Investigations into

The Historic
Mill Dams on the Chattahoochee River

Columbus, Georgia and Phenix City, Alabama

Educational resources

Thank you for sharing the information on this website with your students.

Since Georgia studies is taught in the 8th grade, Southern Research felt that it would be appropriate to link this website to the 8th grade Social Studies Standards mandated by the State of Georgia. Our objective is to make it easy for a teacher to utilize this website as it relates to state standards.

Even though the educational standards and objectives will be targeting the 8th grade Georgia Studies students, other grade levels and subject areas can use similar objectives to incorporate information found on this website.

When the Eagle and Phenix Dam was breached on March 20, 2012 and water rushed for the first time in over 100 years, through the Great Gorge, now called Cut Bait, a new era began for this section of the Chattahoochee River. For 184 years, wooden and stone dams had attempted to hold and control the water of the river. As the breaching of the dams unleashed the waters of the Chattahoochee River, it also unleashed many educational opportunities for student discussion and research.

Example: A question about the grist mill at City Mills can lead to a question about what crops were brought to the mill, how were the crops transported, how did the water wheel work, what are the different types of water wheels, how did the grinding stones work, where were the grinding stones made, etc. etc.

The following standards, for 8th grade Georgia Studies, have been modified and correlated with events and people found on this website. Each standard will be followed by a brief description of the website content that applies to that standard.

Please keep in mind that other standards can be met if the teacher engages students with in-depth class discussions and/or assigns student research projects.

Grade Eight • Georgia studies

Historical understandings

SS8H1—The student will evaluate the development of Native American cultures and the impact of European exploration and settlement on the Native American cultures in Georgia.

  • a. Describe the evolution of Native American cultures (Paleo, Archaic, Woodland, and Mississippian) prior to European contact.
    • Earliest Indians were the Paleo (?? To 8,000 BC) → Archaic (8,000 BC to 700 BC) → Woodland (1,000 BC to AD 800) → Mississippian (AD 900 to AD 1540); Creeks are descendants of the Mississippian culture
    • Creek Indians were in Georgia and Alabama; as well as the area in and around Columbus
  • b. Evaluate the impact of European contact on Native American cultures.
    • Hundreds of thousands of Indians died from diseases brought over by European explorers and settlers.
    • Indians were forced to leave their homes and move west of the Mississippi River.
  • c. Explain reasons for European exploration and settlement of North America, with emphasis on the interests of the British in the southeastern area.
    • Georgia was the 13th British colony and it gradually expanded, over a period of 52 years, westward to the Chattahoochee River. During the earliest years, the Georgia Colony helped to provide a buffer between the English colonies and the Spanish settlements in Florida.
  • SS8H3—The student will analyze the role of Georgia in the American Revolution.

    1. b. Analyze the significance of people and events in Georgia on the Revolutionary War.
      • General Marquis de Lafayette:
        He helped General George Washington fight the British in the American Revolution; in 1826, Seaborn Jones (City Mills) accompanied Lafayette through western Georgia to Fort Mitchell, Alabama; Lafayette was on a hero’s tour of the United States and he began his Georgia tour in Savannah. While in Savannah he dedicated monuments to General Nathanael Greene and Count Casimir Pulaski.
      • General Nathanael Greene:
        He helped fight the British in the American Revolution; he was instrumental in getting the British out of Savannah during the American Revolution.
      • Count Casimir Pulaski:
        He helped fight the British in the American Revolution; he was killed at the Battle of Savannah.
      • Major John Howard
        Major Howard, the father of John H. Howard (Water Lot Company/first water lot dam), served in the Revolutionary War and as a result of this service he received land in Milledgeville, Georgia in the Land Lottery of 1805.

SS8H5—The student will explain significant factors that affected the development of Georgia as part of the growth of the United States between 1789 and 1840.

