Union County was carved from Cherokee County from land originally ceded by the Cherokee Indians. Blairsville incorporated in 1835 and remains the only incorporated town in Union County. The town is named after either Francis Preston Blair, a Washington, D.C. newspaper editor or James Blair, a Revolutionary War hero. A gold-mining center until 1910, because of the town’s location its first settlers/landowners were predominantly poor Scotch-Irish mountain people of the Appalachians. Blairsville’s first county courthouse was constructed in the center of town in 1835, but burned in 1859 and again in 1898. Rebuilt in 1989 it remained the courthouse until a new one was built nearby in 1976. The old courthouse was donated to the Union County Historical Society which turned it into the Old Courthouse Museum.
Blairsville is world-famous for its sorghum; in fact, it is the only area in Georgia that grows sorghum especially for syrup making. The Blairsville Sorghum Festival is designated as the official sorghum festival of the state of Georgia.
Union County is situated completely within the Chattahoochee National Forest in North Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. The town limits of Blairsville are about 1.1 miles in diameter in the rough shape of a circle. The town’s elevation is 1,883 feet, with Brasstown Bald, the highest mountain peak in Georgia, towering 4,784 feet at the edge of the county. 80 miles of the 2,000+ mile Appalachian Trail winds through the county, with Blood Mountain containing the only portion of the trail going through a man-made structure. Key water features include the 18 acre Lake Winfield Scott, 4,180 acre Lake Nottely, and the 20 acre Lake Trahlyta in Vogel State Park. Both Butternut Creek and Nottely River (a favorite with kayakers) wind through Meeks Park. Waterfalls include Helton Creek Falls, Trahlyta Falls and DeSoto Falls located just outside the county. Blairsville has a humid subtropical climate, ranging from winter lows of 25o to summer highs of 85o with an annual average precipitation of 56” rainfall and 4” snow.
Blairsville was designated a Georgia Better Hometown/Main Street Community. Blairsville-Union County has been designated an Appalachian Trail Community, a Camera-Ready Community, Entrepreneur Friendly, a Georgia Work-Ready Community, and an Upper Hiwassee Highlands American Viticultural Area.
Home to North Georgia Technical College, the Blairsville Municipal Airport (a FAA Level III airport), Union General Health System and a strong agriculture, retail, and tourism industry, Blairsville has an estimated population of 666 people with 80.8% White, 13.1% Black or African American Alone, and 3.9% Hispanic or Latino. Blairsville is near the North Carolina and Tennessee state lines, conveniently located within a two to three hour drive to major cities such as Atlanta, Ga., Chattanooga, TN, and Greenville, SC.
Activities and Attractions
Outdoors or indoors, there is always something fun to do in and around Blairsville! Its high mountain peaks, green valleys, verdant forests, and pristine lakes, waterfalls, and rivers create scenic vistas for hiking, camping, horseback riding, boating, kayaking, fishing, tubing, and more. The area’s parks offer a wide range of activities including swimming and water sports, mini and disc golf, skateboarding, tennis, and several festivals and events throughout the year.
The Old Courthouse Museum sits in the center of downtown’s town square. Spreading out from this landmark are boutique and antique shops, restaurants for every taste, spas, wineries, historic sites, a movie theater, bowling alley, farmer’s markets and other venues. Musical and seasonal events, fairs and festivals (including the Sorghum Festival, Blairsville Scottish Festival & Highland Games, and the Mountain Heritage Festival) are held throughout the year.
Popular Attractions include the Butternut Creek Golf Course, Grandad Mimm’s Moonshine Distillery, Sleepy Hollow Fairy Garden created by a former Disney designer, Lasso the Moon Alpaca Farm, and the Union County Farmer’s Market.