Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Macartan Campbell Cup Race

Submitted by: Carey Kollock Madigan

In 1967, my Dad (John Kollock) began a yearly boat race called the “Macartan Campbell Cup Race” which took place on the Soque River between Hardman’s Bottom and Wall’s Bridge Road, as the river flows. This was THE EVENT of the summer! Family, friends, friends of friends descended upon our summer home in a wild array of themed costumes before loading up children and canoes to begin the race. We were quite a spectacle for the passerby as station wagons and VW buses unloaded people and river crafts on Hardman Bottom Bridge. As the bull horn sounded each entries first stroke into the gentle rapids, we all watched cheering them on until they were out of sight.
Once all the boats were in the river, the caravan of onlookers would make their way to the finish line. Here the bridge was awash with people above and below looking out for the first boat to come into view. With a chorus of “stroke, stroke!” wafting toward them, every entrant leaned into their final pull to cross the finish line. Tired and wet, canoeist were congratulated as boats were hauled up to the road. Once the last boat had come in, times were tallied and a winner announced. A smiling bedraggled group with winners holding up the “cup” was photographed before one and all made their way back to the lake for a potluck mean, swimming and shared stories that lasted until dark.
This wonderful event took place for 13 years. I will always be reminded of my Dad and his love of people when I think back on this one day every summer that brought so many together for a simple yet grand adventure.

Where is the History of the old Soquee Woolen Mill?

By: Clarence G. Mason

December 2014

In the early 1800’s, year before the Habersham Mill Factory and farther upstream on the Soquee, there was a Soquee Woolen Mill located at Minis Shoals near Clarkesville.  This is where the water from the much later Habersham Mill Lake now begins.  Most of the only history information that I know is through oral history as told by my mother and aunt who were born in 1907 and 1909.  My aunt lived to be age 95 and she said the Indians watched as equipment was brought in.
Farther upstream and at the end of West Water Street, a new bridge was built across the Soquee replacing the Roper Bridge that had washed away in much earlier flood waters of the early 1950’s or before.  A new subdivision was built across the Soquee.  Downstream from this new bridge and off to the side, a new bridge was built across a creek close to where it enters the Soquee.  A new road was graded above and along the river to private property and to the shoals.  In the 1950’s, an old road could be seen along the river bank.  The reason the new higher road was built was because the old road would easily flood out and above it the banks were too steep for an old road.  It appears some large rocks were blasted or moved into the river’s edge to make a way for this older road.
On the other end, in the other direction, was Robertson Stree, a dead end road with a house at the lower end.  But the old road turned right, through the woods and down to the river and mill.  Now Robertson Street makes a loop. Now Robertson Loop Road.  The area was used as a landfill and now used by the City of Clarkesville and is closed off making it difficult to get to the shoals.  But past this, the overgrown road goes by the ice cave as it continues to the river.  The ice cave was filled with winter ice and used to keep things cool during the summer.  It is still visible, just a hole to crawl into and it is well above high water.  It may take some time to locate it in the overgrowth.
With the loud roar of rushing water, it is easy to find the shoals and it ca quickly be seen.  The shoals consists of the Soquee running over a wide area of bedrock and falling maybe six feet now.  But in the 1800’s it surely had more drop than it does today.  But today, it has so much more fill in sand, mud, and has trees growing out in the middle.  Today, a person can walk from below up to the center rocks that stick above the water and climb up on them with rapid water flowing all around.  I have seen large trees washed over the shoals during high water and heard the roar of rushing water at my house.
There are holes in the bedrock, some round that appear to have been used to support post maybe wedged in.  These post would support the trough carrying water to possibly a water wheel, the main source of early power.  Off to the side, there were signs of an old chimney, now a pile of old solid handmade bricks.  Farther away along the hillside is a rock wall made up of some large rocks.  This side was subject to being flooded and was a small area and would not have much power to support a mill.  Therefore, later, the much better lower present Habersham Mill site was built up having much more room and power and less flooding.
More signs of the old mill were visible in the 1950’s.  There were some early graves in the area that are now lost, destroyed.  I do not know how many houses were built in the area.  Sometime later in the 1800’s, the old Soquee Woolen Mill burned.  After this, maybe the lower Habersham Mills site was obtained.
After the mill burned, two of the old houses were torn down and along with a third old house, the lumber was recycled to build a large house farther away up Robertson Street.  Wide boards were used as exterior siding and nice beaded six inch boards were used as interior walls.  Hand cut nails from one inch to six inches were recycled and used mostly.  The support beams were maybe 8” x 10”.  There were eight foot wide porches on three sides.  The house had a through hallway and it was rather cool.  There were four rooms with big tall double fireplaces made from solid handmade brick.  It had no insulation but it did have some cracks.  Water would freeze inside on cold winter nights.  Now the old house has decayed and fallen in.  It may be 140 years old and the recycled lumber may be 170 years old.
I still live beside the old house where I was born on May 30, 1947 and lived in it until 1970.  Mom was 12 years old when her mother bought this farm in 1919 and 95 years ago.  Her mom was Sarah Jane Frankum Senkbeil from Batesville on the Chimney Mountain Road along the upper left fork of the Soquee.  Sarah’s mom was Elizabeth McClure Frankum, who grew up in the McClure log cabin on the Unicoi Road at the Junction with Sky Lake Road after she came from Ireland in 1842.  The log cabin still stands there on the McClure home place where it was built in the 1800’s.  Mom played and fished along the upper part of the Soquee and later knew the Minis Shoals area.  I played along the Soquee, Habersham Lake, and Minis shoals and fished and collected Indian artifacts.
Now the lake is filled in, now a wetlands, and I can walk up to the higher center rocks and climb up on them with rushing waters all around.  I can stand on the fill in and see eye level up the river water.
I wonder how high the shoals were during the days of the Cherokee.  When was the Soquee Woolen Mill built?  When did the mill burn?  How many houses were in the area?  When did the first white people occupy the area? What…?

