A 1911 auto adventure through Mableton and Austell

A line drawing of an antique car, with a Cobb County Courier logo alongside it

I’ve been going through the earliest articles we published here, when the Cobb County Courier was known under its original name: River Edges.

The name River Edges was dropped for two reasons.

One was that while the original scope of the site was both sides of the river, our content was increasingly about Cobb.

The second was that a web search turned up hundreds of companies with some variant of “River” and “Edge” in the name.


Another fact worth noting is that our readership in 2016 when this was published was typically be less than 5,000 visitors per month, and some months we published fewer than 5 articles (compared to a readership of over 100,000 now, with a minimum of 200 articles per month published).

The early articles I’ve found that are interesting enough to revisit I’ve been expanding and updating.

I think this one is a real gem, about a woman who made a trip from downtown Atlanta to what was at the time a resort destination in Lithia Springs in Douglas County, but every near Cobb.

I read through historic newspapers regularly, with an emphasis on articles about Cobb County and its nearby neighbors. 

I stumbled across this mysterious little blurb from the Atlanta Georgian and News, June 30, 1911.  There was no headline, and this is the complete text of the article, with capitalization and punctuation preserved as it was in the original article:

Automobile route to Sweetwater Park Hotel via North avenue, Marietta street to Bellwood avenue, over Chattahoochee bridge, through Mableton, Austell, thence to Lithia Springs. Record time by lady driver — 45 minutes.

This is an intriguing little article for a number of reasons.

The first thing of interest is the mention of Bellwood Avenue.  Bellwood Avenue is an earlier name for a section of Bankhead Highway, which has been renamed a number of times. 

It is now Donald Hollowell Parkway on the City of Atlanta side, and Veteran’s Memorial Highway in Cobb County.  So the bridge over the Chattahoochee was at the location of the current crossing of US 78/278 in south Cobb.  It makes sense, since her route took her through Mableton and Austell.

Second, in 1911 there wasn’t a very well developed road system in the Atlanta area, so navigating from downtown Atlanta to Lithia Springs, particularly in record time, was a newsworthy event, particularly since the trip was undertaken by a “lady driver.”

Widespread paving of roads in Cobb County didn’t begin until after 1915 with the development of the Dixie Highway, and with a 1921 bond issue for the City of Marietta roads.

So she was probably riding over a highway of packed mud.

The third interesting thing is the mention of the Sweetwater Park Hotel.  An ad from 1911, also in the Atlanta Georgian and News, says “You could not pick out a more charming place to spend the summer than Sweetwater Park Hotel, at Lithia Springs, Ga.”  The ad further promised that Bowden Lithia Springs water, available both in the springs and bottled at the hotel, had

“curative properties and great medicinal value in the treatment of rheumatism, gout, kidney and bladder problems, gravel, insomnia, dyspepsia, indigestion, and constipation.”

I had to look up the medical condition “gravel”.  It  is a concentration of particles (usually uric acid, calcium oxalate, or phosphates) passing through the urinary tract. It sounds painful.

Digging a little further into the history of the hotel, I found a lengthy Atlanta Constitution article from April 12, 1887, entitled “As if by Magic, a Wonderful Resort Near Atlanta”. The article announced the opening of the hotel, and described the curative powers of the water.

It’s interesting what you can discover with a one-paragraph article in a 110-year-old newspaper as your starting point.