The Fall Line

A Virtual Exploration of Georgia's Physical Features


Georgia Fall Line and County Map (2016) by Georgia Public BroadcastingGeorgia Public Broadcasting

Georgia’s Fall Line is a geologic boundary marking the prehistoric shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean as well as the division between the Piedmont and Coastal Plain regions of the state. Rivers below this line tend to be slower moving, larger, and easier to navigate than those above.

Throughout Georgia's early development as settlers moved inland from coastal towns on the Atlantic Ocean, a number of trading posts grew along the Fall Line, which was a natural boundary for boat traffic traveling upstream.

Georgia Physical Features Map - Fall Line (2016) by Georgia Public BroadcastingGeorgia Public Broadcasting

Georgia's Physical Features

Georgia's Fall Line | Georgia's Physical Features (2016) by Georgia Public BroadcastingGeorgia Public Broadcasting

Georgia Fall Line Map (2016) by Georgia Public BroadcastingGeorgia Public Broadcasting

Cities on the Fall Line became trade centers that were important to the state’s economy. Goods could be taken upriver to the Fall Line cities for distribution throughout the state’s interior; likewise, agricultural products were brought to the cities to be sold and shipped downriver to ports on the coast.

Macon Night Skyline (2009) by AlexdiGeorgia Public Broadcasting

The sunset skyline of downtown Macon offers views of St. Joseph Catholic Church and the First Baptist Church of Christ, both dating from the nineteenth century.​​

Located at the heart of central Georgia on the Ocmulgee River, Macon was incorporated in 1823 as a hub for agricultural markets throughout the state. By the time the Ocmulgee became unnavigable in the later part of the nineteenth century, railroads connected Macon to both Savannah on the coast and Tennessee to the north, placing the city at the center of Georgia’s commercial boom.

In the twentieth century, Macon became home to Robins Air Force Base and drew notoriety for its music and entertainment scene, which thrived in the years after World War II until today.

Downtown Skyline on the Banks of the Chattahoochee River (2017) by PghPhxNfkGeorgia Public Broadcasting

In the heart of Columbus, Georgia, is the Chattahoochee Riverwalk, where the historic Eagle and Phenix Mills, now restored apartments, produced cotton and woolen goods in the years following the Civil War.

Established in 1828, Columbus was defined by the Chattahoochee River for nearly a century, becoming an important mill town and manufacturing powerhouse. After this initial economic rise and a subsequent catastrophic fall during the Civil War, Columbus quickly expanded its textile industry to rebound during Reconstruction.

In the twentieth century, the city's manufacturing economy struggled with price fluctuations during the Great Depression but was buoyed by operations at Fort Benning in the build up to World War II and beyond.

City of Columbus, Georgia (1868) by Dukes, RaymondGeorgia Public Broadcasting

Published in Harper's Weekly in 1868, this sketch depicting Columbus, Georgia, after its partial destruction during the Civil War, shows a prosperous city of more than 10,000 residents, "situated on the Chattahoochee, ... handsomely and regularly laid out."​​

Old Georgia State Capitol (1937) by Andrew, L. D.Georgia Public Broadcasting

Upon its creation in 1804, Milledgeville was named Georgia’s fourth state capital and held that position until the early years of Reconstruction. Due to its strategic location on the Oconee River, its economy flourished during the peak antebellum years of cotton production. Milledgeville was heavily damaged during General William T. Sherman’s March to the Sea, which left much of the city and its surrounding countryside in ruins.

Today, Milledgeville offers a variety of recreation and economic opportunities around Lake Sinclair and is home to many notable politicians, writers, and actors.

Broad Street, Augusta, Georgia (1930/1945) by Tichnor Brothers Postcard CollectionGeorgia Public Broadcasting

Founded in 1735 as the Georgia colony’s second town, Augusta was established at the navigation head of the Savannah River and laid out according to the Oglethorpe Plan. Augusta also linked the state’s interior via railroad connections to the Carolinas and via steamboat canal to the Savannah River.

Diversifying beyond manufacturing and transportation in the twentieth century, Augusta is now home to the U.S. Army Cyber School at Fort Gordon, the famed Augusta National Golf Club and associated Masters Tournament, and a number of colleges and universities.

Sibley Cotton Mills, Augusta, GA by Detroit Publishing CompanyGeorgia Public Broadcasting

The Sibley Mill, circa 1880, and the chimney of the Confederate Powderworks, circa 1862, are remnants of early industry on the Augusta Canal, now part of the Augusta Canal National Heritage Area.​

Panoramic View of Ocmulgee River at Amerson Park (2016) by Hester, DarrenGeorgia Public Broadcasting

Amerson River Park in Macon, Georgia, consists of 180 acres of forests and wetlands surrounded by an oxbow of the Ocmulgee River. Originally the location of Macon’s historic water treatment plant, the park is one of many important natural and historic sites along the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail, including Rose Hill Cemetery and the Ocmulgee National Monument prehistoric American Indian site.​

The Sandhills of Georgia | Georgia Outdoors (2019) by Georgia Public BroadcastingGeorgia Public Broadcasting

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