The City of Blue Ridge is the county seat of Fannin County. According to the U.S. Census in 2000, Blue Ridge had a population of 1,210 and a total land area of 2.2 square miles. Situated near the northern border of Georgia, Lake Blue Ridge and the Toccoa River, Blue Ridge draws outdoor enthusiasts from all over the United States for fishing, kayaking, boating, tubing, swimming, hiking, camping, and even blueberry picking.
Blue Ridge was founded in 1886 by Col. Mike McKinney after the Marietta and North Georgia Railroad constructed railroad tracks from Marietta to Murphy in North Carolina. The Marietta and North Georgia Railroad stimulated the growth of Blue Ridge by providing farmers in Fannin County with an efficient method of bringing their products to larger markets. After U.S. Highway 76 was completed during the early 1920’s, the population of Blue Ridge began to grow but it wasn’t until the Georgia Mountain Parkway was completed in 1986 that Blue Ridge became easily accessible to tourists.
One of the most entertaining tourist attractions in North Georgia originates at the historic train depot that was built in 1905 in downtown Blue Ridge. The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway conducts passengers on an exciting 26-mile round trip excursion in vintage climate controlled and open-air railcars along the banks of the Toccoa River through historic Murphy Junction, and the train stops at the quaint sister towns of McCaysville, Georgia, and Copperhill, Tennessee. McCaysville and Copperhill are really one town with two names because the town is split by the Georgia and Tennessee State Line. Passengers can debark and enjoy exploring this unique town, shopping in stores or sampling local delicacies from cafes and restaurants. The return trip to Blue Ridge takes approximately one hour.
Real estate in Blue Ridge
The estimated median home value in Blue Ridge was $109,896 in 2007, having appreciated from $61,500 in 2000. The cost of living index in Blue Ridge is low at 79.0 and the average population density is only 450 people per square mile. Many homes in Blue Ridge were built soon after World War II and very few of them are sold because they are occupied by long term residents. Some modern luxury homes and cabins were built in Blue Ridge during the 1980’s that are available for rent as vacation homes.
Lodging, shopping, dining and entertainment
Many romantic bed and breakfast inns are located in Blue Ridge because it is one of the more popular tourist destinations in the North Georgia Mountains. One of the most popular bed and breakfast inns is the Blue Ridge Inn. Built in 1890, the 3-story Victorian Blue Ridge Inn has 14 guest rooms featuring original heart pine floors, hand carved woodwork, fireplaces and claw foot bathtubs. There are also several hotels and motels in Blue Ridge, and luxurious mountain cabins can be rented through real estate agents or from private owners who advertise in local newspapers and on the Internet.
Operated by the USDA Forestry Service, the Morganton Point Recreation Area overlooks Blue Ridge Lake near Blue Ridge and it has 37 campsites, a paved boat launch, picnic tables and a shelter. The Deep Hole Campground also has 8 campsites equipped with tent pads, picnic tables and a canoe launching point. Fishing areas in the Morganton Point Recreation Area are stocked with smallmouth bass, rainbow trout and brown trout.
The entire Blue Ridge Mountain region is an antique shopper’s dream because the mountainous area is so beautiful to drive through and there are many intriguing stores to visit. Art stores in Blue Ridge display the work of many well known painters, potters and sculptors along with a colorful array of Appalachian folk art. Restaurants in Blue Ridge feature Appalachian style dishes like freshly caught mountain trout that is fried, broiled, pecan crusted, or smoked. Local delicacies such as apple bread, apple butter, fried apple pies and apple cider are also featured in Blue Ridge restaurants because nearby Gilmer County produces more apples than any other county in Georgia.
For people who love theater and the arts, the Blue Ridge Community Theater has an annual schedule filled with dramatic, comedic and musical productions. The Blue Ridge Mountain Arts Association sponsors many art gallery exhibits and a series of summer concerts in Blue Ridge City Park. The Blue Ridge Mountain Arts Association also sponsors Arts in the Park festival during Memorial Day weekend, the Blue Ridge Writer’s Conference, the Southern Appalachian Artist Guild National Juried Show, and the Wildlife Festival of the Arts in September. The Blue Ridge Mountain Arts Association is located in the historic Fannin County Courthouse in downtown Blue Ridge.
For people who enjoy canoeing, the 13.8 mile Toccoa River Canoe Trail near Blue Ridge is ideal for beginning paddlers who can traverse a few easy rapids and enjoy pastoral land containing thickets of laurel and rhododendron along the way. The Toccoa River Canoe Trail is also popular with float fishermen who seek coldwater mountain trout. The entrance to the Toccoa River Canoe Trail is located in the Blue Ridge Ranger District’s Deep Hole Recreation Area.
Horseback riding is also a popular sport in Blue Ridge, especially on paths that lead along the Toccoa River. There are horseback riding and rental facilities with horse trails that wind for many miles through forests along the banks of the river. Overnight guided excursions, moonlight horseback rides, catered dinner wagon parties, and riding classes are available for all ages, sizes and riding experience levels.