Dahlonega Hosts U.S. Capital Christmas Tree

On November 24 – 26, 2010, the quaint North Georgia town of Dahlonega will host a 67 – foot tall Englemann spruce Christmas tree.  This tree was chosen as the “National Tree” for this year’s holiday celebration.  It will arrive at its final destination, the U.S. Capital lawn, after nearly a month of travel from its origin, the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming.

The Dahlonega Chamber of Commerce is planning a fun-filled afternoon.  Children of all ages can visit with Santa from 1 to 3 p.m.   Country music star, Freddie Way, will be in concert in the historic town of Dahlonega on Wednesday, November 24.  Way, who is a North Georgia native, has become famous for his music and style after producing his hit song, “There She Goes.”  The concert starts at 3 p.m., and the tree is expected to arrive around 5 p.m.   The North Georgia Ensemble will perform from 5 to 6 p.m., and the formal tree ceremony will be at 6 p.m.   Finally, there will be a Live Nativity at 6:30 p.m.  A large turn-out is anticipated for these activities.  It is a very special honor  for Dahlonega to host the “National Tree.”

Upon the tree’s arrival  in Washington, D.C., the it will be lowered into a five-foot deep hole, and cemented in place.  It will be adorned with over 10,000 lights that will be lit by the House Speaker on December 7.

The theme of the Christmas tree this year is “Wyoming-Forever West.”  It will showcase the history, culture and beauty of the state of Wyoming.  More than 5,000 hand-made decorations will reflect this theme.  Each ornament is 9 to 12 inches tall, and will only be used for this holiday season.

If you plan top visit Dahlonega for a chance to see the tree first-hand, it is also a great opportunity to do some Christmas shopping.  The shops on the Dahlonega Square offer many unique gifts in a range of prices.

For more information contact the Dahlonega Chamber of Commerce at (706) 864-3513, or http://www.dahlonega.org

Henry Zuckerman is an architect and custom builder.  He has designed built many homes in the Dahlonega area, and the Georgia mountains.  His work can be viewed at http://www.henryzuckerman.com

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“MOONSHINING” in NORTH GEORGIA

Long before shopping centers, fast food restaurants, and 4-lane highways, there were the quiet agricultural communities of the North Georgia mountains.  Long before rapid population and economic expansion and before communities with swimming pools and tennis courts there was the business of…MOONSHINE.  The making of moonshine is not limited to the North Georgia mountains.  However, the counties of North Georgia have a rich and somewhat checkered history of distilling and distributing untaxed and unregulated alcohol.  Counties such as Dawson, Lumpkin, Pickens and Gilmer became major suppliers of moonshine during the 1930’s and 40’s.

As far back as the colonial days, farmers in North Georgia discovered an easy way to make much-needed extra money for their families.  Farmers used part of their crops, such as apples, peaches, and corn to make whiskey and brandy, and then sold it locally.  Selling their alcohol in small glass jars was easier to handle and less bulky to transport than hauling crops by wagon over rough roads to local markets or to Atlanta.

Today, the general perception of a moonshiner is a simple person with limited means and little education.  The image of a moonshiner conjures up one who has few teeth, a long un-kept beard, a tattered hat, and someone smoking a corncob pipe.  Actually, back in the 1700’s, a moonshiner was a respected member of the community.

It was not until the late 1700’s that the Federal Government attempted to place a tax on all home-made alcohol.  This tax was repealed shortly after it was implemented.   Then in 1862, President Lincoln had to find a way to pay for the Civil War, otherwise known as “The War of Northern Aggression.”   Congress established the Internal Revenue Service to collect their newly imposed taxes on “luxuries”, which included alcohol.  Needless to say, this did not sit well with the farmers of North Georgia, and many refused to pay the new tax.   These farmers began to make their whiskey out of sight, in home-made stills that located deep in the woods.  They were known as ‘Moonshiners” because they made their product in the moonlight.  Thus, the legendary battles between moonshiners and revenue agents (revenuers) began.

