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Tour guides say the darnest things
by Bob Ciminel


July 10, 2004

Obviously, Ketchikan and Alaska are not the only places tourists frequent. Our little tourist railroad up in North Georgia hauls about a thousand tourists each weekend in the summer and double that in the fall. The tracks run along the banks of the Toccoa River, which becomes the Ocoee River when it enters Tennessee at the end of our line. While working as a car host in June 1998, the railroad's inaugural season, a passenger asked me what the names Toccoa and Ocoee meant. I said, "The rivers were named by the ancient Indian tribes that lived here long before Columbus discovered America. Toccoa means 'river that flows into Tennessee' and Ocoee means 'river that flows from Georgia." However, this tourist did not just fall off a turnip truck. She gave me a wary glance and said, "C'mon now, Tennessee and Georgia didn't exist when the Indians named those rivers." "I know," I replied, "but the Indians didn't know that."

Bob Ciminel
Roswell, GA - USA



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