The vast majority of my odyssey has been spent in very rural and remote areas, but the last miles of today’s paddle were unique because the Oostanaula led me straight into the heart of Rome. I passed the Rome Braves stadium, Chieftains Museum, the Floyd County Courthouse and downtown restaurants all within a few miles of each other. I even saw a cross country meet at Ridge Ferry Park and a peewee football game behind levee.
Three major rivers flow through Rome—the Etowah, Oostanaula, and Coosa. These rivers make Rome a very special city. In fact, the only other Georgia city that can lay claim to three rivers is Ellijay—where the Ellijay and Cartecay join to form the Coosawattee. In fact, Rome has more river miles within its city limits (approximately 16) than any other city in the state. Like Columbus, Augusta and Savannah, it is a true river city, and Romans all have unique ties to our waters whether it is fishing, boating or merely sitting on the banks watching the water flow.
Today, I saw countless people using the trails along the rivers, providing an experience a treadmill could never match. While the walkers and joggers filed by on the riverside path, I paid a visit to the new Rome/Floyd ECO Center, a river education facility located in Ridge Ferry Park. Chock full of aquariums and other exhibits, the Center showed me a “greatest hits lists” of fish and other animals all in one building. The animals it has taken me nearly three weeks to experience via canoe, I saw in just 20 minutes at the ECO Center.
Growing up in Cedartown, I can still remember visiting Rome and craning my neck to peek over the bridges at what I thought were the largest rivers in the world. These rivers give Romans something that cannot be duplicated by shopping malls or amusement parks. With their beauty and their historic importance, they set Rome apart from other communities and give us Romans a reason to be proud. That is why it is so important to continue to protect our rivers and streams, so we can carry these traditions on for generations to come.
Readers can also make donations to support Amos’ Odyssey and CRBI’s education efforts at www.coosa.org/events/amos-odyssey.