Toccoa, Georgia

Toccoa Falls

Toccoa Falls

Toccoa Falls, Tragedy Strikes a Beautiful Place

There is something exceptional about a tall waterfall and Toccoa Falls is one of the highest on the eastern coast of the U.S. It is part of Georgia’s Stephens County and located within the campus of Toccoa Falls College.

This picturesque waterfall is 186 feet tall, making it taller than Niagara Falls. It is a popular tourist destination in North Georgia. Entrance to Toccoa Falls is through the gift shop and only a short 100-yard path to the falls, which is handicap accessible.

The Kelly Barnes Dam Disaster

On November 6, 1977, the Kelly Barnes Dam burst sending a 30-foot-high wall of mud, water, broken trees and debris all violently cascading towards the Toccoa Falls Bible Institute dorms and homes just south of the falls.

Kelly Barnes Dam 1977

Tragically, 39 people lost their lives and many others injured. Back in 1899, the dam was built for a hydroelectric power plant. Around 1937, the Toccoa Falls Bible Institute took interest in creating a more dependable power plant and proceeded to fashion an earth dam over the rock crib dam, which later failed in 1977. Some visitors (mostly tourist) curiously ask:

Was the Kelly Barnes Dam ever rebuilt?
Answer: After the tragedy, the dam was not rebuilt.

Visiting These Stunning Falls

A Little more of the Splash

Today, the place honors those who perished in the disaster with a memorial erected near the falls. The names of the people who died are engraved on the column.

But as we know, life finds a way to go on. Under the watchful gaze of the memorial, Toccoa Falls hosts approximately 300 weddings a year with the tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi as a magnificent back drop; the sun angling just right to cast rainbows in the spray.

Locals and college students, alike bring their lunches for a relaxing picnic sitting among the stone benches and boulders that line the flowing water at the base of the fall. To those who care to see a little more of the splash, a short distance further up you can find yourself within a few yards of the cascading water; perfect for epic photography shots.

More Info:

107 Kincaid Dr, Toccoa Falls GA 30598 Link