This is "Actual Factual Gwinnett," a regular column in which I, Tyler Estep, answer reader questions about Gwinnett happenings and history. Read previous editions -- like this one about a college girl kidnapped and buried alive -- by clicking the hyperlinks at the bottom of this column, where you'll also find information for submitting your own questions. Enjoy!
There are a lot of curious street names in Gwinnett County – Hog Mountain, Sugarloaf and Five Forks-Trickum, to name a few.
But one road in particular seems to have disproportionately befuddled the hearts and minds of Gwinnettians. Since starting this column, I’ve gotten more than a few inquiries like this one, from reader Darrell Y.:
“I've lived here for 11 years and have never heard a good explanation for the name of our beloved ‘Beaver Ruin Road.’ Do you have one? I keep imagining a massacre of a small village by large rodents with big nasty teeth...”
Very vivid, Darrell. Haunting, even.
And yes, I do have an explanation – one that surprisingly doesn’t really involve rodents. Or their dams goofing stuff up. Or bloodshed.
Quick background: Beaver Ruin Road is a road that runs (sort of) north-and-south between Buford Highway in Norcross and U.S. 29 in Lilburn. It crosses I-85 between Indian Trail-Lilburn Road and Steve Reynolds Boulevard. It generally looks like this, but even more congested:
Great, cool, awesome. Tell me about the name. According to a super-comprehensive book called “Georgia Place Names,” written in the ‘70s by a history buff named Kenneth Krakow, there is a Beaver Ruin Creek in Clarke County – whose name indeed refers to “an extensive area which a colony of beavers had flooded and devastated with a network of dams.” Buuuuut...
...the Beaver Ruin Creek that runs through Gwinnett County, which the road presumably gets its name from, has a wholly different origin. According to Krakow (and Hal Brinkley, who wrote another book that Krakow references throughout his own):
“This stream was named for a Cherokee, Beaver Toter, whose house and ferry were washed away during a flash flood.”
Third-hand and a little folklore-y (and a potential timeframe is unclear), but there you have it. Beavers didn’t ruin anything – a poor Native American guy named Beaver was ruined.
Just like the traffic on his namesake road.
I, Tyler Estep, am a staff writer with the AJC and a Gwinnett County native. To submit “Actual Factual Gwinnett” questions, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, @ByTylerEstep on Twitter or via the form below.