In the 1820s, the first European trappers began to make their way into the Northeast Georgia area. While the Cherokee viewed the falls with trepidation and largely avoided the area, white settlers and travelers were enthralled by the awe-inspiring beauty of the falls and gorge and began sharing their experience in newspapers and travel books. Some visitors even compared Tallulah Falls to other legendary cascades, and soon Tallulah was being dubbed the “Niagara of the South.”
As word of Tallulah Falls’ beauty began being spread , more and more visitors started making the trek to the North Georgia mountains. By the early nineteenth century, local and national writers extolled this scenic wonder to broad a broader readership. This increased the allure to tourists, who would travel for days over mountain trails in order to witness its grandeur. The artist George Cooke painted Tallulah Falls in 1841, which depicts three of the four cascades: L’Eau d’Or, Tempesta, and Hurricane. Artist and writer Thomas Addison Richards made his engravings of the falls and the gorge a focal point of his book Georgia Illustrated, published in 1842, and made them the title piece of a collection of stories and sketches a decade later, Tallulah and Jocassee(1852). Other antebellum writers extolled the breathtaking beauty and power of this “very grand and wild scene, an immense chasm or ravine,” and many commented on the tremendous sound the rushing water produced.
Many of the nineteenth century tourists liked to name the overlooks and rock formations in the Gorge. Devil’s Pulpit, Inspiration Point, and Witch’s Head became some of the best known, and many photos were posed beneath Witch’s Head. The inset photo from the 1990s shows that the dam did not destroy the famous outcropping. It was discovered to have survived very near the base of the dam that was built in 1911, and the Tallulah Gorge State Park conducts periodic hikes through the Gorge that will allow more adventurous visitors to get to visit these historic sites for them selves. Check the Tallulah Gorge State Park website for dates, times, and registration information.