Towns County, Georgia: A History And Guide
Brief history and visitor's guide to Towns County, Georgia.
Towns County, Georgia was created in 1856 from portions of Rabun and Union Counties. Its namesake is George Washington Towns, former State Representative and Governor of Georgia.
The cities of Hiawassee and Young Harris both reside within the boundaries of Towns, with the former being the county seat. Young Harris is the home of Young Harris College, formerly the McTyelre Institute. Originally, the city of Young Harris was known as McTyelre, and the founder of the college, Methodist minister Artemus Lester, named it in accordance with the name of the town at that time. However, the name of the city, as well as the college, was changed to honor one of the first graduates of the college, Judge Young Harris. The college is, at this time, privately
funded by the United Methodist Church.
Towns County can be found in extreme Northeast Georgia, covering approximately 106,000 acres. The Chattahoochee National Forest is in possession of about half of the acreage in Towns County, and the Appalachian Trail borders the county to the east. Brasstown Bald, standing at 4784 feet, is the highest peak in Georgia, and is on the Towns County-Union County border. There are, of course, established hiking trails in the county: the Brasstown Bald Trail, 1.2 miles, stretches between Union and Towns Counties, and is moderate in its difficulty level; the Coleman river trail, only 1 mile in length, crosses through both Towns and neighboring Rabun County, and is an easy, scenic route; the Wagon Train Trail, 7 miles long and passing through both Towns and Union Counties, is a easy-to-moderate trail; in contrast is Jack’s Knob Trail, 4.5 miles in length and stretching through both Towns and Union Counties--this is a strenuous trail, and should not be attempted by the inexperienced.
Lake Chatuge, formed by the TVA to bring electricity to the area in 1941, is now a great source of recreation for residents and visitors alike, offering swimming, boating, skiing, camping, and fishing.
Events attract many visitors to the area, throughout the year. During the summer, the annual production of ‘The Reach of Song’ can be seen at Young Harris College. The musical, written by Tom DeTittia, concerns life and culture in the mountain area during pre-to-post W.W.II America, 1935-1950, as seen through the eyes of poet Byron Herbert Reece, native of the area. The Georgia Mountain Fair takes place in Hiawassee during the month of August, and visitors are treated to performances of many nationally-recognized country singers with their entrance fee to the fairgrounds. Also not to be missed is the annual Rhododendron Festival. To confirm dates and receive more detailed information for these and other events, one can contact the Towns County Chamber of Commerce at (706) 896-4966.