Tallulah Falls (08/05/03)

Last updated 8/6/03                                                                                                                                     Russian Translation Here           

Tallulah Falls is a little town near Atlanta, Georgia, famous for its otherworldly beautiful river gorge with numerous waterfalls. The history of the town is intimately connected with the fate of the gorge; the place was a popular resort since the 1800s when the natural beauty of the falls, as well as cool summer temperatures, attracted holiday visitors. However, when the Georgia Power Company showed up in the 20th century and put a dam on the river upstream of Tallulah Falls to convert the stream's energy into electricity, the falls slowed down to a mere trickle, and so did the tourist crowds. For decades the town had nothing to its name other than the dubious honour of supplying Atlanta region with electrical power. Some years ago, under public pressure, the power company agreed to set free a certain amount of water through the dam and return the falls to their former beauty. It actually turned out that the waterfalls are at their prettiest when the water runs at a lower pressure than it used to naturally, before the dam was put in place, so for esthetic reasons (probably economic ones, too!) the power company releases water at 200 cubic feet per second, as opposed to the original roar of about 500 cfs. For a few weekends a year the waters of Tallulah river are set free, and whitewater rafting and canoeing competitions take place.

We got to enjoy the waterfalls in their "esthetically pleasing" mode which I found quite attractive.We hiked the rim trail of the Tallulah Gorge that involves a steep descent of some 500 stairs to a suspension bridge (see picture; swings about in a fearsome way if you run across), followed by a matching ascent on the other side of the bridge. On this hike you get to see waterfalls and cascades in multiple locations, as well as -- unexpectedly -- a butterfly bush! It was a flowering pink bush, literally covered with butterflies of all shapes and colors, at least a dozen of them at the same time. Maybe it was a butterfly version of a mall where they get to congregate...

Another claim to fame that Tallulah Falls has: in 1970s, the legendary tightrope walker Carl Wallenda crossed the gorge on a thin steel cable and even did a head stand on it twice during the walk. We saw the location of the tower where the cable had been attached, and marvelled at the expanse of air over the gorge that the guy had to cross above the river stream way, way below. Such a walk would be an amazing feat for anyone, and I was all the more impressed by Wallenda when I learned his age at the time of the accomplishment: 65 years old, and a grandfather. "Tragic footnote" (that's how they had it on the memorial board): Wallenda fell to his death 8 years later when attempting a similar walk in Puerto Rico. To me, this ending to a magnificent life of a trapeze artist seems more appropriate than tragic... what a way to go!


See how the ugly dam...       ...becomes a beautiful river...       ...with tumbling cascades...       ...and waterfalls       Waterfalls in the Tallulah Gorge

View of Tallulah Gorge from the rim trail       Near the falls       Another view of the falls       Over the treetops       Suspension bridge over the gorge

Butterfly bush       Enjoy the beauty       If we shared with you pictures of ALL the butterflies on that bush, there'd be a dozen here...