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Nelson, Georgia
Nelson city hall
Nelson city hall
Location in Pickens County and the state of Georgia
Location in Pickens County and the state of Georgia
Country United States
State Georgia
Counties Pickens, Cherokee
 • Total 1.46 sq mi (3.77 km2)
 • Land 1.45 sq mi (3.75 km2)
 • Water 0.008 sq mi (0.02 km2)
1,237 ft (377 m)
 • Total 1,314
 • Density 907/sq mi (350.3/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 770
FIPS code 13-54572
GNIS feature ID 0319244

Nelson is a city in Pickens and Cherokee counties in the U.S. state of Georgia. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 1,314. It is part of the Atlanta metropolitan area.


The city is named for John Nelson, an early landowner, farmer, and rifle maker.

The area possesses substantial deposits of marble. The construction of a railway in 1883 made the development of large-scale quarries possible. The quality of the marble has made it favored for federal monuments.

The Marble Museum is located in the Nelson City Hall and features a year-round exhibit that includes "examples of fine marble and shows the history of marble mining in Pickens County".[this quote needs a citation] Many stone cutters and other workers who migrated from either Italy or Scotland in the early years of the industry settled in Nelson to work in the area's marble industry. Today the Georgia Northeastern Railroad operates between Tate, Georgia, and the CSX interchange at Elizabeth (Marietta) five days a week. The Georgia Marble rail lines at Tate and Marble Hill, and the Blue Ridge Scenic Railroad at Blue Ridge, Georgia are also operated by GNRR. Their website also states the "GNRR runs through a Georgia Marble facility that no is no longer served by rail" at Nelson.

On April 1, 2013, the city council voted unanimously to approve the "Family Protection Ordinance". Every head of household must own a gun and ammunition to "provide for the emergency management of the city" and to "provide for and protect the safety, security and general welfare of the city and its inhabitants." No one is required to buy one if they don't have one and the ordinance doesn't penalize anyone who does not comply. Convicted felons are exempt.


Nelson is located on the border of Pickens and Cherokee counties at 34°22′54″N 84°22′17″W / 34.38167°N 84.37139°W / 34.38167; -84.37139 (34.381562, -84.371303). The original city center is located in Pickens County, but the city limits have recently expanded southward so that more of the city is now located in Cherokee County.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.5 square miles (3.8 km2), of which 0.008 square miles (0.02 km2), or 0.56%, is water.

Nelson is served through its downtown by the Georgia Northeastern Railroad, and by Canton Road, the town's main street and the former route of Georgia State Route 5. South on old 5 is Ball Ground, and north is Tate. The north end of Interstate 575 and south end of State Route 515 is at the county line just to the west of Nelson. I-575 leads south 52 miles (84 km) to Atlanta, and SR 515 leads north 26 miles (42 km) to Ellijay.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 266
1900 254 −4.5%
1910 550 116.5%
1920 511 −7.1%
1930 798 56.2%
1940 679 −14.9%
1950 645 −5.0%
1960 658 2.0%
1970 613 −6.8%
1980 562 −8.3%
1990 486 −13.5%
2000 626 28.8%
2010 1,314 109.9%
Est. 2015 1,347 2.5%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2000, there were 626 people, 254 households, and 188 families residing in the city. The population density was 695.0 people per square mile (268.6/km²). There were 275 housing units at an average density of 305.3 per square mile (118.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 89.94% White, 9.42% African American, 0.16% Native American, 0.16% Asian, and 0.32% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.16% of the population.

There were 254 households out of which 27.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 64.2% were married couples living together, 8.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.6% were non-families. 22.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 2.88.

In the city, the population was spread out with 19.3% under the age of 18, 7.7% from 18 to 24, 28.9% from 25 to 44, 27.2% from 45 to 64, and 16.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 93.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $44,250, and the median income for a family was $51,806. Males had a median income of $35,066 versus $30,450 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,604. About 1.1% of families and 3.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.1% of those under age 18 and 8.5% of those age 65 or over.

The estimated median household income in 2008 was $56,361, compared to $50,861 for the state of Georgia. The estimated per capita income in 2008 was $26,140.

The estimated median house or condo value in 2008 was $208,186, compared to $169,100 for the state of Georgia. The estimated median home value in Nelson was $110,800 in 2000. In 2008, the mean price for all housing units was $204,682, for detached houses $212,211, for townhouses or other attached units $147,212, and for mobile homes $54,519.

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