Oakwood originated around 1873, when the railroad first ran between Charlotte and Atlanta. Initially called Odell’s Crossing, the name was later changed to Oakwood because the location was the regular stop for wood-burning locomotives picking up essential fuel – oak wood.
The community quickly blossomed into a thriving railroad center with a depot packed with traveling passengers and a yard lined with crews loading and unloading freight. This bustle of activity attracted the town’s earliest industries, including a brick-making shop and a bottle-making plant. In turn, these industries helped attract boarding houses, stores, a hotel and other businesses to supply the growing area’s demands.
In addition to a sound business environment, Oakwood also holds claim to a rich scholarly heritage. The town was once home to one of the finest historical institutes of higher learning in North Georgia, the Oakwood Academy, a school that drew students from across North Georgia back in the early 20th century. Today, that tradition continues in the excellent public schools and on the campuses of Lanier Technical College and UNG – University of North Georia – two of North Georgia’s most recognized colleges located here in Oakwood.
With nearby Highway 365 (the predecessor to I-985) and recently improved interchange access, the ever-increasing popularity of Lake Lanier and a strong educational and business base, the town has grown rapidly in past decades and is positioned for much more. City officials have responded to this growth by focusing on industrial and commercial expansion that would one day pave the way for a vision such as Oakwood 2030.
In 1998, the Oakwood mayor and five council members – all elected at large – took a bold step to anchor that growth. The city purchased 250 acres for Oakwood’s first industrial park, Oakwood South Industrial Park. Today, a majority of the property has been developed in Oakwood South. In partnership with Pattillo, several remaining sites have been expanded to include about 70 additional acres with rail frontage.
Later, in cooperation with the Georgia Department of Transportation, Oakwood acquired right-of-way for the construction of a four-lane commercial parkway parallel to the I-985 corridor. This corridor, along with the upgrade of Exit 16/17 and the future Exit 14, will provide the city with the infrastructure necessary for sustainable quality growth for the community.