Flat Rock Campground

Heard County
Org 1876
Photography by Andy Sarge

After the American Revolution, a Protestant religious movement referred to as the Second Great Awakening or the Great Revival swept across the new nation, and especially so in the South. It fueled the growth of Baptist, Methodist and Presbyterian congregations across Georgia, especially the Methodists.  An outgrowth of this movement, the camp meeting ground, became a cornerstone of the movement and resulted in the establishment of these special meeting places across the state, many of which still exist and are going strong. Flat Rock Campground, established in 1879 is one of the these – still thriving after 140 years.

In 1879, the minutes of the North Georgia Methodist Conference state that “Four campgrounds were erected: One at Flat Rock, built this year, a large well built, comfortably seated arbor with five tents furnished and fifteen projected”.  For two years before the arbor was erected camp meetings were held under a brush arbor.  The history states “This arbor was built by A.B. Lashley in 1878.  People came by mule wagons, buggies and oxcarts.  Some brought their milk cows.  In the early days lights for the arbor were kerosene lamps.  Prior to electricity a spring furnished water which many times would be drained dry.  When electricity became available, a deep well was drilled and a pump installed.  A hotel was available for guests both day and night.  For years no refrigeration was available.  A big pit was dug and blocks of ice were put in and covered with dust”.

The very earliest camp grounds were held outdoors with attendees camping on the grounds. Over time, camp ground meeting sites came to be distinguished by a particular type of architecture involving a large open tabernacle or arbor, surrounded by permanent ‘tents’ which are owned and populated by families who often hand them down from generation to generation. Today most meeting grounds are managed by self-perpetuating boards of trustees that own the land, while individual families own the tents, which are often passed down through generations.  The topography of the land and location of suitable shade trees and water sources were critical in site selection and are often featured in the naming of the site.  The name Flat Rock was chosen because one hundred or more acres of flat granite rock was located nearby.