Dahlonega, Georgia

Situated in the Blue Ridge Mountains and only an hour from the state capital Atlanta, Dahlonega is the best of Georgia's wine country, surrounded by nature. Dahlonega was a historic boomtown that saw the second-largest gold rush in US history, with only the California Gold Rush ahead of it. The once gold-rich soil that fed the economy now produces grapes, making Dahlonega a top destination for tourists. With a scenic backdrop, it's no wonder why Southern Living selected it as the 2020 South's Best Mountain Town.

Geography And Climate Of Dahlonega

Trees lining a street in downtown Dahlonega, Georgia
Trees lining a street in downtown Dahlonega, Georgia. 

Dahlonega is a small city situated in Lumpkin County in the northern part of the US State of Georgia. Dahlonega is located approximately 55 km north of Blairsville and 105 km south of Atlanta. Dahlonega covers a total area of 22.98 sq. km, of which 0.14 sq. km is covered by water, and 22.84 sq. km is occupied by land. The Blue Ridge Mountains are a continuation of the larger Appalachian Mountain chain that is found in the northeastern United States. Further, the Blue Ridge Mountains are best known for their blue appearance from afar. Located in the south of Dahlonega is Crow Mountain, which reaches 520 m high. Additionally, the Yahoola and Chestatee Rivers head south as part of the Chattahoochee River Watershed that forms the northern Alabama and Georgia borders.

With a muggy summer and very cold winter, Daholenga experiences four seasons in a year with a humid subtropical climate. However, small pockets of the Blue Ridge Mountains have an oceanic climate. Over a year, Dahlonega collects 117 days of precipitation from rain, sleet, and minimal snow. Rainfall totals 1,541.78 mm and snowfall 66.04 mm. The year's coldest month is January, with an average low of -3.4°C, while the year's warmest month is July, with an average high of 30.1°C. 

History Of Dahlonega

Price Memorial Building at University of North Georgia in Dahlonega, Georgia
Price Memorial Building at the University of North Georgia in Dahlonega, Georgia. 

Dahlonega became a thriving boomtown in the 1820s with the discovery of gold in the soil. At a gold deposit east of the Mississippi River, a deer hunter tripped over a rock and realized there was gold within it. By 1828, 15,000 miners populated Dahlonega. However, with lands around Dahlonega belonging to the Cherokee Native Americans, illegal mines popped up on the tribal territory, which saw conflict. Furthermore, the land was defined under the Washington Act of 1819 and permitted trespassing by non-Native Americans. The United States Government tried to purchase the Cherokee mines but was rejected. As such, the Government ejected the Cherokee from their land as part of the Indian Removal and the more extensive Trail of Tears. Under the Treaty of Echota in 1835, Dahlonega was incorporated as a town. In 1837, a traveling geologist noted that the courthouse stood on hornblende slate, a mineral that bore gold. The ground around the courthouse glistened with gold flecks, and the courthouse was partly-paid for with gold bullions. 

The Population And Economy Of Dahlonega

Dahlonega General Store on the town square
Handcrafts, old-fashioned packaged goods, and locally sourced jams and honey are displayed in the Dahlonega General Store on the town square. Editorial credit: Jen Wolf / Shutterstock.com

Dahlonega has a population of 8,395 inhabitants. Covering a total area of 22.98 sq. km, Dahlonega has a population density of 330.06 people per sq. km. The median household income is $68,033, and the gross monthly rent is $990. The average age of a resident is 22.7 years old. On the cost of living index, Dahlonega is rated at 90.1, whereas the state of Georgia is rated at 93.4. Yet, 28.33% of the population lives below the poverty line.

The unemployment rate is 2.8%, whereas the US unemployment rate is 6.0%. The top economic industries are retail trade accounting for 27.5%, food and accommodations at 13.2%, and educational services at 11.9%. The highest jobs come from finances and insurance, grossing $182,917, and real estate and rental leasing at $132,371. Dahlonega is home to many higher education institutions, including the University of North Georgia, North Georgia College, and Senior Military College of Georgia. The Military College of Georgia is one of six military colleges and the second-oldest educational institution in Georgia. 

Attractions In Dahlonega

Dahlonega Gold Museum

Dahlonega Gold Museum and historic Lumpkin County Courthouse in Dahlonega, Georgia.
Dahlonega Gold Museum and historic Lumpkin County Courthouse in Dahlonega, Georgia. Editorial credit: Rob Hainer / Shutterstock.com

A listed historic site, the Dahlonega Gold Museum, is located within the Dahlonega Courthouse. Visitors can visit the building, including the chapel and the judges' chamber. Other onsite features include rare coins from when the US Branch Mint opened in 1838, which produced more than $6 million in coins before closing in 1861. In addition, there are also gold nuggets that weigh more than 5 oz and original mining equipment used on the mountainsides. 

Consolidated Gold Mine

The Consolidated Mine didn’t have gold-rich pay dirt, but quartz with gold embedded that would appear in veins ranging from 5-20 cm thick. A 6.7 m vein was discovered traveling down the hillside at 45°. The investors then purchased the land, and the Consolidated Mine was founded. This was short-lived, as the mine went out of business in 1906. Tourists can, at present, take a tour of the underground mine tunnels in addition to the gemstone studios and gold panning. 

Dahlonega Wine Trail

Consisting of six wineries on the Dahlonega Wine Trail, it offers some of the best views of the Blue Ridge Mountains mixed with hybrid, French, and English-style wines. This drive your self trail includes Montaluce Winery and Estates, Cavendar Vineyard and Cellar, Three Sisters Vineyards and Winery, Frogtown Winery, and Wolf Mountain Vineyards. The tour offers a perfect opportunity to see the natural beauty of Northern Georgia, with a glimpse of the Three Sisters Mountain to the northeast.

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