Cleveland, GA, is the county seat of White County and it is located about 7 miles south of Unicoi State Park and the Chattahoochee National Forest. According to the U.S. Census in 2000, Cleveland had a population of 1,907 and a total land area of 3.2 square miles. Many visitors from Atlanta who drive north to Unicoi State Park on Highway 19 and then take Highway 129 stop in Cleveland on their way to the park.
Originally established as Mount Yonah in 1857, Cleveland was renamed after General Benjamin Cleveland who fought in the War of 1812. Cleveland was incorporated as a city in 1870 and it was a center of trade for farm products in White County until the 1950’s. But after Unicoi State Park was opened in 1954, the number of tourists increased dramatically and by the end of the 20th century, Cleveland had evolved into a primarily residential community.
Unicoi State Park contains 1,050 acres of protected land and the 53 acre Lake Unicoi. Outdoor activities in Unicoi State Park include boating, swimming, fishing, camping, hiking and backpacking through 16 miles of nature trails. One of the most popular hiking trails in Unicoi State Park leads to the famous twin waterfalls at Anna Ruby Falls and the Anna Ruby Falls Scenic Area. The 1,600 acre scenic area around Anna Ruby Falls is part of the Chattahoochee National Forest and the only access to it is through Unicoi State Park.
Cleveland achieved fame in the news media after a local sculptor named Xavier Roberts concocted a scheme to sell some unique looking dolls. Using an old doctor’s clinic at 73 W. Underwood Street that he named Babyland General Hospital, Xavier Roberts put his dolls up for adoption and exhibited them in incubators in the front room maternity ward. These dolls were supposedly born in cabbage patches and when they were advertised in the media as Cabbage Patch Kids, the demand for them quickly outpaced the supply. In 1982 Roberts sold mass production rights to Coleco who marketed the dolls on television and by Christmas time, American parents were standing on line at stores and finding themselves unable to buy the dolls because they had sold out. Sales reached a high of $600,000,000 in 1985 and then declined rapidly.
Real estate in Cleveland
The estimated median home value in Cleveland was $163,504 in 2007, having appreciated from $91,500 in 2000. The cost of living index in Cleveland is relatively low at 84.4 and the average population density is 816 people per square mile. Because Cleveland is located in a rural region, homes on 1 to 5 acres of land are often available for sale. Single family homes on less than 1 acre of land range in price from the low 100,000’s to $250,000.
Most people come to Cleveland to enjoy the natural beauty of the North Georgia countryside. Cabin and cottage rentals are available from Blue Creek Cabins, Sandy Bottoms Cabins and Cabin on the Creek. Rustic vacation cabins, mountain cottages and private homes in Cleveland can be rented by the week or by the month through local real estate agents or directly from owners who advertise their properties in local newspapers and on the Internet. Cleveland also features bed and breakfast inns such as Caffery Springs Inn, the Lodge at Windy Acres, and the Skelton Inn.
There are three shopping centers in Cleveland that contain food stores and general merchandise stores. Local restaurants serving homemade cuisine include Ma Gooch’s, a cozy neighborhood café, and West Family Restaurant where people can enjoy an old fashioned Southern style buffet. Visitors who are traveling on to Unicoi State Park can enjoy the Unicoi Restaurant where buffet dining is available for breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days per week all year round.
For those who desire more luxurious accommodations, the Mountain Lakes Resort in Cleveland rents luxury cabins, condominiums and mountain chalets. The Mountain Lakes Resort has a 50 acre lake for fishing, an indoor heated swimming pool with a waterslide, two outdoor pools, and many miles of trails for hiking and horseback riding. The Country Hideaway at Mountain Lakes in Cleveland is another resort that features one and two bedroom condominiums with full kitchens, sleeper sofas in the living rooms, and rear decks with swings and picnic tables. Guests enjoy the use of the resort’s 50 acre lake, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, sauna and whirlpool, tennis courts and basketball courts. The Country Hideaway at Mountain Lakes also contains a children’s playground, a miniature golf course and a petting zoo.
The 5,555 acre Smithgall Woods-Dukes Creek Conservation Area near Cleveland contains five beautiful mountain homes with 14 guest rooms for rent. Each of the rooms has a private bathroom, a fireplace or a wood-burning stove, cable TV and central air conditioning. The Smithgall Woods-Dukes Creek Conservation Area also contains Dukes Creek, which is considered to be North Georgia’s premier trout stream, 5 miles of hiking trails and 18 miles of scenic roads. Located within the Chattahoochee National Forest, Andrews Cove Campground has 10 campsites with tent pads, barbecue grills and picnic tables, and guests can fish for trout in Andrews Creek.
The White County Historical Museum in Cleveland is an interesting place to visit. Located in the White County Courthouse and home to the White County Historical Society, the White County Historical Museum features exhibits depicting the history of the Civil War in North Georgia. The White County Courthouse was built in 1860 and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Families with children will enjoy visiting an attraction in Cleveland named Gold ‘n Gem Grubbin. At the site of North Georgia’s only commercially operating gold mine, people can try their hand at mining for gold and other gemstones such as rubies, sapphires, emeralds. If nobody finds any valuable gems, the children’s consolation prize can be fishing at the site or playing on their miniature golf course.