Calhoun, earlier called Oothcaloga Depot and Dawsonville, lies in the valley that was the heart of the Cherokee
The town was named for John C. Calhoun, a former U.S. vice president and senator from South Carolina, in 1850, the year he died. The name change occurred amidst political controversy in which "Calhounites" were a strong sectionalist faction. That same year a popular vote selected the railroad town of Calhoun as the seat of Gordon County. The city was incorporated by the state legislature in 1852.
Cherokee Indians had populated the area that became Calhoun before the last of them were forced westward to present-day Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears in 1838-39. Strife again moved through the region when General William T. Sherman made his headquarters in the Brown House, now Oakleigh, home of the Gordon County Historical Society, as Union troops advanced south during the Atlanta campaign in 1864.
Served by the Western and Atlantic Railroad,
Facilities available to citizens of Calhoun and Gordon County include the town library, an arts center, recreation areas, nearby wildlife management areas, two public eighteen-hole golf courses, the Cherokee Capital Fair, and an air museum.
The population of Calhoun in 2000 was 10,667, of which 78 percent was white, nearly 8 percent African American, and 17 percent Hispanic. According to the Georgia Department of Education, the city's school population
The Harris Arts Center, which opened in 2000 in the converted 1930s Rooker Hotel, is a good example of adaptive use in Calhoun's downtown. The center houses an art gallery, classrooms, studios, and the Roland Hayes Museum, which honors the classical music career of Roland Hayes, a Gordon County African American tenor who achieved world renown in the early twentieth century. Adjacent to the center is a performing arts center with black-box theater. The Clarence E. Harris Foundation and the Milton M. Ratner Foundation support the arts center and provide many other amenities for the city and surrounding area.
To the east the southern extremities of the Blue Ridge Mountains and to the west Horn and Johns mountains border Calhoun. Within the city, foothills of those mountains form Boulevard Heights and Mount Alto. As Ernest Neal, a Calhoun resident and Georgia's poet laureate in 1927, wrote in 1920 of his beloved adopted town:
Nestling 'mong mountains,
Burton J. Bell, ed., Nineteen Seventy-six Bicentennial History of Gordon County, Georgia (Calhoun, Ga.: Gordon County Historical Society, 1976).
Kenneth Coleman, ed., A History of Georgia, 2d ed. (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1991).
Jane Powers Weldon, Calhoun
A project of the Georgia Humanities Council, in partnership with the University of Georgia Press, the University System of Georgia/GALILEO, and the Office of the Governor.