Imagine a tourist town near to us that is similar in atmosphere to Dahlonega and Helen, Ga. or Gatlinburg, Tenn. Imagine decorated streets, great places to eat, and interesting historical sites and stories. Cave Spring is such a place and only a short distance away from Calhoun and Cleburne counties. When saying “Cave Spring,” don’t add an “s.” In this town, there is only one spring; and it is an important one because it supplies sweet, clean water to area residents even during droughts.
A friend and I drove to Cave Spring in the early fall, ate a tasty lunch at an upscale restaurant, and explored several places, such as the spring, an inviting welcome center, a special cabin, a candy store, and more. I want to go back, try another eatery or two, and see the Christmas decorations.
For those, like me, who normally drive through Cave Spring enroute to bigger cities in Georgia, should know that the city’s leaders are striving to make it a great place to visit. Its natural centerpieces, the cave and spring, alone, are worth seeing.
For a charge of $1 per person, visitors may enter the mouth of the cave located in Rolater Park on Cedartown Street Southwest and walk through the wide hallways of the cave. At its farthest end is a door with a window that offers a view of the spring that is outfitted with large pipes. After seeing the spring, one may turn around and walk back out of the cave or ascend a set of stone steps that lead to an exit.
The cave has markings made about 2,000 years ago by the Woodland Native Americans. I didn’t know that fact until I left the cave, but I want to go back and see the marks.
Rolater Park has a historic house, which is picturesque with its wide lawn and adjacent stream. The park also has bridges to walk across and picnic areas.
We enjoyed lunch at Linde Marie’s Steakhouse on the Square. It is located at 18 Broad St. We ate the fish and chips, but a fellow Annistonian eating there said to try the hamburger on our next visit. The rather swanky atmosphere enhanced the good food. Young servers were attentive and helpful. They advised us to go to the Cave Spring Welcome Center at 4 Rome St.
(All of these addresses are within a couple of blocks of each other.)
At the Welcome Center, volunteer John Johnston eagerly showed us the Native American artifacts, replicas of historic buildings, and photographs and documents of the city’s historic places and people.
Cave Spring is the site of the seventh oldest school for the deaf in the nation, the Georgia School for the Deaf founded in 1846. Its Fannin Hall closed during the Civil War and was used by both Union and Confederate armies for a hospital. Today, city offices are located in Fannin Hall, and the school is still being used to teach deaf and handicapped students.
My friend and I walked to a rare, two-story cabin once used as a tavern and trading post by the Cherokee Indians. It was built in 1810 and has been restored with a twist. For decades it was covered over by a hotel erected in 1850. Some people did not believe the cabin was still beneath the hotel’s walls, but when the hotel was later torn down, there was the cabin.
Five miles outside of town is Chubb Town Community. A free black man named Henry Chubb founded it in 1864. He was a descendent of another free black man named Nicholas Chubb, whose listing for that status was rare in the 1820 census. The community once thrived and provided goods for everyone in the vicinity.
“The descendants of Chubb Town,” Johnston said, “still live in the community.”
The Downtown Development Association and the Cave Spring Historical Society are busy making Cave Spring a destination place with restored historical sites, festivals, and seasonal decorations.
Even if I must bundle up to do so this winter, I hope I can find the time to revisit Cave Spring and spend more time exploring this special place. For those who wish to spend the night, there are a couple of bed and breakfast lodgings.
The Welcome Center is open from noon-3 p.m. Sunday-Thursdays, 11 a.m-4 p.m. on Fridays, and 1-4 p.m. on Saturdays. Call to find out the hours during the holidays, 706-777-0299.
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