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TALKING TROUT: Inspired by the Etowah River

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Trout Unlimited

Almost 34 years ago I began fishing the Etowah River. My first few trips were usually short trips from the Dykes Creek area to downtown Rome. I spoke with a longtime friend and fellow musician, Leslie Baldwin, and he told me that over the years he had become very knowledgeable about the river because of his interest in the Indian artifacts he had found along the river. He suggested that we take a trip on the longest section of the river that at that time was totally void of encroachment by farmhouses and other residences.

When other friends heard we were planning the trip, the once simple float turned into a convoy of canoes, rafts and jon boats. We made many stops that day along the river, and Leslie would point out areas that were sites of periodic campsites used for centuries by the Native Americans. Then we reached an unusually wide section of the river and anchored our small armada.

The area was beautiful and very shallow, so shallow that even a child could cross the river on foot. We climbed a steep bank and then proceeded up an equally steep hillside until we reached the mouth of a cave. The view from the cave was exceptional. Leslie explained that the Cherokee Indians, and even the Creek, had used the cave for shelter for many hundreds of years before the white man arrived. There was a large flat stone in the cave that made a great picnic table so we were out of the sun, in the mouth of a cool cavern and, if it had not been sandwiches, we could have said eating like the Indians did.

Leslie was a fountain of knowledge and he talked about this cave as if it were his brother. Over the years, Leslie had probed every inch of the cave for artifacts and had found quite a few, including a Heron leg-bone pipe that was under the table rock. He said that he and a friend had gone deep into the cave and that the cave eventually turned and went back under the river and that he felt that there were human remains in the cave.

Jim Dent made trips with me and Leslie and became fascinated with the story of the cave and wrote a book called “The Necromancer of Etowah.” The following is a synopsis of the book. It is available through Amazon and special order at bookstores.

‘The Necromancer of Etowah’

While exploring a cave beside the beautiful Etowah River, Stone and Stuart Pickett found a pouch of human bones that were used by a Native American shaman. Stuart began to use the bones to call on the powers of necromancy to make extraordinary things happen in his life. A dichotomy of events ensues that puts both brothers in legal jeopardy and casts Stuart’s soul into eternal danger. Stone must find the key to unlock the mysteries of Stuart’s fate before it is too late.

On the surface, Stuart finds that he has the Midas touch with everything he does, yet under the surface his older, wiser brother sees that a path of destruction and death follows closely on his heels. Stone undertakes a relentless quest to unlock the mysteries of the bones, but the closer he gets to the truth, the more elusive and perilous it becomes.

Will Stone find the answers in time before anyone else dies and Stuart slides into the shadow world of evil? Stone’s desire to help his brother brings him face to face with his own demons while he wrestles with issues of faith, power and control. The price he pays along the way proves to be more than he expected.

Find the time to get this book or read it online as it is a good read.

Chili Cook Off only 16 days away

We now have 79 cook sites occupied and sill have 43 of the regular sites open for teams. As with any cook off, it takes cooks to make the food that the public will taste. We can make it with the existing teams, but we would really like to see all the sites filled with teams.

If you are an individual and live by the theory that too many cooks spoil the broth, why not just grab a partner and cook. All that is really needed is a shelter from the sun, a device for cooking the chili, a pot and a small table along with stirring and serving utensils. TU will supply the tasting and judges containers.

Even if you do not want to be a cook or a part of a team, we want you to attend. The folks who pass through the gate are the ones who help us raise the money to fund our main education and environmental programs around the state.

The 20th annual TU Chili Cook Off will be held Oct. 8 at Ridge Ferry Park. Admission is $5 per person and entering a chili recipe costs $45. To register and pick a cook site go to