The Legend of Lost Mountain

Today, much of the original mountain called Lost Mountain has been lost to development. The mountain along with the Lost Mountain Store are located on the Dallas Highway (Highway 176) and the intersection of Lost Mountain Road and Mars Hill Road (Highway 120). However, the legend of Lost Mountain and how it got its name still remains.

The story has been told different ways over time through local oral histories, newspaper article and other published written accounts. As always, when legends are passed down from generation to generation they get lost in translation. With the legend of Lost Mountain, it still has the element of local Indian tribes, the Cherokee, who inhabited the area, romance and tragedy.

An article in the Marietta paper once printed a version of the legend where the Cherokee Chief was Salagoa and the young princess was little Willeo. The young brave was from the Creek tribe. Willeo fled with the young Creek brave. The young Creek was captured and promptly dispatched. Salagoa himself gave chase after Little Willeo and the other tribesmen pursued. After the long chase was over both the Chief Salagoa and Willeo were found dead under an oak tree. From that point on it was known as Lost Mountain because the two died on the mountain.

Another, more flowery and longer, version, with a few different names, of the legend was written and published in 1892 by Walter McElreath, part of which follows:

“….. Near where the Nickajack mingles, in its waters, with the Chattahoochee, lived the chief, from whom the stream takes its name. Around him his tribe lived, in loyal obedience to his rule. At his wigwam, a stranger from the settlement of Kennesaw, from Frogtown and from amongst the Cohutta, was welcome. Many young braves made pilgrimage to his wigwam, to listen to his legendary lore, and to enjoy his hospitality; for was he not the father of Oolalee, the fairest maiden of the nation? Beads and armlets, moccasins made of fawn skin and ornamented with garnets and shells, were presents from many suitors. Upon all, except one, old Nickajack poured the benediction of his good will. This was Sawnee, the son of a chief who lived towards the north. A way back, in the misty days of tradition, his ancestor has wrought some injury upon the ancestors of Nickajack, and he could not bear, now, to think that Oolalee should be borne away to the hated tribe. But, the maiden cared nothing for the favorites of her father. The comings of Sawnee, as he passed through her father’s tribe, on his trips to the Spanish trading posts of the south, were the measures of her existence. And, when the time of his expected coming drew near, she spent every night at their trysting place, awaiting him; and, when he returned, he always brought many gifts to Oolalee.

According to the Indian custom, Oolalee’s father had betrothed her to a young chief of his own tribe, and, in October, the wedding was to be celebrated, according to tribal custom. At last, the day before Chicokee was to receive his bride had drawn to a close. For days past, Oolalee had expected Sawnee and every night had seen her at their trysting place. Tonight, she went out from the wigwam, and, as old Nickajack saw her wander down the stream, his heart drew sad, in thinking that she was soon to go away; for tradition says that she was the idol of the old Chief’s heart…….when morning came Oolalee was nowhere to be found……those who had gathered for the celebration, now shared the search for the bride. Trace was found, and Oolalee and Sawnee (for he had come) were followed on by the old beaver dam, and on by the rock mound, and up to the mountain, which rises to the northwest. Here by the little spring…..an armlet was found, which had been a gift to Oolalee from her father. Beyond, no trace could be seen.

In after years, the story goes that old Nickajack used to sit by the door of his wigwam, and, looking away to the mountain, would murmur, in his native tongue, that syllable “Lost!” His tribesmen, hearing his constant murmur of “Lost!”, “Lost!”, “Lost!”, when he looked toward the mountain, called it “Lost Mountain”……”

The article in its entirety was published in The Historical News (Southern Historical News, Inc,), State of Georgia, Cobb, Douglas and Paulding Counties, April 2018 edition.

Author: curator