LAWRENCEVILLE - Two centuries ago, Fort Daniel protected Gwinnett's first American settlers. But with the population now bursting toward 800,000, who is going to save Fort Daniel from the settlers?
The land where some believe the early 19th century fort once stood - now surrounded by development - is for sale. But county officials say the price may be too high to buy it for a park - especially when the exact location of the fort is a mystery.
"It's one of the most historic areas of our county, but not an awful lot is known about Fort Daniel," said Ben Satterfield, chairman of the Gwinnett Historic Preservation and Restoration Board. "I don't know that there is anything there. You can't even see where the fort was."
Community Services Director Phil Hoskins said the decision of spending taxpayer money on the land is hard when the historical significance is in question. Also, he noted, the county has not set aside sales tax funds for another park in the Hog Mountain area, and the price tag is high.
Satterfield said officials wanted $140,000 an acre for the lot at the corner of Ga. Highway 124 and Ga. Highway 324. A real estate agent is marketing the 4-acre tract along with another 6 acres beside it and wants to sell the entire 10 acres, Satterfield said.
"I don't believe we're going to be able to do anything," he said. "I don't want to spend the taxpayers' money on something that isn't worthwhile. The jury is out until we know more."
Staffers in U.S. Rep. John Linder's office have agreed to research the former stockade in the National Archives and the Gwinnett Historical Society is pulling together information.
"We'd like to know more about the historical significance," he said. "Any history we lose we can't get back."
According to a article in the Lawrenceville News-Herald, a historical marker was placed on the land at Ga. Highway 124 and Ga. Highway 324 in 1941, but Satterfield said he does not believe the land has been placed on a historic registry.
According to the marker, the fort was completed in 1813 and named after Gen. Allen Daniel to protect settlers from British and Indian incursions.
The fort even has significance in the history of Atlanta's famous Peachtree Road - the original road linked Fort Daniel to Fort Peachtree, which was built on the Chattahoochee Road 30 miles away.
Fort Daniel was once the extreme western point in Georgia, with all land to the west considered Indian country.