Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2015 - 54
Weekend in Blue Ridge,
Georgia, A Modern Mayberry
It's within a day's drive of five Southeastern
states, and its blend of mountain traditions
and modern ambitions make Blue Ridge well
worth the trek.
by Nancy Moreland
Time flows genTly in Blue Ridge,
Georgia, a town touching the southernmost edge of the Appalachian
Mountains, whose timeless tranquility add a backdrop for a lively downtown and flourishing secondhome
area. With a pleasing "town and
country" personality, Blue Ridge is
well-suited for weekenders.
Located in north Georgia's
Fannin County, Blue Ridge is
blessed with natural beauty. The
Chattahoochee National Forest
spans 106,000 acres; Cohutta
Wilderness Area encompasses
another 40,000. Rivers and streams
teem with trophy trout. And sparkling in the midst of the mountains, Lake Blue Ridge is a
3,290-acre playground for boaters
Cherokee Indians inhabited
these hills generations before settlers began arriving in the 1800s.
Timber and railroad companies followed, as did "healing waters" tourism, fueled by city dwellers seeking
mountain air and mineral springs.
After the boom, Blue Ridge
declined. Up until the early 2000s,
"You could shoot a cannon down
East Main and you might hit a
chicken," says Bo Chance, an
entrepreneur who moved here in
the late 1990s. Drawn by scenery
and a small-town atmosphere 90
minutes north of Atlanta, Chance
and other urban expats helped
Downtown Blue Ridge is classic small-town America, with mom-and-pop shops flying the stars
and stripes, and 19th-century buildings featuring vintage advertisements.
TGIF in Blue Ridge
Arrive on Friday and get a feel for
Blue Ridge in the historic downtown. It's classic Americana, with
mom-and-pop shops, a park and
gazebo. Families board a vintage
train at the 1905 depot. Couples
stroll past 19th-century brick buildings advertising Red Man Tobacco.
Kids pluck candy from barrels in
Huck's General Store.
For all its Norman Rockwell
appeal, the contrast between
Mayberry and modern makes Blue
Ridge interesting. Nowadays, fine
wine is as common as sweet tea
and shops selling $9,000 fly fishing
rods prosper alongside places selling country crafts.
Thanks to its rustic roots, Blue
Ridge isn't too big for its britches.
And though SUVs now outnumber
rusty pickups on Main Street,
friendliness is always in fashion.
Blue Ridge Mountains Arts
Association exemplifies the town's
old-meets-new ambience. Housed
in a 1937 courthouse, its galleries
juxtapose traditional crafts with
contemporary art. Executive
Director Nichole Potzauf, who
moved here from Los Angeles,
describes the art scene: "Blue Ridge
is a small town with the amenities
and culture of an urban area.
There's a depth within the folk art
scene and a concentration of artists
working in nontraditional styles."
In spring and fall, the association's
Arts in the Park festivals draw
As evening approaches, dinner
decisions await. At one time, that
meant fast food or "meat and
three" diners. Today's tastier
options include Black Sheep
Restaurant. Housed in a 101-year-