"Since 1912, Tallulah Point has been offering the traveling public the only free roadside view of Tallulah Gorge from our covered overlook porch. We also offer an unique gift shop filled with "a little bit of everything and a lot you will remember". An authentic experience!" - Tallulah Point Overlook website
When I noticed that fellow blogger Mod Betty's blog Retro Roadmap had no posts for the neighboring state of Georgia, I felt compelled to write about one of my favorite spots, Tallulah Point, in Northeast George. We used to stop there when I was a kid on the way to see our relatives in Clayton and the place has changed very little since then. Basically a gift shop with an observation deck, the Point overlooking Tallulah Gorge has been pulling folks off the highway since 1912.
It is near this spot that Karl Wallenda crossed the Gorge in 1970 and there is a small display celebrating that momentous event in the Gorge's history. As a kid I remember seeing the cable stretched across the chasm and being amazed that someone would be brave enough to walk across. And I remember there used to be a train locomotive from Disney's The Great Locomotive Chase that was filmed nearby. This place captured my imagination and was a symbol that our long drive from Gainesville, Florida was near its end.
Looking at the business today with adult eyes I see the history in the rusty distressed signs still left around the place. The gift shop is pretty well equipped, although the only thing I was tempted to buy on two trips there this year was box of assorted moonpies. The porch still has a great view of the gorge, and a hillbilly to boot, but it seems much smaller than when I was kid. While the gorge itself is certainly no Grand Canyon it is always a great contrast from the flat Florida topography and a great way to start any trip to the mountains.
The gorge was formed as the Tallulah River eroded rock over millions of years leaving a 1,000 foot gouge in the earth. The first tourist hotel opened in 1840 and a railroad built between the Gorge and Atlanta in 1882 secured the gorge as North Georgia's first tourist attraction. The town of Tallulah Falls sprang up in 1885 and at one point there were seventeen hotels and boarding houses for visitors to the "Niagara of the South." Many of those burned down in 1921. The depression put a further hurtin' on tourism, yet somehow the little business at the edge of the gorge has endured.
Images from The Vanishing Georgia Photographic Collection
When I visit, I can feel the history in the place and my mind races back to childhood. My imagination roams from the days when locomotives brought in fancy tourists from Atlanta, to the feat of daring when Wallenda walked the equivalent of 3 city blocks on a thin wire in 1970. I can think of nothing better to represent the state of Georgia on the Retro Roadmap.