The origin of the town name excites considerable speculation, but conventional wisdom holds that Ellijay is an Anglicized form of a Cherokee word, perhaps meaning "place of green things" or "many waters." The latter definition seems sensible because the town of Ellijay, once a large Cherokee trading center, lies near the headwaters of the Coosawattee River at the confluence of the Cartecay and the Ellijay rivers.
The new highway provided easy access from metropolitan Atlanta to the surrounding wilderness areas and made Ellijay a popular destination for nature lovers and sportsmen. Sixty-five percent of Gilmer County is public land, and Ellijay lies at the center of an area dominated by the rugged Cohutta
In recent years Ellijay has become a hub for visitors and for the area's growing population of second-home owners, who have been drawn to the natural beauty of the surrounding north Georgia mountains.
The picturesque valleys of Gilmer County produce more than 600,000 bushels of apples each year, more than in any other Georgia county, and every fall Ellijay is the site of the annual Georgia Apple Festival. Held during the second and third full weekends in October, the Apple Festival features a juried crafts show of more than 300 vendors, as well as what one old-timer called "every apple product known to mankind."
George Gordon Ward, The Annals of Upper Georgia Centered in Gilmer County (Carrollton, Ga.: n.p., 1965).
Wilber W. Caldwell, Atlanta
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