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Article from the Dahlonega Nugget

Back in March, Auraria was featured in an article in the Dahlonega Nugget, which would be Auraria’s hometown newspaper. The text of the article is reprinted below with the kind permission of The Nugget.

Area’s history, legends featured in new novel
By Sharon Hall
The Nugget

The gold history, dark valleys and misty mountains of North Georgia have always held a fascination for author Tim Westover. And those misty mountains are the setting for his first American publication, Auraria: A Novel.

Westover takes large literary license with Auraria’s geography. The town is much further from Dahlonega in the novel than it is in reality. It is also set in a deep valley in the crook of a river, and it’s mining is done for the most part underground rather than in streams. But the changes were made to facilitate the story’s plot, and Westover incorporates several local landmarks and legends in Auraria.
“The biggest connection is the gold history,” he said, “and Auraria’s status as a place that was passed over, sort-of the forgotten older sister to Dahlonega.”

The fantastical tale is set in the late 19th century, after the focus of the gold rush has moved from Georgia to California. One of its main characters is H.E. Shadburn, an Auraria native attempting to revive the failing town by buying it up and building a man-made lake and resort hotel—patterned after the old Porter Springs Hotel.

The idea for the lake and resort are a combination of the Tallulah Gorge project and Lake Toxaway Resort, at the intersection of Georgia, North and South Carolina.

Lake Toxaway also gave Westover the idea for the novel’s ending. In 1916, after severe flooding of the Toxaway River that fed the lake, the dam gave way and sent more than five billion gallons of water crashing down into South Carolina. But in Westover’s book, the dam is destroyed by the greed one of the characters and the efforts of another to remedy the situation.

But like the Toxaway disaster, there is no great loss of life. “It’s more of a mud-flood, like the aftermath of the Toxaway dam burst,” Westover said. When Toxaway’s dam broke the only casualty was a mule.

There are “hard-scrabble farmers, tavern keepers, a patent medicine seller and other Auraria residents featured in the novel, along with some supernatural characters.

“Whether they are ghosts, headless plat-eyes, singing trees or semi-sentient fruit, they cluster around Princess Trahlyta, the spirit and caretaker for the valley and host to a peculiar kind of supernatural tourist—moon maidens, who use the rivers of Auraria as their own healing resort,” Westover said.
Westover decided to use Auraria and some of the area’s legends after discovering the town in travel and hiking books. He then visited the area several times.

“I took pictures and poked around, and read books on the Gold Rush history,” he said.
Westover said he found it interesting to see people still panning for gold in the Etowah but so little of the actual town left.

“It started out with so much promise, both as a community and socially. When you go there now, you wouldn’t know there was a hotel, a newspaper, a tavern.”

Westover has been writing since he was in high school. He lived in England for three years and studied in Russia for a summer, visiting Germany during his stay. He used that experience to write and publish a collection of short stories in Europe.

“It’s an historic approach to the fantastic,”he said. “I find more room for my imagination to become unstuck from reality, and it’s easy and inexpensive to write and explore more than what’s possible.”

Auraria: A Novel is due out in July 2012, published by QW Publishers. It will be available in both hard copy and as an online book.

Written by timwestover

October 15th, 2012 at 6:31 pm

Posted in auraria