The Chestatee River (variant spellings Chestatie, Chestetee, Chostatee, Chosteta,Chestotee none in modern use) is a 50.8-mile-long (81.8 km) river in the Appalachian Mountains of northern Georgia, USA. It begins at the confluence of Dicks Creek and Frogtown Creek (near the junction of U.S. 19 and U.S. 129) in northeastern Lumpkin County, flowing down by the county seat and former Georgia Gold Rush town of Dahlonega, and then under the northern terminus of the Georgia 400 expressway from Atlanta. It originally continued past the southern corner of the county, forming the entire eastern border of southern Dawson County with northwestern Hall County, and the far northern part of Forsyth's border with Hall. The river was used as a defining line in the Cherokee Treaty of Washington 1819 and the eastern border of the Hickory Log District of the Cherokee Nation before removal
It is a major tributary of the Chattahoochee River, into which it ended at a point now under the waters of Lake Lanier, since Buford Dam was built in the 1940s. The northwestern arm of the lake, which flooded the lower 18 miles (29 km) of the river, is called Chestatee Bay, which destroyed the town of Chestatee (called Atsunsta Ti Yi by the native Cherokee people) when it was submerged. The county boundaries still follow the original thalwegs of the river, with the lake coming as far up the river as Lumpkin's southernmost tip. At this point, the river forms an extremely small portion of the Lumpkin/Hall county line for about 1 mile (1.6 km).
There is one stream gauge (NWS location identifier DGAG) along the river, installed in 1907 at State Route 52 near Dahlonega. It is at latitude 34°31'41"N, longitude 83°56'23"W, at 1,128.6 feet (344.0 m) above mean sea level. The watershed area above this point is 153 square miles (400 km2). The National Weather Service has set a flood stage for this gauge of 19 feet (5.8 m). The highest level ever recorded was in 1967, at 25.17 feet (7.67 m) on August 23. This is about ten times its average height or depth.
The word "Chestatee" is a Cherokee word meaning roughly "pine torch place" or "place of lights", because they would use bonfires along the riverbanks to light their torches. They would then use these torches for hunting deer and other wild game in the forest. The Chestatee Regional Library System takes its name from the river, as do Chestatee High School and Middle School in Gainesville. In a nod to the origins of the name, CHS strives to be "a place of light" to their students.
- U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map, accessed April 15, 2011