Warwoman Dell was named to honor a Cherokee Warwoman. Some believe it could have been named for Nancy Hart, the Revolutionary War era woman who may have fought at the Battle of Kettle Creek with her husband and sons. Most likely, though, it was named to honor Nancy Ward, a highly-respected “beloved woman” of the Cherokee Nation who frequented the dell and advised the Cherokee tribal council on war and peace. She was very powerful in the Cherokee clan rule, for she was the last Warwoman in the East. When the Cherokee chiefs voted to go to war, it could only happen if the Warwoman approved.
Nancy Ward was born circa 1738 and was called Nanyehi in her native Cherokee language. She was no stranger to war. At the Battle of Taliwa in Ball Ground, Georgia, she helped her husband, Kingfisher, in battle by laying behind a log and chewing his bullets so that the resulting jagged edges might create more damage. When her husband was killed, Nancy picked up his rifle and continued the fight leading her people to victory. She was only 17. At the age of 18, she was awarded with the Cherokee title of “Ghigau”, a prestigious title meaning “beloved woman” or “war woman”, making her a member of the tribal council of chiefs. She was also named the leader of the Women’s Council of Clan Representatives and took over the role of ambassador and negotiator for her people. Through the difficult, war raved years of the Revolutionary War era, Nancy Ward continued promoting alliance and mutual friendship between the Cherokees and the colonists. She led the Cherokee in the implementation of farming, dairy production, and new loom weaving techniques that forever changed traditional roles in Cherokee society. She died in 1822, or possibly 1824, before the Cherokee were removed from their remaining lands during the Trail of Tears.
In the 1930’s, after decades of logging had nearly destroyed the area, the Civilian Conservation Corps arrived to reforest and restore the natural beauty of the dell. There is small Forest Service park located at the site of the CCC camp of the 1930’s. No remains of the camp buildings exist. A series of stone structures, identified as trout hatcheries by a sign in the park, are the only remnants of the CCC at Warwoman Dell. Thanks to the hard work of the Civilian Conservation Corps, the area’s natural beauty can be appreciated today.
Two moderately easy, family-friendly trails lead through this beautiful pocket of wilderness showcasing tall trees, dense vegetation, mosses, wildflowers, and three waterfalls. The hike visits the popular Becky Branch Falls, historic areas of Warwoman Dell and several smaller waterfalls on a 1.4 mile loop. While it’s not a long hike, it’s an exceptionally beautiful one. This is a fairly moderate, short trail, with parking and a roadside picnic spot.
Directions: Traveling north US Hwy 441 in downtown Clayton, one block after US 76 comes in from the left, go east on Warwoman Dell Road for 2.8 miles. When the road makes a sharp curve to the left, watch for Warwoman Dell Recreation Area entrance on the right. Follow the gravel road to the first parking lot.