WHAT’S IN A NAME?: City of West Point
Published 1:30 pm Saturday, February 25, 2023
Not a lot is known about how the city of West Point got its name, possibly because West Point wasn’t always West Point; it was Franklin.
It wasn’t named for the railroad or the lake. Those came later.
Originally called Franklin by early settlers, West Point was an early important trading post on the eastern bank of the Chattahoochee River. The settlement grew from a single store, where the primary business was trading with Native Americans who were settled across the river, to a thriving trading center that attracted farmers, who built homes and raised crops, according to information from the Troup County Archives.
Franklin was incorporated in 1831. It’s believed that Dr. G. W. Hill suggested the name when he went to Milledgeville, then the capital of Georgia, to support the incorporation.
On Dec. 24, 1832, the name of Franklin was changed to the town of West Point. The sudden name change was to avoid confusion in the mail after Heard County named its own Franklin as its county seat.
West Point was likely chosen as the new name because of its geographical location, but no one is certain, even local reporters more than a century ago.
“No positive facts can now be obtained as to why the name of ‘West Point’ was chosen. It is said that this is the most western point of the Chattahoochee River and possibly that was the reason. It was certainly not because it was the western terminus of the Atlanta and West Point Railroad, for the town was named sixteen years before the enterprise was projected,” said Captain J. W. F. Little, in an article that appeared in the LaGrange Reporter in 1878.
In 1836, the Montgomery and West Point Railroad was chartered, which brought trains to the city in 1851.
West Point’s location on the river made it great for trade, but bad for flooding, which has occurred several times in the city’s history.
In 1965, West Point Lake was created by the Army Corps of Engineers with the creation of the West Point Dam.
The dam helps reduce flooding and provides water storage and hydroelectric power generation.
West Point Lake now provides over 25,000 acres of recreational lake access to over 30 parks and multiple marinas and campgrounds.