J.R. Dean FamilyHelen's Foremost Gold Miner.

J.R Dean was a New England school teacher who moved south in the 1850s, seeking a gentler climate when his health declined. After living for a time in Tennessee, he traveled down the Unicoi Road to see if a Georgia location would be more favorable. When his mule refused to cross another creek, he found himself stranded in the Helen-Nacoochee area where a passing mountaineer suggested that he consider gold-mining. Realizing that water was the key to profitable mining, this unlikely miner built a high ditch which captured the headwaters of Dukes Creek. The "Hamby Ditch" ran for 8 miles to reach the Helen valley through Whitehorse Gap high on the Hamby Mountain Ridge.

Continue the tour: Go to "Start of the Hamby Ditch"


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