In 1907, the Georgia legislature passed a law prohibiting the manufacture and consumption of alcohol.  For the most part, it had little effect on the moonshiners of North Georgia.  However, the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, along with the Volstead Act  (which defined “intoxicating liquors” excluding those used for religious purposes and sales throughout the United States) established Prohibition in the United States.  Its ratification was certified on January 16, 1919.  It was the only amendment to the Constitution that has been repealed (by the Twenty-first Amendment in 1933).  This changed the business of moonshining  forever.

The  Prohibition Era, as it is known, created an unprecedented demand for whiskey.  The illegal corn alcohol, sometimes called “White Lightning”, was in such high demand that  business changed from local farmers making and selling small quantities of their moonshine to help make ends meet, to big business involving ‘gangsters” of the 1920’s and 30’s.  These so-called “gangsters” created networks of farmers to operate stills just for their own use.

The moonshine could not be transported to Atlanta and other cities by normal means.  Local sheriffs and federal revenue agents scoured the countryside looking for stills and were constantly on the lookout for moonshine shipments.  This prompted a dangerous and sometimes deadly game to evade revenue agents.

During the 1940’s, high-speed cars driven by “trippers” were built to transport the illegally produced alcohol.  The “trippers developed “tanker cars” with secret compartments to hold their cargo of alcohol.  The “tanker cars” were often faster than any car used by the sheriffs or revenurers.  The “trippers” drove at high-speed over country back roads, often busting through blockades to deliver their precious cargo.  Many attribute these ‘trippers” and their powerful cars to the start of the sport of stock car racing, and eventually to NASCAR.

The history of North Georgia moonshine and “trippers” is celebrated every year at the “Moonshine Festival” in Dawsonville.  It is usually held in late October.  Also in Dawsonville, is the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame.  On display are some of the early “tanker cars” and stock cars that were raced on dirt tracks throughout the North Georgia mountains.  The “Georgia Moonshine Cruz-In” will be held in Hiwassee on August 12-14.  There you can enjoy mountain music, an incredible car show, and of course, a working moonshine still.

As an architect and custom builder in North Georgia, I love learning about the history and folklore of the mountains and its people.  It is my desire to bring a bit of that mystic to every home I design and build.  Please visit my website http://www.henryzuckerman.com  I can be contacted at henry@henryzuckerman.com; 678-947-1187

THE QUEST FOR THE PERFECT CHRISTMAS TREE

There is a little Clark W. Griswold in all of us.  As in the movie “Christmas Vacation”, we dream of trudging through knee-deep snow with our family on a quest for this year’s family Christmas tree.  Last year’s tree was “perfect”, but it has lost its stature over the last ten months.  We are now ” laser focused” on finding THE TREE; the perfect specimen to grace our home and be adorned with our favorite, treasured ornaments. It MUST be the tree of all trees that will set the standard for all other Christmas’ to come.  A tree that will be the symbol of this years family Christmas.

In the past, I have dragged my family to Christmas tree lots all over Atlanta to find the perfect tree.  We have found short ones, tall ones, skinny ones, and fat ones.  We have all heard a tree vendor in a shopping center parking lot tout fresh trees; just cut last week, and shipped directly from the tree farm just for you.  Perhaps some of the trees are fresh, but if you really want a fresh tree, why not cut one yourself ?   It will be a family adventure that promises to give lasting memories and interesting stories that will be told and embellished for years to come.

For those of us that prefer not trekking through knee-deep snow like the Griswold’s to find the perfect family Christmas tree, consider a local north Georgia tree farm.  Tree farms offer a variety of tree types and sizes ready for you to cut.  Some tree farms make the experience even more rewarding with hay rides, hot chocolate, and other activities for kids.

You might recall the scene in ‘Christmas Vacation” when Clark’s son Rusty asks, “Dad…did you bring the saw?”  Although some tree farms have saws available, I urge you to bring your own saw, along with rope / tie-downs, protection for the top of your vehicle, and gloves.

So go ahead and make your plans to cut your own tree this year.  It will prove to be fun for everyone, even Dad.   I have compiled a short list of some Christmas tree farms in the north Georgia mountains.  Please check with the individual tree farm for hours of operation, and any other activities they may have.

