Actual Factual Georgia

Actual Factual Georgia

Q: A reader couldn’t believe I didn’t mention the legendary “Gnat Line” in a recent Actual Factual Georgia that explored the boundary between North and South Georgia. So, let me take a swat at the answer.

A: Imaginary or not, the Gnat Line is considered to be a fluctuating border between North and South Georgia, basically a 38th Parallel for those insects. The tiny flying creatures roam in swarms south of the line, especially in swampy areas, free to buzz and pester whoever they please by invading ears, eyes, nostrils and glasses of sweet tea. But somehow, they know they’re not permitted in North Georgia, which is a no-fly zone for them. Traditionally, the Gnat Line has followed roughly the same path as the Fall Line, a real geographical feature that runs from Columbus to Macon to Milledgeville to Augusta. The Fall Line is considered to be the shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean in the Mesozoic Era and now separates the hills of Georgia’s Piedmont from the Coastal Plain. As most Georgians can tell you, gnats are an incredible annoyance, but are celebrated in certain parts of the state. The Southwest Georgia town of Camilla holds its Gnat Days Festival on the first weekend of May and Savannah’s minor league baseball team is called the Sand Gnats.

Q: How did Buckhead get its name?

A: It might offend the sensibilities of some of Buckhead’s elite, but it was named for just that – a buck’s head. The area, known for its grandiose homes, high rises with celebrity residents, trendy restaurants, Phipps Plaza and Lenox Square, once was home to a man named Henry Irby, who owned a general store and tavern at the convergence of Peachtree, Roswell, and West Paces Ferry Roads in the mid-1800s. Coincidentally, the area was called Irbyville, and much like Buckhead today, it became the place to be for travelers passing through the area. The story goes that Irby killed a large deer and mounted the buck’s head where everybody could see it. The name stuck, even though Buckhead became an area where Atlanta’s wealthy families built and lived on huge estates by the late 19th century.

What do you want to know about Georgia?

If you’re new in town or have questions about this special place we call home, ask us! E-mail Andy Johnston at q&a@ajc.com.

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