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The Chieftains Museum is located in the former estate home of Major Ridge (1771-1839), a rebellious Cherokee leader born in the north Georgia mountains as
Kah-nung-da-tla-geh. At the rather plush upscale home's core is a very old log cabin, renovated by its wealthy owner. At the time of the forced exodus of the Cherokee from North Georgia, according to the US government, Ridge estate was of higher quality than most, if not all others in the vicinity, including whites. He owned a ferry, hundreds of fruit trees, rich river bottom farm land, and over 30 slaves of African and Creek descent.

The home is a fascinating tour, but the stories associated to the home's previous owners are much more interesting. I won't attempt to explain the history in this short article. It's simply too complicated. However, to spice it up a little, I'll say this: Major Ridge was a Cherokee warrior, hunter, business man, politician, and assassin. He and his son John were directly involved in the signing of the treaty of New Echota, and both paid the ultimate price for doing so. The official Georgia Tribe of Eastern Cherokee tell the story best.

The Chieftains Museum is located adjacent Ridge Ferry Park on the banks of the Oostanaula River. Ridge Ferry Park is one of our favorite bike-riding and festival destinations. Ridge Ferry Park hosts a variety of events including an annual Cherokee powwow as well as one of our favorite art festivals, the Chiaha Harvest Fair.

The history of the Southeastern US is fascinating to me. I wish there were a movie about the Creek and Cherokee that told the whole story! The odd personalities and politics of the time, and the near-paradigm that took place. History certainly could have emerged quite differently had time favored the Cherokee. Discovery of gold in their territory sealed their fate.

If you would like a good post-Creek history of the region, the Chieftains is a must. You should also consider visiting New Echota, the former capitol of the Cherokee in nearby Calhoun. For history about the natives that lived here prior to the Cherokee, take the short drive to see the Etowah Indian Mounds in Cartersville.

Adventure Journal
Entry Date: November, 2011
We have visited Rome and Ridge Ferry Park many times in the past, but had yet to patronize the Chieftains Museum. We decided that this beautiful Saturday was the perfect time to do so.

When we arrived at the museum, a very friendly and well informed hostess offered her help. We were the only museum visitors at the time, so she was able to explain some of the exhibits in detail. There are artifacts that date back to Spanish explorer Desoto and progress through the Civil War.

The original structure was a cabin built in the late 1700. It was later (early 1800's) renovated and modernized by the Ridge Family. Portions of the plaster walls have been removed to expose the original hand-hewn logs. There are displays of tribal artifacts including tools and masks used by the Cherokee. Upstairs features a room complete with period furniture.

The period clothing, documents, and photos on the walls and in the display cases took a lot of time to view. Perhaps the most interesting to me was how nice the home is. The rooms are large and the ceilings high. I can imagine the multiple fireplaces all ablaze keeping the home cozy on cold nights. This was a fine home, and visiting  is well worth your while.

Unfortunately, the youngest papooses got a little impatient and decided to check out the gift shop where they caused a little accident. Don't worry, it cost us only $5 for the damages. We decided to scoot right down the road for some Fuddrucker burgers and shakes.
The Richardson Tribe


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Rating (1-10)


Official Website


The official Georgia Tribe of Eastern Cherokee have put together a very informative site. I wish there were more pictures and details, but it still does a good job of telling the story.

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Facility 9 It's a 200+ year-old home, so it's not perfect. Its condition is amazing considering its age failed attempt by Union soldiers to destroy it during the Civil War. There is a small gift shop at the entry and a very knowledgeable hostess (at the time of our visit)

Places to camp near the Chieftains museum, Rome, and Ridge Ferry Park.


There are some pretty good places to camp near Rome. We haven't stayed there, but have heard great things about Floyd County's "Lock and Dam" park. We have camped at Rocky Mountain Recreation Area and James H Floyd State Park, both beautiful places to stay. If you are looking for full hookups and activities, Cedar Creek Park near Cave Spring is the place to stay.



There are two playgrounds at Ridge Ferry Park, and they are both awesome!

Fishing, boating, canoeing, kayaking, etc. 9 The adjacent Ridge Ferry Park provides access to the Oostanaula, Etowah, and Coosa Rivers. You can go all the way to the Gulf of Mexico by canoe from here.



The Heritage Trail run just down the hill from the museum. You can park in one of Ridge Ferry Park's lots, then ride your bike or walk the short distance to the museum. You can also ride or walk the Heritage Trail through Rome, across old bridges, and on the levees.

Local Attractions


Rome, Ridge Ferry Park, Heritage Trail (walking and bike path), Heritage Park, Rocky Mountain Recreation Area, James H Floyd State Park, Cedar Creek Park, Cave Spring, New Echota (Cherokee Capitol), Etowah Indian Mounds (Creek/Muskogee), and much more...

*Note: We rate only the amenities we have personally reviewed.
No financial consideration or favor has been received for listing in PB&J Adventures' website. We are in no way affiliated with this facility or any other facility we review. Any paid advertising seen on this site was arranged after the destination was reviewed. You can trust the reviews to be unbiased.

October 2011