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Gold Rediscovered On Cavenders Creek by John Sammons

In the early days of the 1829 Gold Rush, Cavender Creek, a small mountain stream four miles from the Historic Dahlonega Square, was rich with deposits of "placer gold," (gold that has been freed from the vein over the centuries by erosion). This free gold could be claimed with only a basic knowledge of mining and crude equipment. During the first years of the gold rush the creek’s bottom was successfully worked with picks, shovels, gold pans and strong backs.

By the late 1870’s, the amount of gold claimed by these novice miners was noticed by veteran miners in Dahlonega.

The miners formed a co-op and set up a small five stamp ore mill powered by a sixteen foot over-shot water wheel and began the first attempt to mine the hundreds of small quartz stringer veins that cris-crossed the creek that produced the free gold.

One of the miners, Rufus Wood, acquired several of the gold lots on the creek near the stamp mill. For years he mined most of the veins on his property with only modest success. Then he discovered a rich vein but soon found that he would have to tunnel into the side of the mountain to follow it. Tunneling was both dangerous and expensive, but he decided to risk all of his assets and go for it!!!

After tunneling almost a hundred feet, things looked bright and Rufus had visions of finding the "mother lode!" Suddenly, without warning, a major cave-in literally brought his entire mining operation to a crashing halt! Rufus’s visions of wealth faded and soon found himself in dire straits…then, on a dark day in 1895 he had no choice but to seal the entrance to his "path to riches" and moved on to regroup and then come back later to claim his fortune…Rufus never returned!

Today Cavender Creek is the site of another gold rush. A different breed of miners have noticed the value of the area for the development of tourism and are finding ways to claim "tourist gold."

Ironically in 1995, Paul Hanson one of today’s "different breed" of miners, broke ground for the construction of his modern cabin rental complex on Cavenders Creek and almost immediate accidentally opened old Rufus’s tunnel that has been closed for a hundred years—almost to the day!!

Needless to say, the discovery caused a diversion. Paul and his crew explored the tunnel, took pictures and tried not to fall victim to the case of "gold fever" that seemed to fill the old tunnel. Paul has always considered himself a practical man with a strong sense o direction, but after that day he’d be the first to admit that the lure of gold is indeed powerful. It took all the willpower that he could muster to once again seal the tunnel and to continue his original mission, but you can rest assured he, like Rufus, intends to someday return to seek the gold.

Paul Hanson, owner/designer, was born and raised in rural Minnesota. With the outbreak of the Vietnam conflict, he dropped out of high school and joined the army to help defend his country. During his enlistment he was awarded two bronze stars for valor and a purple heart and was discharged with honor.

Paul, like most of the returning warriors of America’s most unpopular war, found that job opportunities were scarce and little time was allowed to re-adjust to society. Paul, anxious to get on with life, accepted a job as a painter from an army buddy in Atlanta. Since he had never painted in his life, he learned the business from the bottom up. Today he owns and operates one of the leading paint contracting companies in the southeast.

You may wonder what a successful paint contractor is doing designing and constructing a major cabin rental complex. Well, it seems that Paul suffered a heart attack a few years back. His doctor suggested a couple weeks of rest and recreation. Paul and his wife Mary rented a cabin in the North Georgia Mountains. Paul tried his best to kick back and relax, but it just isn’t in his nature. Before the two weeks were over he had decided to build his own mountain retreat and spend all his R&R time making plans. Ever though "Artistic Decorators," Paul’s contracting company, demanded most of his time he somehow found the time to plan each phase of his project. He would then find the right sub-contractor, make a workable plan and then without malice, dump more and more of the responsibility of the execution on his son Brian Hanson.

Even though Brian realized that being the liaison between his father and sub-contractors could be at times a difficult place to be, he also knew that it was a great place to be to learn the construction business. He, like Paul, will always jump at a chance to learn something new! In fact, early in his life Brian showed signs of this Hanson trait. Like most young boys he joined the Boy Scouts of America, but unlike most he earned the rank of Eagle (Scouting’s highest honor) while in grammar school. When he reached high school age, unlike many of his classmates, he asked to attend the Riverside Academy in Gainesville, Georgia, a very tough military institution. He graduated with honors. You can be assured that Brian drew heavily on his early training many times over the past few years at "the siege of Cavenders Creek." He worked with each of the sub-contractors on every phase of the project, kept Paul reasonably happy and still found time to add a personal touch.

The cedar trim that adds so much to the rustic side of each cabin and the community lodge is Brian’s handiwork. Brian hand-picked, cut and hauled the cedar from South Georgia, then one piece at a time, designed everything from ceiling joist, fireplace mantles, railings and signs, to birdhouses.

Paul and Brian are very much alike. Probably their biggest difference is their opinion and you can believe both always have one. That’s where the real boss of the project comes into the picture.

Mary Hanson had the most difficult position during the construction. She acted as resident referee, judge, diplomat and psychologist in addition to gardener, landscape artist and interior designer…and in her spare time holds down a full-time position with the Gwinnett County School System as a nutritionist.

Mary was born and raised on the banks of the Chestatee River in the old Chestatee Community (now under Lake Lanier). She was the fifth born of nine children and found herself in "the middle" most of her life so you can see where she gained her expertise as a mediator.

Each of the Hanson family are professionals and came to Dahlonega in the spirit of the early settlers with a mission to carve their niche in the North Georgia Mountains. Today the Cavender Creek cabin complex is complete and boast seven quality, fully equipped cabins and a very versatile spacious community lodge that can handle large group meetings, such as family reunions, weddings and holiday parties or even small corporate conferences. The cabin complex is a first class facility. Hats off to the Hansons for their contribution to the North Georgia tourist industry!

Call (706)864-7221 for a personal tour or visit their website

Check availability and make online reservations.

To make reservations call (706) 864-7221 or toll free (866) 373-6307 or request cabin availability.

Office hours: 8 AM - 5 PM (Eastern Time)

Emails are answered first thing in the morning by 9 AM (Eastern Time)

Property Managed by

Julie Ann Merck ( Jules Mountain Rentals)

Phone: (706) 864-7221
Phone (Toll Free): (866) 373-6307
Fax: (706) 864-7222

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