The long column of blue-coated soldiers bound for Fort Scott and the first battle of the Seminole Wars reached Spring Creek in Southwest Georgia 200 years ago today.
This article is part of a continuing series that commemorates the 200th anniversary of the Seminole Wars. To read other articles in the series, please visit Seminole War 200th.
The troops had been paralleling Spring Creek for days, often crossing or camping by its tributaries. Their march on November 18, 1817 finally brought them to its main channel.
The Three Notch Road crossed Spring Creek at today’s Reynoldsville Park, a public recreation area maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Seminole County, Georgia. It is located about 14 miles south of the Iron City area, where the soldiers had camped on the previous night, and they undoubtedly made camp on the banks of Spring Creek on the night of the 18th. The site is probably now inundated by Lake Seminole, a 37,500-acre reservoir created in 1958 by the completion of the Jim Woodruff Dam.
This area was once known as Rhodes Ferry Landing, a name that is preserved in Rhodes Ferry Road which leads from the modern route of Three Notch Road the short distance to Reynoldsville Park. (See the map at the bottom of this page). The creek was deep enough before the creation of the lake that it was necessary to use a boat or ferry to cross from one side to the other.
For those familiar with the legends and lore of Lake Seminole, this was the location of a mysterious stone structure known to generations as Jackson’s Oven.
Local tradition held that it was a bake oven built by Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson’s troops on their way to Fort Scott in the spring of 1818. The structure was shaped something like a bake oven at the time, but was much too large for that purpose. It was oval-shaped with an arched roof. There is also the fact that neither the 4th and 7th Infantry regiments on November 18, 1817, nor Jackson’s main army the following spring, was in the area long enough to build such a structure.
It was flooded by the creation of the lake. The regional travel channel Two Egg TV is conducting a search of the lake bottom for the ruins of the “oven” in an attempt to photograph and measure them in hopes of determining their origin. The effort is underway but you can learn more by watching their first three reports right here! The article continues below.
To drive the route followed by the soldiers 200 years ago today, begin on Three Notch Road just south of U.S. 84 at Iron City, Georgia. Refer to the map at the bottom of the page if necessary.
Follow Three Notch – the old Fort Scott Road – south through the fields that in spring and summer are lush with sweet corn. The major cooler of the Sweet Corn Co-Op will be on your right at 5970 Three Notch Rd. The production of sweet corn has become a major industry in Seminole County, a locale best known for growing peanuts.
Three miles south of US 84, Three Notch Road intersects with Bartow-Gibson Highway. This is one of the oldest roads in the United States, older even than the Three Notch Road itself which dates to 1817. Today’s Bartow-Gibson Highway was the old Pensacola-St. Augustine Road, a horse trail that connected the two capital cities of Spanish Florida. One of the real “Old Spanish Trails” this road has been in use for hundreds of years. It was first mapped by the British in 1778 as they traveled east from Pensacola to St. Augustine during the American Revolution. They reported that even then it was old and worn.
If you take a brief detour by turning right (west) on Bartow-Gibson Highway, you can drive 2.1 miles to see what may be the largest free-standing live oak tree in the world. The historic Spooner Oak is more than 80-feet tall and can be seen on your left (south) in a field just west of the highway’s intersection with Spooner Road. You can see and photograph the beautiful old oak from the shoulder of the highway, but please respect private property and do not trespass.
Retrace your route from the Spooner Oak back to Three Notch Road and turn right (south) to continue your drive along the path followed by the soldiers 200 years ago today in 1817.
Follow Three Notch south for 7.4 miles to its intersection with County Road 219 (Joel Pool/Bowen Earnest Rd.) and continue straight ahead. The modern name of the road changes here from Three Notch Road to Ball Farm/Happy Hollow Road, but you will still be following the path of the old Fort Scott Road used by the soldiers of the 4th and 7th Infantry regiments.
A short drive of 2 minutes or so (1.7 miles) south on Ball Farm/Happy Hollow Road will bring you to GA-253 (Spring Creek Road). Continue straight south through the intersection. The name of the original road to Fort Scott changes again here and becomes Collie Hill Road. The pavement also ends and your drive will now be along a graded dirt road that provides a much better feel for the historic nature of the route that you are following.
Continue south on Collie Hill Road for 1.3 miles to its intersection with Rhodes Ferry Road. Along the way fans of classic television shows will notice the intersection with Green Acres Road!
At Rhodes Ferry Road, turn left (east) and continue 0.3 miles to Reynoldsville Park. This road also has great Seminole War significance. Rhodes Ferry Road follows the path of the old trail that led from Fort Scott on the Flint River to Old Fowltown on the Chattahoochee. Neamathla and the people of Tutalosi Talofa (Fowltown) lived for a brief time at Old Fowltown in 1815-1816 before relocating to their new town site on Four Mile Creek south of Bainbridge. U.S. troops sometimes crossed country from the Old Fowltown site to Fort Scott along this road and Brig. Gen. William McIntosh’s Creek Brigade probably followed this path to reach the fort in the spring of 1818 after the Battle of the Upper Chipola.
As you enter Reynoldsville Park, be prepared for a beautiful setting of old oak trees and sparkling waters. The park is maintained by the Corps of Engineers and offers boat ramps, dock and a picnic area. Rhodes Ferry Road once continued straight ahead to the original banks of Spring Creek. The creation of the lake inundated the original channel of the creek.
The dock offers great views of the Spring Creek arm of Lake Seminole. You can see a variety of birds and wildlife, including beautiful great blue herons and occasional alligators.
If you would like to spend the night on Lake Seminole, great campgrounds and cabins can be found just 6.2 miles west at Seminole State Park (take Rhodes Ferry Road west to GA-253 (Spring Creek Road) and turn left. The state park is less than 10 minutes away.