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The Nodoroc and Wakulla Mud Volcanoes

People of One Fire
A national alliance of Muskogean scholars and their longtime friends
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Native American Brain Food No. 26
February 25, 2013

The Nodoroc and Wakulla Mud Volcanoes
Also, the mysterious Wog monster that lived in the Nodoroc!

Barrow County, GA is the location of the infamous Nodoroc. Barrow is in the northeastern portion of the Atlanta Metropolitan Area. The former Wakulla Volcano is located in Wakulla County, FL on the Gulf Coast.

The Nodoroc today is primarily an area of bluish, quick-mud, about 250 feet in diameter. It can quickly swallow a human or animal. The Nodoroc is an extremely dangerous place to visit and still claims deer, coyotes, wild dogs or feral hogs from time to time.

Prior to the mid-1800s, however, it was a burning mud volcano that covered several acres. The center of the site belched flames and black smoke that could be seen for many miles. The flames and smoke presumably came from burning methane, but this is not known for certain. The lethal heat associated with the Nodoroc suggests that perhaps, it was more akin to a true volcano.

During the time of the dinosaurs, northern Georgia contained several massive volcanoes. This is why minerals such as gold, copper, greenstone, sapphires, rubies and even some diamonds can be found there.

Back in the 1800s the mud in the Nodoroc was so acidic and heat so intense that it could dissolve animal flesh in one day, bones in a few days. The vegetation around it was stunted and yellowed. The Creek Indians have a tradition that the bodies of executed criminals, traitors and war captives were disposed there.

After the massive earthquakes along the New Madrid Fault in 1813 and 1814, the Nodoroc mud volcano began to steadily diminish in size. Then one day, in the mid-19th century it exploded with a mighty roar of flames and searing hot mud and left a mile diameters ring of destruction. Afterward, the flames died.

The folklore in Barrow County states that Nodoroc is the Creek word for “gateway to hell.” In the three surviving Creek languages of Mvskoke, Itsate and Koasati there is no such word. The syllables of “noda” and “roc” are not like any Creek words similar to “gateway” and “hell.” In fact, there is no letter “d” in the Creek languages and no “r” sound either. The word could be from a lost Creek language, another Native American language or a European language.

In Creek Indian folklore, the Nodoroc was inhabited by a monster named the Wog. The Wog primarily ate the dead flesh of animals that had wandered into the inescapable Nodoroc, but when hungry would forage for young livestock animals or even cats and dogs. Frontiersmen stated that the wog had long, jet black hair, except that the tip of its tail was silver. It was the size of a horse, but its front legs were longer than its rear legs. The wog had a long forked tongue. Early settlers claimed that they had seen the forked tongue of the wog probing through the cracks of their log chinking at night. That experience made several frontier families quickly leave the region.

There is also no word similar to “wog” in the surviving Creek languages, either. However, the region was definitely occupied by the Apalache-Creeks during the 1560s when French explorers visited the region through the mid-1700s, and by members of the Creek Confederacy in the late 1700s and very early 1800s. The Mountain Apalache joined the Creek Confederacy.

There was once another mud volcano in the Southeast. It was the Wakulla volcano in the Florida Panhandle. Like the Nodoroc, it was located in the territory of the Apalache Indians and died during the 1800s. Its eruption ceases after the Charleston, SC earthquake of 1886. Unlike the Nodoroc, however, there is very little evidence of the Wakulla volcano today. Far less is known about the Wakulla volcano. A dense, jungle-like forest and wide expanses of swamp water, made it almost impossible for explorers to reach the center of the eruption.

Wakula means “crane” (or a large waterfowl) in Eastern Itsate Creek, Apalache-Creek, Miccosukee and Koasati. The word for “crane” in Oklahoma Muskogee is either akcvohko, wvtola or fushvtke (white crane.)

Learn something every day!
Richard Thornton, Editor

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