My son attended Toccoa Falls College in Toccoa GA. many years ago. I thought it interesting to find this little article on Toccoa in The New Pictorial Family Magazine ©1846 Then there are two more articles from other perspectives.
The Fall of Toccoa
Narrow passage leads from the roadside to the foot of the fall. Before us appeared the perpendicular face of the rock, resembling a rugged stone wall, and over it "the broke came bubbling down the side of the mountain's side."
The stream had lost most of its fulness from the recent dry weather, and as it became lashed into fury, by its sudden fall, it resembled a silver riband, hung gracefully over the face of the rock, and waving to and fro from the breath of the wind. It remains one of the poetic descriptions, of fairy-land, where we might expect the fays and elves, assemble on a moonlit night to hold their festival on the green bank, while the spray, clothed with all the varied colors of the rainbow, formed a halo of glory around their heads. It is indeed beautiful, surpassingly beautiful: the tall trees reaching but half way up the mountain height, the silver cascade foaming o'er the brow of the hill, the troubled waves of the mimic sea beneath, the lulling sound of the falling water, and the call of the mountain-birds around you—each aud all come with a soothing power upon the heart, which makes you anxious to linger through the long hours of the summer day.
Tearing ourselves away from the enchantment that held us below, we toiled our way up to the top of the fall, using a path that wouud around the mountain. When we reached the summit we trusted ourselves to such support as a small tree, which overhangs the precipice, could give us, and looked over into the basin beneath. Then, growing bolder as our spirits rose with the excitement of the scene, we divested ourselves of our boots and stock inns, and waded into the stream, until we approached within a few feet of the cascade. This can be done with but little danger, as the brook keeps on the even -mil unruffled tenor of its way, until just s it takes its lofty plunge into the abyss below.
I'lie height of the fall is now one hundred and eighty-six feet: formerly it was some ieet higher, but a portion of the rock w.is detached some years ago, by the attrition of the water, and its fall has detracted from the perpendicular descent of Hie stream.
Toceoa forms but one of the beautiful 'ioks in the chain of mountain scenery in the northwestern part of Georgia. There m iy te beheld the grandeur of the lofty V'ou i, the magnificence and terrific splendor oI Tallulah, the quiet and romantic v ie of Nacooche, and the thousand brilliant landscapes that adorn and beautify the f ice of Nature. All these attractions will, doubtless, before another score gf yeiiis has passed away, make Habersham county and its environs the summer retreat of G-orgians from the low country, and help to unite in closer bands the dweller on the seashore and the inhabitant of the mountain.
Toccoa Falls (for route see Clarksville, above), is in the County of Habersham, a few miles from the village of Clarksville.
Falls of Toccoa, Georgia.
The Falls of Toccoa and Tallulah.
The late Judge Charlton, describing this famous scene, says:
Several years have passed away since I last stood at the beautiful Fall of the Toccoa. It was one of the delightful summer days peculiar to the climate of Habersham County. The air had all the elasticity of the high region that surrounded us, and the scenery was of a character to elevate our spirits and enliven our fancy.
A narrow passage led us from the road-side to the foot of the Fall. Before us appeared the perpendicular face of rock, resembling a rugged stone wall, and over it,
" The brook came babbling down the mountain's side."
The stream had lost much of its fulness from the recent dry weather, and as it became lashed into fury, by its sudden fall, it resembled a silver ribbon, hung _ gracefully over the face of the rock, and waving to and fro with the breath of the wind. It reminded me more forcibly than any other scene I had ever beheld, of the poetic descriptions of fairy-land. It is just such a place—as has been often remarked by others—where we might expect the fays and elves to assemble of a moonlight night, to hold their festival on the green bank, whilst the spray, clothed with all the varied colors of the rainbow, formed a halo of glory around their heads. It is, indeed, beautiful, surpassingly beautiful: the tall trees reaching but half way up the mountain height, the silver cascade foaming o'er the brow of the hill, the troubled waves of the mimic sea beneath, the lulling sound of the falling water, and the call of the mountain birds around you, each and all come with a soothing power upon the heart, which makes it anxious to linger through the long hours of the summer day.
Tearing ourselves away from the enchantment that held us below, we toiled our way up to the top of the Fall, using a path that wound around the mountain. When we reached the summit, we trusted ourselves to such support, as a small tree, which overhangs the precipice, could give us, and looked over into the basin beneath. Then, growing bolder as our spirits rose with the excitement of the scene, we divested ourselves of our boots and stockings, and waded into the stream, until we approached within a few feet of the cascade. This can be done with but little danger, as the brook keeps on the even and unruffled tenor of its way, until just as it takes its lofty plunge into the abyss below.
The height of the Fall is now 186 feet; formerly it was some feet higher, but a portion of the rock was detached some years ago by the attrition of the water, and its fall has detracted from the perpendicular descent of the stream.
" Beautiful streamlet! onward glide,
In thy destined course to the ocean's tide!
So youth impetuous, longs to be—
Tossed on the waves of manhood's sea:
But weai*y soon of cloud and blast,
Sighs for the haven its bark hath past;
And though thou rushest now with glee,
By hill and plain to seek the sea—
No lovelier spot again thouFt find,
Than that thou leavest here behind;
Where hill and rock ' rebound the call'
Of clear Toccoa's water-fall."
