published Monday, December 30th, 2013

Hold the ‘S’ ... please: Despite highway sign, locals say it’s Rock Spring

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    Rock Spring Paint & Body uses the singular form.
    Photo by Tim Barber.
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    A car travels south on U.S. Highway 27, vehicle into the Walker County community of Rock Spring — or Rock Springs — just south of Chickamauga, Ga.
    Photo by Tim Barber.
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    Rock Springs Tire has been that way since manager Anthony Hudgins can remember.
    Photo by Tim Barber.
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The sign on U.S. Highway 27 reads "Rock Springs."

But the lettering on the U.S. Post Office states that "Rock Spring" is the name of the community the post office serves in unincorporated Walker County, Ga., between Chickamauga and LaFayette.

Signs outside businesses and other organizations are split. For example, it's Rock Springs Tire versus Rock Spring Barber & Style.

The Baptist church is ecumenical. A church sign hanging by chains alongside U.S. 27 reads "Rock Springs Baptist Church," while the sign on brick supports near the church itself reads "Rock Spring Baptist Church."

So which is it?

"It's always been pronounced 'springs' ever since I was a little girl," said Beth True, who's worked 13 years at the Rock Spring post office as a sales and service associate.

As for mail that come through, some letters and packages are addressed to Rock Spring and others to Rock Springs.

"We get 'em both ways," True said.

Still, she sticks with Rock Spring. Singular. No "s" on the end.

"I just say spring," True said. "There is a spring. That's how it got its name."

Seconding that was Joan Fowler, receptionist for Walker County Sole Commissioner Bebe Heiskell.

"There's a big spring behind Rock Spring United Methodist Church," Fowler said. "That's where [the name] came from."

A singular spring is mentioned in the history of Rock Spring United Methodist Church, which had its first home in a log cabin built in 1839.

"The [church] had its beginning at what was known as the Rock Spring Methodist Camp Ground, which was located about one and one-half miles southeast of where the present church stands," the church's website states. "There was a spring of clear, crystal water known as the Lupo Spring. At this campground the people of the surrounding territory, even from quite a distance, would lay aside all farm work or whatever type of work they were engaged in and meet together for perhaps from three to six weeks in the summer for revival meetings."

So why did the Georgia Department of Transportation opt for Rock Springs with an "s" on its signage?

"I don't know," said Paul Kaspereen, a permit engineer who works in GDOT's Dalton office. "I've always referred to it as Rock Springs, with an 's.' But it may be Rock Spring."

"People may not really care," he said. "But I don't live in Rock Spring. Or Rock Springs."

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6651.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.

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