By Ellen Archer
For adventurers who prefer to keep their feet on the ground, we suggest a trek to Cartersville, Georgia for some truly adventurous experiences. Have a wild west adventure right here in the sunny south at the Booth Western Art Museum. It’s the only museum of its kind in the southeast and undeniably one of the finest museums of Western American Art in the nation. But what you won’t find in other western art museums, or anywhere else, is the only collection in existence of handwritten or hand signed letters from every American President – Washington to Obama – these wait in the James and Carolyn Millar Presidential Gallery. A final must-see is the Civil War Gallery where scenes from America’s bloodiest years are unfolded through Civil War Art masterpieces hung in chronological sequence.
Venture outside into downtown to find the world’s only known monument erected by a debtor to honor his creditors. Back in 1860 Georgia’s Iron King Mark Cooper, commissioned “The Friendship Monument” as a tribute to 38 friends who bailed him out to the tune of $200,000 (about $5.5 million today) to save his mining and manufacturing empire at nearby Etowah. Cooper’s financial crisis occurred when his partner backed out of their venture to build a rail line to carry iron and other goods made at Etowah to the W&A Railroad. (The same rail line that runs right by Cooper’s Friendship Monument in downtown Cartersville today.)
After just two years, Cooper repaid his friends and built the monument, whereon are inscribed the 38 friends’ names. His ex-partner is not among them, of course.
Across Main Street from the Friendship Monument you’ll find a first-of-its-kind painted on the wall of Young Brothers Pharmacy. A true benchmark in advertising history, the “Drink Coca-Cola” wall sign found here is iconic, with similar signs painted on hundreds of walls in small towns across the south. But, painted in 1894, Cartersville was the first.
Enjoy a culinary escapade at The 4-Way Lunch on Main Street. This beloved Cartersville diner has been a mainstay since 1931, and believe it or not, they’ve never installed a telephone. In fact, the Cartersville-Bartow County Convention & Visitors Bureau posts its own telephone number online for The 4-Way and takes calls daily from visitors wanting to know more about the diner and its famed, only-in-Cartersville, gravy burger. Just so you’ll know: y’all can eat at The 4-Way Lunch anytime Monday-Saturday 6 AM-3 PM, and be prepared to wait a minute or two until one of the 14 bar stools opens up.
Our final Only-in-Cartersville find is really in White, Georgia. But that’s okay – it’s really close. So, experience Old Car City USA. More than just the world’s largest classic car junkyard, Old Car City USA has been re-defined as a photographer’s paradise. The more than 4,000 rare and rusty classic cars, many being reclaimed as only Mother Nature can, are visually stunning. Paired with Elvis’ last car, a collection of original folk art, and an ever-growing gallery of owner Dean Lewis’ Styrofoam Cup Art, Old Car City is becoming a must-see for many across the country and internationally. Stop in from 9 AM-4 PM Wednesday-Saturday. If Dean’s not there, cross the street to Wes Man’s Restaurant. They’ll probably know when he’ll be back.
For more Only-in-Cartersville tips call the information
specialists at the Cartersville-Bartow Convention & Visitors Bureau: 770-387-1357 or check out VisitCartersvilleGA.org.