Life in Dade County
Nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, the major portion of Dade County is a serene fertile valley located between historic Lookout Mountain and stately Sand Mountain. However, it extends and covers a portion of both mountains as well. The county borders both Tennessee and Alabama. Trenton, the County Seat, is located approximately 25 minutes from downtown Chattanooga. It is close to other metropolitan cities in both Tennessee and Alabama. Atlanta, GA., Knoxville and Nashville, TN and Birmingham and Huntsville, AL are all only 2 ½ to 3 hours away.
“The State of Dade”… There are numerous stories as to how this expression originated. We do know that in the 1860’s Dade County was a hot bed of secession and no doubt there were many spirited debates at all the town meetings. It is thought that at one of these meetings a Declaration of Independence was voted on and passed declaring Dade County a “Free State”. The most authentic, and popular, version is that Col. R.H. Tatum was the father of the expression. Colonel Tatum, a foremost lawyer and politician of his day and a member of the Georgia legislature, took a very active and heated part in the discussion of secession in the legislature. In his closing, eloquent speech in the Georgia Assembly he was to have said, in no uncertain terms, that if the state of Georgia did not withdraw from the Union, Dade County would secede and would call itself the “Independent State of Dade”. Dade County officially became part of the Union again in a July 4, 1945 celebration on the courthouse lawn.
The City of Trenton is older than the county. Trenton was first settled in 1830 and was commonly called Salem. However, after the county was carved from Walker County territory in 1837, the small community became the county seat and was renamed Trenton in honor of industrial engineers from Trenton, New Jersey, who came to the area searching for coal and iron. Trenton was incorporated on February 18, 1854.
Morrison’s Station, North of Trenton, was christened New England and incorporated on September 27, 1891. The name was changed to New England with the hope that it would become the South’s industrial capital. This was a dream that was not to come true.
South of Trenton is the peaceful town of Rising Fawn which was incorporated on September 15, 1881. In the past, this town has been called both “Rising Fawn” and “Rising Farm”. The local post office has been called Hannah and Stauton; Hannah, because it was established on the Hannah Plantation and Stauton to honor the man who built the Great Alabama Southern Railroad through there. Today the post office is called Rising Fawn.
Located just below the Tennessee state line is the community of Wildwood, GA. A post office, community center and a few churches make up the heart of this community.
Iron and coal did not make Trenton or the surrounding county a wealthy “boom” town. However, coal and iron ore did play a role in the history of Dade County. Today a section of the county on the north end of Sand Mountain is still called Coal City because of the mining that was once done in the area. Remains of coke ovens can still be identified on the side of Sand Mountain. Commissary Antiques, on Newsome Gap Road, is a memorial to the Rising Fawn Iron Works and occupies the old iron works commissary.
Today Dade County is a growing area of northwest Georgia. The population is about 16,000. There are approximately 20 industries and over 300 small businesses operating in the county.