That is not meant to imply there isn’t much of value beyond a route to traffic there. Pick out any roughly three-mile-square, largely undeveloped area of Northwest Georgia and there are certain to be interesting animals, birds, fish, flora and fauna somewhere on site. Nobody’s paid teams of top experts to poke all over those other sites or else we’d know what’s where. There is neat stuff all around us, which is why most residents like living in these parts, although the exaggeration used in this case hurts more than helps.
Lots of wildlife? Sure. Cougars? Show us the pelt so we know the children living nearby are safe. Rare plants? Sort of, but mostly hard to find ones because humans don’t cultivate what most of them view as weeds. If chickens didn’t live in human-tended poultry houses and had to fend for themselves, as squirrels do, they would be “rare” as well and almost never on anyone’s plate.
Does the old Dobbins manganese site have a “history”? Of course, many places do. Does it have something of continuing interest, or offer something to see to help understand the past? Probably not, unless it is to stand witness regarding how little concern our ancestors had for the environment, instead preferring to rape the land and leave it to weep forevermore.
Sure, it held some importance once but not for a long, long time. Some things/places can indeed be “historic” without having any real value for preservation. Unfortunately, toss out the term as in the current effort to put the mine on the National Register of Historic Places and few can make the distinction between “George Washington slept here” and “George Washington won a battle here.”
The Dobbins mine is like that … a snooze and not a triumphant cry.
HERE’S WHAT an on-ground survey of the whole site by the U.S. Department of Interior found in 1944. It was probably looking, by the way, in hopes there was some easy-to-get manganese still laying about as it is a key ingredient in making steel. That was during World War II and battleships and tanks require a lot of steel production. It looked and speedily departed. The survey team even mapped all the mine features and concluded:
“Numerous open cuts, test pits, shafts, drifts, crosscuts and stopes [craters from underground collapses] on the property testified to extensive mining and exploration by the former operators. Most of the underground workings are inaccessible.
“The milling equipment, consisting of a log washer and set of jibs, was dismantled and removed from the property in 1943.”
No wonder there is no current or planned public access — there’s been nothing there to see for 69 years. Worse, a visitor might ask “Why don’t they clean this mess up and plant some grass?” That doesn’t mean the place doesn’t have history in its past. It only means there’s nothing there now except for memories extracted using mass hypnosis of the public.
Given all the “this is the Garden of Eden” publicity poured out by supporters, plus that all those passing by the huge site either see it from the I-75 side, where Dobbins Mountain looks fairly intact, or from roads to the west and south where cattle graze on huge green pastures, it’s no wonder that a wrong impression is being left, probably deliberately, and the site’s wonders exaggerated.
Also not noticed is that this site is so huge that running a highway through it might affect only 10 percent of the property — and that’s counting however less contented the cows and vacationing owners become.
IT’S IMPORTANT to recognize the “master plan” now at work to keep Greater Romans and their businesses from straight-shot access to the interstate system. Quite cleverly, the Rollins Ranch cattle barons are using the rise of massive amounts of intricate state and federal regulations over the private sector and the rights of property owners to stall off something they otherwise could not stop — and certainly couldn’t 50 or 100 years ago.
Most everything “historic” or just plain old in this state was built before there were bureaucrats to stop it from happening. Downtown Rome, for example, is on a plain that routinely flooded and atop where Indian burial mounds were once located. They sure made handy landfill material … and no state or federal watchdogs had to be asked for permission. When the Dobbins mine started operation in 1867 a good bet is the owners didn’t even need a permit or business license.
That’s not saying such past lack of procedures was good. It is only meant to grant it is clever to use modern regulations and restrictions that the current property owners themselves probably hate to try to stop something they do not want but that the public needs.
Perhaps use of this strategy could even someday be called a historic event. However, the Dobbins mine site sure can’t be called that. Ugly, maybe. Sad to see, probably. Historic? Certainly not.
Cutline information for accompanying photo This looks like state highway crews have started cutting a pathway through Dobbins Mountain for the U.S. 411 Connector. However, the photograph actually dates to 1944 and shows one of the many surface cuts carved out there by the Dobbins manganese mining operation. None of them slice all the way through the mountain of course, as the four-lane link to Interstate 75 would, but such unseen sights are noteworthy as much of the argument regarding picking a route involves saving the supposed unmarred beauty of the mountain, which is really more akin to a large hill. All the old cuts — and there are many — are on the side facing toward Rome. As there is no public access to the mining site for which the property owner, Rollins Ranch LLC, is now seeking designation on the Federal Register of Historic Places these slashes are largely invisible to the public as is a huge wasteland area showing up in aerial photos that was left by tailings from the ore-washing operation.
U.S. Department of Interior, 1944, published in U.S. Geological Survey report of 1950.