From Cleveland take Hwy 75 & 17/Helen Hwy toward Helen. When you see the mound, turn right onto Unicoi Turnpike/Hwy 17. This area is on the National Register of Historic Places. There is a historic marker about the Mound on the right.
(Picture of Indian Mound above) Part of the marker reads: Nacoochee Indian Mound was the center of the ancient Cherokee town of Gauxule, visited by DeSoto in 1540 in his search for gold, according to legend. On this ceremonial mound, 190 feet long, 150 feet wide and 20 feet high, stood the town House where a sacred fire burned unceasingly.
Across the road from the Indian mound is the 162 acre Hardman Farm. Built in 1870 by Captain James Nichols. The last owner was Lamartine Hardman who was Governor of Georgia from 1927-1931. There are 22 structures on the property including the Italianate farmhouse. The property was donated to the state of Georgia in 1999.
Continue on the Unicoi Turnpike/Hwy 17. Nice valley view I like this drive.
The next marker is not far from the first, it is also on the right. Part of the marker reads: NACOOCHEE VALLEY – VALLEY OF THE EVENING STAR This valley has long fascinated travelers, writers and artists. It was farmed for centuries by Indians and white men alike. The valley was devastated by Spanish and American gold hunters and timbermen and has been carefully nurtured by prosperous summer residents and progressive farmers.
The next historic marker is on the left, a portion of it reads: EARLY TRADING POST – At this point, just north of the safest ford in the Chattahoochee River, the first white settlers in this area built their campfires in 1822. A trading post was soon established on the site.
There are two historic markers on the left at the Methodist Church. One is next to the road, a portion of the marker reads: A Methodist Church has stood on this site since the early 1820’s when one was built by the first white settlers in Nacoochee Valley. The other marker is up by the church it is about Bishop Marvin A. Fanklin.
Sweetwater Coffee House their motto is “Sleepless in Sautee” , the tea and coffee is certified organic. They also have breakfast and lunch and seasonal smoothies.
The Sautee Nacoochee Valley is on the National Register of Historic Places it extends from The Old Sautee Store to the Stovall Covered Bridge
Continue to Old Sautee Store – circa 1872, The front is a museum the rest of the store sells cheese, candy, clothes, etc. There is a café/restaurant next to the store that has ice cream and sandwiches. The building is rustic with a sod roof. 2315 Hwy 17.
Just past the Old Sautee Store on Unicoi Turnpike on the right is the Village Market – it’s a restaurant/grocery store. This is a delightful store, upstairs is an art gallery, downstairs Stonewall Creek Winery has a bar/tasting room. They have sandwiches, chicken salad, etc. Also they have pottery, jewelry, sweetwater cheese, and lots more. 2454 Hwy 17
Return to Old Sautee Store and turn right on Rabun Rd/Hwy 255. Just past the Post office on your left is the Sautee Nacoochee Center they have an Art Gallery, Folk Pottery Museum, Valley Heritage and History Museum.
There is also a cabin on the grounds of the Sautee Nacoochee Center the plaque reads: Nacoochee Cabin c. 1850 – This slave dwelling once occupied by “house servants” of E.P.Williams, provides a focal point for the story of a people whose labor contributed in countless ways to life in North Georgia.
Nacoochee Presbyterian Church – across the road from Sautee Nacoochee Center. on national register of historic places
Continue on Rabun Rd/Hwy 255 to – Stovall Covered Bridge.
Stovall Covered Bridge – there is a historical marker at the bridge it reads: Fred Dover constructed a bridge and nearby grist, saw and shingle mill complex here in the late 1800s. The original bridge washed away in the early 1890s and Will Pardue replaced it in 1895 with the present 38-foot structure. Dover sold the operation to Fred Stovall, Sr. in 1917. The mill and dam washed away in 1964. Constructed as a modification of the queen post truss design, the bridge’s trusses have two vertical posts (with iron rods) separated by a horizontal crosspiece. The bridge was featured in the 1951 movie, I’d Climb the Highest Mountain, starring Susan Heyward.