Thanks to my mom: Annie Senkbeil Mason
Thanks to my aunt: Bertha Senkbeil Harris

By: Clarence G. Mason

Clarkesville, GA

Soque Color Sketch

By: Kimberly Griswold

Soque Watercolor

By: Tom Landreth

Tom Landreth


Tom painted life as he lived it.

As a passionate fly fisherman, many of Tom's paintings portray the angler on the stream in some quiet place in the mountains. He also loved nature, as seen in his wildflowers and birds paintings.

Tom was an accomplished watercolor artist that uniquely captured the light and the colors of North Georgia in his landscapes and rural scenes.

He lives in his work and the memory of his family and friends.

Watts Mill (on the Soque) - 1930

By: John Kollock

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Thursday, November 20, 2014

2007 Soque River Cleanup - Photo

Submitted by: Amber Jensen

Memories of my Days on the Soque

Submitted by: Helen Addis Chitwood

I lived on, or around the Soque most of my life. Both of my parents, Jim and Myrtle Addis, retired after over forty years of service to the Mill. Daddy worked for the power plant and Mama worked for the Mill. My brother Jim and sister Frances also worked for the Mill. I remember that every day after school I would go up to the power plant to see daddy. He would let me fish out the power plant window, or I would play on the shoals in front of the plant.

It does scare me to think now of all the dangerous things I did around the river. I didn’t know how to swim, but that didn’t stop me. I remember when the bridges washed out after a big storm. We lived across the river from the mill at that time. Daddy had to cross the river with a boat and pulley system. He always told me not to cross alone. So naturally I wanted to go to the mill store and set across the river by myself. As I was pulling myself across the cable jumped out of the pulley and I became stranded. Luckily a man that worked for the Mill saw me and came to my rescue. He fixed the cable and got me safely to shore, and then told my daddy what I had done, which was no fun at all.

Another memory I have is of walking across the lower part of the dam when the water wasn’t running over. I never thought about what would happen if they opened the gates one day while I was on the dam. I never told anyone either (especially daddy) about where I was or what I was doing. The only people that knew at the time were my friends who had tagged along. In fact daddy never found out that I did that in fear that he might still spank me, but I did eventually tell mama, about thirty years later.

