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Wahsega 4-H Center

Historical Information

A Short History of Wahsega 4-H Center

Before this valley in the Chattahoochee National Forest north of Dahlonega, Georgia was called Wahsega 4-H Center, it was home to the McDougald family. The McDougalds farmed the fertile flood plain of Ward Creek and used the area below the waterfalls to run a grist mill.

In the 1930's, the valley was used by the CCC as a camp for the men building roads and bridges in this area of north Georgia. The boys bathhouse and the dining hall used by our guests today were built by the CCC.

In the late 1930's the original bunk houses used by the CCC were torn down and the site was improved by the addition of small cabins so that it could be used as a summer camp for underprivileged youth. By 1943, Georgia 4-H was using the facility for conferences and rallies. 4-H Summer Camp was first held at Wahsega in 1946. For the next 40 years, Wahsega was primarily used for summer camp. Then in 1988 the director at the time, Walt Chisholm, began working with Diane Davies, State Coordinator for the 4-H Environmental Education Program, to bring EE to Wahsega.

Wahsega 4-H Center is one of five centers operated by the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. We provide environmental and outdoor education opportunities during the school year and camping experiences to youth during the summer. Our programs enable youth to acquire relevant knowledge, develop significant life skills and form the appropriate attitudes they need to make intelligent decisions, solve problems and be responsible citizens. On the weekends both 4-H and non-4-H groups use the center for conferences, retreats, meetings, rallies, weddings, band camps and much more.

Wahsega 4-H Center has a history of making a positive impact on young lives. In 1965 a young lady named Kathryn Andrews spent a week of summer camp here. She was so inspired she wrote a poem about her experience.

Tragically, Kathryn died in a car accident later that same year. Since 1967 a memorial bell in her honor has stood across the creek from the dining hall. Today, when youth are here for 4-H Environmental Education sessions during the school year or 4-H camp during the summer, the bell rings many times each day calling youth to participate in experiences not unlike those that inspired Kathryn to write her poem.

For more information, feel free to call our office at (706) 864-2050 or send us an email.

Thank you.
Travis Williams
Center Director

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The Meaning of the Word "Wahsega"

The following is a note published online by The Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas in their bulletin, SSILA BULLETIN # 67: May 16, 1998.

Regarding Linda Wolffe's query about the Georgia placename "Wahsega" (SSILA Bulletin #66.1): I'm compiling a book on U.S. place names of American Indian origin, so I found this question interesting. The name "Wahsega" doesn't seem to be in Krakow's 1994 book on Georgia place names, and I can only guess that it might be from Cherokee or one of the other Indian languages that were originally spoken in Georgia. However, it's also possible that it was transferred from the town of Watseka, Illinois, with a change in spelling. In fact the Illinois name has been applied to places in several other states. Supposedly Watseka was originally the name of a Potawatomi Indian woman, born in Illinois around 1810, and she in turn was named after the heroine of a Potawatomi legend. The word may mean something like "beautiful woman".

Bill Bright
Boulder, Colorado
william.bright@colorado.edu

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