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The longest swinging bridge east of the Mississippi.

Popular with day-hikers, Benton MacKaye Trail thru-hikers, and Toccoa River paddlers, the Swinging Bridge makes for a unique outdoor adventure in Blue Ridge. At 270 feet, the bridge is the longest swinging bridge east of the Mississippi River. A joint project of the USDA Forest Service and the Appalachian Trail Club, the bridge was erected in 1977. The Swinging Bridge crosses the Toccoa River and is located on the Benton MacKaye Trail and the Duncan Ridge National Recreation Trail in Fannin County.

If you are driving to the bridge, the ride will take you through the enchanted Wilscot Valley, past the historic and still operational Skeenah Mill, with glimpses of the river as you travel. Once you reach the parking area there are trails on each side of the river providing a short, but lovely, walk to the bridge. On the south and north approaches to the Swinging Bridge the vertical blue blaze of the Duncan Ridge Trail and the white blaze of the Benton MacKaye are present.

No one knows Blue Ridge and its many, many natural attractions like Nathan Fitts. Looking to buy in the area? Give Nathan, the top Re/Max agent in Georgia, a call.



From the intersection of Hwy 515 and Hwy 5 (McDonalds) in Blue Ridge, follow Hwy 515 East approximately 4 miles to the traffic light at Hwy 60. Turn right and go to the stop sign; then turn left on Hwy 60. Go 1.5 miles into Morganton, then turn right on Hwy 60 South toward Dahlonega for 11.3 miles passing Skeenah Mill. Another .7 miles on the right is FS 816, turn right there and follow ROUGH gravel road about 3 miles to the parking area. Short hike down to the Toccoa River & Swinging Bridge.

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On August 14, 1937 the Appalachian Trail was opened as a “continuous footpath” that spans about 2,180 miles from its southern terminus at Fannin County’s own Springer Mountain to Mt. Katahdin in Maine.

While close to 2,000 hikers a year attempt to walk the entire Trail, known as a thru-hike, only a small percentage succeed. The total number of hardy souls that have actually made the complete hike from start-to-finish in one attempt — which usually takes between five to seven months — is fewer than 10,000.

But for those of us who are far less ambitious, the Trail still beckons, offering the opportunity to find serenity and to escape the pressures of daily life in just an afternoon.

Appalachian Trail Fun Facts:
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Dinner with a view…

Back and better than ever… Just when we thought the Lake Blue Ridge Marina couldn’t get any better, they kicked off the 2018 lake season with “The Boat Dock Bar and Grill,” the perfect place to relax and enjoy lunch or dinner with family and friends while enjoying the great outdoors and the beauty of Lake Blue Ridge! Locals and out-of-town guests, alike, The Boat Dock truly has something for everyone and is like no other restaurant in North Georgia. Their fun casual atmosphere is the perfect hangout day or night… and, really, what beats dinner with a view? With the best backdrop in town, you’ll delight in watching the magnificent sunsets over the mountains and Lake Blue Ridge from the patio, and you will even be serenaded by local musicians on the weekends! With 100 miles of shoreline, the 3,300 acre Lake Blue Ridge is known for its white bass and small mouth bass fishing… and now for “The Boat Dock Bar & Grill!”

For more information, check out their website:

And while you’re spending your time on the lake, don’t forget your waterfront specialists, Nathan Fitts  & Team, who can help make your Blue Ridge home dreams a reality! (877)BUY-MTNS

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The Baugh House Museum

It’s funny how quickly a search for one thing can morph into the discovery of another. I was looking for information on the three Blue Ridge Hotels, all of which were constructed on the same site(between Coldwell Banker and the Methodist Church on West Main Street), and all of which burned to the ground. I decided a good starting point would be the Fannin County Historical Museum – also known as The Baugh House. As it turned out, the museum only had one picture of the last hotel, with no further information available. But since I was already there, I decided to take a tour of the museum. Good call.

The structure was built in 1890 by James Walden Baugh for his new bride, Mary Geisler. Built with bricks made from Blue Ridge clay – four bricks thick – the structure was designed in the Federal vernacular. Two-stories, each floor has two main rooms with the kitchen heading eastward on the north end of the house. An L-shaped porch connects the kitchen and parlor. The Baugh’s had an extensive vegetable garden in the back yard and a cool root cellar to preserve the canned goods and produce.

In 1924, son James became quite ill. Mary’s brother, Dr. Geisler came rushing over and diagnosed acute appendicitis; summoning a fellow doctor from Ducktown, the two set about to perform an emergency appendectomy on the kitchen table. It was a success and after a long recuperation, James was as good as new. Daughter Eva Mae Baugh—who never married – was the last Baugh to live in the house.

