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While Helen is known as Georgia's "Alpine Village," the town's origins are more closely related to 17th-century Indian trading paths, gold prospectors, and timber moguls than to settlers of Bavarian or Germanic descent. As far back as the Paleo-Indian period, tribes roamed the areas in and around Helen, and the physical proof of mound-building groups of the Mississippian period is obvious in nearby Nacoochee Valley. In the 1800s, white settlers of English, Scottish, and Irish descent migrated into northeast Georgia, and the Indian settlements were pushed farther west. Eventually, prospectors of gold and other natural resources settled the area, resulting in the forced removal of the remaining native groups. Helen, as a township founded and built by timberland speculators and a Missouri-based lumber company, did not come into its own until the early 1900s. Alpine Helen developed in the late 1960s, resulting in a tourism-oriented "rebirth" of a town that had a much different beginning.
Table of Contents
A New Century: 1900-1932
Quieter Times: 1933-1969
Images of Tourism in Northeast Georgia: 1860-1969
Helen's Alpine Conversion: 1969-Present
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