Source: American Traveler ©1857
found Toccoa a pine town in the pine woods. It has always been there, I believe, but more so since the railroad came. It is eleven hundred feet above the sea, but you do not know it. I slept and ate in a pine hotel, with no lath or plaster or carpet; neither was there any dirt, and the ventilation was perfect, and so were the ham and eggs. The landlord is known to all the country as “Cousin John.” He has another name, I think, but if you go to Toccoa and inquire for “Le Hotel de Cousin Jean,” you will find it. The universal relative knows all about gold, also about amethysts, and also about that curious substance,‘asbestos, which the soil bears abundantly in the county of Habersham and the counties round about.
Lying over night at Toccoa,I made diligent inquiries about the county of Rabun. It is the most perpendicular of Georgia counties. Eighty-one per cent. of its surface is too mountainous for cultivation. It has but one town, Clayton, which has 120 inhabitants; and has produced but one eminent person, Judge Bleckley, of the Georgia Supreme bench, and the Eugene Ware of the same, whose funny decisions appear to afford the Albany Law Journal an endless supply of amusement. Rabun is the corner-stone of Georgia, and possesses the most striking mountain scenery within its borders. It produces gold, asbestos and moonshiners, each indestructible productions.
I learned at Toccoa City that the first object of my quest, Toccoa Falls, was within two miles, but that a sight of Tallula Falls necessitated a journey to the borders of Rabun, sixteen miles away.
This morning the awkward journey was accomplished. The road led over the foot-hills and through the pine and oak forest all the way. We came first to Toccoa Falls. It was in the early, clear morning, before the air had been colored or stained or heated by the advancing day, that I saw this most beautiful of cascades. You leave the team a little way and go up a tiny valley. It is shut in by wooded hills, so narrow that you could toss a stone across it. It is all shade and coolness and seclusion.
You come to a sheer granite wall, black and yellow and brown, and the Toccoa, a small mountain stream of sparkling water, coming from the mountain, arrives at the verge of this wall and drops over it, one hundred and eighty-six feet. There is no roar, no jar, no rising cloud of spray, no Whirlpools, no rushing rapids. All at once the water comes to the wall, springs lightly in a mass into the air, and drops down into a little pool as clear as crystal. First water, then snowy foam, then still water again. A great mass of rock has fallen, and the lower part of the eascade is hidden by it. The fall is slightly parted by a shelving rock at the top, and so seems in two divisions. This is Toccoa Falls. It is within two miles of one of the leading railroads of the South, and is hardly known. I went around and reached the top of the fall, and lay down on the rock where I could almost put my hand in the water after it makes the spring. It was like looking into a cascade of diamonds. Above and below, the Toccoa glides along unnoticed. It is splendid only at one place and for an instant, like a human life illnmined by one great deed. Leaving Toccoa Falls, we went on over the high hills. Monk, the driver, said they were mountains; this one was Walker mountain, and the other, Panther mountain. They did not seem mountains, and are really the foot-hills that finally run into Tallula Ridge, and so on higher and higher to the great Blue Ridge. The country seemed miserably poor, and was well settled, as I think every poor country is. I have ridden ten miles in two of the oldest-settled counties of Kansas within a few years past, over as fertile prairie as ever the sun shone on, without passing near a house; yet on this rough mountain road the cabins were within sight of each other all the way. The houses were all of pine logs and pine boards. The chimneys were either of sand rock or sticks and yellow clay. All the material for the habitations was gathered within afew steps of where they stood. They seemed a part of the mountains and the woods, as a bird’s nest seems part of the tree. If one of these houses burns down, it is only necessary to go out in the woods and get another one. The openness of the sides and the unreliability of the roof would terrify a Kansan, even though he is a resident of the Italy of America. The people who thus humbly lived did not appear to be idlers. At nearly all the houses there was an old-fashioned loom and spinning-wheel on the porch. The doors were all open, and the often solitary room seemed to have known the wisp broom, which was always in sight.
On the road we found one school house, ten miles from Toccoa. It was a little pine log cabin on a hillside, in an old field grown up to scattered pines. The door was fastened with a staple and hasp, with a stick for a lock. I made bold to enter the mountam seminary. It could not have been over twelve feet square; the loose boards which constituted the ceiling were but little over six feet from the floor. There were some pine slab beaches with the bark on, and a pine table for the teacher, and a brush broom. There was a stone fireplace, and in the corner lay an armful of pine knots. I picked up a tattered spelling-book from the floor. A poor place this, I thought, and yet on this humble altar is kindled learning’s sacred flame. This tattered book is the key that unlocks all. This may bring to the mountain child all that is recorded in our English speech of the studies of the wise, the wit of the bright and gay, the valor of the brave. “Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage,” nor can this rude hut shut in or cabin or confine the soul that is inspired of heaven. From this old field the sower may go forth to sow the field which is the world.
Nature has been kind to these hills in one respect. Such a profusion of wild flowers I never saw in any other country. One ravine was lined on both sides with honeysuckles as far as the eye could reach; great patches of violets and a sort of dwarf fieur de lis brightened the ground; and the dogwood reared its head of snow everywhere. The prodigal hand of nature seems to satisfy the natives. I saw, however, a great thicket of yellow roses in front of one cabin, and a shrub with flowers like the fuchsia, which the woman said were called “flower of pear.”
There was among these primitive people some signs of prosperity. The grist mill was about the roughest collection of wooden wheels ever turned by water, but we passed a modern saw mill and several new houses. I hope the country may grow so rich that there will be a change of contour. We did not pass on the road a man, woman, child, horse, cow or dog that was fat.
Source: Southern Letters ©1881