Nestled between two famous archeological digs, one the enormous cache of pottery found at Fairchild Landing in the North and the other large find at what is now the WMA Landing and the Burial Mounds under Lake Seminole in the South, Trail’s End has a unique place in the history of the Lake Area. If we take a walk through the woods which separate the new cabins of Trail’s End Resort and Marina from the ribbon of water known as the Chattahoochee River we can discover some of that history.
Try to picture this land, when it was the dock site for steamboats and a ferry. We’ll see where it comes to an end at what is now a tiny scrap of land near the entrance to Trail’s End’s channel, for the old road is now under the backed up waters of the river.
Upon entering the forest, we hear the echoes of the past. The whirling slap of the steamboat paddle causes our pulse to beat in cadence. We hear the songs of the stevedores as they load and unload the cargo on the steamboat. Ladies in long silk dresses hike them up as they make their way onboard the waiting vessel. Men in work clothes lead their animals on to a waiting ferry as they prepare to go across the Chattahoochee to buy and sell their produce.
We have turned ahead the pages of time to after the age of the prehistoric Indians and the Creek and Seminole Indians, to a time when the early families came to the area and established large beautiful plantations. Names like the Saunders, the Drakes and the Faircloths were very prominent then. Also at this time, the Turnage family came to the area. They turned their portion of land into a very lucrative ferry and landing business. They were the first recorded owners of what is now Trail’s End Resort and much of the surrounding area. The forefather’s of the family were very adventurous and colorful. First to arrive here, Emanuel Turnage was born in 1831 in North Carolina. It is told that he left home as a teenager when his father sold his pony. He then headed South and in 1850, settled on the Chattahoochee River. He first lived in Jackson County, Florida for several years before settling on the Georgia side of the River. Legend tells us that Emanuel had several children, including William and Susanna. After the death of their mother, the children were raised by Emanuel’s wife’s relatives in South Florida. Emanuel then married Rebecca Sellers in 1854. They moved to the Georgia side and together they had eight children including Daniel.
Emanuel bought acres of land along the Chattahoochee River. He farmed on many of these but also realized the potential for a ferry business that would connect the southwest corner of Georgia, which at this time was Decatur County, to Jackson County in Florida. So around 1874, he constructed his ferry and steamboat dock at the end of what is now State Route 253.
Emanuel’s ferry landing was very popular as it was the only ferry for miles around. Also, the steamboats of this time carried passengers and cargo up as far as Columbus, Georgia, on the Chattahoochee and up to Bainbridge, Georgia, on the Flint River. Turnage Ferry was also centrally located between the cities of Bainbridge, Georgia, Marianna in Florida, and Pensacola, also in Florida.
Turnage’s business benefitted from the large stand of timber readily available. Emanuel provided this wood for fuel for the steamboats.
Also, at this time, no railroad was close by so Turnage Ferry and Landing was the major center for farmers to ship their cotton and other products to market. The ferry and landing was very popular with shipping companies who printed flyers with passenger fares from Turnage Ferry and Landing to the other ports on the three river system.
Emanuel ran his ferry until his death on March 25, 1912. It was then that his son, Daniel bought most of his fathers farmland as well as the Turnage Ferry and Landing from all of the other heirs. Daniel farmed and operated the ferry for several more years. Then in 1923, he sold the Turnage business to L.C. Butler who ran it as Butler’s Ferry and Landing. The ferry business wasn’t as busy but there were still many folks who wanted to cross the Chattahoochee this way. The Butler’s continued to operate this business until around the 1940’s.
After World War II the property around what is now included in the Trail’s End land lease was part of the legacy of families like the Drakes, the Saunders, and Sam Fairchild. They had created large, majestic farms with cows and horses and hogs roaming free in the woodlands. Their trees were now being used for timber and turpentine instead of fuel for steamboats.
Then, in 1957, the lake was backed up. It flooded the land on which these families worked - like an inland sea. Now with the impounded water straining for space, low lands increased and became miniature lakes. Swamps popped up. No one knew for sure how it would be when it all ended.
At Trail’s End, things would never be the same. No longer was it located on the shores of the Chattahoochee River. To make it more accessible, the Army Corps of Engineers cut through a channel from the Chattahoochee River and joined it to an existing lagoon. They dredged this and put in a concrete landing. Thus was the beginning of the Trail’s End land as we know it today.
The first person to lease this area from the Corps was Ellison Dunn. He had a large dream for this area. It was to be a great stopping place. Camping, fishing, hunting, all would be easily available. Then Bill and Mary Turner become the owners and they called the landing Trail’s End.
The next owners are Myrtle and Vestor Towns in 1975. They were famous for the breakfasts which Myrtle would cook to treat the guests on the weekends.
Next were Steve and Patsy Hancock in the late 80’s and early 90’s, up until 1993. For several years, Trail’s End was a booming business. This is attributed to a police officer named Tom Griffin who started the tradition of having community picnics with barbecued hogs, music, singing, and dancing. And spontaneous fish fries for everyone in the campground.
People came from everywhere to vacation at Trail‘s End. Big Boats would journey down from Atlanta. Here they found peace with nature and the southern hospitality which southwest Georgia is famous for. The next owners were Hank and Penny Girot.
Then, in 2006, Mr. Stewart purchased Trail’s End Marina and Campground. Once again, Trail’s End is undergoing great change. First is the name change to Trail’s End Resort & Marina™.
New modern log cabins are popping up like bunnies under the bed. A new store and eatery (Pop’s Dockside Grill and Raw Bar - http://www.teresort.com/
And of course, now Trail’s End Resort and Marina has produced the COVE, a luxury houseboat community, raising the standard of the area even further. Creating a new family fun destination on Lake Seminole destined to recapture the old glory and add many new chapters for years to come.
The COVE features Harbor Homes™ luxury houseboats, available for full ownership or fractional ownership through Lake Seminole Vacation, LLC.
Trail’s End Resort and Marina this past year saw the addition of many floating docks, the brand new pool and clubhouse complex, nature trails, volleyball, picnic areas with hammocks and grills, and many more amenities.
Future development includes increasing the number of modern RV sites, and cabins located along the inner channel inside the COVE. More covered boat slips will be created and a new laundry/bathhouse facility for the campground is being built now.
So whether you are looking for a cabin rental, houseboat rental, pontoon boat rental, an RV site, or a combination to entertain guests at family reunions, or for holidays, Trail’s End is fun for the whole family.
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The COVE at Trail's End Resort and Marina™ is a uniquely new concept in floating real estate. The COVE has sold 30% of its slips for the only floating luxury houseboat community of its kind on the east coast of the US located inside a resort.