Before the first white settlement in this area, the Cherokee Indian Nation inhabited the land. From 1848 to 1900, white settlers cultivated less than 200 acres of the basin, primarily along the main streams. Lumber companies purchased the Coweeta Valley in 1900, and subsequently the land was logged. In 1918, the Forest Service bought the tract and designated it part of the Nantahala National Forest in 1923. The site was set aside as the Coweeta Experimental Forest in 1934. Measurements of rainfall, streamflow, climate, and forest growth began almost immediately. The Civilian Conservation Corps built the original laboratory buildings, roads, climatic stations, and stream measurement devices. In 1948, the site was renamed Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory, the only Forest Service outdoor site to carry the "Laboratory" title. The Laboratory's commitment to sharing its research with scientists worldwide has been recognized by its inclusion in the International Biological Program, the International Hydrologic Decade, and UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere project.
To support the growing Coweeta Research Program, Coweeta facilities have been expanded and upgraded considerably over the past few years. The newest building at Coweeta, The Coweeta Conference Center and Office Complex, was completed in 2003 and houses an 80-person capacity conference center, visitor reception area, and administrative and scientist office space. The Ecosystems Ecology Building, which contains additional offices for scientists and technicians, was constructed in 1980 by Job Corpsmen. The Data Processing and Hydrology Building is the focal point for data storage and processing at Coweeta. Built by the Job Corp in 1989, it contains data processing equipment, a vault for storing long-term data, and office space for technicians and scientists. The original part of the Coweeta Residence Building, built in 1937, served as Coweeta's headquarters. The residence was first expanded in 1987 to accommodate 14 researchers. Further renovations and expansions were initiated in 1999 and completed in 2003 to provide accommodations for 20 researchers. The Analytical Laboratory was expanded and renovated in 2001. It provides a state-of-the-art facility for chemical determinations of water, soil, and vegetation in support of the research activities at Coweeta.
The focal point of Coweeta is its outdoor living laboratory and you are invited to visit several of the accessible experimental sites. Because the roads are steep and narrow, please drive carefully and be prepared to share the right-of-way at all times.