The City of Dahlonega, the county seat of Lumpkin County, is in the foothills of the North Georgia mountains, approximately 70 miles north of Atlanta. The year-round population of Dahlonega is estimated to be 7,000 with seasonal increases that go along with being home to a major state university.
Incorporated on December 21, 1833, Dahlonega was the site of the first significant gold rush in the United States. Between 1838 and 1861, a U.S. Branch Mint produced the Half Eagle, Quarter Eagle, Gold Dollar, and the Three Dollar Gold coins locally. The University of North Georgia, founded in 1873 in the abandoned mint building, was the first state-supported college in Georgia to grant a degree to a woman and is now one of six senior military colleges in the U.S. with expanding undergraduate and graduate programs.
Officially incorporating a few years after the discovery of gold in 1828, Dahlonega continues to be influenced by this discovery. Today, tourists come to shop and dine in the historic town square, learn about the city’s colorful history, try their hand at gold panning, and visit the area’s local wineries
History of Dahlonega
The discovery of gold in 1828 in present-day Lumpkin County caused one of the first major gold rushes in the nation. Miners poured into the Cherokee Territory, beginning a period known as the intrusion when the U.S. Army tried unsuccessfully to eject the intruders. Rough mining communities sprang up. The earliest of these was Auraria, located southwest of present-day Dahlonega.
In 1832, the Cherokee lands, which had been seized by the State of Georgia, were distributed to the people of Georgia by a land lottery. Lumpkin County was created and Auraria temporarily served as the county seat until a permanent site could be selected.
In 1833, an unnamed site, which would become the City of Dahlonega was established as the official county seat of Lumpkin County on Land Lot 950, 12th District, 1st Section. The new town was surveyed and the present day gridiron pattern with a public square was laid out. A permanent courthouse was built on the square in 1836 and residential and commercial uses developed around it.
In 1837 the Cherokees were forcibly removed from the territory to be resettled west of the Mississippi River. A location known as “the station,” from which the State Historical Marker is missing, was the local site for collecting the Cherokees for their removal via “The Trail of Tears.”
The U.S. Government recognized the importance of gold mining in Lumpkin County and in 1838 established the U.S. Branch Mint at Dahlonega, for the minting of gold coins only. The branch mint operated until the start of the Civil War, ceasing operation in June 1861. In 1871 the U.S. Government passed ownership of the mint to the State of Georgia for the establishment of North Georgia Agricultural College, later North Georgia College and State University, now known as University of North Georgia.
The branch mint building burned in 1878 and in its former location, the construction of Price Memorial Hall began in 1879. It was completed in 1880. Toward the late 1840’s the easy gold began to “pan out” and many miners moved to the gold fields in California and Colorado. however, the lure of gold was not forgotten in Dahlonega. New efforts at gold mining started again in the mid-1850’s and the early 1900’s as mining technologies developed.
In the mid-1960’s, Lumpkin County moved it’s county Government operations from the 1936 courthouse to a new site away from the public square. The old courthouse became a state-operated gold museum, and revitalization projects kept the historic square alive by attracting tourists to the colorful historical landmarks of this old gold mining town.
Significant Historic Properties
Dahlonega is home to numerous historic properties––houses, commercial buildings, public institutions, and educational buildings. A landmark resource survey was completed, identifying and cataloging resources and community assets. This effort focused primarily on the Dahlonega Courthouse Square and the streets immediately surrounding the square. More than 178 resources were recognized as part of the original survey and the inventory is continuously updated by the Dahlonega Historical Society.
The threats to historic resources are various and often numerous. Most often, the most significant risks come from demolition by neglect and abandonment of landmark resources, followed by incompatible alterations or reuse. Development pressures can also negatively impact historic resources. To help ensure the city’s rich heritage, Dahlonega utilizes a Council-appointed Historic Preservation Commission and a Downtown Development Authority to help preserve the past while guiding its future.
Set in rural Appalachia, Dahlonega is a beautiful, thriving community of historical significance, academic excellence, and military renown. A City of Excellence, Dahlonega, provides quality services through ethical leadership and fiscal stability, in full partnership with the people who choose to live, work, and visit.
To be an open, honest, and responsive city, balancing preservation and growth, and delivering quality services fairly and equitably by being good stewards of Dahlonega’s resources.
There is a new procedure for requesting an Open/Close of a Cemetery Lot. You will first need to follow the link below. Once you are there you will either need to sign in under your already created login or create a new login (top right corner). You may either search… Read Full Answer
The Mayor is elected the Chief Executive Officer of the City of Dahlonega. He possesses all of the executive and administrative powers granted to the city under the Constitution and laws of the State of Georgia, and all the executive and administrative powers contained in the City Charter.
The Mayor presides at all meetings of the council, votes as a member of the council only at such times as are necessary to break a tie or deadlock of the council, to be the official head of the City for the service of process and for ceremonial purposes, has power to administer oaths and to take affidavits, sign all written contracts entered into by the council on behalf of the City and all other contracts and instruments executed by the City which by law are required to be in writing, sees that all laws and ordinances of the City are faithfully executed, and performs other duties as may be required by law, the City Charter or ordinance or as otherwise directed by the City Council.
Mayor Norton was born and raised in South Georgia (Lakeland) where he still owns the family ‘Norton Farm’ which grows pecans and timber. He has lived in Dahlonega Georgia since 2000. A modern-day renaissance man he has been a home builder, merchant, and politician at various times and all three at one time.
Mayor Norton is an established entrepreneur operating three businesses in Dahlonega with his wife Julia. He is readily accessible and typically available most any time at his restaurant in Historic Downtown Dahlonega. Constituents are welcomed to stop by for a cup of coffee and discuss concerns or just catch up. If by chance he is not in, his business card with cell phone number is openly displayed on the counter. Mayor Norton is one of the most accessible elected officials in the county.
Starting his Dahlonega public service on the Dahlonega Historical Preservation Commission, Mayor Norton later was elected as President of the Dahlonega Merchant Association by his peers. He has served on the Dahlonega City Council since 2006 and is the previous chairman of our thirteen county Georgia Mountains Regional Commission as well as various other appointments and committees. He is an Executive Board member of the Georgia Municipal Association of Georgia as well as board member of the Training Committee which develops mandatory and elective training programs and policy for elected officials statewide.
Mayor Norton has been a consistent member of the Chamber of Commerce since 2000, Chairman of the Lumpkin County High School Governance Board and a current member of the Dahlonega Sunrise Rotary Club.
“Your encouragement and support are appreciated, and your trust is cherished. I am honored for the privilege to serve you”-Sam Norton