Cornelia is a city in Habersham County, Georgia, United States. The population was 3,834 at the 2010 census. It is home to one of the world's largest apple sculptures, which is displayed on top of an obelisk shaped monument. Notably, it was the retirement home of baseball legend Ty Cobbwho was born nearby, and was a base of operation for production of the 1956 Disney film The Great Locomotive Chase that was filmed along the Tallulah Falls Railway that ran from Cornelia northward along the rim of Tallulah Gorge to Franklin, North Carolina.
|Nickname(s): Home of the Big Red Apple|
Location in Habersham County and the state of Georgia
Cornelia is located at
34°30′49″N 83°31′51″W (34.513716, -83.530942).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.4 square miles (8.8 km2), all land.
Cornelia's Big Red Apple, located at the old train depot in downtown, pays homage to the apple and apple growers of the county. Built of steel and concrete in 1925 the statue, according to Habersham County, The Big Red Apple weighs 5,200 pounds and is 7 feet high. Why a statue to an apple?
Towards the end of World War I, "Extension agents" began to play a very important role in northeast Georgia. These people, as a group, supported the end of the one-crop (cotton) economy. Throughout the state they began to educate farmers in crop diversification so that if one crop failed income from other crops could support the family. In Gwinnett, Cherokee and Hall County, farmers increased production of dairy products. The peach crop in Bartow County was expanded. In Habersham and Gilmer Counties farmers increased production of apples and peaches.
The Extension Agents push for this diversity seemed almost prescient, for in 1922 the boll weevil began the systematic destruction of cotton crops in the state of Georgia. By 1924 cotton output had dropped to 50% of earlier levels. In 1925 the people of Cornelia realized that the apple had been a key in preventing the scourge that destroyed other counties and drove rural families to cities like Atlanta and Macon. The concept for the statue was born, thanks in part to the newly formed Kiwanis Club.
At the dedication on June 4, 1926 many notables attended, including Senator Walter F. George. This however, is not the end of the apple crop story. Because apple sales were off dramatically in 1932 local farmers decided to put them in cold storage until the following Spring, but the sales did not materialize, so the farmers were not only out the cost of raising the crop, they were also out the cost of storing the crop. By the summer of 1933, the apples that had saved the county less than 10 years earlier nearly destroyed it.
Through the years downtown Cornelia changed dramatically. As the railroad era passed the old depot was closed and boarded up, and the once central location was only a side street. A recent renovation has brought the depot back to life and the quiet "Big Red Apple" is the focal point of a yearly festival held the first week in October and a 5K road race held at the end of October.