Twenty years before the 1849 gold rush to California, thousands of gold seekers flocked into the Cherokee Territory of northeast Georgia, beginning the nation's first major gold rush.
According to an interview conducted by the Atlanta Constitution in 1894, Benjamin Parks first discovered gold in the Lumpkin County area while deer hunting in 1828.The courthouse building was built using locally made brick which includes trace amounts of gold. The building served as the seat of Lumpkin county government from 1836 to 1965. it is the oldest existing courthouse in Georgia of 132 historic courthouses.
The building was restored by the state of Georgia as a State Historic Site and adapted for use as the Gold Museum and is one of the most visited Historic Sites in the state.The Dahlonega Courthouse Gold Museum offers visitors a look at the mining history of Georgia. A 23-minute film describes the mining techniques and lifestyles of the prospectors through interviews with members of long time mining families of the area.
The 1884 Jail was built to house those who were elected to uphold the law as well as those who broke it - jail cells are on the second floor, and the sheriff or a deputy and his family lived on the ground floor.
The 1884 jail was placed on the National Register of Historical Places in 1985. When a new detention center was built in 1964, the downstairs of the 1884 jail was remodeled for County offices. The second floor jail cells remain as they were when the jail was in operation. Visitors can see the heavy iron doors of the cell block and scribbling on the cell walls made by inmates. A charred area of the floor resulted from a fire set by prisoners who were hoping to escape while the sheriff was busy putting out the fire. The first floor museum displays household items that would have been used in the 1800s and early 1900s.
1 Camp Merrill, Dahlonega, GA 30533
Visitors for the Museum must Call in Advance and Check In at the Main Gate.
Camp Frank D. Merrill is home to the 5th Ranger Training Battalion (est. 1952) and the mountain phase of the U.S. Army Ranger School. Named in honor of Major General Frank D. Merrill, commander of one of the first Ranger units (Merrill’s Marauders in World War II), the camp’s 290 acres are located at the base of the North Georgia Mountains near the Appalachian Trail.
Almost every war that has been fought since the start of recorded history has included some type of mountain operations, therefore the knowledge gained at Camp Frank D. Merrill is crucial for both survival and operational success.
The Ranger community regularly participates in local events such as the Fourth of July Family Day Celebration, Veteran’s Day activities at Lumpkin County High School, Memorial Day ceremonies, and various Parades.
Camp Merrill is also home to many hiking, running, and biking trails (on and off road) through the Chattahoochee National Forest.
The Camp Frank D. Merrill Museum building is an exact replica of the original hutments that were used as student barracks as a historical monument and museum. The Museum was dedicated in 1994 to the officers and non-commissioned Officers of the Mountain Ranger Training Camp from 1952 to Present. Besides the array of trails and the extraordinary scenery surrounding Camp Merrill, the Camp Museum provides a fascinating exhibition of Ranger memorabilia that visitors may tour.
Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Chamber & Visitors Bureau | 13 South Park Street | Dahlonega, GA 30533 | (706) 864-3711 or (800) 231-5543.