Arrowheads in a Cherokee exhibit


Fast forward to 1987, the City of Blue Ridge, under Mayor Taylor Stanley, purchased the James Walden Baugh house. It took several years of volunteer labor and grants from Levi Strauss & Co. and the Department of Natural Resources. Volunteer labor was the backbone of the restoration, with much of the credit for the renewal going to Elizabeth Abernathy Simons and Lewis Simonds, who was the general overseer of the work.


There is no end to interesting artifacts in the museum – from period furniture pieces to exhibits of photos and books from the Mary P. Wellingham Industrial School for Girls. The school was in Blue Ridge, and was devoted to ensuring that graduates make suitable wives.(Not sure what that has to do with an industrial school…) There is a native Cherokee exhibit with a dizzying number of arrowheads in various shapes, sizes, and colors. A beautiful large loom, circa the 1930’s is on loan from the Fannin County Homemakers Council. There are several beautiful garments from the 1800’s through the Roaring 20’s.

Today, the museum is in the care of Kathy Baugh, who happily escorts you through the house and answers any questions you might have. Her love for the museum just exudes from Ms. Baugh. There was no question that we asked that she didn’t have the answer for. The museum contains original artifacts from the house, but it is also home to period pieces donated by long-time museum benefactor, Fedora Lewis Campbell.

The Baugh house is located at 411 First Street and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Baugh House Master Bedroom
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Latin for “let the buyer beware,” caveat emptor is a contract doctrine that puts the burden on the buyer to make a reasonable examination of a property prior to purchase to uncover any defects that may affect reasonable enjoyment of property, and further puts the onus on the buyer to take responsibility for its condition once the property has closed. In any real estate transaction, it is a given that a seller knows more than a buyer about the condition of a property. Because of this, the Georgia Association of Realtors requires all sellers to complete a seller’s disclosure that should identify any defects in a property that are known to the seller. The good news is that the overwhelming majority of sellers are completely forthcoming in the disclosures concerning any known defects. The tricky part comes in when the seller may not be aware of any defects or the fact that a situation may even constitute a defect. After all, they may have lived in a property for years with no problems at all blissfully ignorant of the fact that something may be in flagrant violation of current building standards. That is why a prudent buyer should always request a complete home inspection from a reputable home inspector, one who has taken formal training and has received certification from ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors) or GAHI (Georgia Association of Home Inspectors, which incorporates all the ASHI standards).

A formal inspection should encompass the various home systems: HVAC, interior plumbing, electrical systems, as well as the roof, foundation, walls, ceilings, doors, floors, basement and other structural components. Think of it as similar to a complete physical check-up when you visit your personal physician. Once the inspection has been completed, the inspector should provide you with a complete report laying out in detail the condition of all the major components of the structure: what condition they are in, if any repairs are necessary and, if so, what they are. Better inspectors will give you a ‘triage’ list of the items, prioritizing those items that require the most urgent attention down to those that can reasonably wait until a later date to be ameliorated. A good inspector will also point out those items that were built or installed that exceed current building standards. Some buyers can be frightened off from a perfectly good home if all they get is the bad news, while the house may be overall in great condition it’s just that no one has taken the time to point that out to them. The cost of a good home inspection can vary depending on the inspector and the size and intricacy of a home’s components. An average is typically $350 – $400; but, again, the price is dependent on a multitude of factors.

Once you receive the inspectors report, it is up to you to decide which items, if any, you want the seller to repair/replace, and which ones you can comfortably live with for the time being. Once you have made that decision, your agent will let the seller know what items you wish to have addressed. At this point, it is up to the sellers to decide what they are willing to fix and that can range from everything to nothing. Usually, what a seller is willing to have repaired is in direct proportion to the sale price agreed on for the house. If the seller has accepted what they consider to be a very low offer, they will more than likely be less willing to make repairs. If, however, they feel that a price that is fair to both buyer and seller has been arrived at, they will typically be more reasonable in accepting the responsibility for repairing items. Throughout this process your Realtor® can be an invaluable asset, not just in supplying you with a list of reputable, reliable inspectors, but also in helping you navigate the process of going back to the seller with your wish list of repairs and getting the most cooperation out of the seller throughout the process.

Let the buyer beware, but let the buyer not be scared.

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The Woodbridge Inn – Enjoy fine dining and a stay at this charming Inn.

Looking for history, Southern charm, gourmet dining, and an enchanting Inn? Look no further than the Woodbridge Inn, located in Jasper, GA – the self-proclaimed “First Mountain Town.” Originally known as the Lenning Hotel, the Inn first started hosting guests, many of them Floridians trying to beat the summer heat, in 1880. In 1976, with its glory days well behind it, the Rueffert family bought the Inn and set about to revitalize the now crumbling structure. With the whole family helping out in whatever capacity needed – whether it was shucking oysters or pitching in with the dishwashing – the Inn was a labor of love for the Rueffert’s.



