Standing Peachtree Park

This post was originally published here

I find it very easy to forget the world we live in. I grew up in North Atlanta, near the Chattahoochee, and spent a huge portion of it riding bikes to the river, going to some park on the river, or otherwise being around it.  I've lived intown now as an adult for some years, and kind of forgot it was there, to be totally honest.  Our bridges are too wide to see it even when you drive over it.  We pull 180 million gallons of water out of it every day to bathe, drink, and cook but don't think about it all that much.

It recently came to my attention that the water treatment plant I ride my bike past most weeks has a park in the middle of it, sorta. It's got a strange, unwelcoming gate, lined with barbed wire and fronted with a keypad. It seems a whole lot like its not a park, but sure enough, that's where Standing Peachtree Park is.

It sits at the confluence of Peachtree Creek and the Chattahoochee, on the former grounds of Fort Peachtree, and before that of a Creek Indian trading post: Standing Peachtree. The Creeks made the two mistakes of being native american and siding with the British in the war of 1812, which inspired the idea to tear down their trading post, make a fort to control them, and connect it to Fort Daniel (near Hog Mountain) with what is now Old Peachtree Road (and a shitload of other Peachtree-something roads).

It's an interesting park, but I wouldn't call it great. It's mostly a weird kind of trail or dirt road that snakes between a water treatment facility and Peachtree Creek. It's kind of overgrown so it's hard to see the creek, but you can hear it. The trail isn't marked all that well, so if you see a sign that says no cars past this point, that's the trail.  Once you get past the government-y field of fencing and wire, you drop into a wooded area that does start to feel like nature for a moment.

Eventually you get to a clearing with another barbed wire fence and a sign that simultaneously pulls you out of the forest into some strange industrial trespassing vibe, and reminds you that you may, in fact, be in a public space (a public space with many specific rules). I have to wonder why a parking sign is posted in the farthest possible place you can be in the park from a parking space.  Left of frame there is for some reason a pull-up bar, and nothing else. No benches, other signs, or anything like that.

Once you get past the vague feeling of trespassing, you can look past the sign and see the thing we were looking for in the first damn place, the river. As far as I know this is the closest in-town view of the river there is. Certainly not as nice as up around Sope Creek and the Palisades, but closer the capital, for whatever that's worth.

With a little bit more courage, you can make out a little whisper of a path through the brush, in the middle of that photo. If you take that past the tree line, and then down a steep, slippery embankment, you find yourself on the bank of the Chattahoochee, and the bank of Peachtree Creek, right in the apex of the confluence itself.  Downstream in the foreground you can see the CSX rail line proposed to be refitted to connect the Silver Comet Trail to the Beltline (more info here). Behind that is the Atlanta Rd. bridge, from which you see none of this if you're just driving along.

To your left, you can look up Peachtree Creek. At this point I feel like it'd be irresponsible not to mention: it's kinda stinky here. I mean there are treatment facilities basically all around you at this point, and you are, without a doubt in nature, but its not like full on nature. There's some trash on the beach.  Go with open eyes, is what I'm saying, this is where we get a ton of our drinking water and it's a pretty nice place, warts and all.

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