History of Downtown Cartersville
Following the Cherokee Removal in 1838 and the surveying done for the Western & Atlantic Railroad, a small group of families settled in the area that would become Cartersville. Named for Farish Carter, a wealthy land owner and entrepreneur who frequently traveled through this area between his plantations in Chatsworth and Milledgeville, Cartersville was first incorporated as a town in 1850, following the completion of the railroad through northwest Georgia. Accounts from 1849 show that the town could boast of 150 inhabitants and four or five stores and one hotel. Most of the store buildings were wooden structures facing the downtown square with the depot at its center. Growth continued steadily, especially driven by the heavy train traffic passing through town.
Beginning in May 1864, Cartersville first felt the physical effects of the Civil War. Throughout the year, both Union and Confederate troops marched across the county, including through Cartersville, damaging homes, businesses, and the train depot. In fact, much of downtown was destroyed during the occupation by Federal troops in 1864 and 1865.
Following the war, the town quickly rebounded. By 1866 numerous new businesses began operation, and by 1867, Cartersville was chosen as the new county seat of Bartow County, due to the destruction of Cassville during the war. In 1872, the town was incorporated as the City of Cartersville.
According to local resident John Henry Wikle, Cartersville in the 1870s had a population of 1000 and was a trading center for eight or ten surrounding counties. He said the streets would be crowded with wagons and buggies from all parts of north Georgia, and that passengers and large amounts of freight, especially cotton, merchandise, and building supplies arrived in town by train.
The growth and prosperity of Cartersville continued to be tied to agriculture and mining throughout the 19th century. Iron, barite, bauxite, limestone, manganese, and ochre were all mined in this area for many years. The textile industry got its start in Cartersville in the early 20th century with the building of the American Textile Company, later acquired by the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. Many companies in these particular industries have come and gone over the years; however, New Riverside Ochre and Shaw Industries continue these activities today.
With the 20th century came other means of transportation to complement the role of the railroad in the expansion of Cartersville. By the 1920s, what would become U.S. Highway 41 made its way through Cartersville, and Interstate 75 was completed in Cartersville in 1977.
While there have been periods of economic ups and downs for nearly 200 years, today, Cartersville remains a growing and vibrant city with a population of around 20,000. Industries and businesses continue to thrive in and around the city. The historic downtown district includes service businesses, restaurants, retail, museums, and entertainment venues.
Find more photos of Historic Cartersville on our Gallery page.