The Kinsey Family Tree Farm on Jot-EM-Down Road in Forsyth County, www.kinseyfamilyfarm.com, opens the weekend before Thanksgiving.  In addition to cut your own trees, they offer pre-cut, and “live” trees for sale.  Roasted marshmallows, hot chocolate, wagon rides, and holiday music will surely delight the family.

Located on John Burruss Road in Forsyth County is the Bottoms Christmas Tree farm, www.bottomstreefarm.com .  They have a wonderful selection of “Choose to Cut” trees.  The family can enjoy roasted marshmallows and hot apple cider.  You can visit with their farm animals and take a horse drawn wagon ride ( Saturdays only).

The Holly Hill Tree Farm, www.hollyhilltreefarm.com , on Woodland Lane in Dahlonega offers a variety of  “U-Choose and Cut” trees.  Also in Dahlonega on Black Mountain Road is the Black Mountain Forest Christmas Tree farm, www.blackmountainforest.gacta.com .  They offer White Pine and Leyland Cypress trees ready for you to cut.  Spend some time browsing the Christmas shop for handmade wreaths, and Christmas decorations.  Enjoy viewing the display of antique tractors, corn shelters and grinders.

In Pickens County, visit Jack’s Tree Farms ( 706-692-3261) on Carver Mill Road in Talking Rock.  Please call for hours of operation.  Also in Pickens County is Lowery’s Tree Farm on Old Pleasant Valley Road.   They can be reached at 706-276-3545.

In Clarkesville, Habersham County, visit Purcell Tree Farm on Ga. Hwy. 197 North.  They offer “U-Choose & Cut” and pre-cut trees.  The Christmas tree farm opens the day after Thanksgiving.  Contact them at 706-754-4134.

Located in Cleveland, White County is the Mossey Creek Tree Farm.  They offer a variety of “U-Choose and Cut” trees, such as Leyland Cypress, White Pine, and Cedar.  They can be reached at 706-219-3059.

Rabun County is home to the Dillard Tree Farm, www.dillardtreefarm.gacta.com,  on Highway 441 in Dillard.  The tree farm is open Thanksgiving afternoon, and closes  for the season on December 16.  They feature the Canaan Fir Christmas Tree ready for you to cut.  They can be reached at 706-746-3145.   Also on Highway 441 in Rabun Gap is the Osage Tree Farm.  They can be reached at 706-746-6952.

The Southern Tree Plantation, Inc. on Owltown Road in Blairsville claims to have over 25,000 Christmas trees of eight different varieties from which to choose.  It has saws and wrapping available.  Visit their web site for more information,  www.southerntreeplantation.com/christmastrees.htm

There are other Christmas tree farms that offer pre-cut and live trees.  Please visit http://pickyourownchristmastree.org/GAADxmas.php for a tree farm near you.

As an architect and home builder, some of my most vivid memories is returning to a client’s home during the holiday season and seeing how they incorporated their Christmas decorations with the home design.

Often times, features are added to a design for this special time of year.  In one instance, we centered  outlets under the windows for “electric candles.”  In another home we created an alcove that is used year-round, but in December, it becomes a special place for their Christmas tree.   We always place an outlet in the fireplace mantle for decorations.  I take pride in designing and building a special place to relax and celebrate the holiday season.  Please visit www.henryzuckerman.com

Dahlonega – A Mountain Gem


One of my favorite towns in Georgia is nestled in the mountains an hour and a half north of Atlanta.  The anticipation of something special begins on the journey to this “mountain gem.”   The majestic silhouette of the north Georgia mountains comes into view on your way to Dahlonega.   It is a marvelous landscape  that reflects an important part of Georgia  and its history.   I always look forward to the first sign of spring, as a green hue overtakes the mountains.   The array of colors in the fall makes way for the first dusting of snow in the winter.  This transformation is a sight to behold, as mother nature works her magic on Georgia’s Appalachian wonder.

Step back in time as you walk around  the Dahlonega Town Square.   All of the buildings are on the National Historic Registry.  Close your eyes and let yourself drift back in time to a more simple era, when the street in front of you was dirt and transportation was by horseback or buggy.  The commerce of the day centered around gold.   It was an exciting time then, as it is now.  Dahlonega ( www.dahlonega.org ) has never forgotten its heritage, while transforming itself into a marvelous place to spend a day, week, or a lifetime.

