Court Date Set For Chattahoochee Brick Co. Site

There are no graves visibly marked at the Chattahooche Brick Co., but in the past few years the relatives of a convict who died here placed a marker for him.
Credit Alison Guillory / WABE
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A court date is scheduled in the fight over the future of an Atlanta site where convicts were forced to work in terrible conditions.

The Chattahoochee Brick Factory, located in the western edge of Atlanta along the Chattahoochee River, used convict labor at the turn of the 20th century. It was “a place of absolute horror,” Douglas Blackmon said. He wrote about the use of convict labor in his book, “Slavery by Another Name,” and talked to WABE about it in a story last year.

“These were places of incredibly high mortality rates,” said Blackmon. “Starvation, maltreatment, constant torture to exact more labor out of the men and handful of women who were forced to work in these places.”

In his book, Blackmon describes scenes at the Chattahoochee Brick Co. of men being left to die after severe beatings. There are no graves visibly marked, but he and others said it’s likely that people are buried there.  

People who live nearby – and city officials – are hoping that at least some of the site can be turned into a memorial and a park. It sits at a key spot in Atlanta’s plans for adding green spaces in the city: where Proctor Creek flows into the Chattahoochee River.

But it’s an industrial site in a largely industrial area. A company called Lincoln Terminal has purchased the land and plans to build a biofuels shipping facility there.

Earlier this year, the city denied Lincoln Terminal’s application for a special-use permit. Lincoln is appealing that decision, and a hearing is scheduled in Fulton County Superior Court for May 24.