  • b. Evaluate the impact of land policies pursued by Georgia:
    • Georgia Land Lottery
    • Land Lottery of 1827:
      As treaties were signed with Native Americans, land was opened up to European settlement and land lotteries were used to distribute much of the land in Georgia. Land in Columbus, Georgia and Muscogee County was distributed by the Land Lottery of 1827. There were originally five counties (Carroll, Coweta, Troup, Lee and Muscogee) surveyed from the Land Lottery of 1827. These very large counties have since been divided into smaller counties. The currently existing counties whose land came from the 1827 Land Lottery include: Muscogee, Harris, Carroll, Troup, Coweta, Heard, Talbot, Meriwether, Chattahoochee, Taylor, Schley, Randolph, Stewart, Terrell, Lee, Sumter, Marion, Quitman, and Webster.
    • John H. Howard’s father, Major John Howard, received land in Milledgeville, Georgia in the Land Lottery of 1805 because of his service in the American Revolution
    • William H. Young’s father-in-law was appointed by the governor to supervise the Georgia Land Lottery
  • c. Explain how technological developments had an impact on Georgia’s growth.
    • Cotton Gin
      Eli Whitney’s invention brought about a more efficient means of processing cotton; this had a direct result in more land being cleared for cotton cultivation. Due to this new process there was a greater demand for cotton and this meant larger harvests were sent to market and thus there was an increase in the production of cotton thread and cloth in the textile mills in Columbus, Georgia. Much of the cotton grown in Georgia was shipped to the northeast or to England.
    • Railroads
      Railroads provided a more reliable means for transporting products and people than steamboats. Steamboats were dependent on there being enough water in the Chattahoochee River. The Muscogee Railroad Company and Girard Railroad Company are two of the earliest lines to reach Columbus, Georgia.
    • Water Turbines
      Turbines evolved from water wheels and were much more efficient in producing greater horsepower and thus could support more mill machinery. More efficient turbines eventually led to production of hydroelectric power. Hydroelectric power developed at the Eagle and Phenix Mills and at City Mills. Today hydroelectric power is still being produced at North Highlands Dam and Oliver Dam in Columbus, Georgia.
    • Early Fire Prevention (Sprinkler and Alarm Systems)
      John Hill invented and installed these systems in multiple mills, the first being Eagle and Phenix Mill #3, in the 1880s to provide fire protection in the mills.
    • Steam Boiler Water Feeder and Indicator, Steam Engine Air Pump
      In the mid 1800s Josephus Echols made inventions and improvements to equipment and machines for use in the mills and other industries.
  • d. Analyze the events that led to the removal of the Creek Indians; include the role of
    • William McIntosh
    • Treaty of Indian Springs
    • Trail of Tears
    • 1830 Indian Removal Act

SS8H6—  The student will analyze the impact of the Civil War on Georgia

  • a. Explain the importance of key issues and events that led to the Civil War: Slavery
    • The loss of slave labor along with other economic factors resulted in a change in the agricultural labor structure.
    • Former plantations evolved into a tenant farming labor system for cotton agriculture.
    • Small scale farmers struggled to maintain their farms and eventually many were forced to sell their failing farms and seek employment in the textile mills.
    • Some industries, particularly those supporting the Confederate cause, were burned by Union soldiers.

Geographic understandings

SS8G1 —  The student will describe Georgia with regard to physical features and location.

  • c. Locate and evaluate the importance of key physical features on the development of Georgia:
    • Fall Line Map

Government/Civic understandings

SS8CG4 —  The student will analyze the role of the judicial branch in Georgia state government.

  • e. Evaluate how the judicial branch fulfills its role in interpreting the laws of Georgia and ensuring justice in our legal system.
    • Ingersoll vs. Howard and Echols
      • This judicial case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court where a decision resulted in how water rights issues are dealt with even today.

SS8CG5 —  The student will analyze the role of local governments in the state of Georgia.

  • a. Explain the origins, functions, purposes and differences of county and city governments in Georgia.
    • Columbus, Georgia - water lots and dams were privately owned, maintained, and financed
    • Augusta, Georgia – the water rights and the canal remained in the ownership of the City of Augusta

Economic understandings

SS8E1 —  The student will give examples of the kinds of goods and services produced in Georgia in different historical periods.

  • City Mills –Corn was ground into cornmeal and wheat into flour; in later years it was grinding grains into animal feed
  • Textile Mills – Spinning thread and making cloth for consumers in the southeastern U.S. and elsewhere; during Civil War produced cloth for the Confederacy, later years exporting cloth worldwide

SS8E2 —  The student will explain the benefits of free trade.

  • a. Describe how Georgians have engaged in trade in different historical time periods.
    • Steamboats – transporting goods on the Chattahoochee River to and from Columbus before construction of railroads
    • Railroad lines connecting Columbus to the port cities of Savannah, GA and Mobile, AL

SS8E3 —  The student will evaluate the influence of Georgia’s economic growth and development.

  • a. Define profit and describe how profit is an incentive for entrepreneurs
    • Profit was the motivation in the building of the dams (wooden and stone) to produce power for mills and industries.
  • b. Explain how entrepreneurs take risks to develop new goods and services to start a business.
    • Entrepreneurs took a financial risk to build wooden dams due to the constant threat of being washed out during floods. Risks were also taken in constructing stone dams because of the uncertainty in building techniques and the possibility, like wooden dams, of washing out during floods. Ongoing repairs were needed for both wooden and stone dams, though less frequently for those built of stone.
    • Starting new businesses was risky, especially those depending on water power and the water flow in the Chattahoochee and being able to ship goods down river and bring back other necessities and commodities on return trips upstream. Of the early entrepreneurs, William H. Young was one of the few to succeed and prosper. After the Civil War, he rebuilt his first mill under the name of the Eagle and Phenix and became very successful due to his capable management practices. He eventually purchased all the upper water lots except water lot 1 and expanded his textile operations by building more mill structures.