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And so ends this journey “Along Yellow Creek Road”

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Bob and Edith Langstron encourage folks to stop for a photo. (Smoke Signals July 2012) Photo by Daniel Rosen
Road: a series of scheduled visits or appearances in several locations. — merriam-webster.com

By Anita Rosen
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Photos by Anita Rosen and Daniel Rosen

Signs of Yellow Creek Rd.
Gibbs
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Until the final removal of the Cherokees in the 1830s, the need for a formal road crossing the Etowah River did not exist.

As mining took over the “Gold Belt,” a 10-mile wide swath running through Cherokee County, the dirt trail known as Yellow Creek Road was built. River crossings took place at Moore’s Ferry.

But, it is Board Tree Creek that parallels the road. Yellow Creek is a smaller stream that crossed the road farther south — between Old Federal and Conns Creek roads. Today, it is hard to find any trace of Yellow Creek.

Until the 1960s, only the dirt road meandered north to south. As Edith Langstron recalled for Smoke Signals in July 2011, it was a quiet time when the only traffic on the road might be the milkman, the mailman and, perhaps, another four cars a day.

In 1962, the road was paved and the bridge repositioned slightly west from its Moore’s Ferry site. With the development of Big Canoe and Bent Tree starting in the 1970s, traffic dramatically increased.

Characters met
Bob Langstron, aka Buggy Bob, and his wife Edith triggered this series when they added yard-art vultures to the ever-changing collection displayed in their front yard. Edith places her family memorabilia inside the home; Bob uses both indoors and out to exhibit his collectibles.

Further south, quintessential Renaissance man Abry Bell built his family’s home and worked 45 years as a successful cabinetmaker. He raises his own food and, now retired, produces bowls from unusual woods, collects regional artifacts, studies area history and is refitting a 1942 Ford.

Founding families
Fourth-generation Georgia-born William Blackwell Jr. traces his genealogy back to the pioneers who built Yellow Creek Baptist Church. Junior delights in relating tales of families who once populated what are today Big Canoe and Bent Tree.

Don and Sammie Rainey now live in the 1830s home built and occupied by Rainey’s ancestors, the Pascoes. Across the road from his family home, on land that was once part of the Pascoe estate, real estate developer Robin Loudermilk has built the gated community of Woodhaven Bend on the Etowah.

Entrepreneurs
Although born and buried in Cherokee County, E.L. (Lee) Sartor was an important figure in Pickens County history. E.L. Sartor Merchandise’s brick building remains on Highway 53 next to the original clapboard store.

Broughton Stancil, born into a long-lived clan of early settlers, helped his parents and later ran Stancils Store at the intersection of Yellow Creek and Conns Creek roads. He died on Nov. 30, 2011, at the age of 96, a much-missed link to the area’s history.

Gibbs Gardens, a testament to the vision and tenacity of owner Jim Gibbs, opened in March. Among its 16 horticultural venues are the largest fernery, Japanese garden and display of daffodils in the United States. The stroll to the Manor House, 150 feet above the Valley Garden, takes the visitor through ever-changing and seemingly endless collections of flora.

Farms
Gold and Grass Farms owner Gary Garrett designed his property’s sign and placed it to draw the eye to the old Creighton Mine Co. commissary. Garrett gives a nod to the land’s use from Cherokees to mining to pasturing cattle, and, finally, to growing hay and quail hunting, Garrett’s passions. Photo of Gold and Grass Farms, at right, by Gary Garrett.

Oak Hill Farm, just off Yellow Creek Road, is the home of Wayne and Lois Bennett. In the 1980s, Bennett bought a Charolais bull, and, after educating himself about the strain and advanced breeding techniques to ensure bloodline purity, shifted his business to raising only these cattle.

Faith Farm owners John and Kathy Knupp morphed their business from delivering artesian water to full-time farming. Having outgrown a one-man operation, Knupp recently partnered with Kennesaw State University to form Apple Spring Farm. This agreement allows the university to grow produce on Knupp’s land for use in the school’s organic commissary.

Nurseries
For many folks,a stop at Sperin Tree Farm is an important part of holiday rituals. For the past 20-plus years and with the help of his children and grandchildren, Hubert Sperin has provided families with special memories of selecting and cutting Christmas trees.

Goldleaf Farms owner Phil Cates has 60 acres under cultivation at the southern terminus of Yellow Creek Road. He has earned a trusted reputation for the quality of his plant material with developers, landscape companies and the occasional homeowner.

Octogenarian Jim Lawson —whose family members are kin to many of the folks in this series — has been grafting heirloom trees for more than 50 years. Lawson’s Nursery is well-known in the trade for top-quality heirloom plants. His joyful personality and willingness to pull up a chair for a chat make him a researcher’s first stop.

New and future discoveries
Morris Fabrics, run by Geraldine Morris, is open for business. In 1955, Morris and her husband moved to Yellow Creek Road to run a grocery store and work at a nearby chicken hatchery. Today, Morris offers quilting fabrics and trimmings in the low, red building on the road’s east side.

Trail of Tears, which intersects Yellow Creek Road, remains unexplored, its unwelcome aspect reinforced by a closed, forbidding gate. And the home of those chickens that know how to avoid becoming dinner under a car’s tires proved elusive.

And so ends this journey “Along Yellow Creek Road.”

 

 

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Folks always found a welcome from Broughton Stancil. (Smoke Signals October 2011) Photo by Daniel Rosen

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