Tag Archives: North Georgia Curiosities

Helen, Georgia

Today, Helen is known for its kitschy Alpine/Bavrian appearance and for the numerous outdoor recreation opportunities at its doorstep. But the village didn’t start out this way. The area was long occupied by Native Americans and in the 19th century became a hub for gold mining. It was a transient community during this time.

It was incorporated in 1913, due to the presence of the large Byrd-Matthews sawmill and named for a daughter of one of the timer company’s partners. It was successful until the Great Depression but after its closure the town fell into decline.

In 1968, Pete Hodkison, a local business owner, approached renowned Clarkesville artist John Kollock about suggestions for improving the appearance of his business. Kollock had been stationed in Bavaria while in the military and had long fostered an idea of bringing the look of the region to Northeast Georgia. Work began January 1969, after other local business owners warmed to Kollock’s idea to reimagine the entire town as an Alpine village. The Orbit Manufacturing Company was the first to be transformed. At the outset, there were just nine businesses in Helen but today there are nearly 30. All of the ornamental trim and details were originally done by Ray L. Sims and J. S. Chastain, local builders.

Helen has fewer than 500 permanent residents but at any given time is filled with tourists. It’s among the most popular tourist destinations in Georgia with up to 1.5 million visitors annually. The river attracts thrill-seekers and ecotourists and the shops and restaurants are a popular draw. Some have called it a tourist trap, and while it may have that feel, many visitors soon realize that the appearance of the place is but a small part of its appeal. Perhaps it took the Alpine look to bring people to the area in the 1960s but Helen’s perfect location and natural beauty are as big a draw today as its aesthetic.  I prefer to think of it as a base of operations for great adventures to be found all around.

 

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Filed under --WHITE COUNTY GA--, Helen GA

Famous Little Police Station, Bowman

While it may not be the smallest police station in America, Bowman’s s “Famous Little Police Station” is certainly on the list. It’s located adjacent to the town well, which you can’t miss.

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Filed under --ELBERT COUNTY GA--, Bowman GA

Red Elephant, Gainesville

This is well-known around Gainesville as a rental sign. Gainesville High School’s sports teams are known as the Red Elephants, a moniker they’ve had since the 1920s. They are the only high school in the country with this mascot.

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Filed under --HALL COUNTY GA--, Gainesville GA

Rock Wall, Fort Mountain

Located near the summit of Fort Mountain, the rock wall which gives the mountain its name remains a mystery. Its origin has been attributed to everyone from Hernando de Soto to the Cherokee. The de Soto connection has long been disproved but the specific use by the Cherokee is still being researched. Some believe it was ceremonial while others consider it territorial.

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Filed under --MURRAY COUNTY GA--

Fort Indian Springs Antique & Flea Market

John Hanley and family have maintained a flea market near Indian Springs for years. This is just a small glimpse of what they offer. It looks like they have a little bit of everything.

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Filed under --BUTTS COUNTY GA--, Flovilla GA, Indian Springs GA

Georgia Guidestones, 1980, Elbert County

Known as the Georgia Guidestones and standing nearly 20 feet high, the six granite slabs situated beside a field nine miles north of Elberton have become a curious tourist attraction since their erection in 1980. Because of the anonymous origin and patronage of the guidestones, controversy has always surrounded them.  In their April 2009 issue, Wired dubbed them the “American Stonehenge” and published a great essay on their history and the ensuing conspiracy theories. They noted that they may be the most enigmatic monument in America…inscribed with directions for rebuilding civilization after the apocalypse.

Four slabs radiate from a central slab with a capstone atop the array which, when viewed from above give the appearance of a star. Ten guidelines are inscribed on the guidestones in eight modern languages (English, Spanish, Swahili, Hindi, Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese, Russian) with a shorter message inscribed on top in four ancient languages (Babylonian Cuneiform, Classic Greek, Sanskrit, Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs) . The ten guidelines, translated, are: 1) Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.
2) Guide reproduction wisely-improving diversity and fitness. 3) Unite humanity with a living new language. 4) Rule passion-faith-tradition-and all things with tempered reason. 5) Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts. 6) Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court. 7) Avoid petty laws and useless officials. 8) Balance personal rights with social duties. 9) Prize truth-beauty-love-seeking harmony with the infinite. 10) Be not a cancer on the earth- Leave room for nature- Leave room for nature.

An explanatory tablet, a few feet away from the Guidestones, notes the date of dedication (22 March 1980), identifies the languages used and the astronomical coordinates of the site, and reads: Let these be guidestones to an Age of Reason.

 

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Filed under --ELBERT COUNTY GA--

Giant Rocking Chair, Hall County

hall-county-ga-giant-rocking-chair-lula-photograph-copyright-brian-brown-vanishing-north-georgia-usa-2017

Located at the corner of Lula Road and Persimmon Tree Road just north of Lula, this oversized rocking chair is well-known landmark to travelers in the area. Dwight Oliver built it around 2006 for children visiting his Goldbrook Pumpkin Farm, but it has since become a permanent fixture. Stop by and take a picture when you’re in the area.

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Filed under --HALL COUNTY GA--