Thursday, May 27, 2010

Did You Know There Was A Volcano In Georgia? What About the Wog?

Did you know that there was a volcano in Georgia? Me neither, at least until I was doing some reading on the history of Winder, Georgia. In my research on Georgia political history, I have done a lot of reading about the late U.S. Senator Richard B. Russell, Jr. He was from Winder. As I wandered across a book or two on Barrow County and Winder history, I found an interesting snippet of information about a place not far from Winder and the home of Senator Russell, that is oftentimes called Georgia's Volcano. This is not a volcano in the pure sense; however, the area, according to author G.J.N. Wilson, did not support vegetation, and the trees growing nearby were very small compared to those growing normally in other areas. The area was a few acres in size, and it was full of bubbling, bluish mud like sludge. The mud moved in some places, giving the impression that it was boiling. In fact, in the center, it had the appearance of boiling water. The Creek Indians called this area Nodoroc, somewhat akin to hell. They considered the area to be a place of great evil. In fact, it was said that living near the area was a monster called the WOG. It is the WOG that I find most interesting. They said that this was an animal with long jet black hair, the size of a horse, front legs larger than its hind legs, and had a small white sliver of white hair at the tip of its tail that if fanned up and down. The other spooky feature about this legendary animal was that it had a long forked tongue. According to Alan Brown in Haunted Georgia, the settlers in the area many years ago used to report that they could see the long forked tongue sticking in through the chinks in their log cabins. The Creek Indians said that the WOG was the devil, and that he lived in Nodoroc. The WOG was said to have only eaten carrion (rotting flesh-usually animal) but would attack if threatened. Other stories told about this legend state that the WOG would roam the area looking for small animals, some being dogs and cats, to devour. This legend is very strange. It is part of Creek Indian legend in Georgia. In one legend, a Creek chief, Umausauga, had a daughter that was being pursued by a Choctaw warrior. Not wanting anything to do with him, she rejected his advances. He killed her. When her father found out, he sent a party of Creek warriors to find the killer. They found him, cut out his heart and fed it to wolves, and threw the body in to Nodoroc to be eaten by the WOG. This is one of the coolest Georgia legends I have ever read about. I think it is more than neat that there is a huge area near Winder that used to be home to some sort of boiling mud-like substance that settlers called a volcano. The WOG, whatever it was, has to be one of the most intriguing legends. Has anyone else heard about this? You can reference stories in Dr. Alan Brown's Haunted Georgia, Jim Mile's Weird Georgia, and Frank and Victoria Logue's Touring the Backroads of North and South Georgia. In addition, the legend is mentioned in GJN Wilson's Early History of Jackson County, Georgia.


The Doctor said...

I have heard these stories before and there could have easily have been an area such as this near Winder. I know up between Summerville, GA and Jamestown, Ala. there is a "blue hole" that has deep blue water in it. The water moves up and down in the hole. It is round and probably from one side to the other it is about 400 feet. The way it is shaped and the underground caverns connected to this site it could easily be a volcanic cone. But the story about Winder is a cool one.

RV said...

Good day,

Having been a historian for Barrow County, I would like to address a couple of salient points regarding your post.

"The early history of Jackson County, Georgia" by Gustavus James Nash Wilson, cited in "Beadland to Barrow: A history of Barrow County, Georgia from the earliest days to the present" by C. Fred Ingram, are the original sources of much of the information you cited.

Further, according to these text Umasaga's daughter was an adopted child of Spanish ancestry, and it was not she who was killed in the event you mentioned (although the ensuing events are generally correct), as she was married to the son of a white settler and died of old age. She is buried in Winder although thankfully it is not known where, as her grave is the origin of a treasure tale.

Based on research of local history, geology, landmarks and interviews of people who grew up in the area, I specifically correlated the last gasp and subsidence of the Nodoroc mud pot to the New Madrid seismic event of 1812 and conclude that it's original placement is in the vicinity of the Thrall Car facility and Barrow County Airport. Unfortunately I moved away before I had a chance to gain soil samples from these areas.

The Professor said...

Thank you for your comments. It is always good to have local historians reading the blog and making comments on the myth and legend that materializes from these areas. Were you the official historian for Barrow County at some point? How long have you been gone? I would love to hear more about your time there.

RV said...

I don't know that Barrow County has an official "Historian" per se, but I worked with the historical society there for a few years until 2008.
I lived there for 20 years, but I'm afraid that it became too crowded for me. The historical focus of the community is more toward a one hundred year history but as an avid geologist and historian it behoves one to study cultures in terms of Millenia and geology in eras and epochs and that is what I did while there.

In the late 1700's when white setters first approached Umasaga, the greater Barrow County area was inhabited mostly by Muscogee (Creek) indians although the Cherokee often made forays from the north. The Spanish had been intermittently penetrating the southeast but their primary activities focued on the sea lanes that supported their Caribbean and southern empire while the English that eventually translated in Americans were settled along the Savannah river to the east.

The transition of "ownership" was relativly brief in that as the legend goes, that the whites purchased Barrow County for 16 pounds of beads, a knife and a few bolts of cloth in around 1798 and by 1825 it was illegal to be a Native American in the region. Needless to say discussion of this type of history as well as that of slavery is generally frowned upon locally.
Some interesting reading is "Fire in A Canebrake: The Last Mass Lynching in America" by Laura Wexler as it discusses events surrounding the murder of African Americans just south of Barrow in Walton County, which I thought aptly presented the mindset of the culture at the time.

Barrow County is also the site of a small Civil war battle that occured when Sherman was assaulting Atlata (the Stoneman Raid).

When you live in a place and study history, it's interesting to be able to locate these points of a historical narrative and recognize them in your daily life. Unfortunantly, many people think history is a dead thing, but what happens today is predicated on reverberations from past events.

Gman said...

Just visited the "volcano" today. Not looking too hot.

Gman said...

Just visited the "volcano" today. Not looking too hot though.

KKLA said...

Hello! I would like to take a group of children to see the volcano. Who should I contact for details and permission?
Thank you!
Kingdom Kids Learning Academy
Cleveland, GA

The Professor said...

I would check with the Barrow County Tourism Council, or possibly the Chamber of Commerce. There are a few people who have posted here who have visited. Email them directly, especially the lady on here who visited last July. She might be able to tell you some interesting things. I have never been.

Gman said...

It turns out that the "bog" I visited was not the actual volcano but the edge of what used to be. I did alot more research only to find that the actual opening is under some tree cover on land behind where I was. I don't remember what book talks about the volcano, but it was a wonderful read, I will repost if you are interested. I do believe the family that owns the land now is 2nd owner after indian tribe, and all that knew about volcano times have passed. Not sure how interested that family would be in visitors. So much wonderful info available online though. Let me know if you have more questions.