By Jim Miles
For nearly a century hikers on the Appalachian Trail and motorists who drive up to Neel’s Gap on U.S. 19 have stopped at the Walasi-Si Center and asked for the location of the “rock house.” It is supposed to be located on the summit of 4,463 foot high Blood Mountain, named for a vicious legendary battle fought there 300 years ago when the Cherokee defeated an invading force of Creeks. The rock house is said to extend up to 50 feet into the mountain through solid stone.
However, the only structure hikers will find is a large shelter built in the 1930s for hikers on this stretch of the Appalachian, the most popular in Georgia. The kind people at Walasi-Si cannot tell you the location of the cave. It probably never existed.
The Rock House on Blood Mountain
Here is the story. Known locally as Rock House, the opening is a small, cramped hole bored into the base of a steep cliff face. The front of the cliff is obscured by an artificial wall made of closely stacked rocks which are so old they are now covered by a layer of thick lichens. The cave, about seven feet high, is large enough to hold a number of people, the walls and ceiling covered by soot from many fires. In the center of the cave are heaps of ashes.
In historic times the cave was used as a place of refuge by the Cherokee who resisted the brutal forced removal to Oklahoma in 1838, by highwaymen during Dahlonega’s golden heyday, and by draft dodgers during the Civil War.
According to Cherokee legend, the interior of this majestic mountain is a subterranean home of the Nunnehi, or Immortals, a benevolent race of beings who live forever. They helped the Cherokee, particularly children, when they were lost or hurt in the mountain wilderness. The Yunwee Chuns Dee, or little people, a race of fairies whose music once drifted across the peaks, also traditionally inhabited the mountain. This rock house/cave/tunnel was supposedly an entrance to the Cherokee netherlands.
The story of the Rock House was apparently first published in Georgia: A Guide to Its Towns and Countryside (1940), a Great Depression project reprinted by the University of Georgia Press. A slightly different version was featured in Georgia’s Fabulous Treasure Hoards, by the late Earnest Andrews. According to him, a ranger found petroglyphs indicating that an Indian treasure was hidden in or near the cave, so he dynamited it, but no treasure was found.
Is there a Second Rock House?
Curiously, the Depression tour guide mentioned a second rock house which was located on a branch path of the Appalachian Trail between Tenastee Gap and Neel’s Gap, also in Lumpkin County. It was reached on the Enotah Trail from Chattahoochee Gap, and a mile off Enotah Trail on an unmarked path. Apparently, neither rock house ever existed. If anyone can help solve this riddle, please let me know and I’ll pass it on.
Jim Miles is the author of two Weird Georgia books, seven books about Georgia ghosts and eight books about the Civil War. To see all of his books go to the Jim Miles Author Page on Amazon. Order autographed books or contact Jim directly at email@example.com