The history of the spot where the Inn is actually goes much further back. Like, a lot further back — to the Cherokee, whose reign began centuries, perhaps millennia, before the Lenning’s came along. This spot was a favorite worship site for the Cherokee, who held their prayer as the sun came up over Sharp Top Mountain. Much later on in the chronology, Andrew Jackson was commissioned to Florida to battle the Seminoles and his troops took Old Federal Road, on the west side of the Inn, as they made their way south to Florida. According to local lore, both Union and Confederate forces camped on the site…no doubt not at the same time.

City water tank is the beacon for the Inn


Hans Rueffert has lived at the Inn since he was four-years-old; 44 years now. Throughout those years, the Inn has grown in stature to once again become the go-to-spot, not just for Floridians, but also folks from all parts of the world when they visit the North Georgia Mountains. Hans’ menus feature a panoply of appetizers as well as a gourmet menu, famous for steaks and locally sourced produce, Hans has added a daily “Wellness Bowl” – with a delicious blend of greens, legumes, and fruit and other savory herbs –  that is both vegan and gluten-free. The Woodbridge Inn have been featured on The Food Network, CNN, Georgia Traveler, as well as publications like Southern Living, Atlanta Magazine, and the Atlanta   Journal-Constitution. It also garners great reviews from sites like and


The hotel at the Inn has 18 well-appointed rooms, with panoramic mountain views on one side,  and the beautifully landscaped grounds on the other. Close to the heart of downtown Jasper, you can take a leisurely stroll into town and shop in the local boutiques and galleries. You will notice the Woodbridge Inn water tower, like a beacon attracting regulars and neophytes alike; that tower is still in use for water supply by the City of Jasper. Only an hour-or-so from downtown Atlanta, the Inn is close enough for an enchanted evening of dining and enjoying the grounds of the Inn. Only 45-minutes from the upscale North Georgia mountain community of Blue Ridge also makes this the perfect dining destination. Out-of-towners can enjoy not just the fine cuisine but the  graceful Inn, as well.  The Woodbridge Inn is a true destination for everyone. Come and see for yourself!

For more information, visit their website at






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The first drive-in theater opened in New Jersey on June 6, 1933, nearly 85 years ago. According to, during the 1950’s – the Golden Years for drive-ins – the number of drive-in theaters across the nation exploded, reaching a high of 4,000 theaters in 1958. The 70’s and 80’s saw a marked decline in the number of theaters, owing in part to the expanding home video market, and today there are only 336 drive-in theaters in existence – four of them in Georgia.

Swan Drive-In Blue Ridge, GAHow wonderful that we in Blue Ridge are lucky enough to have one of those four theaters right here in town! I have many happy childhood memories of going to the Swan Drive-In with my sister and parents, and later as a teenager, piled into a car with a bunch of my friends. It is a pleasure to now be able to carry on that tradition with my twin boys, Logan and Grant.

The Swan Drive-In in Blue Ridge, Georgia was built in 1955 by Jack Jones, Sr. and W.H. Tilley, Jr.-known as “H.” Jack and H already owned the small town’s two theaters–the Rialto and the Royal, where ticket prices were 32 cents for adults and 15 cents for children and a Saturday matinee ran 25 cents for adults and ten cents for children. Because televisions were scarce up in the mountains, business was brisk at the two theaters.

Looking to serve an ever-growing audience hungry for movies, the two men seized on the idea of opening a drive-in theatre. This was no small feat in Blue Ridge, nestled as it is in the rolling foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Tracts of land level enough and large enough to accommodate the special topographical needs of a drive-in were scarce as hen’s teeth. Undaunted, Jack and H were able to lease several acres from the City of Blue Ridge. There was still a considerable amount of grading and fill to be done and once the work had begun, they encountered unyielding rock that only dynamite would budge. Discouraged and almost ready to scrap the mission, they were encouraged to keep on going by the excavators that were working for them. Finally, with the task of excavating and grading behind them, Jack and H were able to move forward with the relatively simple tasks of wiring for sound, paving, and building the concession stand and box office.

One final-and formidable-obstacle stood between the two men and the completion of their dream: the erecting of the movie screen itself. After piecing the screen together on the ground, the men had to go all the way to Atlanta (no easy task in those days before the Georgia Mountain Parkway provided a quick and easy way to make the journey!) to get a crane tall enough and powerful enough to raise the screen. For $100, Jack and H were able to get a crane for hire from Atlanta Steel Erectors. As an excited throng of locals looked on nervously, the pieces of the screen were lifted and pieced together, until, finally, the last section was carefully lowered into place. The on-lookers let out a relieved whoop and, with that, Jack and H’s dream became a reality.

H Tilley was the one to come up with the name for the drive-in. Prior to taking part in the Omaha Beach Landing in the Normandy Invasion during World War II, H was stationed in England. While there, he came to admire the graceful and beautiful swans that swam in the ponds and lakes around the country. He thought SWAN would be the perfect name for his newest theatre. His partner, Jack, agreed–it would be an easy name to make into a neon sign.

