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Hog Mountain

Community boasts modern amenities, alongside links to past


MOST CAME TO THE Hog Mountain area to get away, but development has come, and come quickly.

Charles Copeland moved here 20 years ago and paid $50 in taxes on nine acres. Now his tax bill is more than $2,000. Just five years ago, another resident moved from DeKalb County to Hog Mountain for the peace and quiet. He says he counted just a few cars a day passing by his property. Now, the traffic is constant, due in part to the nearby Mall of Georgia, which opened about two years ago.

About five years ago, residential development began in earnest with 1,400-acre Hamilton Mill. With 2,300 home sites, it offers a public golf course as well as multiple pools, tennis courts, parks and trails. There still are a few lakeside lots remaining along man-made Mulberry Lake.

Another development, Apalachee Farms, boasts not only modern amenities, but has connections to the area's past. The 550-home development encircles the Winn House, the first courthouse in Gwinnett County, and there also are two archaeological preserves that contain Indian mounds that cannot be disturbed.

The name Hog Mountain refers to the high ground on which the area sits. Because no waterway cuts through, farmers used to drive their hogs to market through the area. It is actually the continental divide, with water on one side going to the Gulf of Mexico and water on the other ending up in the Atlantic.

The heart of Hog Mountain used to be located at the intersection of Ga. highways 324 and 124, where a hotel with a pig corral previously stood. Now the intersection is a strip mall with no evidence at all that the area dates back to the 1600s. The Hog Mountain Gazette, the local newspaper, went out of business a few years ago. And the colorful, unofficial "mayor" of Hog Mountain, Hoyt Pirkle, died a few months back. A local legend, Pirkle was in the livestock business and always wore a cowboy hat. But just a short drive down Highway 124, the last remaining bit of the original Hog Mountain thrives.

In a tiny white clapboard building, Joseph Scott Shelton, a native of Gwinnett County, fulfills his dream of operating a one-chair barber shop. His shop is filled with customers of every age and walk of life.

As Shelton clips away, there is rarely a break in the lively conversation. "This is a brotherhood. A forum for all individual men," says Shelton.

Development is a two-edged sword, Shelton says. Before development came this way, he used to go across the street and ride horses when he wasn't busy. Now his shop is always full of customers, which means more income, and the horses are long gone anyway.

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