In 1968, the town of Helen was dying. Little was left in the remote mountain community except a few drab old concrete buildings and a few diehard citizens determined to save their home town. They hit on a unique solution.
Helen had begun life with a promising start. During the Georgia Gold Rush of 1828, the precious metal was discovered nearby at Dukes Creek. Then when the gold fever died down, the settlers realized they had another resource, timber. The Byrd-Matthews Lumber company and the Gainesville and Northwestern Railroad came to town in 1913. The town was officially named Helen after the daughter of a railroad surveyor. The lumber was depleted by 1931 and people began to drift away.
One of the local residents was an artist named John Kollock, who had spent some years in Germany. He and the other residents realized the one thing they had in abundance was a beautiful mountain setting. They decided to recreate their town with a Bavarian flavor.
Today when you visit Helen, you find a downtown that is completely renovated as an alpine village. You will find chalets filled with craft shops and cobblestone streets blossom with bright flowers. Unique shops and restaurants play host to millions of visitors every year. Mountain crafts such as pottery are found side by side with Bavarian glass blowers.