Visiting Rising Fawn, Georgia

A Day Away By Mike Steely

For several years I had a position with a publishing company and made many trips from East Tennessee around the region, including into Georgia and beyond. One of my favorite places along the way was the little town of Rising Fawn, inside that little nook of northwest Georgia just south of Chattanooga. I chanced across Rising Fawn while traveling and stopped to research the Cherokee resistance to white settlement.

Rising Fawn is located just off Interstate 59 south of Trenton and there’s not much to the small town but it’s literally packed with history.

The little unincorporated town began as a trading post with nearby Cherokee that lived in Lookout Valley and was the home of Cherokee Chief Bob Benge or Benje.  Benge was a warrior under his uncle, Chief Doublehead, and raided East Tennessee for many years before being shot and killed near Big Stone Gap, Virginia.

Benge’s family removed west about 1838 during the Trail of Tears and many of his family members still live in Oklahoma.

Rising Fawn gets its name from a Cherokee legend. A newborn was named for the first thing seen after the birth. That morning a small deer fawn rose from its nature bed, stretched its limbs and ran into the forest. The child was named for the rising fawn.

The town has long been rumored to have a nearby silver or lead mine where the tribe mined and made bullets. The source of the ore has never been found.

With the Cherokee removed, white settlement began about 1840 with the arrival of the John Hanna family and others. Originally the settlement was named “Hanna” for the Hanna family plantation and post office. It was later known as Staunton and then Rising Fawn for the legend.

During the Civil War the village was occupied by three companies of Confederate soldiers who took part in the Battle of Lookout Mountain. An iron furnace was built about 1873 and demolished in 1926 with remains yet standing. The community grew to about 1,500 people and put in brick sidewalks, running water and oil street lamps. In the 1890s, Rising Fawn had a brass band which played from a band stand and offered passenger railroad service.

The town was incorporated in 1879 and had a newspaper. Today the old town has only about 3,000 residents in the area.

Cloudland Canyon State Park is nearby on the western edge of Lookout Mountain. Boulder-strewn Sitton Gulch Creek cuts a deep gorge into the mountain. Sitton’s Gulch Trail runs parallel to the creek. The short, steep Waterfalls Trail, with stairs down into the canyon, leads to Cherokee Falls and Hemlock Falls, where water cascades down into pools. Nearby, Sitton’s Cave has mineral formations.

The park, founded in 1958, also offers scenic views, picnicking and camping. It’s located at 122 Cloudland Canyon Park Road, 30738, and has a Rising Fawn postal address. It’s open until 10 p.m. each day and can be called at 706-657-4050. You can also find the park and Rising Fawn, Ga., on the internet with some great photos and additional information.

Rising Fawn is also the home of the Lookout Mountain Flight Park, the largest hang gliding school in the country.

Next time you’re headed toward Birmingham or anyplace south of Chattanooga, take a break at the Highway 120 exit south of Trenton and visit Rising Fawn.