May 26, 1993. 6:30 AM. I was tired after getting up at four am to drive from Holly Springs to what’s left of the community of Tallulah Falls, GA. Why was I here at this ungodly hour on a Wednesday morning? I was driving up to participate in the first whitewater boating ever on the Tallulah River since it was dammed way back in 1913. In the summers prior to 1913, Tallulah Gorge was a very popular tourist destination. People would travel here to escape the Atlanta heat, and of course to view the magnificent waterfalls: Ladore, Tempesta, Hurricane, Oceana, Bridal Veil. Tallulah Falls was truly the “Niagara of the South”, with dozens of hotels and boarding houses and restaurants. The community died when the gates were closed on the first dam on the river. The water was diverted through a 1+ mile tunnel to the turbines at the mouth of the gorge. Where once a powerful river flowed over magnificent cascades now stood only dripping cliffs.
Today for a brief time those same dripping cliffs have been restored to their former glory.