Northeast Georgia History
History of the Northeast Georgia area - including Helen, Sautee Nacoochee, Cleveland, Dahlonega, Clarkesville & Clayton GA.
Helen Then & Now
|The busy and fun village of Alpine Helen in Northeast Georgia has a diverse and fascinating history.
The Nacoochee Valley lies close to Helen and is home to several ceremonial mounds that are the legacy of the Native American cultures that called this valley home for thousands of years.
The historically famous Unicoi Turnpike ran through the Nacoochee Valley bringing settlers from all over the Southeast. When gold was discovered on Dukes Creek in the Nacoochee Valley in 1828 settlers rushed to the valley and mined for gold throughout the Georgia gold belt.
Settlers moved on at the end of the century when mining operations came to a halt. Helen`s next episode was to become a center for logging huge virgin timber from the surrounding forests and Matthews Lumber Company created a great sawmill in the town. At the same time the Gainesville & Northwestern Railroad was built alongside the Chattahoochee River up to Helen. The daughter of the railroad surveyor gave her name to Helen in 1913.
By 1931 timber logging was exhausted in the Helen area and by the 1960`s Helen had little left but a few houses & buildings.
Modern Helen started in 1968. Local businessmen met to see what could be done to revitalize the town. John Kollock, a local artist, who had lived in Germany, gave birth through his artwork, to the idea of Alpine Helen. You can still see some of John Kollock`s watercolors of old Bavaria located in the Helendorf Inn. Then came the idea of Oktoberfest originating from the German beer festivals and modern-day Helen was born!
Sautee Nacoochee Valley
|A visit to Helen Georgia would not be complete without a visit to the beautiful Sautee Nacoochee valley. The most prominent feature of the area is the much-photographed Indian Mound at the junction of Hwy75 & Hwy 17. The mound houses a small gazebo on its peak, but the mound and gazebo are not related. The mound dates back at least a thousand years and is a burial site for Native American ancestors. The gazebo was placed on top by Captain Nichols the owner & builder of the historic Hardman House across the road from the mound.
The Hardman house is worth a visit to those interested in the history of the area. Visit their website for opening times and tour prices. Other interesting places to visit in the Sautee Nacoochee valley include the Sautee Nacoochee Arts Center housed in the restored Nacoochee schoolhouse. The arts center has a full calendar of events for the year including, plays, art shows, musical performances and classes. The building also houses the Folk Pottery Museum open Mon.-Sat. 10am to 5pm and Sundays 1-5pm.
A visit to the historic Old Sautee store is always fun. A great place to explore and find gifts for all ages. The front porch is the perfect spot for a family photo or enjoy a quick sandwich or ice-cream in their sandwich shop next door.
Travelling east on Hwy 255 through the Sautee Nacoochee valley you will see beautiful scenery with a backdrop of Lynch Mountain. You will pass the Stovall House an historic bed and breakfast and pass by the Stovall Covered Bridge, the smallest covered bridge in Georgia. The bridge was built in 1895 and is 33 feet long.
||Sautee Nacoochee, Georgia
|Cleveland, Georgia lies in the Georgia gold belt region of Northeast Georgia. In 1828 gold was discovered near Duke’s Creek. There was at one time nine gold mines in the area.
The history of goldmining in White County can still be enjoyed by visitors at Gold n Gem Grubbin. 2 miles west of the Cleveland Square, turn right onto Town Creek Road and go 2 miles. This was originally the site of the Loud Mine. Prior to the civil war the Loud Mine supplied two of the seven million dollars of minted gold bullion coins at the nearby Dahlonega mint.
If you’re interested in Georgia’s geology, then you probably already know that the soils of the Piedmont are a rich red color for which Georgia is famous. The red coloring is a mixture of kaolinite and halloysite and of iron oxides. This mixture, weathered over time, yields a clay rich soil that has been the foundation for a northeast Georgia tradition of folk pottery. A visit to the Folk Pottery Museum in Sautee is well worth the visit if you are interested in folk pottery.