Sunday, May 5, 2013

Chestatee River Diving Bell

On the way home from a relatively recent vacation, we stopped in Dahlonega, Georgia, where we visited the Dahlonega Gold Museum. While touring the Museum, we learned about the Chestatee River Diving Bell and that the original Diving Bell itself had recently been given its own exhibition space—a dedicated plaza—about a block down the street.

Chestatee River Diving Bell
Chestatee River Diving Bell
The Chestatee River Diving Bell is a brilliant 1875 invention for mining for gold at the bottom of a river—which, truthfully, totally sounds brilliant even in 2013 when we can't even manage to have all our household clocks display the same time!

Chestatee River Diving Bell
Chestatee River Diving Bell
The citizens of Dahlonega, and Lumpkin County, have presented their town's visitors with a unique opportunity to see and experience a piece of Georgia history—specifically, the Georgia Gold Rush and the ingenuity resulting from that historic event. 

I find myself astounded and quite impressed with the effort that went into the restoration efforts of the Diving Bell, planning and executing the plaza for display, and the "community" created to make it all happen. Lots of towns could take an example of such great collaboration.

Chestatee River Diving Bell
Chestatee River Diving Bell
This is a relatively new tourist attraction. The ribbon cutting ceremony was only last November! There are placards placed around telling its full story and providing artists renderings of how it was used and QR Codes linking to video and web pages further explaining its history.

Chestatee River Diving Bell
Chestatee River Diving Bell
The story of how something like this has survived from 1875 is rather amazing, but instead of retelling it here, I'll invite you to visit Dahlonega to learn more, or if that's not a trip that's in your near-term plans, there are other resources.

Chestatee River Diving Bell
Chestatee River Diving Bell
The citizens of Lumpkin County have put together a website to serve as the "official authoritative and fact-based source for the 1875 Chestatee River Diving Bell." I've perused the site and it's a fascinating and interesting story. And remember to head over to the Dahlonega Gold Museum if you visit the Diving Bell first.

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