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Gov. Talmadge avoided FDR during 1935 visit

POSTED: September 19, 2010 12:30 a.m.

Just as Georgia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Roy Barnes avoided President Barack Obama when he recently spoke in Atlanta, so did Gov. Gene Talmadge avoid President Franklin Roosevelt when he addressed a huge crowd in Atlanta in November 1935.

Talmadge had been a severe critic of his fellow Democrat's initiatives to bring the country out of the Great Depression. Instead of greeting Roosevelt when he came to Georgia, Talmadge said he would be fishing and hunting on his farm in Telfair County.

But it was definitely the president's day. Hundreds of thousands welcomed him as he motorcaded through downtown Atlanta and onto Grant Field, where a packed stadium roared its approval of his remarks about his New Deal for the country.

Meanwhile, critics of Talmadge hung the governor in effigy on the state Capitol lawn.
Running for re-election, Roosevelt told the crowds that spending on New Deal programs was at its peak. His opponents, including Talmadge, had been roasting him for running up the federal deficit, the same criticism aimed at President Obama and Congress today.

"We were insolvent," Roosevelt said in Atlanta, referring to previous President Herbert Hoover's administration. "Today we are solvent ... Your government says to you: ‘You cannot borrow your way out of debt, but you can invest your way into a sounder future.'"

Talmadge had won re-election in 1934, but after that gubernatorial term ended he tried to unseat U.S. Sen. Richard B. Russell and Sen. Walter F. George. He failed both attempts, but later was elected governor for a third time.

Former Gov. Barnes running for governor again this year opted out of welcoming Obama in Atlanta because he said he had previous commitments campaigning in middle and south Georgia. Obama and Congress's actions to bring the nation out of the current recession have met with considerable disapproval, especially in Georgia, and threaten the Democrats' dominance of Congress in the November elections.

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We've heard a lot about Dunlap Dam, which backed up Lake Warner on the Chattahoochee River, and generated electric power for Gainesville and vicinity. But whatever happened to it and its lake? The dam burst September 1935.

Georgia Power owned the dam at the time, but had abandoned it as an electric power generator. Hundreds of pounds of fish were trapped in "mud ponds" created when the dam broke. The area where the dam was built in the late 1800s was known as Dunlap Shoals. Samuel C. Dunlap had previously owned the dam.

Dunlap Dam cost $150,000 and employed 100 people to build. A.J. Warner and North Georgia Electric built it and supplied electricity for seven miles of a street car system that ran from New Holland to Gainesville and out Riverside Drive to Chattahoochee Park and Lake Warner.

The first electric street car ran Jan. 21, 1902, and four cars ran every 20 minutes. The mayor and other local officials and prominent citizens were on that first car that left at 12:30 p.m.

Street cars ran from Gainesville Mill up what was then Railroad Avenue, now Industrial Boulevard, to Main Street to the square and from the square to New Holland, and west from the square out Washington to Grove and West Broad to Alta Vista and out Green to Riverside Drive and Chattahoochee Park.

Prior to the electric street cars, Dr. R.E. Green operated a horse-drawn street car on Main Street from the square to the depot and out Green Street. Green also owned a cotton mill called Georgia Manufacturing Co. where Bellmore Mills once operated.

Another dam on the Chestatee River owned by Gainesville and Dahlonega Electric Railway cost $100,000, was 200 feet long and 27 feet high. The company was a companion of North Georgia Electric and supplied electricity for Gainesville beginning in December 1902.

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In their heyday, moonshiners didn't run their liquor to Atlanta only in hopped-up cars. In 1922, revenuers and county officers captured a 30-foot boat on the Chattahoochee River with 308 gallons of illegal whisky.

Officers had staked out both sides of the river between Forsyth and Hall counties. When the liquor runners saw the officers on the Forsyth County side, they moved their boat to the Hall County side where officers there captured the boat and some of the crew. Two moonshiners escaped.

Johnny Vardeman is retired editor of The Times whose column appears Sundays and on gainesvilletimes.com. He can be reached at 2183 Pinetree Circle N.E., Gainesville, GA. 30501; phone 770-532-2326.



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