Driving down Cascade Road towards I-285 from the West End community, most would not realize that this area of Fulton County was once one of the largest native settlements in the state of Georgia. Originally named “Oktahatalofa and Sulecauga,” the section was more recently known to Atlantans as the former “Sandtown-Buzzard’s Roost.”
As late as 1950, county maps recognized Sandtown’s boundaries bordering the City of Atlanta and extending onto Campbellton Road from Enon Road to the Chattahoochee River in Douglas County.
The settlement of the Indigenous people came at the end of the Creek War in 1813. The Creeks were forced to migrate west, leaving behind large sums of land in Alabama and resettling in Southwest Atlanta.
Folklore suggests that the Creeks chose the Sandtown name because of the sandy rock terrain found in the area. In reality, Sandtown was the name of the town from which the Creeks originated. The practice of naming a new settlement after an old one was not uncommon. Thus for many years, this frontier community was known by two names, Sand Town and Buzzard’s Roost.
By 1821, the Creeks surrendered more land to become Henry and Dekalb counties. At the same time, more European settlers wandered into the area. The Sandtown-Buzzard’s Roost community was now a frontier settlement for adventurers and gold seekers heading west. Years later the Buzzard’s Roost portion of the name was dropped.
The road now known as Cascade was originally a Native trail known as the Sandtown Trail. The trail ran into the east side of the Chattahoochee River below Utoy Creek, east through now, Five Points, then into Decatur and extended westward to the Coosa River in Alabama.
This was the oldest settled area in what is now known as Fulton County, the largest county in the state. During the Civil War (April 12, 1861-April 9, 1865), there were two roads to Sandtown (the current Cascade and Campbelltown roads), which were prominent locations of Union Army operations during the Siege of Atlanta, which took place July 22, 1864. The Battle of Utoy Creek, which took place between August 5-7, 1864, was fought along the Sandtown Road in what is now the Cascade Heights neighborhood. Major General William T. Sherman’s headquarters were along the southern Sandtown.
With the Indian Removal Act (originally published May 28, 1930), both the Creeks and Cherokee were forced out of Georgia west into Oklahoma. With the Indians gone, the land around Atlanta was now ready for permanent settlement. From the end of the Civil War till Reconstruction, even today, the history of Sandtown is a hidden space.
In 1928, Sandtown had a post office. Campbell County historians believe Sandtown was the first community in old Campbell County and the most extended continuous community in Fulton County. Sandtown-Buzzard’s Roost was located in Campbell County and absorbed into Fulton County in 1932 along with Milton County.
Sandtown, today is primarily a residential community in the city of South Fulton, and it is a suburb of the City of Atlanta, whose borders are shared. Sandown’s crossroads were near Boat Rock and Cascade, and most remember the corner of Boat Rock and Campbellton, where Campbell’s Grocery was located.
Local residents have begun the journey to mark the history of Sandtown-Buzzard’s Roost” by erecting markers:
1. The “Sandtown” marker is located on Fulton Industrial Boulevard and Boat Rock Road.
2. The “Dry Pond” is located at Boat Rock and Campbellton.
3. The “Owl Rock Church” is at the corner of Camp Creek and Campbellton.
There are still broken parts of Sandtown’s history that residents would like to bring to public memory; the old “Sandtown Path,” a mid-to-late nineteenth-century Gothic Revival house on the Northside of Campbellton Road between Reynolds and Wallace. The means of historic designation for the enormous boulders on Boat Rock Road archaeologically, as well as completing an oral history of Afro-American experiences in Sandtown, called If the Timbers Could Talk written by Snotie Albert, a resident of Sandtown for nearly 60 years.
Sandtown has two United Methodist churches, Poplar Springs (Cascade Road) and Rocky Head (Old Campbell Road ). “The one-room colored schoolhouse” attached to each of these churches in the ’40s, and The Poplar Springs School building remain, while the Rocky Head School has been demolished.
Sandtown, is Fulton County’s oldest community with a long history of reimagining itself through the stories of its community members. Sandtown Homeowners Association joined with the Ben Hill community to form the Campbellton Road Coalition (CRC), the current keepers of the hidden history of Oktahatalofa and Sulecauga.