County Snapshots Home

:: Oconee County ::

Community Profile

County Formed February 25, 1875
County Seat Watkinsville
Incorporated Cities Bishop, Bogart, North High Shoals and Watkinsville
Total Area 186.35603 square miles


From its county population in 2000 of 26410 to its current population estimate of 35093, the county has experienced a growth change of 8683.

Oconee County was named for the river flowing along part of its eastern border, whose name in turn comes from a Native American word meaning "spring of the hills." The new county was created to satisfy western Clarke County residents' demand for their own county after the county seat moved from the less populous Watkinsville to the thriving university town of Athens in 1872.

The newly formed Oconee County retained Watkinsville as its seat. The current courthouse (a New Deal project of U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration) was built in 1939 to replace a courthouse built in 1875. It has been modified twice. The second modification in 1998 more than doubled its size.

Today Oconee County is often characterized as a transitional community, moving away from its longtime rural foundations to become a bedroom community for Athens and even for Atlanta. Pine forests and cattle ranches have given way to residential subdivisions, shopping centers, and numerous art galleries. Boosted by the building of Georgia Highway 316 from west of Athens through Oconee County, the county's transformation has brought with it rising traffic, hundreds of shoppers, increasing sales tax revenues, and escalating property prices.

Points of Interest

Points of interest include Eagle Tavern, located on North Main Street in Watkinsville. Built before 1801, possibly as a stronghold called Fort Edwards, the building was renovated by 1820 to serve as a stagecoach inn for Athens-bound travelers.

Elder Mill Covered Bridge, built in 1897 and moved to its current location just south of Watkinsville off State Road 15 in the 1920s, was restored during Jimmy Carter's term as governor. One of the few covered bridges left in Georgia, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994.

Notable Citizens

Jeanette Rankin, the first woman elected to Congress, kept her summer home in Oconee County. She was elected to represent Montana before many states even allowed women to vote. Rankin was a pacifist and was the only representative to vote against the U.S.'s entry into war against Japan.

Annual Events

Watkinsville hosts the annual Fall Festival, the largest arts and crafts festival in the area.

Chamber of Commerce
Additional County Info
Click here to view a larger map image.

State of Georgia

Historic Eagle Tavern, Watkinsville

Elder's Mill Covered Bridge

Return to top of page