CARTERSVILLE, Ga. — In the years leading up to the Civil War, the town of Etowah was an important industrial center. But, following the War Between the States, the town quietly faded into the annals of history and eventually to the bottom of a manmade lake.
Jacob Stroup established the works in the 1830s and later sold his business to a politician named Mark Anthony Cooper. In 1847, three years after Cooper bought into the ironworks, Cooper obtained a charter for a railroad he planned to build, before the Western & Atlantic Railroad was built through the region.
More than a decade later, in 1858-59, Cooper built the Etowah Railroad, a roughly five-mile line that connected the ironworks with the Western & Atlantic Railroad, which ran between Atlanta and Chattanooga, Tenn. There were two stops on the Etowah Railroad – one at the town of Etowah and a second at the junction with the Western & Atlantic Railroad.
Among the locomotives that operated on the Etowah Railroad was the Yonah, which played an important role in the Andrews Raid of 1862. The locomotive was the first steam engine used by the men who pursued the Union “engine thieves.”
Cooper sold the iron works to the Confederate States of America in 1863.
On May 22, 1864, federal soldiers destroyed the ironworks and mill, bringing about an end to the city’s livelihood and for all practical purposes the Etowah railroad. Following the Civil War, the railroad was not rebuilt and the town never again returned to its antebellum prominence. A smokestack is all that remains of the ironworks.
“After the Federal occupation the town dwindled to nothing, and the site is now known principally as an attractive picnic ground,” according to “Georgia: a guide to its towns and countryside,” a WPA book published in 1940, years before Lake Allatoona was built by the Army Corps of Engineers.