Nothing more clearly evokes Dahlonega’s past than its very name, coming from the Cherokee Indian word “ta-lo-ne-ga.” The Cherokee name speaks of the time when the area was part of the Cherokee Indian Nation (and before that, was also home to the Creek Indians). The meaning of the word ta-lo-ne-ga, “yellow,” speaks volumes about what eventually drove the Cherokee out on the infamous Trail of Tears— gold! Cherokee for Da-lo-ni-ge English phonetics: dah low knee gay. In 1833 the city was named Talonega by the Georgia General Assembly on 21 December 1833. The name was changed from Talonega by the Georgia General Assembly on 25 December 1837 to Dahlonega, from the Cherokee-language word Dalonige, meaning "yellow" or "gold."
Both white men and the Indians knew of the gold in the area for hundreds of years. Indians panned for gold in the early 1540s, joined by Spanish miners until they were expelled by the English in the 1730s.
The discovery of gold was one of the major reasons behind Cherokee Removal, in which the state of Georgia expelled Cherokees from their ancestral lands in 1838. President Andrew Jackson supported Georgia's aspirations to control Cherokee land, and in 1830 he drafted the Indian Removal Act, which paved the way for Indian removal west. In 1838, the Cherokee removal (also known as the Trail of Tears) began, and in that same year Dahlonega, which is Cherokee for "yellow money," became a branch mint of the United States Mint. With the Cherokee forced out in 1838, the white miners and settlers had the gold and the land to themselves
Dahlonega was home to many Creeks and Cherokees and still is today. There are a few Creek and Cherokee descendants in Dahlonega today, though they are not in communities but scattered throughout Dahlonega. Most of the descendants are Creek-Cherokee mixed.
Most of the producing mines were on land owned by the Cherokee Nation and not the state of Georgia. In 1832 the state rectified that problem by seizing the Cherokee land without a treaty and dividing it up among Georgia veterans and residents. Unfortunately, all the gold mines in Cherokee country would also switch hands.
Lot drawing began on October 22, 1832 in Milledgeville, Georgia and continued until May 1, 1833. Cost was $10.00 and depending on your situation you could get an extra draw at no cost. The lottery gave 40 acre "gold lots" to winners, but the state did not promise gold would be on the land. Miners who began working on Cherokee land after June 1, 1830 were excluded from the lottery.
Twenty years before the 1849 gold rush in California, thousands of prospectors flocked into the Cherokee Nation in north Georgia, marking the true beginning of our country’s first gold rush. See the Museum exhibit of Cherokee Land Becomes Georgia Land and the Museum's Documentary Film.
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 Station" Lumpkin County, Georgia Historical Marker signifies "the site of one of the forts or stations used by the United States Government in Cherokee country in 1838 to round up the Cherokee Indians for their removal to western reservations. General Winfield Scott, commander of the troops used to assemble and protect the Indians in that period, had his headquarters here at one time. It is believed that Federal troops also used this station as early as 1830 to guard the gold mines from intruders - Indians or Whites - until the question of owner ship of the territory was established. Placed by the Georgia Historical Commission on GA 9E near Auraria in 1954."
Download the Dahlonega Historical Markers Guide for directions to "The Station" Historical Marker and all other Dahlonega area Historical Markers.
This pile of stones marks the grave of a Cherokee princess, Trahlyta. According to legend her tribe, living on Cedar Mountain north of the site, knew the secret of the magic springs of eternal youth from the Witch of Cedar Mountain. Trahlyta, kidnapped by a rejected suitor, Wahsega, was taken far away and lost her beauty. As she was dying, Wahsega promised to bury her here near her home and the magic springs. Custom arose among the Indians and later the Whites to drop stones, one for each passerby, on her grave for good fortune. The magic springs, now known as Porter Springs, lie 1/4 mile northeast of the site.
Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Chamber & Visitors Bureau | 13 South Park Street | Dahlonega, GA 30533 | (706) 864-3711 or (800) 231-5543.