Catoosa County, located along the Tennessee border in northwest Georgia, is the state's 100th county. Catoosa was created from parts of Walker and Whitfield counties in 1853 and comprises 162 square miles. According to the 2010 U.S. census, Catoosa County's population is 63,942, an increase from the 2000 population of 53,282.
The county was named for Catoosa Springs, which in turn was named for a Cherokee chief. Before white settlement the Cherokees held the area and used the springs for medicinal purposes. Later, during the Civil War (1861-65), the springs were the site of much activity. A Union encampment and several Confederate hospitals were located there, and in 1864 troops skirmished in the area.
Ringgold, the county seat, was incorporated in 1847 and named after Major Samuel Ringgold, the first high-ranking officer to be killed in the Mexican War (1846-48). Two years later the Western and Atlantic Railroad built a line through the town, which soon became the busiest train stop between Atlanta and Chattanooga, Tennessee. In 1856 Catoosa County's first courthouse, a two-story brick structure, was built in Ringgold. Soon after its construction, local masons were granted permission to add a third story to the courthouse for a Masonic meeting hall. According to local lore, Union general William T. Sherman did not allow his troops to burn the building in 1864 because of this meeting hall. The current county courthouse was built in 1939 in the Colonial Revival style.
Several other important Civil War events occurred at various sites throughout and near the county.
The county's economy followed the general pattern of southern economies during the nineteenth century, bearing heavy losses during the Civil War and hardships during Reconstruction. However, thanks to the repair of rail lines after the war, small farmers (including numerous sharecroppers) in Catoosa County were able to revive their livelihoods by the turn of the century.
During the early twentieth century, manufacturing began to develop in Catoosa County, especially in the Ringgold area. More county residents are employed in Chattanooga than in Catoosa County itself. The construction of Interstate 75 during the 1960s helped establish outside markets for the area's manufactured goods and led to the county becoming a bedroom community for Chattanooga.
Susan R. Boatright and Douglas C. Bachtel, eds., Georgia County Guide (Athens: Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, University of Georgia, annual).
Catoosa County, Georgia Heritage Book Committee, ed. and comp., Catoosa County, Georgia Heritage 1853-1998 (Ringgold, Ga.: Catoosa County Historical Society, 1998).
William Henry Harrison Clark, History in Catoosa County, 2 vols. ([Ringgold, Ga.]: privately printed, 1972-2003).
Elizabeth B. Cooksey, Savannah
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