhVsTd8KHTi4Ah8Q6AEwBHoECAUQAQ#v=onepage&q=patton%20jarrett%20farm%2C%20toccoa%20ga&f=false

    I’ll look, further, to see if any mention has been made of the rock terraces along the north side of a very large mound I encountered, Sunday, hiking in the Pine Log WMA on my way to fish Stamp Creek.

    Keep up the great work! See you soon.

    • Yes, that book has recently been reprinted and is available from Amazon.


    This is so exciting! Pictures, please, when you find them!

    • Will be creating 3D virtual reality models, photographs and videos of these sites as we FIND them. The local folks don’t even know they exist, while the archaeology profession ignores this report from the Smithsonian.


    I’d like to help out.

    • I will make an announcement when the first outing is planned and where to meet.


    You mention fieldstone effigy on Tallulah R., certainly under Tallulah Gorge, now on island in Lake Burton. That must mean it was moved to island. I’d like to know if island was northern or southern one. There’s only two in Lake B. I camped out in northern one with my dad overnight one night as boy in maybe 1960 on father-son camp out. My dad was Tech grad like you and me. Our neighbors from Doraville lived on peninsula right by island and Charlie Mountain. The neighbor wife was head nurse at Ga Tech, Glenn LaRowe(Laroo), she was full blooded Cherokee, husband was Architecture grad from Tech, John LaRowe(laroo), originally from Indiana. They built A frame on peninsula. My dad and I saw no fieldstone, we didn’t explore island. We made pancakes next morning from wild blueberries. Neighbors became godparents of my little brother, an Emory grad, now diagnostic radiologist. Neighbors started Mark of the Potter on Soque. They were into pottery. John made kickwheels for that. Just a little bit of trivia for you. I have photos of neighbors on my Google+ profile.

    • The effigy still exists on Goat Island. We will have to use canoes or boats to reach it. The founders of Mark of the Potter taught me ceramic arts, which was one of the prerequisite courses required before I went to Mexico on the fellowship. At the time, their shop and school was in Buckhead.


        Richard, I just created a blog with the photo and story of the founders of Mark of the Potter. They never mentioned they had a shop in Buckhead or taught classes there. Just so we are on the same page about who the founders were, I created this blog. Once they had an exhibit in Piedmont Park in the early 70’s at the arts festival. John has a cookbook called “Somethin’s Cookin’ in the Mountains” that has recipes from all the northeast Georgia restaurants. It’s on Amazon. Just click on the link to find out all we knew about them. The blog address is-

        • The couple divorced some time ago and the wife operated Kickwheel Pottery. During the early stages, she sold out to her son and the business moved to Stone Mountain, changing its name to Stone Mountain Clay and Pottery Supply.


    First I mean no disrespect if I use the wrong terminology. I’m new here.

    If I’m reading the site correctly, one or two pictures are coming clear.

    First, the landscape among native Americans at the time of European introduction was far more complicated than anyone thought.

    Second, and possibly more controversial, tribal affiliations look to be more political/ economic/ regional than genetic.

    Please tell me where I’ve missed the mark. I’m a history nerd but willing to have my theories shot down.

    • Yes and yes. The cultural landscape was far more complicated that the simplistic model created by academicians in the United States and the existence of the present day federally recognized tribes was a direct indigenous response to the impact of European diseases, the English sponsored Native American slave trade and then the seemingly unlimited demand for deer skins and animal furs by European consumers. The Creeks always knew that the past was much more complicated. Creek history was presented in the Creek writing system to the early leaders of the Colony of Georgia. However, both the writing system and the complex origins were forgotten by British historians within a generation and then erased from the history books by post-Revolution authorities in the United States. As example, an eyewitness book by ethnologist Charles de Rochefort, published in 1658, on the sophisticated culture of the Apalache Kingdom in northern Georgia, is an important resource among European scholars, but virtually unknown to academicians in the United States. It was deemed a fantasy by Ivy League scholars in the 1800s because it portrayed the ancestors of the Creeks living in large planned towns and wearing colorful, woven clothing. The New Englanders rejected the book because they assumed that since Southern whites in their eyes were backward and less intelligent, the Natives who preceded them were likewise.


        The cultural landscape was extremely advanced even 4,500 years ago. Ramah chert from northern Labrador (near Greenland) was found at Jacob Island in Ontario (less than 100 miles from Toronto) along with conch shell from the Gulf of Mexico and Superior copper. These trade goods were literally traveling thousands of miles and often being found in bulk caches so it wasn’t merely simple hunter gatherer societies we were dealing with back then.

        As for…

        “Stone structure, horseshoe shape, 2 to 4 feet high, at Soquee post office”

        If this structure still exists Richard you need to document it very carefully. See if the high back wall is made out of the largest boulders. They are found from Oregon (Klamath and Modoc peoples) all the way across the continent to the NE Atlantic States. They are ceremonial structures known as ‘Prayer seats’ and ‘Vision Quest seats’ most commonly. Unfortunately our anthropologists do not recognize them as native constructs despite their obvious age… “Field clearing piles” are what they are called up here lol!

        Have a great day all when you go!


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