Top Ten U.S. Campgrounds

Pocket Campground: Georgia
By Suzanne Dow

Nearly 100 miles northwest of Atlanta, the geological area known as The Pocket has never been a great center of civilization. Today, a small, 24-site campground sits here in a holding that is part of the Chattahoochee National Forest. There have been, however, visitors to this little gap between John and Horn mountains for thousands of years. In 1980, a Native American site was documented in the pasture across from the Pocket campground's entrance. Until the 1940s, arrowheads and shards of pottery were found in and around the campground. Today, chert flakes, left by toolmakers, can be found in John's Creek as it flows through the campground.

In the early 1800s, there were few white settlers in the area. In 1838, with the removal of the Cherokee Nation, the area opened to large-scale settlement by European settlers. The land was sectioned off into 160- and 490-acre lots for the Cherokee Land Lottery. In this lottery, John J. Hunt won the section that would later be called The Pocket, a U-shaped valley in the lush green hillside.

In 1854, the land was purchased by Shadrick Peavy who, in 1860, sold it to M.B. Fowler. By then a small, self-sustaining community had been established. The mountainous terrain of The Pocket encouraged a close-knit community. Grist mills and farms were scattered throughout the area, and two churches, one Methodist and one Baptist, saw to the community's spiritual needs.

By 1938, a 35-acre parcel of M.B. Fowler's land, having passed through several hands, was sold to the federal government. At that time, this parcel was selected for a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp. The barracks, mess hall, latrines, and other facilities were built for the CCC enrollees.

Today, campers at the Pocket campground will find the foundation of the CCC-constructed springhouse on Spring Creek and the floor of a large shower house. Still visible are the foot dips used to keep foot disease to a minimum and an old drainage ditch. Scattered throughout the campground, tucked in between the sites, are odd-shaped cement objects, their exact purposes unclear.

In 1984, the Armuchee Ranger District published "A History of the Pocket Recreation Area." Copies and more information are available at the Armuchee Ranger District Office in LaFayette, Georgia.

History isn't the only reason to visit the Pocket campground. The surrounding lush forest of deciduous trees beckons many to explore. Two trails, the 2.5-mile Pocket Loop Trail and 0.5-mile Pocket Nature Trail, offer easy ways through the woods. And the clear, flowing John's Creek offers a wonderful opportunity to cool down with a quick wade in the cold water. Good fishing is available in nearby Girl Scout Lake and Pitcher Pond. The towns of Villanow and Calhoun are nearby and offer interesting day trips.

Today, as in the past, visitors to The Pocket enjoy the quiet lushness of this hidden place in ancient mountains. During the day, the quiet is occasionally broken by the sound of children playing in the CCC-built wading area or the chatter of squirrels. At night, the crackling of a campfire, the rustling of leaves, and the gurgle of Spring Creek serenade campers.


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