And here we go!
Named after Nancy Hart, a heroine of the Revolutionary War noted for her exploits against British Loyalists in the Georgia backcountry, Hartwell was built on the fiercely independent spirit of America. Incorporated in 1856, the historic town is now home to 4,200 hard working good hearted folks, and they’re all happy to have you here! With Lake Hartwell to the North, Hartwell Speedway to the Southeast, and the Hartwell Dam out East, there’s plenty to see and do here in Hart County!
For now though, let’s get a closer look at Hartwell proper. East Howell Street (the road we’re on now) goes right through the center of town.
Taking a right onto N Jackson St., and then your next left puts you on Depot Street, a quintessential smalltown road lined with several shops and restaurants like Downtown Cafe and Chicago Steakhouse! If you hadn’t yet gotten that smalltown-feel, Depot St. is sure to evoke it from you! Cruise back on down to this idyllic part of town again when you get a chance!
Taking a right back onto East Howell Street we have the first of two lively attractions here in Hartwell’s downtown: Southern Hart Brewing! Stop by for a craft beer and custom beef burger while watching a game!
Now, you probably shouldn’t mix craft beer and the main activity at this next location, but Sublime Axe Throwing offers one of the coolest activities for happy campers and frustrated travelers alike! Stop in and test your skills, or simply sit back and enjoy the multitude of sharp objects being hurled through the air!
After you are done checking out this quaint downtown area, please turn right on Benson Street.
On your right is the Hart County Library. It was founded in 1938 but check this out - in 2016 it was awarded the title of Georgia Public Library of the Year. Yup. This little library right here.
Please turn left on College Avenue so we can go see a… well, an Elementary School.
On your right is Hartwell Elementary School. Go Bullpups!! Stay on 1st Street and then turn right on Campbell Drive and left on 5th Street.
Welcome to Hart County High School, home of the Bulldogs! This is where the school system’s motto “#OneHartBeat” really starts to come into focus. Stay on 5th until you can turn left into the parking lot. I want to take you past the football field, the tennis courts, the oval track and the baseball fields. This road will also take you to Hart County Middle School which is our next stop.
Looking for more Bulldogs? Great! The Hart Middle Schools mascot is also the Bulldog! Let’s turn right on Fairview Street. I want to take you past a shopping center, to a dog park, a botanical garden, and a golf course. How about that?
Let’s turn left on Benson Street. Are you enjoying your drive? I am! After you turn left you will find “The Village” on the right. In there you’ve got a grocery store, a Mexican Restaurant and a few other shops as well.
See the sign up on the left that says Hart County Recreation and Parks? Well that’s the entrance to the Hart County Recreation Complex. Notable attractions on the Complex grounds are two of Hartwell’s more calming points of interest.
If you’ve got a furry friend with you, the Hartwell Dog Park will surely get their tail wagging! Dog parks are among the happiest places in the world, and Hart County’s version is no different. Heartwarmingly, in 2019 the park was dedicated to Dan Reyen, a late Hart County Commissioner who had a soft spot for dogs.
At the same address you’ll also find a tranquil pocket of natural beauty: The Hartwell Botanical Gardens. Covering almost 7 acres of curated landscape, the Botanical Garden is bespeckled with bridges, water features, an outdoor pavilion, and multiple different gardens. Open free to the public year-round from dawn to dusk, the Botanical Garden is an enjoyable retreat for folks of all ages! We haven’t arrived at the Golf Course, so keep driving.
Continuing the natural theme that permeates Hart County is the serene Cateechee.
Pull into the parking lot to our right and you'll see the expansive grounds of the lodge that include various amenities and venues for both indoor and outdoor events, such as a rentable Lake House, gyms, conference rooms, and more!
Certainly not the least of what Cateechee has to offer, is its extremely spacious golf course. Where most courses are developed on less than 250 acres of land, Cateechee is framed by the 420 acres of forests and meadowland upon which the lodge stands. Architect Mike Young purposefully designed the course to make use of its space, and its features include dramatic elevation changes, and stunning panoramic views of the natural landscape.
Pretty awesome, right? Let’s head back north on Elberton Highway so I can show you the Hartwell Marina. We are going to go back through the downtown area so if you need to make a pit-stop, that would be a great time to do so. Then we will keep heading north.
It’s time for a pop quiz.
We visited the Hartwell Public Library earlier in the tour. What award did it receive in 2016? Georgia Public Library of the Year
Next question. What is the mascot for Hart High School? Bulldogs
Bonus question - What is the mascot for Hart Middle School? Also Bulldogs
Final Bonus Question - What is the mascot for Hart Elementary School? If you said Bulldogs you would be incorrect. It is actually the BullPUPS. Thanks for paying attention.
Keep heading north. We are almost to the marina.
A significant contributor to the natural beauty of Hart County, Lake Hartwell up ahead is where a bunch of the fun in Hart County is had. The entryway to all of your lake life dreams is here as well: the Hartwell Marina!
A full service marina complete with boat slips, experienced technicians, boat sales, and more, you don’t even need to own a boat as there are plenty of powered pontoon boats you can rent! Coming to spend the day? A store full of snacks, soft drinks and marine supplies along with heated and cooled restrooms are there to ensure your comfort during your outing!
Stop by for a cruise, or, if you’re here between Memorial Day and Labor Day, head to The Boathouse Grill for one of their signature bird dogs or other sweet treats!
Ok, I’ve got one more pretty neat thing to show you so let’s head back toward downtown where we will then be making our way to East Franklin Street and then heading east out of town.
It won’t be long now until we reach our final destination. I do want to point out though, that there is a great campground and recreation area coming up.
Watsadler Campground is open year round and is Hartwell’s most popular camping destination. It’s right on Hartwell Lake, so of course it has a great boat launching facility. You will also find playgrounds, docks, restrooms, picnic areas, swimming features, etc etc etc. It’s a great campground!
Just past Watsadler is Big Oaks Recreation Area, and this is the place to be. The area hosts many special events throughout the year, like the Pre-Fourth Fireworks and the Hartwell Dam Run. That reminds me. The last stop on our tour is the Hartwell Dam and we are almost there. Stay tuned!
Our final stop on our tour of Hartwell, the Hartwell Dam is the conduit through which the town’s growth was spurred. Take your next left and you will find a parking lot and recreation center for you to stop at and take it all in!
Authorized for construction by the Flood Control Act of 1950, the Hartwell Dam and Reservoir was built in large part for the purpose of flood control in the Savannah River Basin. Along with its construction came the creation of Lake Hartwell, and hundreds of megawatts of clean energy! How much energy, you ask? It has an installed capacity of 421 MW, which is like if you had 84,200,000 hamsters running on exercise wheels!
Thankfully, no hamsters are working within the Walls of Hartwell Dam, so walk out to the edge of the water, breathe in the fresh air, and take in all that Hart County has to offer!
And just like that our tour-time together is done. Give Travis Halbrook a call at 706-949-1719 and let him know what you liked! You can also visit his website travishalbrook.georgiamls.com
I hope you enjoyed this tour as much as I did, and I hope you have the best day ever. So long!