Union County, Georgia--An Overview
A brief history and current overview of Union County, Georgia.
Unlike most counties in Georgia, when Union County was founded in 1832, it was not named for a prominent individual. Rather, John Thomas, a resident of the county, suggested, “Name it Union, for none but union-like men reside in it.” The comment stuck, and, to this day, the county is named Union.
The people living in the mountains of North Georgia were, in general, highly anti-slavery, and favored the disbanding of the system. In 1861, the delegates to the State convention voted against secession. However, when the time came for sides to be taken, the mountain people came down firmly on the side of their Southern brothers and sisters, and pride in the new Confederacy replaced the earlier Unionist sentiments.
The cities in Union are Ivy Log, Suches, and, the county seat, Blairsville, incorporated in 1835. Blairsville was named after Frank Blair, editor of a Washington D. C. newspaper. Union County consists of 204,736 acres, total. The Chattahoochee National Forest is in possession of 97,843 acres of this land.
Union County is now easily accessible from the Atlanta area, being approximately 110 miles from the city by way of GA Hwy 515 North, but, early in its history, roads into the area were little more than trails. It wasn’t until the 1840’s that roads were actually built, and, more importantly to business of the area, rail service came to the area in 1874. The county’s first paved road was completed in 1926. During this time, road development was so important to the area, men were allowed to work on the county’s road crew in lieu of paying county taxes.
Vogel State Park is found in Union County. Named for Fred and August Vogel, the land for the park was donated by the couple to the State in 1917. Until that time, the tannins in the various trees were utilized by the Pfister & Vogel leather tanning company, but the development of synthetic processes for tanning leather made this utilization unnecessary, and the donation was made.
Vogel is the perfect place to get away from it all--there are only three telephones in the entire park area, and cell-phone usage is difficult because of the peaks and valleys of the area. The cottages in the park have electricity and running water, but there is no television service. Camping, swimming, fishing, hiking, pedal boating, miniature golf--all are to be enjoyed at Vogel State Park.
Hiking Trails abound in Union County. The Byron Herbert Reece Access Trail is a relatively difficult trail, but is only .7 miles in length, and gives the participant a stunning view from Blood Mountain. This trail is actually a part of Vogel State Park. The Coosa Backcountry Trail requires a pass from the visitor’s center at Vogel State park. 12.7 miles in length, Coosa is an overall difficult trail, and not for the casual hiker. A more simple trail is the Eyes on Wildlife trail, a 1.2 mile scenic loop; Helton Creek Falls, a .4 mile trail, is a nice walk, as well, and features two beautiful waterfalls. For a better workout, try Jacks Knob Trail, a strenuous 4.5 mile trail stretching from Union to Towns County. The Slaughter Gap Trail is a moderate 2.7 mile trail, and is a favorite Appalachian Trail access.
This is just a small sampling of the trails available to hikers, from beginners to professionals, and a brief look at Union County. For more information about trails, activities, or events in Union County, one can contact the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce at 1-877-745-5789.