TUGALOO river CORRIDOR
A Project of the Stephens County Foundation
Discover the Historic Tugaloo River Corridor
The Tugaloo River forms the border between Stephens County, Georgia and Oconee County, South Carolina from Yonah Dam to the north into the upper reaches of Lake Hartwell on its southern end, a distance of approximately 10 miles.
The Tugaloo Valley is a part of a watershed involving southern North Carolina, Upstate South Carolina, and Northeast Georgia, and is one of the most bio-diverse areas in the country. Geologic formation along the Brevard fault includes portions of the Tugaloo River and surrounding valley.
Yonah Dam marks the the northernmost part of the Tugaloo River Corridor.
Broken Bridges marks the southern most part of the Tugaloo River Corridor
Within the valley there are evidences of native American settlement going back centuries, with Cherokee settlements identified throughout the valley. Settlements with names from that historic period include Estatoe, Tugaloo, Noyouwee, Echy, Chaugee, Keowee, Toxsaah, Taucoe, Sukchi, Tetohe, Taruraw, Tussee, Cussatee, Cattuse, Takwashuaw, Sennekaw, Ustanali, Tagwahi, Kulahiy, Itseyi, and Kulsagee, among others. Derivations of many of these names are still in use today, naming roads, rivers, and towns in the area.
The towns were not a cluster of homes as one might think, but more like a small colony spread out sometimes over a couple of miles with their focal points being the council houses at each town center. Essentially the entire Tugaloo River corridor was settled for miles in every direction. By 1693, trade was established with these Lower Towns along the Tugaloo. Virtually every town, many having populations of 600 or more, had its own resident trader. The Journal of Indian Trade Commissioner Colonel George Chicken, in 1725, relates the activities of many of these towns, especially Tugaloo, Noyouwee, and Estatoe.
Discounting the earliest traders who had lived amongst the Cherokees for years, the first white settlers came to the Tugaloo Corridor area following the American Revolution with the Treaty of Augusta in 1783. Among the first to receive land grants in this area were veterans of the Revolutionary battle of Kings Mountain, Jesse Walton, Benjamin Cleveland, and Joseph Martin.
Throughout the 1800’s and 1900’s increasing numbers of settlers found their way into the Tugaloo Valley, as hunters, farmers, loggers, and tradesman. The historic sites preserved today and the continued preservation efforts make the area a desirable place to see.