Christmas afternoon found me at Traveler’s Rest. We were in warm weather. The temperature was in the low 70’s! We said that we could have taken the kayaks out but it was Christmas Day. No one goes kayaking during Christmas, right?!!
Traveler’s Rest is a very important location for the state of Georgia. This stagecoach inn and tavern was built in 1815 by James Wyly. It was just off the Unicoi Road later know as the Unicoi Turnpike. Rooms were sparsely decorated. Guests slept many to a room and bed linens were often dirty, dusty, and scratchy. Fireplaces were located in several of the rooms; but overall, the inn probably was not that comfortable. There are accounts of very bad food and cold drafty rooms. Wyly strategically located it along the newly constructed Unicoi Turnpike, a busy highway over the Appalachian Mountains.
Wyly operated the inn until 1833 when he sold it to his neighbor Devereaux Jarrett, the “richest man in the Tugaloo Valley.” Jarrett continued to operate the inn, but doubled its size to make it the homeplace of his 14,400-acre plantation along the Tugaloo River.
Three generations of Jarretts inhabited the site until the state of Georgia purchased the remaining few acres of the once-vast plantation for $8,000 in 1955. Traveler’s Rest was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964.
The house stands within two miles of the site of Old Tugaloo Town, a very important Cherokee Village. It is situated on a crossroads at the southern end of the Great Wagon Road, down which a wave of European—American migration poured to Fill the land east of the Appalachians in the mid-13th century.