New Mountain Culture - 1890's and early 1900's
After the evacuation, a new mountain culture started to develop, land was being farmed, new towns and governments were established. The Blue Ridge mountains were changing, but mostly for the worst. Gold fever, copper mining and mass logging started to destroy the ecosystem. (this exploitation of natural goods went on throughout all the eastern U.S. mountains) The hunt for gold in mountain streams, hydro and shaft mining devastated pristine sites. Copper mining stripped a northern section of the valley floor, with the majority of copper mining being done in the area of Southeastern Polk County, Tennessee. Read about the restoration and reclamation to the Copper Basin through this story.
Loggers pursued the rich forest land, leveling the mountain slopes, supplying the demand for lumber goods, to a growing nation. Mother nature was being stripped of the ancient forests and mineral deposits that had been so sacredly preserved for a billion years. These pursuits not only stripped the land, but it also polluted the purity of the waterways.
Many parts of Fannin County managed to maintain its natural dignity during this time. Gold prospecting took the least toll, because it was a difficult process. Also, the "1849 California Gold Rush" took a lot of pressure off the Blue Ridge Mountains.
More recent surveys claim that the southern Blue Ridge Mountains, referred to as the "Gold Belt," still holds the majority of its wealth in gold. The estimate is that 80% of the original gold is still here, making the North Georgia mountains a favorite, for amateur gold hunters.
There is a silver lining in this dark cloud, thanks to the United States Forest Service's Department of Agriculture. In the late 1890's and early 1900's, the USFS purchased large tracts of virgin wilderness and other land that was stripped by loggers. They replanted the forest to be preserved and nurtured for future generation to come. This has been an endless goal for the United States Forest Service and an excellent endeavor at saving this beautiful land for all of us.