Copperhill and McCaysville are really one town divided by a state line. That’s not all that unusual, we’ve been to many cities that are separated into two different states by a river or a road. No, what’s unusual in this case is the lack of any landmark or street dissecting the town.
We drove into Copperhill, Tennessee watching our GPS like hawks, trying to figure out just where the state line was, but being up in the mountains our reading was somewhat less than accurate. We really weren’t sure what state we were in — other than confusion — until we parked and got out.
That’s when we noticed the blue stripes painted diagonally across Ocoee Street, the sidewalk, and up the walls of buildings and houses.
It was pretty wacky, like standing on a giant map, with Tennessee printed on one side of the line and Georgia on the other.
And the zany antics didn’t stop there, at the state line both the main road and the nearby river change their names from Ocoee to Toccoa. Even a church is split by the border, now that’s a new take on the separation of church and state(s).
Assessing our position, we deduced that we were actually parked in Georgia. So stepping over the dotted line and back into The Volunteer State, we walked half a block up to Patrick’s Pub & Grill. We had heard about this place, the famous bar in two states, in fact it was the main reason we found ourselves in the far southeast corner of Tennessee.
Patrick’s front door opens onto the main drag of Copperhill Tennessee, nothing out of the ordinary with that, but the kitchen and bathrooms are in McCaysville Georgia. Now that’s a little different. But it got a little stranger.
We walked in and took a seat at the bar, and noticed that the dotted line had followed us inside. Painted across the walls and floor of the hallway leading toward the back was that pesky state boundary again. After quenching our thirsts while chatting with the bartender, we were informed that drinks could not be carried into the back area. She explained that the Georgia county where the restrooms are — Fannin County — is dry.
Veronica nearly got herself in a heap-o-trouble by stepping one toe over the line, but luckily no local authorities happened to be present. Adding to the oddity of Patrick’s, the State of Georgia claims that the border has been drawn in the wrong place and the whole bar should be in Georgia, which by our reckoning would make it no longer a bar. Word from Tennessee officials is that ain’t gonna happen.
As unique as this state line situation may be, we got the impression while walking around that it isn’t necessarily the main attraction. The tiny twin cities are served by two railroads that deliver tourists by the trainload (ba dum ching!) for a shopping and lunch stop during scenic tours of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The two lines come from opposite directions and end at the state line, which somehow seems fitting. The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway makes its way up from Blue Ridge, Georgia along the Toccoa River, while The Hiwassee River Railroad comes down from Etowah, Tennessee through The Hiwassee River Gorge and over the famous Hiwassee Loop.
The passengers looked to be more interested in the offerings of the antique and souvenir shops than the curiosities of jurisdictional demarcation. Perhaps that makes sense, because when it comes to finding a rare historic relic, classic curio, or the perfect memento, does it really matter whether the GPS reads Georgia or Tennessee?
Not unless it involves booze.
David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com