Dahlonega is a special place with an incredible history.  It is a treasure-trove of art, theater, wineries (  www.georgiawine.com ), restaurants, gold mines and wonderful  shops on the town square.  The focal point of the square is the old Courthouse, circa 1836.  The Courthouse is now converted into the Dahlonega Gold Museum ( www.ngeorgia.com/ang/Dahlonega_Gold_Museum ).  Many folks don’t realize that in 1828, gold was first discovered in the Dahlonega,  Lumpkin County area.  This occurred some twenty years before the California gold rush began.

Adding to Dahlonega’s charm is a robust art community.  There are art galleries, live theater, bluegrass jams on the square, and concerts in Hancock Park.  If your lucky, you can catch a live performance of Doc Johnson’s Medicine Show ( www.docshows.com ).  Doc and his troop of fun makers perform several times a year in Dahlonega.  On your trip, be sure to visit the historic Holly Theater ( www.hollytheater.com ).  The theater operates year-round.  It offers movies, concerts, theatrical performances and special gala events.  The Holly Children’s Theater gives kids an opportunity to take part in acting classes and audition for one of  the Children’s Theater productions.  Also on the square is a great music venue, The Crimson Moon Cafe  ( www.thecrimsonmoon.com ).

Dahlonega is also home to the 130-year old North Georgia College & State University ( www.northgeorgia.edu ), which is part of the state university system.  The college is only one of  six senior level military colleges in the country.  It is also home to some 5,000 students and offers a host of continuing education classes.

I have had the pleasure of working with many couples that have decided to move to the Dahlonega area.  I consider designing and building homes in the North Georgia mountains a privilege.  Each custom residence is a reflection of its owner, and as unique as a North Georgia sunset.  For those who yearn for a simpler, more gentile way of life, consider Dahlonega.  Please visit www.henryzuckerman.com

BACK PORCH VISTAS

Fall in the North Georgia Mountains is a magical time of year.  Folks from all over the country come to North Georgia to share its beauty and vibrant colors.  As you approach Dahlonega ( www.dahlonega.org )  from Ga. Hwy. 400, you begin to experience one of the greatest “free shows” on earth.  The spectacular fall colors of the Southern Appalachian  mountain range are striking !  Breathtaking views and sweeping panoramic vistas  abound.

I’d say that most folks who live up here enjoy sitting on their back porch, taking in the sweet aroma of the mountains in the fall.  As the days grow shorter, a crisp chill fills the evening air.  You can smell wood burning in fireplaces and back yard pits throughout the mountains.  The aroma is distinct. It invigorates the senses.  One can feel the warm glow of lights twinkling through the trees and hear the distant rustling of the fallen multi-colored leaves as the mountain animals prepare for the winter.

Venture to the top of Brasstown Bald
( www.ngeorgia.com/ang/Brasstown-Bald ) near Young Harris and enjoy a 360-degree panorama of the mountains and valleys below.  Also near Young Harris is the Brasstown Valley Resort
( www.brasstownvalley.com).  Sit on the back porch of the Lodge and “take-in” the amazing vistas year-round.  A bit closer to metro Atlanta is Amicalola State Park ( www.amicalolafalls.com ), which is also near Dahlonega. Enjoy the vistas from the Lodge, or hike up to the top of the falls.

Even better, stay in the mountains for a weekend.  Rent a cabin and enjoy all that the mountains have to offer.  Take walks along a stream with your spouse, kids, or grandkids. Be sure to bring your canine companion.  Watch your dog chasing leaves and squirrels, while jumping in and out of the cool mountain waters.  Take your sweetheart for a romantic evening stroll down a quiet mountain road or just sit and rock on the back porch, as the moonlight dances through the half-naked trees.

As an experienced architect and north Georgia Mountain builder, I have helped many families make the mountains their home.  All it takes is the aroma of the mountains in the fall, and a vision of sitting on your back porch.  Please visit ( www.henryzuckerman.com )