Cherry Log: 'Everybody knows everybody'

By Austin Eller | Video: Seth Chapman
Posted 5:15PM on Thursday 9th December 2021 ( 2 years ago )

Those who have made the drive from Ellijay to Blue Ridge on Georgia State Route 515 have witnessed the scenic nature of the Blue Ridge Mountains, but hidden away right in the middle of that drive sits the unincorporated town of Cherry Log.

The town of Cherry Log is adjacent to Cherry Log Creek, both of which had very similar origins, according to the Gilmer County Historical Society.

The local legend in the town is that a cherry tree fell across the creek, and Native Americans used it to cross the water, eventually leading to the name of Cherry Log. 

As of the 2020 census, Cherry Log had a population of 133. While it has a small year-round population, the town is the site of many vacation homes. 

The town is comprised of one main road, Cherry Log Street, and several backroads. You can find a post office, community clubhouse, a few churches, and some homes if you take a drive down Cherry Log Street.

The town does have one big attraction: the Pink Pig. It is the only restaurant in the town, and it has a history going back to the 1950s. 

Sam and Jacob Callihan, owners of the Pink Pig, said it started as a country store and gristmill called Claud's Bar-b-que.

"In 1967, my grandparents bought it from Claud Underwood ... and they made the storefront into a restaurant," Sam Callihan said. "It's always been the only little restaurant here."

Callihan's grandparents named the restaurant The Holloway House, but they ended up leasing the building for a couple of years during the 1980s. When they decided to make their return to the restaurant they changed the name to the Pink Pig.

"My grandpa and I were super close and so I was just always kind of by his side and I loved it," Callihan said. "He started teaching me how to earn money. I want something, 'yeah, you can get that, but you've got to go wash dishes,' but I loved that."

Callihan said she and her husband purchased the restaurant and her grandparents' home directly behind the restaurant in 2008, following the passing of her grandparents. She said she had always wanted to own the restaurant when she was younger, a dream which is now a reality.

Aside from being a great place to stop and enjoy the history and food, the Pink Pig is also a key location for the town's residents. Many Cherry Log residents stop in for a quick bite and a little socialization with other Cherry Loggers.

"We know we can go to each other if we need anything, especially here at the Pink Pig," longtime Cherry Log resident Barbara Watkins said.

Watkins is directly involved in connecting with the community through the town's community center, a nonprofit which has been around for 50 years. Watkins said the goal of the Cherry Log community center is to help those in need. Perhaps the most important part of the year for the community center is the annual Fall Festival, which always takes place the first two weekends of October.

"We do home canning, we have booths and crafts ... we have just everything, boiled peanuts, apples," Watkins said. 

Any proceeds from the Fall Festival are used to help those within a five-mile radius that cannot afford their medical bills, groceries or other essentials. 

Joe Sisson has lived in Cherry Log on and off for about 86 years. Sisson owns Sisson Company, a log home construction company in the region. Sisson has been involved with the construction of many of the vacation homes in Cherry Log.

"When we first started in 1968, you couldn't find a lot. I had a friend that had come up from Valdosta. He said, 'Joe, this is beautiful country. I want to find a lot and build a house.' So we started looking, there were no lots, so he said, 'let's just buy a small piece of property and we'll make some lots,'" Sisson said. 

Since 1968, Sisson's business has greatly expanded in size, as the area is popular for vacationers. 

One of the most recent developments in Cherry Log is Expedition: Bigfoot!, a sasquatch museum just across SR 515. The museum, which opened in 2016, gives visitors the option to learn all about bigfoot, and view evidence of alleged sightings.

While it might be challenging to find bigfoot in Cherry Log, Sam Callihan said it is easy to find good people. She said the people are what truly make Cherry Log special.

"I never wanted to leave. I love that small-town feel," Callihan said. "When you get in these little tiny townships, like Cherry Log, Talking Rock, Suches, the different ones, it's an even closer community. Everybody knows everybody, everybody knows what's going on, but I always loved that."

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