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Dahlonega cabin makes big move, will be NGCSU teaching tool
House has been picked up and moved 3 times
David Looper, of Looper’s House Moving of Gainesville, describes how he had to prepare the 1832 Dahlonega gold rush cabin for moving Tuesday morning as it sits behind the Georgia Appalachian Studies Center at the Vickery House on West Main Street. - photo by SCOTT ROGERS

A small, 180-year-old cabin from Dahlonega's gold rush era made a six-mile trek Tuesday morning to its new location at North Georgia College & State University.

The cabin was donated to the school by Jim and Betty Smulian and will now serve the students at the Dahlonega college as a teaching tool and a performance stage.

Students will have the opportunity to uncover the history of the cabin and the families who once lived inside the wooden walls.

"What we know is that several prominent families in Dahlonega, their ancestors lived in it," Rosann Kent, program director of the Georgia Appalachian Studies Center, said.

"Hopefully later on this month we will have some students gathering oral history from those descendants and can tell us a little bit more about it," Kent said.

Kent said they weren't sure if any gold miners ever lived in the cabin but that it was certainly from the same time period.

"As far as the specifics of who lived in it and when to when, we don't know.

"That's where the students will be researching and scholars will study and figure out. So we have a lot of story gathering to do to put all of the pieces together," Kent said.

The small, 320-square-foot cabin was carefully moved by Looper's House Moving in Gainesville to its home behind the Vickery House at North Georgia.

The two vintage homes together demonstrate the variety of people that make up Dahlonega's past.

The rustic cabin represents the common people of historic Dahlonega, while the Vickery House represents the elite.

"We can have both the town life and the rural life of this period," Kent said.

Alice Sampson, director of the Georgia Appalachian Studies Center and associate professor of teacher education, said the cabin will help students learn critical thinking and real-world problem solving skills.

"Our goal is to have our students taking leadership and managing it because as a university we want students to have leadership opportunities. We want them to figure it out and not us telling them what always should be done," Sampson said.

The Georgia Appalachian Studies Center plans to have an opening ceremony for the cabin some time in April.

They expect reconstruction of the cabin's roof and fireplace, which had to be removed in order to transport the building, to take a few months.

This is the third time the tiny cabin has been picked up and moved.

According to Kent, the well outside of the cabin home ran dry in 1912. The family moved the house log by log to a new site with another water supply.

David Looper, owner of Looper's House Moving, said his father moved the house once about 40 years ago closer to a main house on private property.

Looper said it is a lot easier to move a house today than it used to be.

He said he and his crew spent two days just bracing the wooden frame for the move. He meticulously secured the walls of the fragile home with chains and strong wooden beams.

"You cannot overbrace a 180-year-old building. It's impossible," Looper said.

Looper spent a little more than half of a day just trying to get the truck carrying the house down the mountain.

The truck carrying the cabin had to be escorted by police for the six-mile trip.

"There were some tight hairpin turns that would have been a good picture," Looper said, laughing.

 

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