President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s affinity for the area around Warm Springs, Georgia is well documented. After visiting the area to plunge into the warm medicinal waters of the springs in 1921 as a treatment for polio, FDR eventually had his Little White House constructed and made many return trips.
Perhaps lesser known is the 32nd president’s love for picnicking. And, his favored place for these outdoor meals was atop Dowdwell’s Knob on the ridge that contains Pine Mountain. Situated just to the west of the Little White House in what is today Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park, the knob was named for an early family of farmers in the area. Rising to an elevation of 1400 feet, Dowdwell’s Knob provides a panorama of King’s Gap to the north.
The picnics that FDR enjoyed here were far from simply spreading a blanket and munching on a sandwich. The president could be termed a “gonzo” picnicker. These affairs featured tables and chairs, tablecloths and even silverware. Dowdwell’s Knob was such a favorite spot for these meals that the FDR had a barbecue pit constructed on the site.
Today the location is part of FDR State Park and continues as a picnic area, complete with concrete tables. There’s also a life size sculpture of the president seated on a bench and enjoying the view he loved so well.
Another more morose bit of history is attached to Dowdwell’s Knob, as well. A short walk down a connector trail from the picnic area takes you to the Pine Mountain Trail. Turning right and walking another couple of hundred yards brings you to a plaque honoring the crew of an Air Force TB-25J bomber that crashed into the mountain during a storm on Oct. 1, 1953.
The plaque was placed on a rock at the site on Nov. 10, 2012. The sole survivor of the six men aboard, Richard Schmidt, was on hand for that unveiling, along with the daughter of the pilot.