The source of the Chattahoochee River is a small spring in the southern Appalachian Mountains in North Georgia. From here the river widens as it flows southwest to become the southern half of the border between Georgia and Alabama. From here the river turns south and flows through a series of artificial lakes created by dams. As the river passes by Columbus and Fort Benning it crosses a geographical feature known as a Fall Line separating the Piedmont region from the Coastal Plain. This sudden drop in elevation exposes rock ledges and creates turbulent water conditions excellent for rafters and experienced kayakers. South of Columbus the river continues to widen and the current slows. When the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers join at Lake Seminole, the outflowing river was named the Apalachicola by colonial settlers. The Apalachicola River continues south through Florida until it reaches the Gulf of Mexico and Apalachicola Bay.
The name Chattahoochee is rooted in the Muskogean language spoken by the Native Americans who first settled on the river's banks. Chattahoochee roughly translates into "painted rock" and is thought to reference the colorful granite outcroppings found along the banks.
The banks of the Chattahoochee River have been inhabited since at least 1000 B.C. with at least 16 indigenous communities on the southern half of the river alone. For the Native American people of the southeast, the Chattahoochee River was a significant source of travel, sustenance, and spiritual guidance.
During the American Civil War, the river served as a strategic asset to both sides. Numerous fortifications were built along the river by the Confederate Army and many confederate warships were built and launched in Columbus. Columbus is thought, by many historians, to be the place of the last battle of the war.
After the Civil War the river became a major trade and travel route once again with steamboats making the trip from Apalachicola to Columbus and back again. Dams were constructed in 1944 and 1945 to aid in travel and transport and to produce hydropower for surrounding communities.
The river is now primarily used as a source of drinking water and hydropower for surrounding communities as well as recreation in the form of fishing, boating, swimming, paddlesports, and rafting.
Chattahoochee River Conservancy 1212 3rd Ave Columbus, GA 31901 706.649.2326