Outside the Hedges: There’s more to Athens than the university

ATHENS, Ga. – Head out to Clayton Street on the typical Saturday night after a University of Georgia football game and say, “There’s nothing to do in this town.”

Yeah, right.

But what about Sunday and those other 40 or so weekends a year when there is no football game?

Don’t fret, you’re in luck. Athens is home to a lot more than the University of Georgia. The Classic City is a wealth of attractions, culture and history. What’s more, Athens is the perfect one-tank trip from Atlanta. Yet, it offers enough that it could also be a nice weekend getaway.

Perhaps the only thing more synonymous with Athens than college football is music. The home of R.E.M., the B-52s and a number of other musical acts, live music is still very much a part of present-day Athens. In addition to a number of music festivals throughout the year, a walk through downtown on the average night is proof that music is alive and well here as a number of clubs offering music on a nightly basis.

In the coming series of articles, I will examine some of the more popular attractions in Athens that are primarily located outside the hedges – that is, they are not associated with the University of Georgia.

For starters, two of the more unique attractions that Athens has to offer are the Double-Barreled Cannon and The Tree that Owns Itself – both of which have been featured on Ripley’s Believe it or Not. Both are also free.

The Double-Barreled Cannon is located in front of the Athens-Clarke County City Hall. Built in 1863 at a local foundry, the Double-Barreled Cannon was designed to fire two cannonballs connected by a chain so as to “mow down the enemy somewhat like scythe cuts wheat.” Built as an experiment, but never used, the canon is today little more than a bookmark in history and a rather unique relic.

Located at the intersection of Finley and Dearing streets, The Tree that Owns Itself is an oak tree that has been willed to itself. As the story goes, in about 1890, UGA Professor William H. Jackson willed the oak tree and the land that surrounds it to the tree to protect it in perpetuity.

While the original tree fell in 1942, the oak that today stands at Finley and Dearing streets is actually an offspring of the original and is known as the Son of The Tree that Owns Itself.

Only in Athens.

About Todd DeFeo 717 Articles
Todd DeFeo loves to travel anywhere, anytime, taking pictures and notes. An award-winning reporter, Todd revels in the experience and the fact that every place has a story to tell. He is the owner of The DeFeo Groupe and also edits Express Telegraph and Railfanning.org.