Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Mysterious Gazebo (Feb 2008)

Many visitors to Helen, Ga. are curious about the Gazebo located adjacent to and just east of Hwy. 75 north of town. There is a little history surrounding the Gazebo and the Nacoochee Indian Mound upon which it was built.

The Gazebo was built by Captain J.H. Nichols in 1890. Captain Nichols purchased quite a bit of land in the Nacoochee Valley following the Civil War. His holdings included the land surrounding Anna Ruby Falls, which he named after his daughter. Across the road from the Gazebo and Indian Mound you can see the house that Captain Nichols built in the nineteenth century, which still stands and is known now as the Hardman-Nichols estate. The Nichols land holdings were sold to timber interests after his death, which led to Helen, Ga. growing up around the saw mills that followed.
The history of the Indian Mound that sits beneath the Gazebo goes back much further. This ceremonial mound is believed to be the center of an ancient Cherokee town known as Gauxule. Archaeological evidence uncovered during an extensive excavation done in 1915 indicate the Nacoochee Mound was in use in the late fifteenth century until sometime in the seventeenth century. Local legend even points to a visit by Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto around 1540.
A local Helen resident told me that the Nacoochee Mound site has been sold to the state of Georgia and will be included within a new state park-but I have not been able to verify that information yet.
When you visit Helen, stop by and enjoy the unusual setting of a 1890 gazebo sitting atop an ancient Mississippian earthen burial is one of the most photographed scenes in north Georgia, for good reason.

Contributed by S. Nunnally, Cleveland, GA.

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