I have so many great stories and memories from my childhood river days that could fill a book. I am so proud to say that I lived in the mill village of Habersham, and I am forever grateful of my time on the river. But guess what? I still never learned to swim!

Historic Soquee Photos

Submitted by: Helen Chitwood

The river gave life to Habersham Mills and in turn the Mill families brought life to the river. Here are some photos of life at Habersham Mills along the Soque River in the 1940's.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Story of Soquee Flood of 1949

Submitted by: Florence Wikle

In June, 1949 the paradise that five very happy children enjoyed beyond comprehension was destroyed.

The winter of 1948 had been extremely rainy. This continued into the month of June of 1949. As the ground became more and more saturated with water there was nowhere for it to go but into the streams. Located in the Batesville community was a dam used by the Wikle family for a source of electrical power for the family houses and businesses. This dam was located on Raper Creek which flowed in into the Soque River. There was also another dam located on the Ernest Nash property which was located on Shoal Creek, which ran into the Soque River, below the dam which belonged to the Wikle family.

I remember it had rained almost continuously for about two weeks, most of the time in torrential downpours. I remember my mother washing our clothes and then having to hang them on the porch and all over the house rather than hanging them outside to dry. I am sure at this point in her life she must have prayed every night for it to stop raining so she could get us five kids out of the house and out from under her feet. My mother was not the only one feeling frustrated, we kids needed and wanted to get outside. We were so used to playing in our beautiful woods and in the gorgeous Soque River just being inside was sheer torture. For a kid, this home and its surroundings was sheer paradise. Over the years the land around our house had flooded leaving beautiful sand all along the river, just perfect to take a running jump down the bank and into the Soque River. It was also the perfect place to do our night fishing with Mr. Otto Fricks. My brother, Willard and I would go with Mr. Fricks, sit on that lovely sand, set out lines, lean back and hope to catch some kind of fish, we were not particular about the kind of fish we caught since we never kept the fish, just threw them back.

Our father operated what was known as the lower plant. It was one of two power plants used to generate power for Habersham Mills and the village. As you came down the narrow road that led to the plant and our house, you first came to the lower dam, below the dam was located the power plant and then beyond that our house, barn, etc. The charm of this place was our swimming hole which was located behind the plant. It was just at the bottom of the dam on the shoals and went from very shallow to about six feet deep. Perfect for our ages! We also had a beach where you could build sand castles and have all manner of fun. This was sort of like living in a resort with something to do every season. In the summer we had the river and all the fun you could possibly have there and the glorious woods and hills to play in the winter and fall. I also think one of the nicest things about living so close to the river was the sound of the Soque cascading over the dam and onto the rocks. This is the sound that will always remind me of my childhood and is responsible for my home I live in today, being located on Hazel Creek in Demorest where I hear this delightful sound every day.

The Soque is a gorgeous river which most of the time is very placid except in the areas where there are mild shoals, but on this particular June night it was running strong and wild. We had gone out during the day to watch the water as it rushed over the dam. It was very exciting to watch, never thinking in a million years what lay ahead of us.

That morning around two o’clock we heard a great commotion, my father, along with several men from the village came into the house and began getting us out of our beds and out of the house as quickly as possible. We all had on our pajamas and I remember whoever took me out put a quilt over me to keep off the rain. As we started out the water was rising fast. The thing I remember the most about that night was the fact that when we had been flooded before, which was two times, the water had never been so rushing and wild. My parents had time to remove or put our furniture on blocks and save the furniture before, but this time it was very different, as I have state, the water was coming up so fast that I knew this time it was much, much more serious than the other two times we were flooded.

I did not find out until the next morning what had actually happened. My mother came by the C. Moss house, where I was staying, and told us the dam at the Wikle property on Raper creek and broken due to debris and the over abundance of water, which in turn caused the dam at the Nash property to break and flow into the Soque creating havoc on our home and the power plants. My mother did not want us to see what was going on at the house, but she finally relented and let us go with her to the house. It was a real shock. I remember standing up on the hill above the house and looking down on the house and all I could see was a part of the roof. My father was going to build some chicken houses out in the pasture and had lumber stacked up drying for that purpose. This lumber was floating everywhere and Boots and Reeves Hill were swimming around the house trying to save anything that was salvageable from livestock to household items. Nothing much was salvaged except my mother’s sewing machine and one chair from our dining room suite. All our clothes, toys, furniture was gone. To us, was the horrible realization that we would never again get to live in our paradise. We were all absolutely devastated. It was a long, long time before I could go back and look at what was once a child’s very large playground, but go I did. Today even though our modest little cottage no longer exists, I still have those very wonderful memories that do not fade nor can anyone take away from me and the beautiful Soque flows as beautifully as ever.

