Young Harris History
Young Harris is one of two communities within Towns County, which was created in 1856 from parts of Union and Rabun counties in northern Georgia. Towns County was named after George Washington Bonaparte Towns, who was the governor of Georgia from 1847 to 1851. The history of Young Harris as a residential community began sometime after Young Harris College was founded.
Originally named McTyeire Institute after Methodist Bishop Holland McTyeire, the college was established in 1886 by Artemas Lester, a circuit riding Methodist minister who wanted to provide the residents of the Appalachian Mountains with an education. A wealthy local resident named Judge Young L. G. Harris became a benefactor of the McTyeire Institute and because he helped to keep the college open during its difficult formative years, McTyeire Institute was renamed as Young Harris College. For a few years people were referring to the entire area as Young Harris College but around 1894, people began calling the town that grew up around the college Young Harris.
For more than 60 years, population growth in Young Harris was almost nonexistent because it is located in the North Georgia Mountains far from the urban sprawl of Atlanta and very few jobs were available there. But after 1960 when wealthy people from Atlanta discovered the beauty of Lake Chatuge in the mountains and began building vacation homes around the lake, property values rose in Young Harris because Lake Chatuge became known as a Georgia vacation destination. During the 1990’s, upscale condominium complexes were developed around Lake Chatuge that allowed more people to purchase vacation and retirement homes in the Enchanted Valley. According to the U.S. Census in 2000, Young Harris had a population of 604 and a total land area of 1 square mile.