Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Questing at Cochran Mill, Part Two: Against the Grain

Here is the second of our two Cochran Mill Quests, created by middle school students at Hill Country Montessori. To my knowledge, these are the first Quests to have been created in Georgia! You can read more about Questing at http://www.vitalcommunities.org/ValleyQuest/ValleyQuest.htm. Check out the list of Online Quests for other ones in the United States. Both of these quests will be submitted for inclusion in their list.

Against the Grain
Cochran Mill Park Quest #2

To complete this quest, a field guide to trees might be helpful. Park along the south side of Cochran Mill Road, about a thousand feet southwest of the entrance to Cochran Mill Nature Center, directly opposite the ruins of a brick chimney in a fenced yard. Follow the trail over a rope barrier (now lying on the ground). After walking a few feet, turn right to parallel Cochran Mill Road. You are now on the trace of the original roadway.

Follow the old road, continuing to be alongside the present-day one, until you see a dip in the trail. On your left, on the wooded hillside, are terraces that farmers used for growing cotton here. They are probably from the early 1900’s.

Come to where the road cuts through some rock. Lichens and algae cover the rock in many different colors. The brightest color is __ __ __ __ c __.

Continue down the path to a big fat tree on your right, just beside the path. It is probably over 100 years old. It is a __ __ c __ __ __ __ __.

The bridge that you come to crosses Bear Creek. Cross the bridge and take the path to the right. You are still on the original Cochran Mill Rd. route.

The road soon turns completely to gravel. On the right is a star-shaped stump, and behind the stump is a big rock. The rock has long s __ c __ __ __ h marks on it. What do you think these are from?

Continue down the former Cochran Mill Rd. On your right is the forested floodplain of Little Bear Creek. Continue straight down the path until you come to a bridge. The bridge is unusable because of its age. It is also part of the original trace of Cochran Mill Rd. Just beyond the bridge are the ruins of an old mill, from the late 1800’s. It is the oldest mill in the park. The only things left of the mill are a few stone walls. Standing where the mill used to be, if you face the falls, you will see a path to your left, going up the hill along the stream edge. It goes over a rock to start, and may be hard to see. Not far up the path is a rusted metal __ c __ __.

Continue up the hill if you want to see the mill dam, mostly destroyed by vandals in the 1970’s. When you come back down the path and back to the mill site, look to your right. Hidden by vines are a couple more mill walls.

When you are done looking at the mill, start to go back along the trace of former Cochran Mill Rd., the way you came. You will see a path going uphill to the right. At that fork, look right. There is a __ __ c __ __ __ __ c.

On the left after a hundred feet or so, you will see a cleared area. You are on the driveway of an old house. Can you find the concrete pad, hidden under the leaves, where the garage probably was? Can you trace any of the outlines of the now-demolished house? All that is left are some bricks and some sheets of metal. The house is from the early 1900’s. The mill owner probably lived there.

Follow the steps up the steep hill. At the top is a bench, where you can stop and rest. Follow the main path down the hill. Don’t slip. When you reach the Bear Creek again, go left. A __ __ c __ __ __-down tree makes a great bridge for squirrels to cross Little Bear Creek. When you come to a sign (in concrete, but not stuck in the ground) go left onto Loop Trail A.

When you come to another fork, go left again. Look around while you walk. After a while, on either side of the path you will see piles of rocks in a rough line crossing the trail. This is likely the remains of a stone __ __ __ c.

Down the path a little further is a clump of Christmas __ __ __ __ c. Their name is easy to remember, because they have leaflets that look like Santa’s boots. On the right are some more old farm terraces.

When you come to a sign that says “Trail,” turn right and hike up the hill, along a path lined with rocks. Continue on this path until it goes downhill. Once you pass a bench and a plank bridge, take a side trail to the left. As the trail approaches Bear Creek and starts heading back up the hill, you will see a stone wall on the left, near the stream edge. Turn left on a small path to go to the ruins of small building, constructed in 1906. Water flowed over a turbine here, making electricity for the city of Palmetto in the early 1900’s. Look for a gap in the wall that holds the box with the final clue in it. Watch out for the hairy vines and three-part leaves of poison ivy, which covers some of the walls.

Take the letters in the boxes from the answers above and rearrange them to find the answer to this question:
What was the oldest building in Cochran Mill Park used for?
It was a __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __.

When you have found the red box, answered the final clue, and stamped your Quest book, go back down the trail the way you came, all the way to the “Trail” sign. Don’t turn left! Instead, continue straight ahead along Bear Creek, until you see the footbridge across the creek. Turn right, cross the bridge, and follow the trace of former Cochran Mill Road back to your car.

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