The City of Dawsonville is the county seat of Dawson County and it is located in a rural area about 10 miles northwest of Lake Lanier on Route 53. According to the U.S. Census in 2000, Dawsonville had a population of 619 and a total land area of 1.9 square miles. The 38,000 acre Lake Lanier was created after Buford Dam was constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the Chattahoochee River in 1956. Blocking the Chattahoochee River with Buford Dam filled up the valleys and created a gorgeous lake with 692 miles of thickly forested shoreline. Lake Lanier has evolved into a resort area that attracts 7.5 million visitors annually with a wide variety of recreational activities such as camping, fishing, boating, swimming, picnicking and sightseeing.
After gold was discovered near Dahlonega in 1828, the Native American Cherokee Indians were expelled from North Georgia on the infamous Trail of Tears in 1839. The State of Georgia arbitrarily carved the Cherokee Indian’s land into counties and Dawson County was created in 1857. The influx of miners into the region was accompanied by violence and anarchy so the first buildings constructed at the site of Dawsonville were a courthouse and a jail. A small community soon developed around the courthouse and Dawsonville was incorporated as a city in 1859.
Both Dawsonville and Dawson County were named after William Crosby Dawson, a lawyer, judge, soldier and politician who was born in Greensboro, Georgia, in 1798. William Crosby Dawson was in favor of slavery and state’s rights over Union rights. From 1821 through 1833, he served as Clerk of the Georgia House of Representatives and then he was a Georgia State Senator for one year from 1834 to 1835. Next he served as one of Georgia’s representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1836 to 1841 and as a U.S. Senator from 1849 to 1855.
Dawsonville is home to one of the most extraordinary nature conservation centers in North Georgia, the Kangaroo Conservation Center. The Kangaroo Conservation Center contains the largest concentration of kangaroo’s in the world outside of Australia. Animal care experts at the Center have been saving and breeding endangered kangaroo species for over 26 years. Situated on 87 acres of land with hundreds of exhibits featuring 9 species of kangaroos, the Kangaroo Conservation Center is located at 222 Bailey-Waters Road in Dawsonville.
Real estate in Dawsonville
The estimated median home value in Dawsonville was $198,170 in 2007, having appreciated from $110,900 in 2000. The cost of living index in Dawsonville is relatively low at 89.3 and the average population density is only 325 people per square mile. Approximately half the homes in Dawsonville were built prior to 1960 and almost 90% of the homes were built prior to 2000. The majority of residences are single family detached homes occupied by long term residents.
Available single family homes on ½ acre of land in Dawsonville are typically priced between $150,000 and $250,000. Lakefront properties that have Dawsonville addresses but are not inside the city limits can range in price between $250,000 and over a million dollars. Properties around Lake Lanier tend to be more expensive on the south end of the lake because it is closer to Atlanta via Highway 400 and Interstate 985.
Hotels in Dawsonville include the Best Western Dawson Village Inn, the Comfort Inn Dawsonville and a Super 8 Motel. Rustic vacation cabins, mountain cottages and private homes can be also 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. For those who desire more luxurious accommodations, the Gold Creek Resort in Dawsonville has 74 beautifully decorated guest rooms situated in uniquely designed villas. Guests can enjoy the use of the Gold Creek Resort’s championship golf course and an outdoor pool with a 60 ft. waterfall.
For food shopping, Dawsonville has a Kroger Supermarket, a Food Lion and a Kangaroo Express store. At the junction of Georgia 400 and Highway 53, the North Georgia Premium Outlets mall contains more than 140 designer outlet stores and clothing boutiques. Restaurants in Dawsonville are primarily family style restaurants serving Southern barbecue style and Mexican cuisines, or chain restaurants serving fast foods. Dawsonville contains antique stores and several art stores that display the work of well known painters, potters and sculptors along with a colorful array of Appalachian folk art.
The Bowen Center for the Arts in Dawsonville features a different visual arts show each month in which local artists showcase their paintings, sculptures, pottery and photographic work. The Center contains three art galleries, and art education classes are offered for both adults and children. The Bowen Center for the Arts is located in an historic 5,000 sq. ft. building, the Old Rock School, at 334 Highway 9 North.
The City of Dawsonville sponsors an Art in the Garden Festival in May with various displays by local artists and the Mountain Moonshine Festival in October. The Mountain Moonshine Festival celebrates Dawson County’s infamous history during the prohibition era when local moonshiners and bootleggers manufactured and exported homemade liquors out of North Georgia. A very special time for families with children to visit Dawsonville and Lake Lanier is between the end of November and the end of December during the annual Magical Nights of Lights celebration when 6 miles of multi-colored Christmas holiday lights are displayed along the shores of Lake Lanier Islands. Magical Nights of Lights is believed to be the largest annual animated Christmas holiday light extravaganza in the world.