Georgia Abandoned Town Most People Don’t Know About

When considering the gold rush, thoughts typically turn to California or Alaska. Yet, few know that Georgia played a significant role in the early 1800s gold discovery. In fact, Georgia initiated the first gold rush in the United States, preceding California’s famed event by two decades. Among the towns born during this era was Auraria, once bustling and paramount in Lumpkin County. However, today, Auraria lies as a ghost town, with scant remnants and a solitary mine. Many are oblivious to its existence. In this blog post, we delve into Auraria’s history and the enigma shrouding Georgia’s overlooked gold rush town.

The Genesis of Auraria

Founded in 1828 upon the revelation of gold by a band of prospectors from North Carolina, Auraria’s name stems from the Latin term for gold. Alternately dubbed Dean, Deans, Nuckollsville, Scuffle Town, and Scuffleville, Auraria burgeoned with thousands of miners, aspiring to unearth wealth. The town boasted hotels, saloons, stores, churches, schools, and even a newspaper titled the Auraria Miner.

Auraria witnessed pivotal moments in Georgia’s narrative. In 1832, it hosted the state’s inaugural legal lottery, the proceeds benefiting public education. Subsequently, in 1836, Auraria became the locale for Georgia’s first mint, crafting gold coins now coveted by collectors. Moreover, in 1838, Auraria marked the commencement of the tragic Trail of Tears, the forced displacement of Cherokee Indians to Oklahoma.

The Decline of Auraria

Despite initial prosperity, Auraria’s zenith proved fleeting. Dahlonega, established in 1833 mere miles away, swiftly surpassed Auraria in stature and significance. Endowed with superior positioning, amenities, and political sway, Dahlonega ascended. In 1838, it assumed the role of Lumpkin County’s seat, further relegating Auraria. In 1849, Dahlonega welcomed Georgia’s second mint. Subsequently, Auraria dwindled as denizens and enterprises migrated to Dahlonega, hastening its decline.

A fatal blow struck Auraria in 1848 with the California Gold Rush, luring thousands westward and forsaking their Georgia claims and towns. Among the deserted settlements, Auraria lay desolate, nearing abandonment by the 1850s, with only a smattering of families enduring in destitution and isolation.

The Vestiges of Auraria

Presently, Auraria stands as a vestige of its former grandeur. Situated along Auraria Road, off Highway 9, in Lumpkin County, much of its land is privately owned. Some original structures have been restored or reconstructed by proprietors. Notable is the Chestatee River Diving Bell, once utilized for gold exploration in the 1870s, now a feature in a riverside park.

The Calhoun Gold Mine, another attraction, one of the area’s oldest and largest, welcomes public tours and gold panning. Visitors can explore original shafts, tunnels, and equipment while learning about gold mining’s history and techniques.

Auraria also hosts a historical marker, a cemetery, and several other ruins and artifacts. Standing structures include the Old Rock House, the Old Store, the Old School, and the Old Church. The town’s eerie ambiance, coupled with reports of spectral sightings, adds to its mystique.


Auraria, a forgotten enclave in Georgia, once thrived during the gold rush era but faded into obscurity with the rise of Dahlonega and the California Gold Rush. Today, it remains a ghost town, with only remnants and a solitary mine as testaments to its past glory. Auraria encapsulates history and mystery, serving as a poignant reminder of Georgia’s gold rush boom and bust. If ever in Georgia, a visit to Auraria offers a glimpse into this overlooked chapter of American history.

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