Social Circle is a small city with a rich history. Early history tells of a traveler who commented on the community’s southern hospitality after locals gave him water. Was it his statement, “This certainly is a social circle,” that brought about the name? It’s a question that will remain unanswered but in 1826 the name stuck, and the city was officially incorporated in 1832.
Hospitality might have put it on the map, but its transportation helped make the city the tourist destination it is today. If you are interested in history tourism, Social Circle is a prime location to visit to understand how the town grew as transportation evolved.
Transportation Influences Growth
As you walk along the streets of Social Circle, imagine it being one of many cities in Georgia that boomed along with transportation and the adjacent cotton mill. The entire downtown area is a National Historic Area. A focal point of the historic district and the city is the commercial district, with its center intersecting two important trading routes – Cherokee Road and Hightower Trail. The routes were first used by the Cherokee and Creek Indians. Then they were used by frontiers in settling the area.
The pattern of development became more irregular when the railroad cut diagonally across the two main streets. The railroad was significant, providing easy access to Augusta and Atlanta and enhancing the position of Social Circle as a center of commerce and industry. Oil mills, cotton gins, and a textile factory were developed largely because of the positioning of the railroad.
The area was so significant for transportation that it was an important target for Sherman during his March to the Sea. His Left Wing set out from Atlanta to destroy the Georgia Railroad from Social Circle to Madison. In 1865, railroad service was restored. The depot was rebuilt the following year. The coaling tower, built a little later, still remains intact from the days when trains were powered by steam.
History in the Making
The positioning of Social Circle continues to make it unique. One unique aspect of the city is its shape. The limits were defined as a quarter mile around the post office, making it one of Georgia’s first round towns. The strange shape of the round town results in it being in two counties – Walton and Newton. While much of the developed area is in Walton County, there is a huge potential for growth in the portion that sits in Newton County.
When recognizing its potential, think about how history has a way of shifting. Transportation might have initially brought the city ahead of its time with the railroad, but with the state of Georgia growing as a key technology hub, Social Circle is once again situated for growth. With the development of Stanton Springs, that includes Facebook’s Data Center, there is huge potential for Newton County as more people are drawn to Social Circle and the undeveloped areas that extend into our county.
If you plan to move or travel to Social Circle, take some of the back roads to see the picturesque farms in the area. In addition, two great places to visit are Fox Winery for wine tasting and Lake Varner for a beautiful place to picnic, fish and kayak, among other outdoor activities.