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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 1.53 sq mi (3.97 km2)
 • Land 1.52 sq mi (3.95 km2)
 • Water 0.01 sq mi (0.02 km2)
1,237 ft (377 m)
 • Total 1,145
 • Density 751.31/sq mi (290.11/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, Georgia, United States. At the 2020 census, the population was 1,145. 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". 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%
2020 1,145 −12.9%
U.S. Decennial Census

2020 census

Nelson racial composition
Race Num. Perc.
White (non-Hispanic) 1,018 88.91%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 28 2.45%
Native American 3 0.26%
Asian 2 0.17%
Other/Mixed 46 4.02%
Hispanic or Latino 48 4.19%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 1,145 people, 523 households, and 383 families residing in the city.

Notable person

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