Atlanta — Although the Peach State is home to some remarkable, world-class attractions, it is also home to some, shall we say, more whimsical sights to see.
Yes, these Georgia curiosities are good for a chuckle and perhaps a quick scratch of the head. But, they’re also educational and part of what makes the state unique.
If nothing else, scouting out these unique oddities will make the next trip just a little bit more fun.
1. The Smallest Church in America
South Newport: Nestled among large oak trees dripping Spanish moss sits a small cinderblock building measuring 10 feet by 15 feet. This rather unimposing imposing building attracts travelers from near and wide because it carries the title of “The Smallest Church in America.”
The church sits along rural U.S. Highway 17, roughly an hour south of Savannah. Although it is almost certainly not the smallest church in the country, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand why the church’s unofficial motto is “Where Folks Rub Elbows with God.”
Local grocer Agnes Morgan Harper built the church in 1949 or 1950, and the land was later deeded to Jesus Christ. The church is never locked and has room enough for a dozen people and a pastor in the pulpit — which incidentally is enough room for Jesus and the 12 disciples.
2. The Confederate Missile
Cordele: Speaking of rocket science, along Interstate 75 is a quintessential roadside oddity: a Titan missile sitting next to a Krystal.
The missile was acquired from the Air Force after it was declared obsolete. Flown from California to Warner Robins Air Base where it was stored for some time before it was given to the community, the missile today stands on what has been dubbed “Confederate Air Force Pad No. I.”
Nestled between fast-food restaurants has no doubt made many a motorist making a pit stop do a double take. For the record, Titan I missiles played an important role in the nation’s history and were were operational in the 1960s.
3. A Double-Barrel Cannon
Athens: Sitting outside the Athens-Clarke County City Hall in downtown Athens is a local point of pride and a true one-of-a-kind attraction: the Double-Barreled Cannon. The cannon was designed to fire two cannonballs connected by a chain so as to “mow down the enemy somewhat as a scythe cuts wheat.”
The brainchild of Dr. John Gilleland, a dentist from Jackson County, Georgia, the cannon was built in 1862 at the Athens Foundry and Machine Works. Today, the Double-Barreled Cannon is little more than a bookmark in history, though it is one of the more unique relics from the Civil War.
Despite this seemingly unique design, it was a total failure. The cannon was test-fired but wasn’t used in battle. The only damage, according to some sources, was one of the cannon balls killed a cow in a field nearby; threatening to invading northern troops, the cannon was not.
4. America’s Stonehenge
Elberton: Looking to build the monument, R.C. Christian arrived in Elbert County in 1979. Some say the mystery man — using what was likely a pseudonym — was working on behalf of an anonymous group.
Regardless, since the Georgia Guidestones were first unveiled in March 1980, the monument has intrigued — and confounded — Elbert County residents and tourists alike. Perched atop one of the highest tracts of land in Elbert County, the 19-foot-tall monument consists of six granite stones and features 10 guidelines written in eight languages.
The monument, known as “America’s Stonehenge,” was built using granite from Elberton, the “Granite Capital of the World.” “To some, it’s the holiest spot on earth,” The New York Times quoted Hudson Cone as saying in 2013. “To others, it’s a monument to the devil. Take your pick.”
5. A Princess’s Grave
Dahlonega: According to Cherokee legend, a princess named Trahlyta maintained her beauty by drinking from a local Fountain of Youth. As the story goes, the warrior Wahsega courted her and imprisoned her after she rejected his courtship.
She ultimately lost her beauty, but she never stopped longing to return to her home. Her dying wish was to be buried in the North Georgia mountain forests from where she came.
“Custom arose among the Indians and later the Whites to drop stones, one for each passerby, on her grave for good fortune,” according to the historical marker at the site of her grave, located at the intersection of U.S. Highway 19 and Ga. Highway 60. Supposedly, highway department workers tried twice to move the pile of rocks as part of a road project, but both times at least one person was killed in the process.
Photos by Todd DeFeo