Fannin County is part of the land acquired in the corrupt Treaty of New Echota in 1835. The county was formed on January_24, 1854 from portions of Murray County and Union County. In 1856 the legislature created Morganton as the county seat. Morganton was incorporated in 1873.
Local hero James Fannin was ordered to advance in support of William Travis, then commanding officer at the Alamo during the War of Texas Independence. In spite of being surrounded by a superior force, Fannin advanced with 400 men to come to the aid of his fellow officer. He barely got 7 miles, where surrounded he surrendered following Mexican assurances that his men would be treated humanely. He and his men were massacred.
Fannin County is home to two mountain chains, the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Cohuttas. The Brevard Fault Zone (or Line) bisects the county, splitting at Blue Ridge to continue east near the route of GA 515 and heading north along the Toccoa to McCaysville and on into Tennessee.
11-mile long Lake Blue Ridge, formed from the Toccoa River and completed in 1930, was designed to prevent flooding of the Toccoa - Oconee River Basin and to power a single generator at the dam. Originally named Lake Toccoa, the name was changed in 1934 because an earlier lake had the same name. The Tennessee Valley Authority took over management of the lake in 1939 and continues to manage it today. The dam is on the original route of U. S. 76, south of its current route, the Georgia Mountain Parkway.
Fannin County was part of the Cherokee Nation when the first settlers came up the Oconee River to settle the Toccoa River Valley in the 1790's. Life was difficult in this rugged, secluded land, and contact with the outside world was limited to the occasional circuit riding preacher who made that far up the valley.
Many early settlers had not won the land in the lottery, but purchased it from winners at fire sale rates because the mountain land was undesirable to the entrants. Most of these Scottish-Irish farmer moved from North Carolina and they would later set up the county seat of Morganton, named for a North Carolina city.
No fighting occurred in Fannin County during The Civil War, however, Fannin was in anarchy for the last couple of years of the war. A Lumpkin County citizen once claimed that "Our county is approaching anarchy and without a favorable change occurs soon we will be like Fannin." He referred to the bushwhackers, deserters and guerrillas who made Fannin County their home.
Iron ore, copper and coal were mined before the war, but after the war two important discoveries would expand the mining industry in Fannin County. First, as steel production increased, manganese was needed in great supply. It was added to steel as an anti-corrosive and a hardener and it was an important chemical used in batteries from 1866 on. Manganese was found in a belt through Fannin County and mined until 1910.
One of the earliest coalminers was Solomon Stansbury, who was successful enough at mining coal to make enough money to purchase a farm in 1860. Originally a Confederate sympathizer, Stansbury was arrested for his failure to report when drafted under the Confederate conscription act. Stansbury, who went to Union-held Cleveland, Tennessee and joined the Union Army returned with others as an unofficial recruiter in Fannin County.
On December 13, 1895 the legislature passed a law moving the Fannin County seat of government from Morganton to Blue Ridge. The Marietta and North Georgia Railroad designated Blue Ridge and Mineral Bluff as its depot sites, bypassing Morganton in 1886. In August, 1895, the county held a referendum on moving the site to Blue Ridge, Mineral Ridge or leaving it in Morganton. According to papers filed with the state the vote for Blue Ridge was 947, for Mineral Bluff was 155 and to leave the county seat in Morganton was 396.
Citizens of Morganton petitioned the county commission when it decided to build a jail in Blue Ridge holding the election was not equitable, however a court sided with the commission and allowed the jail to be built. In 1899 the courthouse was moved from Morganton to Blue Ridge.
In 1900 few roads were under county control. Most of these were through the flatter valleys. Mountain roads were generally in poor condition and the county only spent 5 days per year improving existing roads or building new roads.
The Marietta and North Georgia came out of receivership in 1896 as the Atlanta, Knoxville and Northern Railway. In 1902 the line became part of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad. The L&N ended passenger service in the 1960's and freight service in the 1980's. Since 1998 the line has been partially resurrected as the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway.
Highway 76 was one of the first tier paved roads built by the United States. It ran through Blue Ridge (and Morganton) when it was completed in 1926. In 1930 the road was routed around Lake Blue Ridge and across the dam. Other routings moved it south of Blue Ridge in 1965 to what is known today as "Old 76" and then north of Blue Ridge following Corridor A (Georgia Mountain Parkway) in 1989.
In 1935 the state began work on State Road 60 to join Dahlonega to U. S. 76. The bridge on Old Dial Road was completed in 1938. On January 23, 1940 Fannin County was one of the counties struck by the "Great Snow." Unofficial totals reported at 16 to 20 inches in some places.
As early as 1914 Fiddlin' John Carson was associated with Fannin County and the city of Blue Ridge, Georgia. He probably chose this city because many of his fans lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Carson was born in Marietta, Georgia and his closest relationship to Blue Ridge was the work he did on the Marietta and North Georgia Railroad.