When created in 1818, Habersham County’s economy was primarily agriculturally based. When gold was discovered in 1829 the ensuing gold rush brought sudden growth. Early industries included leather tanning, iron mining, and the processing and mining of such other minerals as asbestos, cynanite, and tourmaline. The Habersham Iron Works and Manufacturing Company, opened in 1831, was Habersham County’s first industry manufacturing iron products, such as plows, hammers, axes, and the like.

Between 1870 and 1900 the county’s economy was enhanced by the arrival of railroads, the planting of apple orchards and vineyards, and the founding of Piedmont College. When rail travel through the Blue Ridge Mountains brought tourists to the Tallulah Gorge beginning in 1882, Habersham County enjoyed a tourist-based economic boost.  Immigrants from Europe (primarily from Germany and Switzerland) arrived in the 1880s to plant vineyards and set up wineries, but the state of Georgia adopted a strict prohibition law before their labor could yield profits, and many of them returned to Europe.

With the arrival of railroads, the local economy was transformed into a modern industrial based economy. Today, agricultural, primarily poultry, remains the number one industry in Habersham County, but manufacturing and industry remain an integral factor in the county’s economic growth and development and accounts for 28% of all jobs. Harkening back to our historical roots, Habersham County remains a leader in welding technology and specializes in the manufacturing of steel products.

Habersham County’s temperate climate, high quality of life, and natural beauty have made the county a desirable retiree location and it remains a tourism destination.

Suggested links:

Development Authority of Habersham County
Habersham County Farm Bureau|Rotary Ag Hall of Fame
Memories of a Mountain Shortline