70 miles NE of Atlanta

Dahlonega is a Cherokee word meaning "precious yellow." In 1828, according to legend, a trapper named Benjamin Parks stubbed his toe on a rock and uncovered a vein of gold here that quickly brought prospectors streaming into these hills. A town called Dahlonega suddenly appeared -- America's first mining boomtown. The gold craze changed Cherokee culture forever.

Although prospecting hasn't been a major industry since the Civil War, enough gold is still around to periodically releaf the dome of Georgia's State Capitol, and to intrigue visitors who come here to pan for it.