Fourteen miles north of Dahlonega, Georgia, where US Highway 19 and State Routes 9 and 60 converge, it’s easy for travelers to miss a pile of rocks alongside the highway known appropriately enough as Stonepile Gap. But this isn’t just any pile of rocks. It is reputed to be the grave of the Cherokee princess Trahlyta.
According to legend, Trahlyta was the most beautiful woman in the Cherokee Nation. It is said that she drank from a secret magic spring every day, which blessed her with eternal youth and beauty, and her fame spread throughout the land.
So it is probably not surprising that Trahlyta had many suitors, some who traveled from far away just to admire her beauty and bring her gifts. Of course, they all wanted to win the hand of this beautiful woman, but she was quite happy with her life the way it was and had no interest in settling down into domesticity.
As the story goes, one spurned suitor, a warrior named Washega, grew frustrated with her repeated rejections and finally kidnapped Trahlyta and took her far away from the magic spring. It didn’t take long for the magic to wear off without her daily ablutions at the spring, and soon Trahlyta’s youth and beauty began to fade away. Homesick and heartbroken, she became ill, and before long, death was imminent.
Devastated and wracked with guilt for what he had done, Washega promised to take Trahlyta home and bury her near her magic spring. He did, and then covered her grave with a pile of stones to keep animals from disturbing her remains.
As the story of the beautiful Cherokee maiden spread, people began to believe that if they left a stone at Trahlyta’s grave in tribute, they too, would be blessed with never-ending youth and beauty, or at least good luck. And over the years, the practice has continued.
In 1868, a preacher named Joseph McKee began to bring people to a nearby body of water named Porter Springs, which he believed was Trahlyta’s magic springs. Eventually, a resort was built at the site and people would come to soak in the water, hoping to take advantage of its healing properties.
Most of the Cherokee were forced from the north Georgia mountains westward on the Trail of Tears, and historians claim there is no validity to the story of Trahlyta and her magic springs. But that doesn’t stop people even today from leaving a stone as they pass by.
And who knows? There may really be something to the story. A couple of reports I have read say that over the years, state officials have wanted to move the pile of stones, but during the two different attempts that were made, workers were killed by passing vehicles. Was that just a coincidence? Or was Trahlyta sending a message to leave her alone to rest in peace near her magic springs?
Note: Thank you Amy Pullman, for the use of your photos for this blog post.
Thought For The Day – Truth does not mind being questioned. A lie does not like being challenged.