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Cherokee and Creek Native Americans first inhabited the area known as Cedar Valley. White settlers moved in and established a trading post along Cedar Creek in the 1830s. The most famous of these settlers was Asa Prior, considered by many to be the father of Cedartown. According to local legend, the water rights to Big Spring were won for the white settlers by a local white boy in a footrace with a Cherokee youth. Some versions of the legend differ, saying that the rights to the spring were won by the Cherokee people from the Creek people in a ball game. Regardless, by the 1830s the Cherokee people had established a village they called "Beaver Dam" on the site of present day Cedartown.
In 1838, under the direction of United States President Andrew Jackson's Indian Removal Act, a fortification was built at the white settlement (then called Big Springs) for the purpose of forced internment of the Cherokee people, who were then forcibly migrated down the Trail of Tears to Indian reservations in Oklahoma. These fortifications did much for the prosperity of the fledgling town of Big Springs, which became Cedar Town when Asa Prior deeded Big Spring and 10 acres (40,000 m²) of adjacent land to the newly chartered city in 1852. Soon afterward, Cedar Town became the county seat of the newly created Polk County.
In the American Civil War, Cedar Town was abandoned by most of its citizens when Union troops encroached. The city was burnt to the ground by the Union forces of General Hugh Kirkpatrick in 1865, leaving only one mill standing on the outskirts of town.
In 1867, the town was re-chartered by the state of Georgia as Cedartown. An influx of industrial business bolstered the largely cotton-based economy of Cedartown, with fabric mills and iron works appearing in or near what is now the Cedartown Industrial Park on the west side of town. Industrial and passenger railroad service was added to Cedartown in the early 20th century. Main St. became a part of U.S. Highway 27, a major north-south automobile route that connects Cedartown to larger cities like Chattanooga, Tennessee and Columbus, Georgia. U.S. 27 also intersects in town with U.S. Highway 278, which connects Cedartown with Atlanta, Georgia. The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company built a large textile mill operation in Cedartown, and also built a large residential section of town for mill workers, now known as the Mill Village.
In recent times, the Georgia Rails Into Trails project has converted much of the former Silver Comet railroad line into the Silver Comet Trail, a federal and state funded park that connects many cities in Northwest Georgia. Cedartown's Main St. is listed in the National Register of Historic Places in recognition of its 1890s architecture.
Transportation and economic problems
With the shift away from rural living patterns toward Interstate Highway satellite suburban living patterns, combined with the general U.S. shift away from agricultural and industrial economies, Cedartown is left in an awkward position. The city suffered a major economic blow when the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company closed its Cedartown mill operations. For its employment, Cedartown mainly relies on the prospect of large corporate operation centers like that of Cingular Wireless, small manufacturing operations like that of The HON Company, and the retail operations of Wal-Mart.
Access to nearby major cities like Atlanta, Georgia, Birmingham, Alabama, and Chattanooga, Tennessee is somewhat difficult due to the distance from interstate highways and the lack of public transportation systems. Passenger rail service to Cedartown was abandoned in the 1970s, leading to the destruction of the historic Cedartown Depot train station. There is no general public bus service. The nearest stop on the Greyhound bus service is Rome, Georgia, 20 miles away to the north. The nearest major airport is Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, 70 miles away to the southeast. U.S. 27, once a major thoroughfare, is now much deprecated by I-75, 45 miles away to the northeast. The closest Interstate highway is I-20, 25 miles away to the south.
Illegal immigration has become a subject of intense public and private debate, as the Mill Village in westernmost Cedartown has become, over the past decade, the hispanic ghetto sector of town. As highly-educated citizens move away, fewer new people move in, and older citizens die, Cedartown will undoubtedly have even more drastic demographic and economic changes reflected in the 2010 census.
Notable people from Cedartown
Country music artist Waylon Jennings had a minor hit single with the murder ballad "Cedartown, Georgia" from the 1971 album of the same name. The slow, meditative song about betrayal and murder was a portent of the outlaw country genre's predilection for themes that stood outside of what was acceptable in the Nashville music establishment:
Tonight I'll put her on a train for Georgia.
Gonna be a lot of kin folks squallin' and a-grievin',
'Cause that Cedartown gal ain't breathin'.
Cedartown is located at 34°0'55" North, 85°15'14" West (34.015279, -85.253958)1.
As of the census2 of 2000, there are 9,470 people, 3,370 households, and 2,237 families residing in the city. The population density is 534.6/km² (1,384.0/mi²). There are 3,642 housing units at an average density of 205.6/km² (532.2/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 63.37% White, 20.20% African American, 0.21% Native American, 0.37% Asian, 0.12% Pacific Islander, 14.13% from other races, and 1.61% from two or more races. 22.62% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 3,370 households out of which 29.4% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.1% are married couples living together, 17.6% have a female householder with no husband present, and 33.6% are non-families. 29.5% of all households are made up of individuals and 15.2% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.65 and the average family size is 3.18.
In the city the population is spread out with 25.1% under the age of 18, 13.2% from 18 to 24, 27.1% from 25 to 44, 18.2% from 45 to 64, and 16.5% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 32 years. For every 100 females there are 102.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 99.9 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $24,562, and the median income for a family is $28,119. Males have a median income of $25,295 versus $20,711 for females. The per capita income for the city is $12,251. 24.3% of the population and 20.3% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 28.7% of those under the age of 18 and 15.3% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
- Golden Ink. (retrieved 9 September 2004). Roadside Georgia: Cedartown.
- Polk County Chamber of Commerce. (retrieved 9 September 2004). About Polk County.
- City Data on Cedartown
- Maps and aerial photos