Calhoun caters to shoppers, history buffs

Calhoun caters to shoppers, history buffs

September 18th, 2011 by Staff Report in Glimpse 2011

Visitors walk past stores at the Calhoun Premium Outlets in Calhoun, Ga. The outlet, between Atlanta and Chattanooga, hosts more than 50 stores, including VF Outlet, Gap Outlet and Polo Ralph Lauren.

Photo by Patrick Smith/Times Free Press.

Near the halfway point between Chattanooga and Atlanta rests the junction where shopping intersects with history.

It's an unusual pairing, but folks in Calhoun thrive on the connection.

"We are a very dynamic city," said Suzanne Roland, director of downtown development. "We are a hot spot."

Calhoun Premium Outlets, which features more than 50 brand-name stores, has been the city's biggest attraction, according to Roland. Shops from Old Navy to Coach siphon drivers off Interstate 75. However, Calhoun's downtown is in the midst of a $200,000 transformation for a more historic look that is expected to attract more visitors.

"We are doing our best to bring the city back to its heyday," Roland said.

The heart of the downtown district, centered at the Court Street and Wall Street intersection, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in June. Nearly a dozen restaurants and a variety of shops make up downtown Calhoun, while the area around the city is rich with American Indian and Civil War history.

Just east of Calhoun is the New Echota Historic Site, where Cherokee Indians gathered during their removal west on the Trail of Tears. New Echota was the Cherokee capital from 1825-1832.

"We are the land of the Cherokee," Roland said. "It's our history."

Visitors also can attain a dose of Civil War history by checking out the Resaca Battlefield, a national historic site, or the Oakleigh home, once Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman's headquarters.

Many participants don costumes for Calhoun's Harvest Fest, which is Oct. 29.

AT A GLANCE

• Population: 14,740.

• Best things to do/places to visit: Calhoun Premium Outlets, New Echota Historic Site, Roland Hayes Museum at Harris Arts Center.

• Biggest employers: Mohawk Industries, Shaw Industries, Gordon Hospital.

• Miles from downtown Chattanooga: 50.

• Landmarks or geographic features: Located along the Oostanaula River.

• Date founded: Incorporated Jan. 12, 1852

• Historic info: Calhoun was part of the Cherokee Nation until 1835, when Georgia claimed the land and created Gordon County and the town of Dawsonville, later renamed to honor U.S. Sen. John C. Calhoun.

• Most-famous residents: Musician Roland Hayes, Cherokee Indian linguist Sequoyah, professional football player Kris Durham.

• Odd/unique traditions: More Than a Taste of Calhoun, a spring event featuring food, arts and crafts, etc. Harvest Fest in the fall.

• Unique characteristics/best-kept secret/: The old Gem Theater downtown is being remodeled for a grand opening.