Tallulah Falls is named after its famous falls. The town is located on Highway 441/23 in the Northeast corner of the north Georgia mountians.
In the mid-nineteenth century, thousands of visitors each year endured a grueling horse and buggy trip of a week or more to marvel at nature’s handiwork. At first local residents boarded the visitors in their homes but as the crowds increased, rough boarding houses sprung up. One of the first was Beale’s also known as “Rough ‘n’ Ready”. By the late 1800’s, the fledgling town of Tallulah Falls built around the gorge sported seventeen hotels and wood lined sidewalks. When the Tallulah Gorge Railroad arrived in 1882, the throngs of tourists multiplied a hundredfold. The gorge had become Georgia’s first tourist attraction.
Several fires ravaged the boomtown but the residents rebuilt each time. They could deal with the devastation of fire but in the early 1900’s something befell the town that residents could not defeat, progress. For the first time in modern history, a strong band of ecologists, led by Helen Dortch Longstreet, widow of Confederate General James Longstreet, took on the Herculean might of Georgia Power and its political allies. They waged the longest battle to date for the river’s freedom but in the end, the mighty waters of the Tallulah River were harnessed to provide electricity to meet the burgeoning demands of Atlanta’s increasingly technological population.
It was the supreme challenge to the engineers of the time but in September of 1913, they harnessed the river and created a series of lakes. Electricity flowed through the wires to Atlanta, ninety miles away. That city was booming but as tourism declined and fires again ravanged the little town of Tallulah Falls, it became almost unknown until the falls once again brought popularity back.