A remembrance by: Florence Wikle

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Soque River Drawings

Submitted by: Asher Samsel (10 years old)

"Got Ya!"
"This is a picture of some fisherman fishing at the Soque River. He cast next to a rock and reeled in a 3-pound trout."

"Getting Ready"
"This is a picture of someone getting ready to go fishing. I used colored pencils in this picture. My dad is a fishing writer, and he gave me advice about how to make the fishing equipment look."

"This is a picture of a fly fisherman, and he's trying to catch a huge rainbow trout that he saw earlier in the day. Maybe he will, maybe he won't. Let's hope he will."

"There's One"
"This is a picture of my dad holding a rainbow trout. My dad makes baits out of feathers and wool, and he caught this fish on a bait that he made with the wool of our dog."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

"In Search of the Soquee" - Story

Submitted by: E. Lane Gresham

Part One
I fell head over heels on Valentine’s Day ­- right over the edge of Tray Mountain and into the wilderness. It all started innocently enough with a simple query:  “where does the Soquee River begin?” Researching an article about The Soquee River for the Hello Habersham magazine, I wondered if there was a photo of the source of the river that streams through Habersham County.

After several exchanges with Duncan Hughes at the Soquee River Watershed Association, I realized there were conflicting opinions as to the definitive source of the beloved waterway. There are two forks of the upper Soquee - a right and a left. Several prongs feed into those forks and several theories exist about the specific location. That didn’t satisfy me - my journalistic integrity was on the line. I couldn’t take a photo of just any spot - it had to be the spot.

Duncan kindly offered to check with friends at the Georgia Dept. of Natural Resources and Lee Keefer, fisheries biologist at the Lake Burton Hatchery agreed to help us pinpoint the source. A flurry of e-mails ensued, consensus was reached and an expedition was mounted. The plan was to seek out the middle prong of the left fork as this was determined to be the highest elevation source of water. The topographical maps show the middle prong emerging from the side of Tray Mountain deep in the Chattahoochee National Forest.

Duncan extended an invitation to SRWA’s board members to join the quest and a diverse group of eight would-be explorers gathered early on Valentine’s Day 2008. The most direct route was not necessarily going to be the easiest hike - we had to hike up Tray Mountain to get to the closest jumping off point. The temperature was a frigid 25 degrees but the day dawned clear and sunny. Mother Nature put on her winter finery for us - a light snow fell the night before and the trees glittered with frozen dew and ice. After bumping up six miles on a rough gravel road, we reached the end of the line as far as vehicles go. Tumbling out of the car and slipping on a backpack filled with the all-important camera, tripod and a water bottle, I was eager to attack the just over one half-mile journey to the top of the world.

Our friend from the DNR, Lee and his colleague, Leon Brotherton came prepared. As we stood shivering in the early morning sunlight, Leon asked: “Are there any medical conditions we should know about?” He then pulled a first aid pack out of the truck; I suddenly realized this trek was not going to be a simple hike. I took a big mental gulp and started off.

Duncan brought along his nimble 8-year-old daughter, Elizabeth and she led the charge up the zigzagging trail heading to the top of peak. The higher elevation made the hike an unexpected challenge. At 4,400 feet, Tray Mountain is the seventh highest mountain in the state. Chugging through the thin air quickly reminded me that my winter hiatus from exercise was going to hinder my efforts to get anywhere in a hurry. I slowed my pace and looked around in wonder - the stark beauty of the winter forest surrounded me. Pondering the parallels of the journey that day with the journey we call life, I felt the stress slip away and I was able to breathe - not deeply, mind you but in a figurative sense. Mental breaths, deep, cleansing mental breaths. The path continued ever upward until the trees opened up at the summit and the blue sky beckoned us to cast our eyes to the 360 degree view of Northeast Georgia.

