Friday, October 30, 2009

Day 3 - Toxaway Falls.

On the third day of our trip, we ventured to Transylvania County, NC, the Land of Waterfalls. The first falls we went to were Toxaway Falls, on US 64 W. in Toxaway, 123 feet high. The abundance of waterfalls in Transylvania County is primarily due to the topography and geology of the region. Transylvania County lies between the high points of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Piedmont regions of North and South Carolina. Because of the location, there is a significant change in elevation throughout the county. Rainfall is another very important aspect contributing to Transylvania's many waterfalls. Transylvania County has the highest average rainfall east of the Pacific Northwest. Brevard, about 20 miles away, averages nearly 70 inches annually, and Lake Toxaway, in the western part of the county, averages 80 inches. The orographic lift results in this area having one of the highest average rainfalls in the United States. Orographic lift occurs when an air mass is forced from a low elevation to a higher elevation as it moves over rising terrain. As the air mass gains altitude, it expands and cools, which can raise the humidity to 100% and create clouds and, under the right conditions, precipitation.
The falls are just below Toxaway Lake and Toxaway Falls dam. (Not my photograph.) The name Toxaway comes from the Cherokee Indians, meaning Red Bird. The development of the Toxaway Falls area began at the turn of the 20th century with the construction of Toxaway Lake and a 500 room luxury resort named Toxaway Inn. Pittsburgh entrepreneur, E. H. Jennings, who had visited the area in the 1890's, saw the great potential of this region. Jennings originally filled the lake in 1902 and was responsible for creating many resorts, including the Toxaway Inn. The region was billed as "America's Little Switzerland," and the resort, with its lavish amenities attracted a who's who of the country's wealthiest and elite. On the guest list were names like Rockefeller, Edison, Ford, Duke, Firestone, and Vanderbilt. I'm wondering if this Pittsburg banker is the same E. H. Jennings and if this E. H. Jennings Jr. is his son. Interesting. Man-made Toxaway Lake is the largest privately held lake in North Carolina, covering 640 acres of clear, drinkable mountain water, with 14 miles of shore line, reaching depths of 60 feet. At 3 miles long and 1 mile wide, the lake is situated at 3010 feet above sea level. The primary water source for the lake is the Toxaway River and the numerous mountain streams feeding into it. In July, 1916, a tropical cyclone came inland from the Gulf of Mexico, reaching the western Carolinas around July 8. A second storm came in from the Atlantic, bringing tremendous rains in the same area on July 15-16. All this rain washed away the dam at Lake Toxaway and sent waters rushing down 16 miles of the Toxaway River Gorge, emptying Lake Toxaway, leaving a remarkable scene of exposed bedrock clearly visible to visitors today. The dam was not rebuilt until 1960. I found this interesting web site written by someone who actually grew up in the Lake Toxaway community. In 1948, the movie Tap Roots, starring Susan Haywood and Boris Karloff, was partially filmed on this property. And in 1958, a portion of the classic movie, Thunder Road, starring Robert Mitchum, showed a car going over the falls during a chase scene. In the 1950's, a group of businessmen purchased the land containing the lake site, re-built the dam, filled in the lake, and created Lake Toxaway Estates, a world renown, premier resort area. You can pull off 64 to look at Toxaway Falls, but we decided to pull into the parking lot of Toxaway Restaurant, right next to the falls, for brunch and so I could make my way down the mountain side to get better shots. One needs mountain goat blood coursing through their veins for this sort of thing. When I got back up the mountain, I was totally out of breath.
Enjoy the videos and photographs. I risked life and limb to get these for you.
The only problem with these falls is that the mountain side has been developed with ugly-ass condominiums. See above picture on the left side.
I went down, as far as I could, to the private parking area of a condo at bottom right in the above picture.
It's a shame that developers raped the mountain side.
This is a little gift shop adjacent to the restaurant.
Cute, but closed.
We were hungry, so we had brunch at the pretentious, expensive little restaurant overlooking the falls. Like they say, "Location, location, location."
I had the Eggs Benedict with hash browns. The Hollandaise sauce was very lemony, but not as good as the one I make. The ham was meh. I could neither taste nor identify the greenery on top of the sauce. Next time I make Eggs Benedict, I think I'll try a sprinkling of tarragon. Mr. Hawthorne wondered where the spinach was, but I think that must be my addition to Eggs Benedict.
Mr. Hawthorne had an overcooked omelet with hash browns. Why is it that people always undercook potatoes? I have a hard time getting crisp French fries and browned hash browns. Both dishes came with a slice of apple, red grapes, and mixed greens. I have a problem with greens being used as a garnish. I want everything on my plate edible. If there are greens on my plate, then I want some type of dressing on them so I can eat them. I am not a rabbit. According to locals at the restaurant, this area had about 4 inches of rain in the past few days, so the falls were in peak form. Yay, us!
Stay tuned for our last stop before heading back east - Whitewater Falls.

1 comment:

Kathy said...

You had beautiful weather for your pictures.