The opening of the Swan Drive-In Theatre was a watershed event in Blue Ridge, as it served as a beacon, drawing people from small communities all across the North Georgia mountains. And it continues to do so to this day, 63  years later, where this weekend’s showing is the double-feature: “Peter Rabbit” and “Pacific Rim Uprising.”

Postscript: H Tilley sold his share of the business to Jack Jones in 1959, who continued to operate it for many years. Mr. Jones passed away in 1980. H Tilley is retired and still lives with his family in Blue Ridge. Steve Setser now operates the Swan Drive-In Theater. He began working there when he was 15, and finally bought it in 1989. I would like to offer a special thanks to Mrs. H (Blanch) Tilley for so graciously speaking with me about the beginnings of Blue Ridge’s Swan Drive-In.



Here we grow again! Ground has been broken for Blue Ridge’s newest project: Blue Ridge Station. A mixed-use development, there will be retail space on the ground floor and loft living on the upper three floors. The building itself has one foot in the past and the other in the future. With a nod to Blue Ridge’s past, the building will look something along the lines of an old brick warehouse. Inside, however, you will find the most up-to-date amenities. The ground floor will consist of upscale retail spaces that offer open, light-filled shops with convenient parking. Located alongside the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, it will be easy to stop into one of the shops and eateries that fill the retail spaces.

Upstairs, there are three floors of lofts – 15 in all—each offering two-bedrooms and two-baths. The 10-foot ceilings provide plenty of natural light and an overall burnished glow from the gleaming hardwood floors and natural color palette. Each has a balcony that overlooks the storybook city of Blue Ridge, helping you feel a connectedness to the city and its denizens. Each unit comes with two parking spaces in a well-lit, secure area to the rear of the building and there is no public access to the lofts. There is also a large area for dog-walking — or cat-walking if that’s your thing! The kitchens boast furniture-grade cabinetry, farm house-style sinks and quartz countertops. There are three different floor plans to suit a variety of tastes.

The lofts are perfect for full-time living, vacation rental/retreat, or a get-away from the pressures of city life. You are right in the center of beautiful downtown Blue Ridge so you can easily enjoy the many restaurants, shops, and galleries that are right in your front yard.. You are also oh-so-close to the many natural amenities in and around Blue Ridge, like trout fishing and kayaking on the Toccoa River, hiking and biking on the miles of trails that criss-cross Fannin County, paddle boarding on Lake Blue Ridge. Enjoy the best of all worlds at Blue Ridge Station. For more information and to keep up with the progress of the project, give Nathan a call. He will be glad to assist you in anyway possible to make your Blue Ridge dreams come true!












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Pu-Erh Poetry, Jade Oolong, Green Rooibos Bonita. Ancient manuscripts? Exotic locales? Nope…these are the names of but a few of the 100 or so varieties of tea available at Tupelo Tea in Sycamore Crossing in the heart of downtown. If you’re as overwhelmed as I was by the selection at first glance, you can’t go wrong with one of their best sellers: Apple Kiwi Blend; Blue Ridge Vanilla; Ginger Peach; or Irish Cream Black. Or let the hospitable and knowledgeable tea server, Carla, suggest something for you depending on the kind of mood you’re in. You can relax and sip a cup of freshly brewed tea in the warm ambience of  the shop, or, if you prefer, the tea is sold loose by the ounce and you can take your tea to be enjoyed at home. The shop carries tea accessories like elegant mugs and teapots with infusers, along with tea makers so you can brew your own teas.

Tupelo Tea also specializes in regional honeys, which come from Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina. With names like Arbol Pepper Infused Honey and Mangrove Honey, they are almost as exotic sounding as the teas. And, yes, they also carry Tupelo Honey. There is an impressive honey and tea tasting bar for those who would like to explore teas from around the world and and see how the flavors blend with the artesinal honey.

Owners Tom and Donna Harper’s mission is to “bring premium tea blends and quality honey to tea lovers who are always exploring new flavors.” If your looking for a gift for the discerning tea lover, the company ships throughout the continental U.S. Tom and Donna also bring the same sensibility to their shop next door — the Blue Ridge Olive Oil Company. Look for news about that great store in an upcoming blog!

Tupelo Tea Inc
531 East Main Street Blue Ridge, GA 30513 706-946-TEAS (8327)

Keep your eyes on this space for more informative blogs on the shops, restaurants, and galleries in Blue Ridge. Nobody knows Blue Ridge like Nathan Fitts, and he welcomes the opportunity to share his love for his hometown and knowledge of the area with you. Heading up the #1 real estate team in the entire state of Georgia, Nathan also welcomes the opportunity to share his knowledge of real estate with you. Let him help you find the property that is just “your cup of tea.”