Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tonight in Decatur: preserving Georgia's waterways

The second of three programs, part of the Decatur Arts Festival, brings an author with special interest in the Georgia outdoors tonight at 7:15 pm to the Decatur Library. 

Joe Cook is the executive director of the Coosa River Basin Initiative and coordinator of Georgia River Network’s Paddle Georgia Event. His new book, Etowah River User’s Guide, is a helpful and handy look at the biologically diverse and beautiful Etowah River in North Georgia. Printed on waterproof paper by the University of Georgia Press, the book offers a fascinating history of the area and information valuable for novice or experienced paddlers as well as fishermen. It also will help explorers understand the threats facing the river and what steps can be taken to protect it for future generations.

The Etowah River is a 164-mile-long waterway that rises northwest of Dahlonega, Georgia, north of Atlanta. Its name is the Cherokee version of the original Muskogee word Etalwa, which means a "trail crossing". On Matthew Carey's 1795 map the river was labeled "High Town River". On later maps, such as the 1839 Cass County map, it was referred to as "Hightower River", a name that was used in most early Cherokee records. The U.S. Board on Geographic Names officially named the river in 1897.

The Etowah even has a place in country music. The "Et-ee-waw" is home to country singer/songwriter Jerry Reed's fictional character "Ko-Ko Joe," the 'Etowah River Swamp Rat.' In the 1971 song, Joe lives off 'monkey meat and mashed potatoes,' and enjoyed a brew called 'Mojo Claw,' that he brewed from 'old dead stumps on the banks of the Etowah.' In the song, the Etowah River floods, and the despised-by-the-townspeople Ko-Ko Joe saves a child that was swept away in the flood, providing the moral to the story 'be careful what you say my friends / about folks you don't understand.'

For more information about tonight's event visit the Georgia Center for the Book website.

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