Actual Factual Georgia

Q: What is the history of the “Mighty Mo” organ at the Fox Theatre, which is part of the pre-show before the Coca-Cola Summer Film Festival?

A: You can say that "Mighty Mo," which has been around since 1929, has had its ups and downs through the years. It is described as the "crown jewel" of the Fox on its website, which goes on to say, "This irreplaceable relic of movie theatre lore is a masterpiece of organ design, capable of producing sound as delicate as a dainty piccolo to wall-shuddering accompaniment for a battle scene." That's because it has quite a set of pipes. And keys. And pedals. There are 3,622 pipes in five chambers, from one the size of a pen to one 32 feet tall, and it can produce sounds of a clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, thunder, a fire bell and a boat whistle, just to name a few, basically making the "Mighty Mo" a one-man band. Soon after the theatre opened, the organ became neglected and finally stopped working in 1954. It was refurbished and rebuilt, received some TLC and reintroduced on Thanksgiving in 1963. This summer you can hear organist Larry-Douglas Embury work his magic at the Coca-Cola Summer Film Festival at the Fox. Embury plays before the movies begin and also controls the device for the organ's signature move, rising from below the floor and onto the stage.

Q: Is it true that the first gold rush in the United States was the one in Dahlonega?

A: Yup, there's gold in Georgia's hills, but our gold rush occurred about 29 years after the first recorded one in the U.S. That one was in Cabarrus County, which is northeast of Charlotte, N.C., in 1799. There are several accounts to how Georgia's gold rush began, but the city of Dahlonega's website credits a deer hunter named Benjamin Parks, who tripped over a rock just south of what is now the town. He picked it up, saw that it contained gold and the rush was on. Thousands of miners descended on the area, filling the boomtowns of Auraria – a variation of the Latin word for gold -- and Licklog, which in 1833, wisely changed its name to Dahlonega. The area produced so much of the shiny stuff that the U.S. government built a mint there in 1838, just as the gold started to trickle out. A decade later, everybody's attention turned west and many of Georgia's 29ers – for 1829 – moved to California and became 49ers.

Q: How many counties are there in Georgia?

A: Georgia is the largest state east of the Mississippi River, but you don't have to drive far to cross the county line. Any of them. There are 159 counties in the state – at least until north Fulton manages to finally break away -- second only to Texas' 254.

What do you want to know?

If you’re new in town or just have questions about this special place we call home, ask us! E-mail Andy Johnston at q&