Located in Central Cobb County, Georgia, the city of Marietta stands as Cobb County’s largest city in addition to serving as the county seat. Currently, Marietta is estimated to house approximately 59,500 people, making it one of Atlanta’s most populous neighborhoods.
Marietta, Georgia was around before the establishment of Chattanooga or even Atlanta. In the 1830s, Georgia Legislature authorized the construction of a 20-mile track of railroad that would connect Cobb County from Atlanta to Cartersville. This railroad, named the Western and Atlantic Railroad, brought life to the south.
Cobb County, particularly Marietta, is brimming with history that has helped shape the region as a whole. Here are five historical facts we found interesting about Marietta and Cobb County.
Prior to the United States
Before becoming Cobb County, Woodland Indians lived in the region up until 1500 AD. From that time onward, Moundbuilders rose to power; it was believed that they held many settlements along the Chattahoochee River and Nickajack Creek.
Some experts have reason to believe that the Moundbuilders were the ancestors of the Creek Confederacy, as this nation of Natives had control of western Georgia, Cobb County included, until the arrival of the Cherokee Nation. The Creek Confederacy was driven south by the Cherokee, and the land south of the Chattahoochee River was then used as a trading post for the two Native tribes.
Marietta was officially founded in 1833 and was named after Mary Cobb, the wife of US Senator and Superior Court judge, Thomas Cobb for whom Cobb County is named after.
Only four buildings in Marietta survived Sherman’s March to Sea
Sherman’s March to Sea, also known as the Savannah Campaign, was a military strategy that was implemented during the American Civil War. From November 15 to December 21, 1864, Major General William Tecumseh Sherman, A.K.A. Sherman, led troops from Atlanta to Savannah with the intention of completely destroying each city on the way. His belief was that the only way the Civil War would come to an end was if the Confederacy’s economic wealth, infrastructure and everything in between, was completely torched.
This tactic, while very effective, offered major risks, one of which was the fact that Sherman’s army was operating behind enemy lines with no way to replenish supplies. Union soldiers sustained themselves throughout the campaign by foraging, though Major General Sherman recognized that such methods of finding food could potentially produce a disastrous effect on the already-hostile relationship between the Union army and the local civilians. Despite the risks involved with the Savannah Campaign, the Union army’s dedication to the cause allowed them to keep Confederate reinforcements at bay, preventing them assisting Major General Robert E. Lee, who was engaged in a stalemate with the Union in Leesburg, Virginia. The tactic placed immense pressure on Lee and was a crucial part of ending the Civil War.
The city of Marietta was one of many victims in this campaign. In November of 1864, Sherman watched Marietta burn to the ground until it was nothing more than ash and rubble. In the wake of the mass destruction and devastation, only a few buildings survived the blistering flames of war. One of the buildings, the Kennesaw House, is now home to the Marietta Museum of History detailing the history of Marietta and Cobb County. While this building was spared in the campaign, the fourth floor of the warehouse lit fire after ashes from other buildings landed on it. It now stands with only three levels.
The Big Chicken
In 1963, a restaurant owner who wanted to give his place a bit of flare commissioned a Georgia Tech student to create a giant chicken that could be installed on his building. The endearing, but bizarre fowl came equipped with eyes that were able to shift, a beak that could open and shut, and, at one point, a hydraulic lift that made the chicken operational.
These days, the Big Chicken remains in Marietta, staunchly planted on top of a local KFC, where visitors from all over can marvel at what is considered the epitome of American soul food. The chicken is a beloved landmark of Marietta and while the original restaurant, Johnny Reb's Chick-Chuck-'N'-Shake, is no longer in business, the 57-foot bird still calls Marietta home.
Marietta Hosts A Historic Car Show Every Year
Marietta is a town that is immensely prideful of its roots, culture, and history. Every year, the Marietta Museum of History holds the Marietta Streetfest. Here, the city celebrates Marietta’s past, present, and future in many different forms. The Streetfest includes events such as the Grassroots Music Festival, Military, Motorcycles & More!, and the Hubcaps & History Classic Car Show.
The Grassroots Music Festival allows visitors and locals alike to enjoy the sounds of Marietta. The music festival features local artists who hail from Marietta and other nearby communities. Festival-goers are able to enjoy local music while checking out the Hubcaps & History Classic Car Show.
As the name suggests, classic cars--regardless of whether it was restored or in its original state--are entered in a massive car show, where car enthusiasts can congregate and marvel at all of the entrants. You don’t have to be a hotshot car collector either in order to enter; anyone with a stellar ride can register. So, if you’re passionate about history, cars, and grassroots tunes, then the Streetfest is definitely for you.
No matter if you’re visiting Marietta or a resident of a nearby town, there’s no doubt that the city has plenty to offer everyone who passes through. It’s the perfect place to live for those looking for a small-town feel with big-city convenience. While we’ve listed some of the historical facts here, the history in this area of the south has deep roots, be sure to explore some of them yourself.
****Article researched and written by Abigail Golder, Freelance Journalist, [email protected]