TV show to feature local ghost-towns

  • Associate producer Michael Harris (left) talks with Lumpkin County Historical Society president Chris Worick as videographer Wesley Nichols films segments for an upcoming episode of the GPB show Hometown Georgia to air on Oct. 31.
    Associate producer Michael Harris (left) talks with Lumpkin County Historical Society president Chris Worick as videographer Wesley Nichols films segments for an upcoming episode of the GPB show Hometown Georgia to air on Oct. 31.
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Half an hour.
That's how long associate producer Michael Harris has to sum up more than a century of history surrounding many of the formerly bustling areas around Dahlonega which have now disappeared.
Harris came to town in August to get all the details about what happened to the Auraria gold mining town and the Chestatee pyrite mine.
Dahlonega will be featured in an upcoming episode of Hometown Georgia. (Dahlonega was previously featured on the GPB show Hometown Georgia on February 26,  2018.)
The new episode, titled "Hometown Ghost-town" has a planned air date of October 31.
"The goal is to bring attention to these areas that are disappearing," Harris said. "Places with such historical significance should not be forgotten."
The show will focus on the local areas as well as the other ghost-towns of Scull Shoals and Mountain View in Georgia.
"There is less of a value placed on learning history now," Harris said. "We learn about world history but not what happened in our own backyard."

REAL GOLD

Harris said the town of Auraria is intriguing because of its connection with gold.
"This is a town that has truly disappeared," he added.
He and videographer Wesley Nichols visited the old general store which sits at the intersection of Auraria Road and Castleberry Bridge Road a few miles west of Dahlonega.
The general store and a few other crumbling buildings are the most prominent feature still remaining as a reminder of when the nation's first major gold rush happened in Lumpkin County.
"Auraria Road was originally part of the Gold Diggers Road that came into the Cherokee Nation," said Lumpkin County Historical Society President Chris Worick.
Worick was contacted by the show's Executive Producer Sharon Collins and asked to share his extensive knowledge about local history in an on-camera interview.
He said Auraria sprung up in 1832 after gold was discovered and the land lottery took place.
Thousands of miners came to the area which used to be known as Nuckollsville.
"We don't have a lot of older photos to document what it looked like," Worick said.
He added that most of the buildings in the area are now gone.
Auraria was originally made up of "hastily built log structures," he said.
These faded away over time much like the miners' hopes of finding riches as time wore on.
"But after Dahlonega became the county seat in 1833 there was a gradual decline," Worick said.
The crew came to film the interview inside Dahlonega's historic jail, which houses many artifacts and displays.

FOOLS GOLD

Harris also inquired about the old Chestatee pyrite mine to the east of Dahlonega.
Worick said this started as the Piedmont Chemical Corporation that mined iron pyrite. From this they could produce sulfuric acid for use in fertilizer and also for high explosive ammunition.
"During WWI this was of strategic importance," he said. "Men who worked in the mine were exempt from the draft."
A railroad was even constructed to Clermont, Gainesville, then Atlanta so the pyrite could be refined.
It was a 24-hours a day operation and the company town of Chestatee was created because the workers needed a place to live, Worick said.
"After the war it became the Piedmont Corporation which sold crushed rock for road beds," he added.
But when the material ran out the mine closed by about 1928 and the area was left with nothing but empty structures.
Harris said there is only so much information they can include in one episode.
He hopes viewers will see this episode and develop an interest in local history and that historical organizations could see increased participation from younger people.
With the show still in production, viewers will have to wait to find out which details make the final cut for the show on Oct. 31 on Georgia Public Broadcasting.