Saturday, December 15, 2012

From Murphy, NC, to Warm Springs, GA

In October of 2012 I took an automobile trip from my home near Murphy, NC, to Florida. Since Murphy is only a few miles from Georgia, the most direct route to Florida is through Georgia. 

And, I'd recently learned that I have a family connection to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, aka FDR. It seems that my first cousin three times removed, Roland Livingston Redmond, whose father Geraldyn was my great, great grandfather William Redmond, Jr's, youngest brother, married FDR's niece, Sara Delano. Since my curiosity was piqued by this discovery, I decided to visit some of the sites dedicated to FDR in Georgia's Presidential Pathways, one of the nine themed travel regions that the state has developed, on my way to Florida.

Leaving Murphy on one of those perfect fall days, 
Murphy, NC. October 2012
I took a detour through Blue Ridge, a northwestern Georgia mountain town about a half hour from Murphy. I was just in time to watch passengers preparing to board the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway for an excursion. Wish I'd had time to join them!

Blue Ridge, GA, October 2012
Continuing on, I took I-75 through Atlanta so that I could stop at my favorite grocery store, a destination in itself, Trader Joe's, near Piedmont Park. I exited I-75 onto I-85 South where I drove for about 35 miles to exit 41 onto US-27 South, a two lane road with little traffic that travels through a rural area.

Driving along US-27, I turned a corner and was pleasantly surprised to be confronted with this impressive courthouseI had reached Greenville, the seat of Meriwether County. 

Meriwether County Courthouse
According to a historical sign on a corner across from the courthouse, "The Oakfuskee Path, main branch of the famous Upper Creek trading route from the Savannah River to the Creek Indians, passed here. Beginning at present Augusta, it led through Greenville via Warrenton, Eatonton, Griffin and Flat Shoals of the Flint River to Oakfuskee Town, an early Upper Creek center on the Tallapoosa River in Alabama. White traders began using this trail in the early 1700's. In time the route became a noted pioneer trace and eventually a leading stage road." 

Meriwether Historical Society
I didn't have time to visit, but I took this photo of the charming building across the street from the courthouse that houses the Meriwether Historical Society.

My destination, the town of Warm Springs, site of the therapeutic waters that helped President Franklin Delano Roosevelt overcome some of the effects of the polio that he contracted in 1921 at the age of 39 and his Little White House, was only about 20 minutes away. 

After checking into my hotel, the historic Warm Springs Hotel Bed and Breakfast InnI enjoyed a self-guided tour of the Little White House, coming away with a new respect for the man who had the courage to overcome the label of "cripple" that was meted out to polio sufferers, and whose disability seemed to add to the compassion he had for the common people. Compassion that was a factor in the programs that he put into place in the 1930's and 1940's that are still helping people today.

At the hotel, I purchased the movie, 'Warm Springs', shot in the area in 2005. After watching it, I understood why FDR spent about two-thirds of his personal fortune purchasing the property for what has become the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation, and why the only home he ever owned was the Little White House.

If you've got a few minutes, please enjoy this slideshow of some of the photos I took while there. 

Postscript: Thanks to my friend Laura who sent me a link to this powerful photo documentary: Bearing Witness, which explores the extraordinary, wide-ranging legacy of images created by photographers who worked under the support of innovative New Deal programs created by the Roosevelt administration during the 1930s. 

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