Helen, Georgia

Home to the famous Oktoberfest, Helen is a town in Northeast Georgia's mountains. This mountainous town is known for its rich history, breathtaking views of the mountains, and outdoor activities such as tubing, hiking, and gem mining. Helen's unique German-inspired architecture and tourist attractions like museums, breweries, town shops, and restaurants make it one of the state's most popular towns. 

Geography Of Helen

Helen, Georgia
The surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Helen is a town located in White County in the northeastern state of Georgia. State Route 75, which connects Cleveland to the state of North Carolina, passes through Helen, making it a stop for travelers and motorcycle riders.

The area is known for its unique location at the headwaters of the Chattahoochee River, which flows from Georgia to the State of Alabama. The river runs for around 434 miles and drains in an area as large as 8,770 square miles, making it one of the most recourse-rich and most used natural resources in the State of Georgia. The river is controlled using 13 dams which contribute to the state by producing electricity and power. The river also supplies the state with drinking water, water for agricultural uses, and municipal and industrial uses such as clearing wastewater. 

Another fascinating aspect of Helen's location is that it sits in the Blue Ridge Mountains, which stretch over 550 miles from Georgia to Pennsylvania. The Mountains are a part of the Appalachian Mountain range, which includes more than 34,000 square miles of landscapes with magnificent forests, rivers, waterfalls, and lakes. They are an excellent destination for travelers as they contain various outdoor activities like hiking and camping. In addition, they are most known for picturesque resorts, cabins, and restaurants. One of the unique aspects of Helen is the many waterfalls that run through the mountains, such as the Anna Ruby falls, Duke Creek falls, Horse Trough falls, and the Raven Cliff Falls.

Helen falls about sixty miles away from Athens and around seventeen miles away from the High Valley Airpark, the airport located in Union County. This mountainous town falls at 1,444 feet above sea level and stretches over a small area of 2.1 square miles.

Climate Of Helen

Georgia's climate is humid and subtropical, with the south being hotter and the north, where Helen is located, being cooler. The precipitation in Helen, Georgia, is 66 inches per year, double that of the United States. Helen has an average of 219 sunny days each year. When it comes to precipitation, Helen gets rain, snow, sleet, or hail, on average, 124 days per year. Helen's most comfortable months are May, June, and September since the temperature at that time of the year is not too hot and not too cold.

On the other hand, Helen's least comfortable months are December and January since they have the lowest temperatures that average around 25.6°F, which is below freezing. Helen's warmest and most humid month is July, with an average high temperature of 83.9°F, making it one of Georgia's oldest cities. The most humid month, July, gets around 12 rainy days yearly. October, however, is one of the driest months in Helen, with approximately eight rainy days only.

Demographics Of Helen

By 2020, Helen's population totaled 531 individuals, with 40.2% males and 59.8% females. The median resident age is 50.6 years, higher than the national median of 38.6 years. Only 13.46% of households have children compared to 86.54% which don't have children. Helen is not ethnically diverse, with 92.8% of its population being white. Some minorities include Asians, who comprise 2.2% of the people, followed by African Americans, who comprise only 1% of the population. Around 29% of the population hold a high school degree, 19% have a college certificate, 31.6% hold a bachelor's degree, and 10.17% have a master's degree.

22% of the population has never been married before, while almost 59% are married. 2.2% of the population is separated, 12% of the population is divorced, and 6.4% of the population is widowed.

History Of Helen

Helen, georgia
A horse-drawn carriage in Helen. Editorial credit: The Brownfowl collection / Shutterstock.com

Helen arose in the early twentieth century in what was known as the hub of Cherokee and gold mining territory. Around 1910, the Byrd-Matthews Corporation, drawn by the area's extensive virgin hardwood forests, built a big sawmill there. A railroad was built soon after, connecting the new town to Gainesville in the south. The city was named Helen after the daughter of a Byrd-Matthews partner. The corporation prospered until the Great Depression, and most of the wood had already been cut. Most of the population moved out to look for more promising forests elsewhere. By the 1950s, the town was almost deserted and had only nine businesses.

A group of local businessmen met in 1968 and decided to renovate their storefronts to attract more customers. They sought advice from John Kollock, a well-known artist from Clarkesville who served in the military in southern Germany. He proposed that they turn the area into a Bavarian-style town and presented them with a sketch of what the city could become. Local business owners united under Pete Hodkinson's lead to achieve this project. By 1972, the vision was completed, and Helen started attracting tourists from all over the state.

Economy Of Helen

Transformed in the 1960s, the town of Helen moved from being almost deserted to being the third most visited tourist destination in the state, following Atlanta and Savannah. Today, the city is home to over 150 shops, 30 factories, more than 40 restaurants, and 1,200 hotel rooms, making it the perfect tourist destination. In the last few years, an average of over 1.5 million tourists visited Helen every year and spent upwards of $100 million yearly in the County. Helen's average annual household income is $82,366, and the median household income is around $64,000 annually.

Helen's economy is supported by several sectors, including the accommodations and food services sector, which employs 20.8% of the population, followed by healthcare, construction, shopping, and real estate and rentals. The private sector employs 80% of the workers, while the public sector employs 7.41%. The remaining 10.37% are business owners and entrepreneurs. The unemployment rate is 2.6%, much lower than the national average.

The sales tax rates in the town are 7%, which is slightly lower than the national average, which is 7.3%. However, the income tax rate is 6%, higher than the national average of 4.6%.

Attractions In Helen

Helen, Georgia
Helen, Georgia. Editorial credit: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

One of the staples of Helen, Georgia, is attending Oktoberfest, which is a traditional festival dating back to 1810 in Germany. The festival is hosted for three months, from September to early November. It includes authentic German food, beer, music, and costumes, in addition to the architecture and streets that provide a complete experience for any tourist wanting to experience the German culture.

One of the most fascinating locations in Helen is the Unicoi State Park. The park is right next to Lake Union, making it the perfect destination for outdoor activities like hiking, shooting, zip-lining, biking, and archery. There are various water activities offered, like kayaking, boat renting, swimming, and fishing. The park is also a great destination to look at all the fantastic waterfalls in Helen, like the Anna Ruby Falls. Downtown Helen is home to some of the best German cuisine restaurants and shops that offer delicious German baked goods and meals. A tour of Helen's excellent wineries and beer breweries is a unique experience.

The Helen Arts & Heritage Center is not to be missed. It includes an art gallery, museum, and pottery studio. The gallery features the works of local artists and hosts exhibits six times a year. The center also offers fun art and pottery classes. In addition, the museum beautifully portrays how the town was renovated and remodeled into what it is today. 

Helen river
Tourists enjoy with tubing in Chattahoochee river in Helen. Editorial credit: Ancha Chiangmai / Shutterstock.com

Helen is the perfect destination if you are looking for a vacation, road trip, or a relaxing weekend away. Beautiful outdoor sceneries and activities, delicious food and drinks, and cozy cabins and rentals make for the perfect getaway away from the cities hustling and bustling.