The Georgia Gold Rush


On October 21, 1876, the steam barge Chestatee sank on the Chestatee River near the gold town of Dahlonega, GA.  The barge was used to deploy a diving bell that could house two men digging on the river bottom for gold.  Local divers explored the wreck in the 1980’s and recovered the bell in 1983.  It sat on the banks until 2010 when it was sent to conservation by a local philanthropist.  Conservation was completed in 2012 and it is now on display in downtown Dahlonega.

The wreck of the Chestatee remains on the bottom of the shallow river that runs through the Achasta golf club just outside of Dahlonega.  During the week of June 4, 2012, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Underwater Archaeology team spent four days dredging and recording the site.  ProMare archaeologist Lindsey Thomas joined them for the field work and focused on recording the wreck and creating an AutoCad plan of the site.  The Chestatee  is a simple, square barge with all machinery (boiler and engine) recovered sometime in the vessel’s past.  It does retain the signature diving bell deployment well that is positioned amidships.  Approximately 50% of the site was recorded during the field season and a great deal was learned about the vessel.


For more information about the wreck and our partners, visit the sites below

Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Historic Preservation Division, Underwater Archaeology

The Chestatee Diving Bell Barge