A brief history of Tallapoosa


Tallapoosa, Carroll County, 1839

The Lithia Springs Hotel, circa 1910

Situated near the headwaters of a river of the same name, Tallapoosa has always enjoyed a moderate piedmont climate for a community located in the deep South. It began life in the last (northwest) part of Georgia settled by Americans, during their first gold rush, as a tiny new post office in 1839, near a traditional Native American crossroads. While more than a ton of gold was supposedly extracted from the Royal Gold Mine south of town over its lifetime, other local minerals ultimately proved of more lasting economic importance.

The arrival of the railroad in the early 1880's transformed the obscure 1860-incorporated backwoods hamlet into a promising New South city with a diversified economy based on mining, manufacturing, viticulture and tourism. Peopled by many regional newcomers, making an oddly broad local ethnic mix, it was home to numerous church denominations and a tuition-free public school, perhaps the first in Georgia. Despite its small population, the shining promise of greatness even earned it a visit from the sitting US President.

A temperate prosperity survived the disaster of a nationally-famous investment bubble. But when alcohol prohibition finally came to Georgia in 1908, the community's economic fortunes declined almost for good, leaving little more than remembered glory and an architectural legacy of charming Victorian houses which today decorate its attractive NPS-registered historic district.

In recent years Tallapoosa has happily emerged as an ambitious exurban metro Atlanta industrial center, revolving around a large new Honda auto plant. Residents enjoy easy urban access via Interstate 20, the rewards of small-town life and the rural recreational opportunities of vast adjacent forests covering the rolling hills.

The Tallapoosa Historical Society celebrates the colorful heritage of the town with a frequently-produced historical pageant, and sponsors the annual spring Dogwood Fair, while social history and natural history museums and a living history site also enrich cultural life for residents and visitors alike.