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Gold’s history, impact are focus of Smithgall Woods event

POSTED: August 4, 2011 12:30 a.m.
SARA GUEVARA/The Times

Mike Clark demonstrates gold panning at the Dahlonega Gold Museum. Saturday's event at Smithgall Woods State Park will focus on the history and impact of the gold rush in North Georgia.

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Smithgall Woods State Park near Helen will welcome visitors Saturday to its annual "Gold Fever" event.

Gold enthusiasts and history moguls alike will delight in the three-part presentation dealing with the historical and social influences the discovery of gold made on the North Georgia area.

"It's particularly good for people who live in our area. Gold is such an important part of the collective history of north Georgia," Smithgall Woods Interpretive Ranger Johnna Tuttle said. "It's important to know the history."

"It had such influences on the landscape, as well as the people, particularly the Native Americans."

Tuttle talked about the differences between Georgia's gold rush history in comparison to those in other parts of the country.

"Out West, you had people who were desperately hoping to strike it rich. It was much different here. People were trying to put shoes on their kids' feet. Most prospectors here were looking for extra income," Tuttle said.

"It's all about understanding the culture of that time. It's important to know the history."

According to Tuttle, "Gold Fever" will first detail gold's history in Georgia. The presentation will begin with a Powerpoint display that focuses on the history, as well as the social and historical contexts leading up to the rush, Tuttle said.

Afterward, guests have the option to hike over to the historic Martin Mine within the park. Although few physical infrastructure remains according to Tuttle, there are still water ditches and vertical shafts that tell the story of long ago mining operations.

Following the hike, local historian and former physician Tom Lumsden will make a presentation on gold history. According to Tuttle, Lumsden had relatives who worked the mines when they were operating.

Space is limited for the program, and Tuttle encouraged would-be participants to register before making the trip to ensure a spot.

"Gold Fever" will begin at 9 a.m. and conclude at 2 p.m. Saturday. The cost is $10, plus a $5 parking fee at the park.

For more information and to preregister, call Smithgall Woods State Park at 706-878-3087.



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