Gorge is one of the deepest gorges in the East – 600 feet deep.
It was cut down into quartzite. This
area was formed when there was a compression event and the region was literally
folded up on itself – like the letter S.
So, when looking at the walls of the gorge, you see layers that repeat
themselves twice. You are able to
note the same sequence of rocks three times.
The sides of the gorge are composed of shist and sandstone and the floor
Gorge also provides a textbook example of stream capture.
Prior to the formation of the gorge, the Chattooga and Tallulah Rivers
were the headwaters of the Chattahoochee. The
rapidly down-cutting Savannah River eventually cut back and pulled these two
rivers away from the Chattahoochee. Over
millions of years, this river carved out the Tallulah Gorge.
the top of the gorge, the Tallulah River narrows and quickly flows toward and
over Ladore Falls. While in the
gorge, the river flows over five more falls:
76-foot Tempesta Falls, 96-foot Hurricane Falls, Oseana Falls, 17-foot
Bridal Veil Falls, and 16-foot Sweet Sixteen Falls. Beyond the falls is Horseshoe Bend – one of the deepest
points in the gorge and a fantastic place to admire the towering rock cliffs.
Gorge represents the first large environmental legal battle in Georgia.
In 1905 the state attempted to buy Tallulah Gorge, but could not raise
the money. As a result, the
fledgling Georgia Power Company bought it, so concerned citizens tried to
prevent development. They went from
Rabun County, to the Georgia legislature, governor, and Supreme Court before
approaching President Taft. But,
before anything could be done, the dam building began. Upon completion, the Tallulah River was reduced to a trickle
through the gorge, but power flowed from Tallulah to Atlanta over power lines.
is now a rare partnership between the state of Georgia and Georgia Power
Company, whereby there are now “aesthetic” water releases throughout the
year. On a regular bases, the flow of water is so little, that you
can safely hike down to the floor of the gorge.
But, several weekends throughout the year, Georgia Power will allow the
water to flow at pre-dam levels so visitors can view the original beauty of the
waterfalls and the rest of the gorge. At
these times, visitors will not be allowed to hike to the bottom of the gorge.