Wednesday, November 7, 2012

October 12, 2012. The Hawthornes Are At Tallulah Falls, Georgia.

 The Hawthornes have been gallivanting  again.
We took a road trip October 4 - 17.
This is from October 12.  The Hawthornes are in Georgia.

  The Hawthornes are at Tallulah Point Overlook.
Tallulah Falls, the town,
is named after the falls.

Tallulah Falls, a series of five waterfalls,
cascades through Tallulah Gorge,
an ancient 1000-foot chasm carved over millions of years
by the Tallulah River.
Tallulah Gorge is one of the oldest 
geological features in North America
and one of the most spectacular canyons
in the eastern United States,
 two miles long and nearly 1000 feet deep.
From Tallulah Point,
you need binoculars to see the gorge.

We stopped at one of the many antique/crafts shops
along the way.
The owner told me that Tallulah Falls
was one of the best kept secrets in Georgia.
Back in the day (pre-dam),
one could hear the falls three miles away,
Tallulah Falls was a bustling resort town,
and the falls were the number one tourist attraction
in the United States, rivaling Niagara.
In 1913, they dammed Tallulah River,
and as a result, lost the biggest water fall in the gorge.

Tallulah River is approximately 48 miles long,
beginning in the Nantahala Wilderness in North Carolina
and flowing south into Georgia,
cutting through the Tallulah Dome rock formation,
and forming Tallulah Gorge and its waterfalls.

Tallulah Gorge and its waterfalls have been
a tourist attraction since the early 19th century.
Tallulah Falls Railway was built in 1882
which increased the accessibility of the area
to tourists from Atlanta and south Georgia.
The gorge became North Georgia's first tourist attraction
and bars and resort hotels sprang up to serve the tourist trade.

Georgia Railway and Power began building dams on the river
starting in the 1910s.
Among many of the residents opposing this encroachment
was Helen Dortch Longstreet, 
widow of Confederate general James Longstreet,
and, no doubt, another one of those rebellious blue-hairs.
Longstreet led a 1911 campaign to have Tallulah Gorge 
protected by the state, 
one of the first conservation movements in Georgia.
Unable to raise the $1 million needed
to purchase the gorge,
the campaign was unsuccessful.
The dam was completed in 1913;
 the roar of Tallulah Falls was quieted;
ten times less water ran through the gorge now;
tourism dwindled.
It wasn't until 1992 that Tallulah Gorge 
was designated a State Park, 
jointly operated by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources
and the Georgia Power Company.

Rosie is overlooking the overlook.

There's some water!
Not content with this view of the gorge,
the Hawthornes wanted to get up close and personal.

The Hawthornes headed to 
Tallulah Gorge State Park visitors' center
and got the Tallulah Gorge State Park Trail Map.
(Emphasis mine.
Can you imagine Mr. Hawthorne ... on a trail?
Neither could I.)
Here's the Trail Map.

Mr. Hawthorne never looked at the map,
so he didn't know what lay ahead.

 I remarked to him how comfortable the pathway is.
The walkway is made from recycled tire rubber -
the equivalent of 600 tires that didn't go into a landfill.
Mr. Hawthorne got as far as the first landing and overlook.
There were no steps involved getting this far.
Only a comfortable, slight gradient.

 The Hawthorne Pool
and view of l'eau d'or.
Gold water, si vous ne parlez pas le Francais.

Through its almost two mile trip through the gorge,
from Tallulah Lake Dam to Tugaloo Lake,
the river flows over five major falls:
l'Eau d'Or (46'),
Tempesta (76'),
Hurricane (96'),
Oceana (50'),
and Bridal Veil (17').

I am so thrilled they named the pool after me.

 Just above the falls is Tallulah Falls Lake,
created in 1913 by Georgia Railway and Power
to run the streetcars of Atlanta.
The water is still redirected via a 6666-foot tunnel sluice
around the falls to an electricity generation station downstream

Of course, this is not enough 
for the intrepid and adventurous Rosie.
My appetite is merely whetted.
I want more.

The steps are steeper than they look.

Suspension bridges are not happy places.
This one spans the gorge within 85 feet of the gorge floor.

See the arrow pointing to where I am?
I started at the upper left where l'eau d'or is.
Mr. Hawthorne would be sitting in the truck
where the red cross is.
Mr. Hawthorne made the short distance,
relatively level, from the Interpretive Center
to l'eau d'or and back.

I continued, 
as in descended at a very steep incline,
to Hurricane Falls.

The ascent was interesting.
I notice I have no pictures of it.
That is telling.

I was centered on getting back up ...
and more up...
and morer upper.
I needed to conserve energy
and not thinking about pictures
was the first thing that left me.
I noticed a lot of people
resting on the occasional benches at landings.

During the spring and fall,
extra water is released over Tallulah Dam,
enhancing the waterfalls.
During the mid 1990s, 
Georgia Power Hydroelectric Projects
came up for re-licensing from the 
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Part of this process required looking at
alternate uses of the river,
besides strictly hydroelectric production.
This gave whitewater groups, conservation groups,
and local businesses an opportunity
to lobby the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
to get Georgia Power to change the amount of water released.
American Whitewater pushed for the releases that now create
a two-mile course of steady and solid Class IV and V rapids.
Georgia Power ran tests,
 inviting some of the best paddlers in the country
to participate in control groups
and water was released at varying levels into the gorge.

A partnership was formed between Georgie Power,
Tallulah Gorge State Park and American Whitewater
that brings about a series of dam releases twice a year.
Georgia Power, being a major utility whose main interest 
in generating electricity is to make money
would conceivably be against releasing water from a damn
because it cannot generate power during the process.
A state park would be concerned with controlling
the amount of people entering an area
which is home to federally protected plant and animal species.
Enter American Whitewater -
the primary advocate for the conservation and protection
of whitewater rivers through the United States.
This partnership between Georgia Power,
Tallulah Gorge State Park,
and American Whitewater works
because of mutual respect between the three groups.

The normal flow of water over the dam is 0-15 cubic feet per second.
Now, there is a daily increased flow to 35-50 cfs,
providing enough water for kayakers to paddle the Gorge.
Scheduled recreational releases occur the first two weekends
in April and the first three weekend in November.
On Saturdays 500 cfs are released
and 700 cfs on Sundays for top-knotch kayakers.

In addition to recreational releases of water,
there are also aesthetic releases that create
beautiful waterfalls comparable to what it was like
before the Tallulah River was dammed.

That's where I'm going to.

I'm on the Hurricane Falls Trail Suspension Bridge.

I swear I think it's more than 221 steps.

That's more like it.
1099 steps.
Those steps are like climbing a ladder.
They're steep.




Leaving Tallulah Gorge,
the highway is lined with cosmos.


Lea said...

I have NEVER heard of this place. It is gorgeous. And you could not PAY me to cross those suspension bridges.

Rosie Hawthorne said...

I hadn't heard of it either, Lea. Those AAA trip/tour books are the best! I joined AAA before we left on our first trip across country and got tour books for each state. They tell you a little history about each state and most cities and include lodging, restaurants, and area attractions.

And I'm an ol' timer at suspension bridges now.