The satisfaction of reaching the top was short-lived as our energetic DNR experts said it was time to take the next step and this time we would be flying blind. A short trail protected by a canopy of twisted mountain laurel summoned us down the aisle of nature’s cathedral. The flattened evergreen leaves were like hands folded in prayer = a reminder that prayer would be a prudent idea before taking the leap into the uncharted dense forest heading straight down.

Lee and Leon didn’t seem apprehensive at all - they had done this all before. However, I don’t think they counted on dealing with an unprepared and naive reporter doggedly pursuing a photo opportunity. They were good sports about it all and were determined to keep us safe. I cautiously peered over the edge of the cliff and looked down.

Would this intrepid group of river lovers find the water? Would they make it back in time for parent pick-up? Watch for Part Two in an upcoming edition.

In search of the Soquee-Part Two

Friday, October 17, 2014

"Brown Trout" - Fish Art

Submitted by: Sarah Samsel

This picture is made of: hydrangea, red pepper, cinnamon, turmeric, yarrow, bark, money plant, aucuba, cosmos, maple, onion, viola, seaweed, cotton, gray poplar, creeping raspberry and poinsettia.  

My thoughts: Of the three kinds of trout that are prevalent in the Southeast, the brown trout is Dad’s favorite. He believes fooling them is more of a game, which makes each one caught more of a prize. He also likes the way they look and says he likes their personality, although I’m not sure exactly what that means.

Although I’m Jeff Samsel’s daughter, I don’t really get into fishing. However, trout are probably my very favorite thing to make from pressed flowers. I enjoy the process of finding leaves and petals that match the colors of the fish and then figuring out how to blend those colors together. The only non-botanical thing in this picture is my signature. The rest of the black lines are made from strands of seaweed. 

"Soquee Rainbow" - Fish Art

Submitted by: Sarah Samsel

This picture is made of: hydrangea, cinnamon, orange peel, turmeric, yarrow, cornsilk, grass, seaweed, mulberry, money plant, cotton, bloody dock, poinsettia, aucuba, birch, basil and hornet's nest.

My Thoughts: I had no expectation of winning, but I figured that it was still worth entering a picture for the chance of it being chosen as the 2014 Hello Habersham magazine cover. I had complicated ideas about what sort of picture I might enter until my mom suggested that I simply make a fish. It would fit the local theme of the contest since the fish could be a rainbow trout. 

Rainbow trout live in the Soquee River—the only river that begins and ends in Habersham County. I also liked the idea because if I won I’d have a fish on the cover of a magazine, like my dad does. Dad is a freelance fishing writer and photographer so he’s had lots of (non-pressed-flower) fish on the covers of magazines. So I began snipping and gluing trout-colored leaves.

John Kollock was a well known and loved local artist. He was dedicated to preserving our region’s history through his many watercolor paintings. Mr. Kollock and his wife Nancy Kollock were (she still is) extremely supportive of my business in many ways. One wonderful thing that Mr. Kollock did was welcome me to show him whatever pictures I was having problems with or simply wanted his opinion on. I wanted to show him my trout before I entered it into the contest. He really, really wanted it to win. That was my last picture that I ever showed him.

When news reached me that I’d won the contest I could hardly believe it! It was such exciting news on such a very hard day—the day that Mr. Kollock passed away. I don’t know if Mr. Kollock was well enough to understand the news but Mrs. Kollock said that she thinks that she saw a small smile when she told him.

