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North Georgia for History Buffs

Georgia’s rich history has been attracting curious history buffs for generations. The state played a key role in both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. It was the site of a major gold rush in the early 1800s and has produced many significant historical figures, including Martin Luther King, Jimmy Carter, and writer Carson McCathurs. While far away from major plantations and Civil War sites, North Georgia boasts a unique and fascinating history of its own. From gold towns to Native American sites, here is our history buff’s guide to North Georgia.

Gold Rush

Dahlonega is a great place to start your historic tour of North Georgia. This historic Gold Rush town is located about 35 miles away from the Sylvan Valley Lodge. Though the California Gold Rush hogs all the glory, gold was actually found in Georgia 20 years earlier. The rush began in 1828 in Lumpkin County and quickly spread to Dahlonega and all throughout the North Georgia Mountains. Visit the Dahlonega Gold Rush Museum to learn more about this fascinating moment in our nation’s history. The museum is located inside the Lumpkin County Courthouse, one of the oldest courthouse buildings in all of Georgia. While in Dahlonega, you can try your hand at panning for gold in one of the town’s many creeks and rivers, or take a tour of the Consolidated or Crisson Gold Mines. If you have the time, consider traveling on to the old White County Courthouse in Cleveland, where you will find an impressive 6-foot tall bronze statue of a gold seeker holding a precious nugget above his head. While the mint was located in Dahlonega, most of the gold was actually discovered in our own White County.

Native American History

One of the most significant Native American sites in Georgia is the Etowah Indian Mounds State Historic Site. The site was home to thousands of Native Americans between 1,000 A.D and 1,550 A.D. At the stunning 54-acre site, you’ll find six large earthen mounds, borrow pits, a defensive ditch, plaza, and a village area. It is one of the best-preserved Native American cultural sites in the southeastern U.S and provides fascinating insight into the civilizations of America’s earliest inhabitants. The museum on site features a film and several informative excellent exhibits where you can early about the daily lives of the ancient peoples and their elaborate methods of adorning themselves with jewelry and tattoos. There is also a pleasant nature trail on site. The site is open from 9 am-5 pm, Tuesdays through Saturdays. Adult admission is $4, with discounts for children and seniors.

For more Native American history, head to the New Echota Historic Site in Calhoun. The town was the capital of the Cherokee tribes in the 1820s and 1830s until they were forcibly removed from their land in 1938 as part of the Indian Removal Act. On your trip, you can pay a visit to the Supreme Courthouse, Vann’s Tavern, the Council House, and the print shop where the newspaper, written in the Sequoyah language, was produced. At the Visitor Center, you’ll find a short film, interpretive exhibits, and Native American music and crafts.


Blairsville is located in Union County on the edge of the Chattahoochee National Park near Brasstown Bald. There are countless historic sites to visit in this town, located about 40 minutes from Helen. Blairsville Historic Courthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This Romanesque brick and granite structure was built in 1899 and now serves as a museum, cultural center, and summertime concert hall. The Mountain Life Museum is located just a block away from the Courthouse and offers insight into early life in town. From there, head to Track Rock Gap, one of the best known sites for historical petroglyphs, or marked stones, consisting of six table-sized soapstone buildings with hundreds of symbols etched onto their surface. Blairsville is also an incredible place for outdoor adventures and wine tours.

Hardman Farm

Hardman Farm Historic Site is located just two miles from the Sylvan Valley Lodge and is the perfect way to get a taste for Victorian life in North Georgia. This well-preserved 19th century home, built by Captain James Nichols in 1870, is an excellent example of Italianate architecture. You can take informative guided tours of the historic home, including the parlor and bedroom of Anna Ruby Nichols, the namesake of nearby Anna Ruby Falls. Visit the old barn to learn about how milk was processed and transported in the early 20th century. There is also a Sautee Nacoochee Indian Mound located on site, topped with a mound and cow pasture,.

Planning a historic tour of North Georgia? Book a stay at the Sylvan Valley Lodge & Cellars, a charming bed & breakfast winery located at the base of Yonah Mountain.