Oakwood originated around 1873 as a railroad stop 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. 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.
With nearby Interstate 985 and improved interchange access, the ever-increasing popularity of Lake Lanier, and a strong educational and business base, Oakwood has grown rapidly and is positioned for much more. It is home to Lanier Technical College, University of North Georgia and Gainesville State College.