We don’t know exactly what ‘hoochie coochie’ means, and quite frankly, we don’t want to know
Beginning high in the Blue Ridge Mountains, flowing through Atlanta, then southwest to form the southern half of the state line, and then below the fall line to create yet another state border, progressing in a slow ramble to finally empty into the Apalachicola Bay in the Gulf of Mexico, is the Chattahoochee River. At approximately 430 miles long, the river makes up the largest part of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River drainage basin. Made famous to the rest of the world by Alan Jackson’s CMA Song of the Year, the Hooch is a beloved – and often fought over – source of beauty, fun and life in the southeast.
BUT I LEARNED HOW TO SWIM AND I LEARNED WHO I WAS
Archaeological evidence indicates that humans have lived along the banks of the Chattahoochee River for a very long time. At least 16 different settlements have been discovered along the banks south of the fall line. As these civilizations were exposed to European diseases, survivors moved into the river valley below present-day Atlanta. They arrived separately and at different times but eventually established sufficient political, linguistic and cultural bonds to be referred to as one people—the Creeks, so named from their settling location preferences. Much like modern day Georgians, the Creeks respected the river as a food source and a transportation artery. The Creeks are credited with naming the river: chat-to for “stone,” and ho-che for “marked” or “flowered.”
In 1828 the Georgia legislature created the town of Columbus at the head of navigation for the Hooch. Columbus became a thriving cotton-marketing center with unimpeded river travel to the south and intermittent river travel possible northward all the way to present-day Gwinnett County.
NEVER KNEW HOW MUCH THAT MUDDY WATER MEANT TO ME
Today the Hooch is valued more as a source of drinking water and recreation than as a liquid highway. A water source for some three million people, it also provides power throughout North Georgia, as well as a major source of recreation. A 2017 National Park Service report indicated that 2.7 million visitors to the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area in 2016 spent over $119 million in communities near the park. That spending supported 1,841 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $166,687,300. The river valley remains one of the state’s most important ecological and economic assets.
A LOT ABOUT LIVIN’ AND A LITTLE ‘BOUT LOVE
Thousands of acres along the Chattahoochee River are preserved by the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. Hikers enjoy miles of scenic trails winding through the northern suburbs of Metro Atlanta. The Chattahoochee Nature Center offers guided hikes and canoe paddles; explorers can learn about native plants and animals through the center’s interactive exhibits, gardens and nature exchange.
A classic summertime tradition, families and friends have a splashing good time floating down the river on rented tubes, paddleboards and canoes. River trips range from 1.5 to 8 miles of relaxing recreation. Those seeking greater thrills can head below the fall line to Columbus for white water rafting on some of the largest rapids east of Colorado!
Folks who live on the north end take river entertainment at a slower pace. From Buford Dam to Peachtree Creek (approximately 48 miles), the Chattahoochee is a designated trout stream, providing some of the best trout fishing in North Georgia! Further down the river, tall-tale tellers can fish for bass and catfish.