In my efforts to find abandoned places, I recently came across this little gem of a town: Auraria, Georgia. Auraria, or "City of Gold", was the epicenter of Georgia's first gold rush, but all that stands today are the dusty remnants of forgotten fortunes. Its sister city, Dahlonega, also known for its gold mines, remains a tourist attraction today.
The land on which Auraria sits was originally a Cherokee reservation and its treasures were kept secret by the Native Americans who settled there. However, once gold was discovered by the white man, the land became overrun by miners and thus, the Trail of Tears began. Auraria quickly became a prolific mining town, but once the gold its depths had been depleted, it was quickly left to rot.
There are only two buildings that stand in Auraria today, anchoring themselves in the settlement's present day: the old general store (pictured at right) and a small red building that I am told was a bank at one time (not shown). The general store was absolutely fascinating. From the outside, it just looks like your run-of-the-mill roadside shack with a couple cool Coca-Cola signs and vending machines out front, but once you walk up to glance in its windows, you realize there is so much more. Inside, it's as if time has frozen. Hundreds of glass soda bottles and mason jars sit on the wooden shelves, alongside an old pair of shoes and other various gadgets. On the counter, I found an antique blue cash register (pictured below), paper still in it, a scale, typewriter, and truly more things than I can think to list. In front of the counter sat an old ice box and wooden trunk.
Sadly, I wasn't able to get into the building, but I was able to poke my camera lens through the bars on the window to get these shots. I had the chance to speak briefly to the owner of the building, who lives next door. I probably would have asked him for a little tour if he hadn't hurt his leg recently. He did, however, tell me that the general store was once his mother's and he keeps it up today. I thought that was pretty cool. Not only that, but it makes me even happier to see that no one has defaced the property in any way. What a beautiful piece of not just the city's history, but his family's. The gentleman also mentioned that the store will be used in an upcoming film about old mining towns that is set to go into principal photography this summer.
I couldn't help but notice on my way back to the car that there was some really cute, vintage wallpaper on the walls upstairs. I wonder if the original owner lived in the upstairs. I can't imagine it's safe up there, but I certainly plan to return some day to see if the kind owner would let me explore the inside of his old general store.
Although the general store and the old bank are all that remain of Auraria's once bustling city as far as businesses go, there are a couple homes in the area that were left to weather the years. Of course, I had to have a look at those as well.
The light absolutely poured through the windows and doors of this first home, creating an interesting juxtaposition to the rotting rooms. This first photo was taken from just outside the kitchen door, allowing the sun to drench not only the room, but my lens as well. I like the warm, hopeful way it looks. The quirky turquoise bead board walls that were once hidden by tacky wood paneling are finally seeing the light of day and the painted stone fireplace in the kitchen has become nothing more than a home to a retired mattress.
Above, the smiling drinking glass turned out to be yet another great juxtaposition in this home.
My third and final stop on the Auraria tour was this little white house below. Actually, it was probably more toward Dahlonega than Auraria, and though it's not much to look at from the outside, I never like to judge a book by its cover.
Now, there's always some level of creepiness when I go into these abandoned places, but there was something particularly disturbing about this one. It wasn't dark or covered in cobwebs or anything like that... it was just that undeniable feeling that you're not alone. I also found that the majority of the photos I took had strange blue light reflections through them... even when I wasn't where the sun could catch my lens. Maybe I'm over thinking it all, but I also do this enough to know when to trust my intuition. Because of that, I only stepped in the entry way of the house and didn't explore much further. One thing I saw in just that small area, though, was enough to make anyone run for the hills...
So the freaky thing... see the shelves on the left in the photo above? Now, do you see the small pile of grey matter? Ok, zoom in on it here -->
It looks like the mold of a small child.. the face, the head, the arm, the shoulder... so creepy. But it's not a doll, it's clearly not a child... so would someone please like to tell me what on earth it is?? Or am I just seeing things?
Anyway, here is a less disturbing image from that house.... but again, something weird. All the mason jars in there had something in them... and I don't think it was mud.
Finally, a couple outside details... but again with the weird mason jars...
That concludes my Auraria adventure! A couple of notes, though, before I go...
1. If you choose to explore yourself, always bring a buddy because
you never know who or what you may run into.
2. Be respectful of the buildings you explore. Don't move things and
never take anything. It's not yours. It belongs to the space and
adds to it's magic.
3. On a more personal note, as far as photography goes, I find there's
a time and a place for editing. When I do my urban (or in this
case, rural) explorations, I rarely do any editing to the photos I
take. They're interesting enough just as they are. Sometimes a
change to black and white, sure, but photographers, respect your
work and allow the natural beauty to reflect in your lens.
Thank you, as always, for being a part of my travels!!
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