published Friday, July 3rd, 2009

Preservation prize

  • photo
    Staff file photo. Jaime Trotter, an architectural historian for Alexander Archaeological Consultants, talks about some of the facts and mysteries surrounding the remains of a two story stone hotel at the deserted McNabb mining site along River Canyon Road.

A Chattanooga woman's work with a North Georgia company to document and preserve a Marion County coal mining ghost town has won recognition from the Tennessee Historical Commission.

Jaime Trotter, a historian with Alexander Archaeological Consultants of Wildwood, Ga., is among 21 people awarded the commission's 2009 Certificate of Merit.

Ms. Trotter was honored for nominating the old mining town of Shakerag to the National Register of Historic Places and for her ongoing work to help save the 19th-century historic site also known as the McNabb Mines. The little-known, 457-acre site was added to the National Register in May 2008.

E. Patrick McIntyre Jr., the commission's executive director, said Ms. Trotter's site nomination was so complete and well-documented that a staff member of the National Historical Commission nominated her for this award.

On Thursday, Ms. Trotter said she was proud to have been able to work on the project for the Tennessee River Gorge Trust.

"I hope this award will continue to bring attention to the site and the coal mining heritage of the Cumberland Plateau," she said. "There's nothing else like it of its age and size. ... I think it will take private citizens to help preserve it."

Shakerag, in Prentice Cooper State Forest, was established in the 1880s on a bluff overlooking the Tennessee River as a company town for the McNabb Mines. The community was abandoned about 1905.

In 1984, thirty-four structures remained, including ruins of the original school, commissary, hotel, coke ovens, rail incline and worker housing.

Ms. Trotter said the ruins of many stone buildings on the site need stabilization. In fact, the signature arch has fallen just in the past year.

"It's very important that we were able to document it before that happened," she said. "There is a lot of potential there, but there are a whole lot of challenges also."

Mr. McIntyre noted that Shakerag was on the list of Tennessee's Top 10 most endangered sites in 2005, and he said Ms. Trotter's effort will continue to be key in saving Shakerag and other examples of regional history.

"We appreciate the people like Ms Trotter who are helping protect the state's unique interest. It takes people out in the public to get the real work done," he said. "All we do is augment that."

about Pam Sohn...

Pam Sohn has been reporting or editing Chattanooga news for 25 years. A Walden’s Ridge native, she began her journalism career with a 10-year stint at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. She came to the Chattanooga Times Free Press in 1999 after working at the Chattanooga Times for 14 years. She has been a city editor, Sunday editor, wire editor, projects team leader and assistant lifestyle editor. As a reporter, she also has covered the police, ...

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