The City of Toccoa is the county seat of Stephens County, which is situated on Georgia’s northeast border with South Carolina. According to the U.S. Census in 2000, Toccoa had a population of 9,323 and a total land area of 8.3 square miles. Toccoa was a Native American Cherokee Indian word that meant beautiful and the city was named after the beautiful 186 ft. tall Toccoa Falls.

The history of European settlement in Toccoa dates back to the late 1700’s when Colonel Wafford, an officer in the American Revolutionary Army, purchased a large parcel of land from the Cherokee Indians and founded a small community known as Dry Pond. After the Air-Line Railroad between Atlanta and Charlotte opened a train depot in Dry Pond in 1870, the community’s name was changed to Toccoa and it was incorporated as a city in 1875. Toccoa remained a very small city until World War II when soldiers from all over America were brought to Camp Toccoa on Currahee Mountain for military training. Each year, Toccoa hosts a Military Weekend Reunion to commemorate the 17,000 soldiers who trained at Camp Toccoa, and the Currahee Military Museum inside the historic Toccoa train depot is devoted to their memory.

Lake Hartwell is only 4 miles from Toccoa and because Interstate 85 bisects Lake Hartwell and it is less than 2 hours travel from downtown Atlanta, Lake Hartwell is visited by almost 10 million people per year. Lake Hartwell is 56,000 acres in size, it has 962 miles of shoreline, and it extends 49 miles up the Tugaloo River and 45 miles up the Seneca River. Lake Hartwell is renowned for having excellent fishing locations in thousands of secluded coves along its shoreline. Anglers travel to Lake Hartwell from all over the southeast to catch largemouth bass, crappie, catfish, striped bass and hybrid bass.

Real estate in Toccoa

The estimated median home value in Toccoa was $108,142 in 2007, having appreciated from $70,400 in 2000. The cost of living index in Toccoa is relatively low at 86.6 and the average population density is 1098 people per square mile. Most of the homes in Toccoa were built during the early 20th century and few of them are available for sale because they are occupied by long term residents.

Newer homes with property frontage on Lake Hartwell range in price from $500,000 to 1.5 million dollars. Lakefront land lots that are zoned for residential development can be found for as low as $25,000 for less than ¼ acre of land with 50 ft. of frontage on Lake Hartwell to $600,000 for 1 acre with 250 ft. of frontage on the lake. Compared to other areas of the United States with similar type man-made lakes, property values in Toccoa at beautiful Lake Hartwell are remarkably affordable.

Lodging, shopping, dining and entertainment

Hotels in Toccoa include the Days Inn Toccoa, the Country Hearth Inn-Toccoa, Caudell’s Traveler’s Rest, Country Hearth Inn, Simmons Bond Inn, Relax Inn and the Toccoa Inn & Suites. Bed and breakfast inns include the Simmons-Bond Inn, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and Habersham Manor House. Rustic vacation cabins, mountain cottages and private homes in Toccoa 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.

Many specialty stores, shopping boutiques and cafes can be discovered by strolling through historic downtown Toccoa, which has been renovated in accordance with the city’s Main Street Program in order to encourage tourism. Intriguing restaurants in Toccoa include Shirley’s Solé Food Café, the Rebel Café, the Perkup Café and Olie’s Ice Cream Parlor & Sweet Shoppe. Supermarkets and general merchandise stores are located in the Big A Shopping Center.

The Toccoa Symphony performs a regular series of annual concerts throughout the year at various locations in Stephens County. For theater lovers, the Toccoa Stephens County Community Theatre presents several theatrical productions each year at the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts in Toccoa. During the spring, the City of Toccoa sponsors the Currahee Arts Festival and the Taste of Toccoa food festival, and during the fall the Harvest Festival celebrates North Georgia’s fall harvest with arts, crafts, and various locally produced foods.

The Traveler’s Rest Historic Site is a National Historic Landmark in Toccoa that contains the original plantation home of Devereaux Jarrett, who was the richest man in the Tugaloo Valley during the 1800’s. Built in1833, Jarrett’s mansion features a 90-ft. long porch, hand numbered rafters, and 14 rooms furnished with an array of original antiques and family memorabilia. Guided tours are available with advance reservation.

At Lake Hartwell, sailing, canoeing, kayaking, power boating and outdoor water sports activities like waterskiing and windsurfing are allowed. Swimming is allowed at 15 different designated public swim beaches and there are also hundreds of island and shoreline beaches. Boat rentals are available at 5 different boat marinas. People can also enjoy fishing from fishing piers or from designated shoreline areas, and people who own fishing boats can launch them at any of 80 public boat ramps located around Lake Hartwell.