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Auraria means "City of Gold” in Latin,
and Dahlonega, in Cherokee, means "Yellow." 

In 1828, a man walked Findley Ridge, kicked a rock, and discovered it was full of gold. This was in Cherokee Indian territory, and part of present day Lumpkin County, Georgia. Settlers came to the Indian lands in search of gold during the ensuing Georgia Gold Rush. The Indians were dismayed at the influx of unauthorized settlers. Cherokee Indian leader Major Ridge, along with his son John Ridge and Stand Watie, met with the United States and ceded the land in Georgia for land in Oklahoma. Most of the Cherokee Nation (under John Ross) protested the decision, but the Cherokee removal from Georgia, known as the Trail of Tears, began. The land east of Auraria was purchased by Vice President John Calhoun, and there he established the Calhoun Mine. The banks of the Etowah River, Camp Creek, and Cane Creek had many mines (Barlow Mine, Battle Branch Mine, Ralston Mine, Whim Hill Mine, Hedwig-Chicago Mine, Gold Hill Mine Etowah Mine, and others).

Due to politics and land ownership, another nearby city was established, Dahlonega, Georgia. Due to its location and political influence, Dahlonega received a Federal Mint for gold coins.

In 1848, gold was discovered in California. Former Auraria resident Jennie Wimmer, a cook in rural California, was the first person to prove the gold's authenticity, because she was the only person on the scene who knew how to perform the proper tests. This discovery led to the California gold rush of 1849. Discoveries of gold in California and soon after in Colorado caused Auraria to eventually fade into history. Gold mining in Georgia decreased and eventually all but ceased as miners went west looking for uncharted prospecting. Auraria's population quickly dwindled, and the community deteriorated into a ghost town.

Present day

There are still a few old buildings standing: the collapsing Graham Hotel (in ruins; very unsafe to enter), Woody's store at Castleberry Bridge Road, that remained open till the early 1980s, a red house that was once a bank, another house across the street from that, and a couple of foundations. They stand in lone testament to the 19th century gold rush.

To get to Auraria, go to the square in Dahlonega. Follow the west road to Dawsonville, pass the college (the gold-domed building is built on the foundation of the old mint). Turn left at the bottom of that hill and continue about 3 miles. The old red house on the left is the bank; after that, the collapsing building is the old hotel and just beyond on the left is the old Woody's store. Castleberry Bridge Road to the right leads down to the Etowah River.