Thursday, September 4, 2014

Gold and ghosts to be found in Dahlonega, Georgia

            I love a good ghost story so imagine my joy upon learning that Dahlonega, Georgia, has more than it’s fair share.
            We’re talking way more.           
            The town dates back to the Cherokees, who settled in northern Georgia’s rolling hills, mountains and peaceful streams and lakes. When gold was discovered in 1828, however, the area exploded with early American settlers who pushed the Native Americans west. With its newfound prosperity to early European-American settlers, Dahlonega became the site of a courthouse and some rip-roaring saloons and hotels.
            Even though 80 percent of the Georgia gold remains inside those mountains, the gold Dahlonega residents now find is tourism. The town is only one and a half hours from Atlanta and boasts numerous bed and breakfasts, mountain cabins and upscale hotels. It’s one of Georgia’s hot spots to get married, the area’s wineries are taking off and it’s an outdoors paradise, with great hiking and biking through the mountains and tubing and canoeing on the Chestatee and Etowah rivers.
            It’s also very haunted.
            Some say it’s because there’s gold still in those hills, some of the purest in the world, along with quartz, stones that attract paranormal activity.
            When I visited I picked up “Dahlonega Haunts: Ghostly Adventures in a GeorgiaMountain Town” by Amy Blackmarr, a collection of more than two dozen haunted sites. The book’s required reading for those ghost haunting in Dahlonega. Blackmarr discusses spirits lingering in places such as the Lumpkin County Courthouse in the center of town, the Crisson Gold Mine, the Holly Theater, several restaurants and stores (like the Picnic Cafe, shown) and the historic Mount Hope Cemetery.
            There are tours to show you the paranormal hotspots, such as Dahlonega Ghost Walk - Historic Hauntings Tour and Haunted Dahlonega: Spirits, Legends & Lore, the latter conducted by the Friends of the Dahlonega Gold Museum Historic Site (which is located within the haunted courthouse).
Lumpkin County Courthouse
            Some of the stories you’ll hear are the Civil War soldiers playing cards in Mount Hope Cemetery, a ghostly little girl in a long white dress who plays in rooms in the Historic District and ghosts who rattle dishes and pans in restaurants on the Public Square.  
             Here’s a story the tourism folks gave me: “A visitor to The Crimson Moon Café once left their young daughter in an upstairs room for a few minutes, only to come back and find her playing hide and seek. ‘With whom?’ asked the parent. ‘Don’t you see that little girl in the white dress over there?’ answered the daughter.”
             The Dahlonega Ghost Walk - Historic Hauntings Tour visits 14 locations by tour guide and founder Jeremy Sharp, weaving through streets, back alleys, historic buildings and the historically significant cemetery. Sharp has studied Dahlonega’s history and has also worked with paranormal researchers to document sightings.
             The Friends of the Dahlonega Gold Museum Historic Site, a not-for-profit organization, is also conducting fun, interactive tours with a new narrative being written by local author Trisha Slay, who is working on a paranormal mystery novel. “Haunted Dahlonega: Spirits, Legends & Lore” explains why Dahlonega is such a hotbed of activity, includes Cherokee folktales and explores local mysteries and benevolent hauntings. 
             Both tours are suitable for adults and children.
             Need more ghost fodder? How about in your accommodations? Try the elegant Park Place Hotel or the Hall House Hotel that dates back to 1881 and is the second oldest building on Dahlonega's historic square.
Dahlonega Ghost Walk - Historic Hauntings Tour
8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, August through November
Tickets are adults $10, children $5, available at The Attic Upstairs, 19 East Main St. Call 706-482-8795 or email
Tour is approximately 1.3 miles long on paved, designated walkways, with the exception of Mount Hope Cemetery, and ends in front of the Visitors Center, 13 South Park St.

Haunted Dahlonega: Spirits, Legends & Lore, conducted by the Friends of the Dahlonega Gold Museum Historic Site
7 p.m. Saturdays on Sept. 6, 13 and 20; Oct. 4, 11 and 25; Nov. 1
Tickets $10, benefit the Dahlonega Gold Museum Historic Site and are available at the Dahlonega Gold Museum. Visit or call 706-864-2257. 

For a self-guided tour, visit For tourism information on Dahlonega, visit

Cheré Coen is an award-winning travel writer specializing in the Deep South. She is the author of "Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History," "Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana" and "Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana" and co-author of "Magic's in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets." She also writes Louisiana romances under Cherie Claire, including "A Cajun Dream" and "The Letter." Write her at

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