Mount Rachel Star: A Dalton Tradition Since 1935

The Mount Rachel Christmas Star has been a community tradition for 82 years. The star, owned and maintained by Dalton Utilities, shines brightly in the night sky from December 1st each year through New Year’s Day. Built in 1935 by the late Carl McCamy, former superintendent of Dalton Utilities, the original structure was a 30-foot tall wooden frame with 150 light bulbs attached to a pole. The temporary structure was placed on top of Mt. Rachel each December. The star was lit every year after 1935, except during the blackouts in World War II. Each year, the star is officially “lighted” by a descendant of Carl McCamy or children of Utility employees/retirees.

In 1947, V.D. Parrott, Jr., former Dalton Utilities’ president, and the Board of Water, Light and Sinking Fund Commissioners replaced the original wooden star with a permanent structure made of iron. The star was completely overhauled in 2005 when Dalton Utilities’ personnel rebuilt the frame, replaced all the lights and rewired the structure. The Mount Rachel Star measures 40 feet in diameter and towers 65 feet above the mountain. Over 230 bulbs give the star its glow, which can be seen several miles away. This year, all the bulbs were replaced with LEDs, so the star will shine even brighter!

Mount Rachel was named after the wife of John Hamilton, a wealthy landowner, who lived in the Hamilton House located near the mountain on Chattanooga Avenue. The Hamilton House is now owned by the Whitfield-Murray County Historical Society and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. John died in 1853. Left with seven children to raise, Rachel ran their plantation successfully by herself. Five of her sons served in the Confederate Army, and all of them survived the war. During the Civil War, Rachel nursed wounded soldiers in her home. She lived at the house on Chattanooga Avenue until her death in 1876.