Hall County's unique history - dramatically different from the South's
traditional plantation culture yet distinctly Southern in its own
way - is as rich and varied as a colorful tapestry.
Hall was founded in 1818, when the region's mountains were still populated
by Native Americans, as the trading center of Northeast Georgia. Gainesville,
its seat, soon became a frontier boom town as settlers flocked to
homesteads in the rolling hills formerly inhabited by Cherokee Indians.
With the discovery of gold in Lumpkin and White counties to the north
in 1829, Gainesville became the trading and supply center for North
America's first gold rush. While miners left for California in the
mid-1800s, North Georgia continued to develop as a farming region
with Gainesville as its hub.
In 1871, the opening of Atlanta and Charlotte Air Line Railroad brought
further growth. The area developed as a mountain summer resort, with
local springs touted for their health-giving qualities and resistance
to fever that plagued the South's coastal areas. Gainesville, the
"Great Health Resort of the South," soon housed the region's
first hospital, college and military academy along with a sizeable
cultural base - all traditions that remain today. Along with hotels,
large Victorian and Georgian style homes graced its streets. The city
was the first south of Philadelphia to install electric streetlights,
and provided residents the services of an electric streetcar system.
Hall County's first large industries - cotton mills - arrived in 1900.
Gainesville also became the major shipping point for lumber harvested
and milled in the mountains to the north.
With the Great Depression in the 1930s, Hall County's economy suffered.
Cotton production was hampered by infestation of the boll weevil,
lumber shipping declined due to the Chestnut blight, and the nation's
second-deadliest tornado struck Gainesville in 1936. More than 200
were killed and 1,000 injured in the violent storm, which obliterated
many historic homes and buildings in Gainesville.
Following World War II, the area economy recovered. Poultry replaced
cotton as the local cash crop, spurring job growth as new industries
emerged to support production and processing of chickens and eggs.
As row-crop farming declined, so did soil erosion. Verdant pastures
and tall trees soon re-covered the raw, red clay of North Georgia.
Buford Dam, built in South Hall by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
in the 1950s, created 38,000-acre Lake Lanier with its 540 miles of
shoreline. Millions of visitors each year now enjoy recreational water
sports provided by the lake, easily accessed from Atlanta via several
major highways. Additional diversification in the county's economic
base has come with new industries attracted by Lake Lanier, Hall County
and its quality of life.
While Hall's population has grown 40% since 1990, it continues to
build on its historic base as the primary center of Northeast Georgia:
its banking and financial center; the regional seat of the Federal
Court; the health center, with more than 300 physicians and the region's
largest major hospital; the educational center, with Brenau University,
Gainesville College, Lanier Technical College, Riverside Military
Academy, two public school systems and several prominent private schools;
the sports center, with headquarters of the Atlanta Falcons, Road
Atlanta, Olympic rowing and canoe/kayak facilities, several championship
golf courses and dozens of public parks and camping areas; the arts
center, with a wealth of cultural organizations, societies, groups
and clubs. Uniquely Southern, rich in history but constantly evolving
and progressing, Hall County offers both newcomers and long-time residents
a superb environment unmatched anywhere in the world.
Current Users: 27
County, Georgia is located 35 miles northeast of Atlanta. The county seat is located in Gainesville.