Usually Soque is spelled with one “e” but Mr. Kollock insisted that it should be spelled with two so I did so in honor of him. I wasn’t aware that he’d resolved that Soquee should be spelled that way when I first titled the picture, so in the magazine it just has one “e” but now I use two J.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

"Me and the Soque" - A Story

Submitted by:  Brooks Garcia

My story began a long time ago when I was a young man and the Soquee did not have the notoriety it has today. I was a camp counselor at Camp Cherokee for boys on Lake Burton in the early 80s.  At the time, there was a camper whose grandmother own land at the end of Goshen Valley. Her name was Hellen Carmack. The ‘mighty’ Soquee was but a small stream that came off the mountain way back on her property. We would take the boys ‘over nighting’ there.  We swam in the icy cold stream and I taught the boys to fish with a crude line and pole using wood roaches as bait and a dog hobble twig as a bobber. We dined on fresh trout and marveled at the fox fire in the woods at night. That place touched my soul in a way I have never forgotten so much so I have returned 30 years later, bought land and plan to live out my days here in the mountains. It seems a bit of a surprise but not so much to me that my land has two small streams that feed into to Lake Habersham and into the Soquee. So, you see I have come home and me and the Soquee are inextricably tied together.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

"Buckets of Soque" - Kid's Art

Submitted By: Autumn Samsel (7 years old)

"Why I did it is I like Indians and I just really wanted to do it because there was an Indian village around the Soquee River."  
~ Autumn Samsel

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

"Places of Solitude" - Photo

Submitted by:  Tammy Cline

"I've always enjoyed the quiet sections of the river. Places of solitude and reflection. That's why I chose this image - for its reflections and colors. To me, as an artist, it represents the metaphor of the river and life."
~Tammy Cline

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Have you Seen This Fish? - Photo

Submitted by:  Steven Patrick

Steven Patrick, Habersham County Extension Agent, is interested in studying the range of shoal bass on the Soque.  He wants to know "Have you seen a fish like this on the Soque? If so, email stevenp@uga.edu."

Monday, September 29, 2014

Learning to Road Bike Along the Soque - A Story

Submitted by: Scarlett Fuller

Biker Chic Buddies: (left to right) Christie Stegall, Scarlett Fuller & Mary Katherine Crews
Neals Gap - Mtn Crossing

I learned to bike along the Soque...road bike that is.  Anyone who has ever learned to road bike knows, it is a learning process. For my graduation present from graduate school at UGA I received a brand new road bike from Habersham Bicycles. I was already a regular mountain biker, but had been wanting to get into road biking for some time. My maiden voyage ended with a crash and bent handlebars due to forgetting to clip out of my pedals in time. This is NOT second nature and is a learned repetitive behavior one has to remember when first starting to road bike. Being all fired up about road biking, I signed myself and a friend up for 6 Gap Century ride held each September in Dahlonega, GA. Except, they have a half-century called 3 Gap which is the one we opted for. Still...a 58 mile bike ride across Neal, Wolf Pen and Woody Gaps is no easy feat...so the training began. My training ground for this ride, as well as just learning to ride period was scenic Hwy 197. Three days a week, my biking buddies (there's safety in numbers, right??) and I would head out from the Clarkesville Mill down 197. Let me back up and also note, the FIRST time you ever road bike, well frankly you hate it and think to yourself, "Why would I EVER do that AGAIN??!" You must get use to sharing the road with sometimes not so generous drivers. You have to watch out for ANYTHING on the road that might cause those skinny little tires to flip right out from under you. Unless you ride about 75-100 miles a week your leg muscles burn so badly and your breathing is so out of control you think you are about to have a stroke and heart attack all at the same time. So went my first, second and third road biking experiences. This is where the Soque River comes in. Each week we would push ourselves a little further and a little harder. Once we were finally able to climb the beast of a hill at Soque Wilderness subdivision to the top at Lovell Properties office, WOW were we in for a treat of down, down, downhill all the way to Turner's property and the "dip" to our reward along the Soque. Imagine early summer mornings with fresh mountain air, no traffic and the rushing Soque flowing past as you leisurely pedal down the road. This began my love affair with road biking along the Soque River. I fell in love with this stretch of the road and river, and it made all the effort to get to this point worth it. The Soque was my inspiration each trip to make it over the tough hill climbs, scary drivers and sometimes inclement weather (those skinny tires and oily roads do NOT mix). Believe it or not, this 15 mile out and back stretch (30+ miles round trip) was excellent training for our 3 Gap ride that September. Did I make the grueling 58 mile mountain ride...yes!  All thanks to my training along the Soque.